Christmas shopping etiquette.

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That day of family, friends, gifts and food is only a week away. That means that the stores are more full with people than with merchandise. It is a week of craziness for everyone from customers to employees. It is also when a lot of common sense and common courtesy goes right out of the window. The following is basic courtesy and common sense.

  • Get off of the Phone. – Yes. We all know that more than likely you have been playing phone tag with the person on the other end, double checking on purchases or finding out if there is something else that needs to be purchased. Do everyone a favor. Get off of the phone. If it is important and you can’t than step aside and let others go first when checking out. You don’t like it when others do it so don’t do it yourself. If you are checking out at least acknowledge the employee in front of you. Don’t use that as a time to glare at them when s/he is trying to help get you out of there.
  • Get your stuff.– It is your responsibility to be sure that you have all of your purchases. Once you have paid for them you own them. If you stopped looking at your phone long enough you would know if you got everything or not. This is the time of year there is a lot of paid and left items. Make sure you have enough space for all of your items. Stores are not your personal storage units for weeks on end. If you can not take that item home today or find someone to help you take it home than do not buy it in store. Go online, purchase it and pay for that express shipping.
  • First come. First serve. – That item that you have been looking for everywhere but has been sold out is because others bought it first. The store did not run out on purpose. Everything is made in limited quantities. The stores put in orders and other times things are auto-shipped based off of decisions made by corporate. Every year it is a gamble. The stores don’t know how many of what items they will need. It is not the employee’s fault that everyone else purchased it before you. The employees are not hiding or hoarding the merchandise in the back. Stop berating the people because you put your shopping off for what ever reason. Plan better next year.
  • Be nice. – ‘Tis the season and all of that. We know you’re stressed and tired. Guess what? So are the employees that are literally running/speed walking all over the store to help everyone. You want to have a good experience shopping. Try to be nice. It is not the employee’s fault that your in-laws are coming into town last-minute. It is not the employee’s fault that your boss said you have to work Christmas Eve. The nicer you are the more that employee will be willing to actually help you.
  • Have your discounts ready. – If you are using an app that is giving you discounts or coupons for your purchase than have that pulled up when you get to the front of the line. Get off of your phone and pull the app up. That simple. For whatever reason it may take a little while for it to load. The more prepared you are when you get to the cashier the faster your check out. It’s that simple.
  • There will be lines. – Stop complaining about the lines. Look around you. All of those people are in the same boat as you in shopping whenever they have a chance for those last-minute items before the store runs out of them. You will also see check-out lanes opening and employees rushing to closed ones to open them to check people out. If the employee isn’t running. It’s because they have been there for too many hours and their feet may be hurting.

If you want the holidays to mean more than about gifts than act like it. Treat those around you with respect and don’t freak out if the store is out of something. Just because the holidays are here does not mean that simple courtesy and common sense should be thrown out of the window.

Holiday Shopping & Returning Advice Part One

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During this time of year you are more than likely doing a lot more shopping than you usually do. It’s the season of gift giving no matter what your religion is. The following is advice from seasoned returns associates for both shopping and returning during this time. Let’s face it. More than likely you are already having to return some of those gifts/decorations for whatever reason.

  1. Get a gift receipt. – It is that simple. Unless you are giving cash or gift cards get a gift receipt. Do not take it as something personal if someone returns that gift. The person may already have it or it is an article of clothing that doesn’t fit. Think on those times when you had to return a gift someone got for you and they didn’t give you a gift receipt. Think about all of the hassle you had to go through. It is just a simple common courtesy to give a gift receipt with the gift.
  2. Ask the Parents. – If you are buying for a small child ask the parents what they are getting or already purchased for the kid/s. Double check with the parents what the kid’s favorite color is and what size s/he wear. When purchasing for a child always get a gift receipt because when you weren’t looking the kid grew or tastes had changed in what s/he likes.
  3. Keep all cards that you purchased with. – It is difficult to keep track of receipts at this time of year and companies know that. That is why a lot of big chain stores can do receipt look up if the receipt hasn’t expired. (Yes. Receipts do have expiration dates. They are only valid for a limited time.) They cannot look up receipts by your bank statement but they can with cards. If you are unsure about which cards can be used for receipt look up than keep them all. In-store gift cards usually can, credit/debit cards and those prepaid credit gift cards. When the card is used up keep it unless you are buying perishable items ie: food. If your account was compromised cards can still do receipt look up on the canceled cards and refund in a different manner. New cards can not be used to look up transactions on old cards. The system checks by card number not by the actual account number.
  4. Keep the receipt. – This is a difficult one. I know that but do it anyways. Find a system that works for you in keeping track of the receipt. If you don’t and you tossed away the card you paid with than you will get the lowest price back that item was sold at. It is that simple. There is no other way to verify what you paid for it. That is your penalty for not keeping the receipt and throwing away the method of payment. If you paid in cash? It is doubly important to keep that receipt. That receipt is your responsibility and no one else. So suck it up and keep it or take that chance and toss it. Your choice.
  5. Know what store you are in. – When purchasing or returning know what store you are in. That is why different stores have different color dress codes, signs and people working there. Do not take clothes that say Macy’s back to Kohl’s. Do not take Target brands back to Wal-Mart. Do not take Home Depot orange packages back to blue Lowe’s. Every single retail store out there is not the exact same as all of the others. They can not and will not return something that belongs and was purchased at a different chain. Really people? Party City does not take back Wal-Mart party items.

These five things are the most common that happen every year. Actually throughout the entire year but occurs more often at this time. Yes, you are stressed. Yes, you are doing a lot of shopping. Guess what? You are not the only one. That is why the lines are all crazy long and stores are open crazy late. If you keep these five simple things in mind, your shopping, gift giving and receiving will be so much easier. If all else fails. Just make your gifts. People can’t return those.

The cost of the holidays.

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With Thanksgiving less than a week away means that in retail the holidays are in full swing. There is higher foot traffic and employees schedules fluctuate like crazy. One of the stipulations about working in retail during a major holiday means you cannot have it off. If you are not scheduled to work you are lucky. There are very few that are that lucky.

There are those that work in retail that do not have family or are far away from their family. If they live a part from their family for whatever reason means that more often than not they may be alone come the actual day. In retail you do not get the luxury of being off and if you do it is for one day and one day only.

There are some stores that will be open on Thanksgiving this year and others will be closed. For those that are open. Many employees will spend thanksgiving with co-workers, customers and their bed. A lucky few may actually get a Thanksgiving. For those that are closed on that day is fine. That is great for those that have people close by to spend the holiday with. Those that don’t still can’t go anywhere because they will have to be to work early on Black Friday.

The cost of the holidays is more than just money. It is time and the sacrifice of spending time with loved ones. To those that say to request the holiday and the day after off. I say this to you. You can’t. The schedule is “blacked out” or “blocked off”. Basically, your request will be denied. Two or three days before or after you may be able to get off.

You may have heard companies say that employees will volunteer to work these times. Of course they will. The week prior and especially the week after the holiday the hours that people are scheduled are cut back so that the companies do not lose money for scheduling so many to work the holiday. Plus you may get holiday pay to supplement into your check so that you can pay bills and possibly, hopefully presents for which ever holiday the employee celebrates the following month.

If you have a problem with companies being open on thanksgiving or blocking off days so that employees have to work it than say something. I mean actually say something to corporate. Don’t post pictures on social media that only your family and friends see. Don’t complain about it to the employee that is working it. You can do something about it.

Remember the cost of the holidays in retail is higher and more than just a price tag on that toy or turkey.

This post is for your information and not a complaint.

The Flu and Retail

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Disclaimer: The following is just my humble opinion. I am not a medical professional. I am only making a suggestion and cannot advise you on what you can and cannot do regarding your health. If you have any questions than please consult a medical professional.

It’s that time of year again. I’m not talking about the holidays. It is flu season and you know what that means. The debates and reasons as to why you did not get your flu shot.

Why does it matter to those in retail if anyone gets the shot or not? Simple. Where do you go to shop and fill your prescriptions when you get the flu? Who did you just sneeze or cough towards while shopping and paying for your stuff? Did you wash or sanitize your hands before you pulled the money out and hand it to the cashier? (More than likely you didn’t.)

There are those that work in retail and shop there that due to health conditions can not get the vaccine. That or they just don’t believe in that type of thing for whatever reason. The way for those people to be protected is by herd protection. The more people vaccinated the less chance for it to spread. The flu is deadly people. It can cause complications up to and including death. If you can barely afford the time out to get the shot you definitely can’t afford the time to get sick with it. Sadly, a lot of retail stores require you to still work as long as you don’t have a fever. Even if the doctor says you should be out longer. Unless you have been working at a store long enough you won’t have the sick or vacation days to make up for those days lost.

Yes. It is on the employees to get the flu shot but some can’t because of a medical condition or like you don’t believe in such things. Do you really feel comfortable taking your little baby or child out shopping to some place where there is a high chance that there was someone shopping that had the flu? You do so every year. Don’t expect someone to cover their mouth or wash their hands frequently. There is a reason the news stations repeat that every year. It is because so many people don’t.

If you do have the flu and you have to go into a store yourself than do everyone a favor. Wear a surgical mask. You can find them in every pharmacy section. I’ve seen them. I know they are there. “I don’t want people staring at me.” Oh okay. So it is okay to go into a store while sick with the flu coughing and spreading your germs so that anyone from babies to the elderly can get sick from it? Yeah. That seems like a reasonable trade. You’re vanity/ego for other people’s health. You yourself can get infected with the flu from other guests. Especially during the holiday season when the stores are busy and packed. I can’t make you get the shot. You may have health issues that prevent you from it or you think you are an invincible immortal that doesn’t have to worry about such petty things like the flu.

All I do know is that I got my shot this year and every year since I had some strangers that were customers get me sick. I like sharing but not that kind of sharing. I rather be stabbed in the arm with a needle than go through the misery that is known as the flu again. Ask yourself. (Those that don’t have health conditions that make it difficult to get the shot.) Do you enjoy the misery of the flu? Can you afford to take the time off if you get it? Do you enjoy sharing diseases with your close friends and family? Below are a few websites that you can go to get more information recording flu shots.

Either way please consult a medical professional about the flu shot and not your anti-government Facebook buddy.

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

http://www.livescience.com/40279-flu-shot-information.html

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/top-13-flu-myths

A place for everything & everything in its place.

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You know when you go shopping and you change your mind about getting a particular item? That merchandise does not go just anywhere. It has its own place it goes in. In case you were wondering, that place is where you had picked it up. If you change your mind about purchasing something than you have three responsible choices about what to do with it.

1. Keep the item.

– Let us be honest. You and I both know you will be back to purchase it anyways.

  1. Return said merchandise back to where you originally got it.
  2. Give the merchandise to the cashier at check out.- They generally have buckets for such things because everyone knows items are always left at the registers. No one waves a magic wand to make those stray items disappear. They pick them up and stash them under the register area until it can be picked up and put back in its original spot.

It is all very simple. It is what you were (hopefully) taught at home and it is what you (hopefully) teach your kids. If anything every single teacher you ever had tried to teach you this.

The following examples happen nearly all the time.

– Clothes go back to the clothes department or to the fitting room attendant. They do not go in the grocery/freezer section, with the electronics or any house cleaning items.

– Freezer/Cold food do not go in the soda coolers by the registers, on clearance shelves, in the clothes department, display car seats, or the electronics department. Seriously people use common sense. Despite what social media says, we all have common sense. So please use it. If you change your mind about that beef but can’t walk the 1-2 aisles to put it back than leave it on a random shelf in the grocery area. An employee will be around to put it back where it goes. Thawing equals wet liquid which is not good in any way to be around electronics.

– Your empty drink cups from some other place or from that store do not go on any random shelf. Employees do not walk around with gloves on to pick up something that has had your mouth and therefore saliva on it. You can hold onto your empty cup until you have a chance to dispose of it properly.

– Full price items do not go on clearance shelves. Period. You know that one time that you picked up from the clearance shelf thinking it was on sale only to find out it wasn’t? There is a 99% chance that it was not an employee that put it there. It was your fellow shoppers being lazy. S/he decided to get the clearance item and left the full priced item in its place.

Employees can spend almost an entire shift picking up after each of you instead of being available to help you. Next time you want to complain about no one being around to help you think about those random items that you left scattered around the store in the wrong spots. The employees are cleaning those up. We would love to help you but we do not love cleaning up after you. So, help us, help you and make sure the unwanted merchandise is put back in its place where it belongs.

The employee is not your hacker.

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Numerous companies have been hacked in the past year alone. The information that was stolen wasn’t just the customers but the employees also. Why is that? It is because the employees are customers also. Roughly half of Americans have been a victim of the data breaches. It was not the company that stole from you. It was not the employee. It was a hacker.

A person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system.

Hacker (noun)- computers: a person who secretly gets access to a computer system in order to get information, cause damage, etc. : a person who hacks into a computer system: a person who plays a sport badly

The full definition per Merriam-Webster

1:  one that hacks
2:  a person who is inexperienced or unskilled at a particular activity <a tennis hacker>
3:  an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer
4:  a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system

Think about all that you have to or had to deal with because of a data breach. Now imagine having to go into your job that happens to be at one of the companies that had been compromised and be personally accused of being the hacker. You get treated as though you are the company itself, the computer system and the thief. You get treated as though it was all your fault even though someone else had done it. The whole time you have to keep a smile on your face while you silently scream on the inside with frustration.
Yes it is frustrating and inconvenient and above all else it is a violation. Any type of theft is a violation.  Do not treat the employee that is trying to help you as the thief. This type of crime has become a federal case. It has been happening on such a large-scale that it is federal. Do you really think that the employee in front of you would still have his/her job if s/he was the hacker?

Roughly 110 million people in America has had their information stolen within the last year alone. That is roughly half of the country. That is a lot of people who are having to go through the same hassle and struggle as you are. It is extremely likely that the employee you are interacting with is one of those people. Instead of attacking and lashing out at the employees you should embrace them because that employee may be very understanding about what you are having to deal with.

Yes, that employee that is helping you works for the company and anyone working for the company represents the company. Keep in mind that the employees at the store level are just grunts, replaceable parts, slaves to the public. S/he does not make any major company decisions or affect policy. S/he is doing the same thing you are doing. Working to make some type of living.

Hackers is not just a film from 1995 with a young Angelina Jolie. Hackers are real. They have been around since computers had been created and will continue to be around. The employee was not the perpetrator. The hackers were and you unfortunately are not the only victim and you won’t be the last.

The following is a list of articles and sites with more information as of this year alone.


http://money.cnn.com/2014/05/28/technology/security/hack-data-breach/

http://m.golocalprov.com/news/10-big-companies-with-recent-major-security-breaches

A timeline of companies from just the beginning of the year.

http://heavy.com/tech/2013/03/a-timeline-of-companies-that-have-been-hacked-in-2013/

The most recent retail chain.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/08/home-depot-confirms-that-it-was-hacked/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Definition of hacker.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hacker

The Debit way.

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To pay by debit is simple. It always has been. The way to pay by debit in any retail establishment that allows cash back has not changed. There are always three screens you have to go through. Whether paying as debit or using the debit card as credit it is always three screens.

“Wow. That’s a lot of screens to go through,” followed by wry chuckle. No it isn’t a lot of screens to go through. If people pay attention to what they are doing than they would know that. “How many screens are there?” Three. There is always three screens when you pay by debit card. Count with me.

  1. The pin number screen.
  2. The cash back screen.
  3. The okay screen.

The wording on the final screen may vary from store to store but it is still the same thing. “I use my debit as credit.” It is still three screens.

The following may seem familiar. Everyone has done it at some point and if they haven’t, they will.

Cashier: “Would you like cash back?”

Customer: staring at cashier “No.”

Cashier: Reaches over and presses No on the debit reader or says, “Press _____ button for no.”

Customer: “Oh.”

This part of the transaction is the cashier assisting a person to speed up the final payment process. It is not the time for people to get angry at the cashier for not quickly finishing the transaction. S/he can’t until the customer is done with his/her part. Again, if people pay attention to their surroundings than the transaction would be finished a lot faster. It is good to keep in mind what the payment method would be in the first place. If gift cards/cash will also be used than do not swipe and process the debit card first. When the debit card is swiped and processed first than that is the payment that will go through before any others can be done. Always pay with gift cards/cash first and the debit last. Remember. There is always three screens when you shop somewhere with the cash back option and that gift cards/cash goes before debit.

Ladies keep your panties on!

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Ladies, we need to have a little chat. It’s very simple and yet so many of you find this so difficult. Honestly, it is just plain disgusting. Keep your panties on in the changing room and if you don’t normally wear panties than wear them when you go clothes shopping. I mean really. Come on!

Would you buy something that other women have tried on without their panties on?

Do you wash your clothes after you have purchased them but before you wear them for the first time?

Do you share other women’s dirty panties?

If you think you can say no to the first question. Well, you’re wrong. You do it all the time. No, a store is not going to throw out every article of clothing that a person tries on. If they did that then they would have no clothes to sell.

Now let’s say you go into a store to look for a swimsuit and you find several cute ones that you think you might wear. You take them off of the rack and head to the changing rooms. You go into the changing room and try them on without your panties on. You do that because you want to be sure they are a good ‘fit’ and it makes it easier to just see what the suit would look like than by imagining it. Now let’s think for a moment. There is a good chance and I am saying extremely likely that other women had tried on the exact same swimsuit that you have on. It is also very likely that those other women did not have their panties on. Your crotch is now pressed up against a piece of fabric that has never been washed and was also pressed against those ladies crotches. Don’t say this doesn’t happen because it does. The ladies at the changing rooms find stains and smell odors on clothes that don’t belong there all the time.

Ladies. Ladies. Ladies.

Why do you try clothing on when you are menstruating? IF you HAVE to and I’m saying if. At least keep your panties on. Give at least a little bit of a barrier. The people working at the changing rooms really DO NOT like picking up clothing that have blood on them and others do not like buying them. Thankfully they wear gloves to pick up those now soiled clothes. Matter of fact that is a health hazard. Not to mention disgusting.

Don’t say that there is that liner there. Next time you try on a pair of jeans, shorts or swimsuits look for that lining. A lot of them don’t have it. Why? It’s simple. You rip them off. Yeah, some still have them. If you try something on that should and it isn’t there it is because another female removed it because they “don’t like the feel” or “don’t like the sound” of them. One was not replaced because the store ran out of them. Again.

Stores are not your personal, at-home closets. They are places you go to purchase the clothes to take home. Remember you are not the only one that shops for your clothes and trying them on. Also, keep in mind that, that article of clothing may have been returned after a woman took it home to try on. Like it or not. You are sharing your clothes.

For the love of all women out there do us all a favor. Keep your panties on!

Closed is Closed.

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When a store is closed. It’s closed. Period. It isn’t a suggestion. It just is. Most of the lights are usually off and employees are standing near the door waiting to be let out. When you see employees gathered near a door in a building means that the doors are locked, Surprisingly this is not an invitation for a person to walk up to the door, knock and asked to be let it “for a quick second.”  When a store is closed you can not go inside to buy something for whatever reason. Give whatever sob stories, reasons or threats that you want but the registers are closed and you are not getting in.

There are signs on the doors with Hours of Operation on them. They say when the store is opened and when the store is closed. They are not suggested times. They are not a decoration. They are set and you are not an exception to them.

The Definition of the word CLOSED by Merriam-Webster is:

  • covering an opening
  • having an opening that is covered
  • not operating or open to the public
  • having ended
  • not being worked anymore

Closed means not operating or open to the public.

If you see an employee standing outside the doors waiting to go in that means the store is closed or not yet open. You can stand at the door flashing your hands saying “Open. Open. Open.” That does not mean it will happen.The doors will open for you to be able to go shopping at the designated time which is posted on the door/window/wall. You can not go in before hand to shop and then wait at the registers. You can wait in your car, near the doors or at another location that is anywhere outside of the store. You can not and will not be allowed to shop before the store is open. Again. Your sob stories, reasons and threats will not change anything.

“But I have a really good reason…”Yeah. I’m sure you do. I’m also sure that it is a safety and security issue to allow non-employees or unauthorized personnel into the store during non-working hours. The managers and employees do not know you. When they tell you that you are not allowed in turn around and go back to your car and wait patiently. threatening them with bodily harm because you did not get your way is not going to make them want to allow you in the store. You can actually be barred from ever entering a store for issuing threats at employees. You are grown. You know that there are rules and that you have to be patient. I promise you. The store will open and you will be able to get your items that you need.

In case you don’t believe me on the definition of the word closed.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/closed

“Doesn’t anyone actually work here?”

Nope. No one works in that store. The shelves are stocked by invisible stocking fairies. the registers are manned by very realistic androids and that “person” standing there helping a customer is actually an interactive hologram. Very few, and I mean very few, retail establishments policy is to have someone standing there twiddling their thumbs waiting for someone.

When an employee can’t be found it is because they are working. They are either stocking shelves, getting merchandise from the back, helping someone or cleaning. You do know that the stores don’t automatically clean themselves right? There are those rare instances an employee is taking a break or a lunch. (Not like that is something that is required by law or anything.) The real reason employees take breaks and lunches is because they just don’t want to do anything.

You do realize that 98% of the time when you ask the question, “Doesn’t anyone actually work here?” It is an employee that is being asked. So just ask him/her for whatever help it is that you need. The employees are not hiding away from you. They are somewhere doing their job. A good portion of the time they are helping someone that came before you. The concept of ‘wait your turn’ is used in retail. It is something everyone is taught at a young age and reminded about all through their school years. It isn’t a conspiracy or a personal vendetta of the store against you and your time either.

“Every time I go into such & such store I can’t ever find someone to help me.”

That’s because employees are playing hide and seek and are very good at hiding. There are a number of reasons why a store may be short handed and a lot of the time it is a combination of them.

The Reasons:

Someone Just Quit.- It takes time to hire someone on and then train. I know it is hard to believe but it is true. People aren’t actually stolen off the streets to work in these places. 

Someone just went on maternity leave.- Very few places even have paternity leave. Sorry new fathers but you are just going to have to sleep-walk through it.

Someone just called in.- This one is the most common. Happens all the time. In a single day half the staff could call in for any number of reasons. A lot of people do not answer their phone when work calls to pick up the hours unless they need the money. Since it is human beings that are employed than there are many, many, many reasons for call ins. Honestly too many to list. If you have used it at your own job someone has used it in retail.

Payroll.- Payroll isn’t matching what sales should be so hours were cut equalling to lower staff on hand. (During certain times of year this is very common. If you don’t shop then the store doesn’t make the money to have someone waiting in the store to help you.)

No Call. No show.- That means exactly that. An employee that was scheduled to work and didn’t show up and s/he did not call in to let a supervisor know. This is something that tends to occur but mostly during the holidays. I mean really? Who wants to work 6 days a week all through the holiday season when the foot traffic for the store has doubled?

If you see two employees standing there talking, well, there is a reason for that. The primary reason is because it is store related. That is one person from the earlier shift giving the person from the next shift all information pertaining to that day. You know the type of stuff. For instance that the registers stopped working, the debit readers on the fritz, the schedule that needs to be re-arranged because 2-9 people called in and some of those are the closers. Any new information from managment or corporate that everyone needs to be informed on. (This is where that game of telephone comes in handy.) There are times conversations are not work related. Do you know why? I know why. It is because a lot of the time those people walking around with smiles on their faces spend more time at their job than they do with their own family. The only time it is the other way around is because of payroll or someone has limited availablity. It is like that at any job not just in retail. If they don’t stop talking to each other to help you than maybe they are on break. IF they aren’t than get mad. If they stop talking to help you than don’t.

To sum it all up. Yes, someone does work there. You just need to be patient longer than 10 seconds and wait your turn like all of your teachers have always told you.