Newest Review: ... quite a few people and sales racks, but I don't think this is the case in large River Island stores. The price range for garments is quite... more
Worst place to work- slave labour for minimum wage
Member Name: I-tried-this
Advantages: If your skinny, the uniform could come in handy-though dont rip them or they are no longer for work
Disadvantages: The way the staff are treated is out of order and I dont know why they or I put up with it so long
I used to work in a River Island store, I did so for 2 years, that's 2 years too long as far as I am concerned.
I started off on minimum wage. The job was clear cut, I was a shop assistant- or more famously known 'retail assistant'. My job varied, very slightly, but did vary.
There were several things or tasks you had to do depending on where you were positioned in the store.
There was front of house, which for our store also meant security as the head office refused to pay for any for us. The main role was to ensure every customer felt welcomed as they walked into the store and felt like they wanted to come back when they left the store. My manager requested me here a lot. I was meant to say 'hello' to every customer walking in, and 'thank you' to every customer walking out. At the front of the store also, are most of the best sellers in the store, so its imperative every customer is apparently asked if they 'are alright there?' it begins to roll off your tongue, and you soon forget to say it with the expectation that you will be asked for anything other then the size of which they are all out though you still have to radio to the stock room to get them to ask.
There was shoes and accessories, I (luckily) rarely had to do this- someone else was better at this then me, better meant that she sold more, but when I did have to do this, it involved running up and down stairs to the stock room, searching for shoes and trying to convince customers they looked great, if anything to prevent you having to run back upstairs and put them away. If you did spend time putting them away, invariably you would miss customers looking at shoes, and get spoken to by the manager for not being there for customers- even if you were doing your job.
There was fitting rooms- a night mare as you had to make sure only people with clothes went in, assume all customers were shop lifters- as most offences with tag removing and wrong items given back in a heap thrown at you would indicate. It also involved cleaning up after customers decided to relieve themselves (yes really) in-store, leave babies nappies or generally nor wear deodorant. On top of this there was keeping customers calm who were queuing and make sure every item going in and out were accounted for. And it always happened all at once, never one at a time. Too much stress as if anything was stolen, it was you that was told off.
Men's wear was a mixed bag, men like attention if they are shopping to buy, they need to be told they look good in things, especially of you are a young, a women or look vaguely pretty. Men's wear was always empty of customers, so you would be struggling to keep up your figures -if not, another telling off from the manager, but it was less stressful as obviously less customers means you can concertmaster on your jobs.
There was till work. Fairly straight forward, though easy to get cold as the air conditioning was always on too high as customers like to keep their coats on whilst shopping, and if your at the till for 8 hours, even if its in 2,3,4,5 or 6 hour slots, is still very easy to get chilly.
The stock room was my main role eventually, there is basicly more to do and this is why I tried very hard to get to this position. It involved keeping the entire stock room organised, receiving stock deliveries, unpacking, tagging, hanging and taking downstairs on heaps to the shop floor to be sold.
We would receive on average anything from 70 to 200 boxes per delivery day (2-3 times a week) and each box would have around 25 items in it. A team of around 3 or 4 people would be on hand to help but it was still rarely done inside the 4 hours slot. The amount of stuff we had to carry up and downstairs was appalling, these were 16 year old kids and carrying around 50 items at a time, its a wonder no one was hurt and sued.
So that's the basics, on top of your duties you were meant to remember the best sellers, make mark downs without customers walking off with stuff you were marking down for the sale, nor give away any details of when it started- not that staff were told unless it was less then a week away, scrub/clean -yes, clean, the store, with polish and disinfectant that left more debris then it was supposed to move, and tissues and old ripped up uniform to clean. The Head Office would not pay for a cleaner for us.
And the uniform! This was the real short straw- so uncomfortable and always running low on stock, the tops are made very cheaply and shrink about 2 sizes in the wash. They are thick- too thick for summer, and not warm enough for winter, Scarves were not allowed and one girl was actually hospitalised when she caught pneumonia after the company head office refused to install heating as outs had broken and we were told we were not allowed to wear scarves. The manager sat in her heated office, the rest of us freeze. I was so glad I was not full time staff, the girl unfortunately was not. They would not give her sick pay despite her being at one point, in a coma as she was suffering so severely, she remained on a drip for weeks and ended up needing to sue as she needed to pay her rent.
There is a discount on clothing, its 30% but you cannot buy more then £300 worth of clothes per season. How long is a season? Well that's whenever head office decide, when do they decide? Well that varies, one year we had only just 2 seasons, eight months apart, the following year 4 seasons. You can get 'uniform jeans' which are 75% off- bargain you think- until you are told this is limited to only the jeans at £34.99 a pair. This limits you to 2 pairs, and both of them are skinny. You can buy other River Island jeans to wear, but they are not allowed to be short and not allowed to have rips or tears on them, despite this being the bulk of the jeans the store sell. You can get about 2 pairs a year, just dont put on or loose weight, or you will be buyig a new pair with no uniform discount.
You really get a feel for how cheaply made the clothes are, the fabrics will tear easily, buttons fall off all the time, their shoes are well made I will give them that, but everything else just falls apart- and you can get it from Primark- many times exactly the same item, for a fraction of the price.
I dislike the company, they have a strong hierarchy, its not what you know, its who you know, its not how hard you work, its how far you can be abused, how far can they push you, how much can they squeeze out of you. You wont ever see a pay rise, but you may get a higher position.
As far as the management is concerned, all staff are thieves, there's the mandatory bag search before and after you go to work, that's normal, it happens in every store. But once a week you are reminded in group meetings that 60% of theft happens by store staff. What you don't get told is that its by managers, not by the basic staff.
You are also told that every customer is a potential shoplifter, buggies are there to hide stuff on, groups are there to conceal things. The only 'weapon' you are told you have, is going up to ask them if they are OK, apparently making them see you are their friend (???) and thus they will not steal from you. To be honest I would have thought this would have a negative effect- people want to shop In peace! If you harass them, they will not appreciate it and it may even trigger them going against you anyway!
I will never work for River Island again, I worked for Arcadia and it has taught me how a really good company works, how fairness works and how reward can follow good work.
Summary: I cant even bring myself to shop here again!