an imprint of counterpoint

The Customer is Always Wrong

The Customer is Always Wrong

Edited by Jeff Martin

Listen to Jeff Martin talk about retail on NPR’s All Things Considered

From Mom and Pop general stores to huge chains, it is impossible to think of American experience without thinking about the buying/selling culture that is retail. It is almost a rite of passage to pay your dues in a retail environment. The Customer Is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles is a funny, yet informative collection of essays by writers from all corners of the literary world. Elaine Viets, author of the Dead-End Job mystery series, describes all the crazy jobs she’s done to write her books; Jim DeRogatis (author ofLet it Blurt) describes hanging out with Al at Al Rocky’s Music Store; Colson Whitehead describes how three summers working a Long Island ice cream store put him off ice cream and desserts of all kinds for the rest of his life; and filling out the table of contents are Wade Rouse, Michael Beaumier, Po Bronson, Stewart Lewis, Victor Gischler, Timothy Bracy, Anita Liberty, Trisha Thomas, Kevin Smokler and T Cooper.

This book however not only shines a light on the absurdities of retail, but finds the delight in it as well. If it weren’t for the customer, our economy would not function. And for every abusive customer or moronic employee, there are people that come into our lives and change its course forever.


The Customer is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles
The mundane tasks and indignant exchanges with impossible customers are hilariously captured in this collection…. Some…are spun with a catty flair and flirt with a mild contempt for frivolous consumers; others…are outrageously funny and incorporate life lessons in the litany of humiliations. Breezy and occasionally creepy musings on everything from guilt over serving fattening Swedish pancakes to seniors to the horrors of working at Sears may provide some nostalgic chuckles and perhaps even some unpleasant flashbacks as this collection elevates retail selling to a rite of passage. 

—Publishers Weekly
Once I got past the shock and horror of not being asked to contribute to this book, I started to enjoy it . . . a lot. Cathartic and entertaining, these essays will rivet and delight, regardless of which side of the counter you stand on. 

—Simon Doonan, Creative Director Barneys New York (since 1986)
One more thing to give thanks for 

—The Very Short List
The results are uniformly sardonic, touching, hilarious, uplifting and bizarre; in short: terrific! …one really original take on retailing after another…. Kudos to Jeff Martin for compiling essays that so consistently fly readers to the moon. 

—Shelf Awareness
There must be a retail work experience so horrifying that there’s nothing funny about it. If so . . . Martin must have decided to excise it from The Customer Is Always Wrong . . . Customer’s best stories supersede its jokey title and become true slices of life . . . it never trivializes the value of suffering a little for a paycheck. 

—The Onion
The Customer is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles
Jeff Martin, editor
Paper | 5″ x 7 1/2″ | 256 pgs. | ISBN: 1-933368-90-X | List: $12.95 | 10/1/2008


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