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Shop advert sparks anger by telling applicants they can abuse customers
Updated 11:35am Saturday 26th April 2014 in News
A village store in Hampshire has sparked outrage with its frank job advert that tells potential applicants they can verbally abuse customers.
Candidates are told they must have the ability to "feign interest" in hearing the same boring stories every day.
And they are informed: "Don't worry about a customer service background - here we assume the customer is usually wrong."
The humorous advert for a part-time shop assistant has been placed beside the till at Dever Stores, in Sutton Scotney, near Winchester.
But it has offended some customers who believe owner Ian Forsythe, 51, and his wife Hayley, 49, are taking a personal dig at them.
The multi-purpose store is a post office, cafe, newsagent, off-licence, and grocery shop.
The advert for the £6.31 an hour role says applicants will "need" a good sense of humour.
And the successful candidate must have: "The ability to feign genuine interest in hearing the same customer story every day, six days a week."
It adds: "We offer a genuinely fun working environment and the opportunity to verbally abuse the general public."
Mr Forsythe became frustrated working with an HR department when writing "politically correct" adverts during a 20 year career with international firms.
And he said now he is his own boss he can "cut out the jargon and tell it straight".
The shopkeeper, who has owned the business for six years, still expects applicants to be experienced and competent.
His advert says: "The part-time shop assistant MUST HAVE five years work history in any field (note that a prison term does not count as work history).
"Reliable and local (ideally walking distance).
"Articulate, literate, and numerate (confused? - you can stop reading now)."
It continues: "Fit and healthy (constant lifting of heavy items).
"Not too proud to clean the toilet, floor, window, etc.
"Strong work ethic.
"If you don't have ALL of the above, PLEASE... DON'T EVEN BOTHER!
"Haven't scared you off yet? - Great! Ask to speak to Hayley now."
The advert is in stark contrast to the image the store portrays on its website.
On the home page, the shop says it combines the "traditional values of personal service and quality".
And it adds: "Our driving force is to be seen by our customers as a model business for the village community of the 21st century."
Mr Forsythe, from Sutton Scotney, said he has already received a couple of applications but will keep the advert up for a few more weeks.
He said: "I spent 20 years working in the corporate world where I worked with an HR team writing politically correct adverts.
"Now I am able to inject a bit of humour into them, adopt a light-hearted approach, and tell it straight.
"We have placed the sign right beside the till, so our customer's can't miss it.
"Most people find it hilarious and enjoy the frankness of the advert but it has offended some people.
"Nobody has had the courage to tell me that it has upset them personally but I have heard from other customers that there are a few people who think the remarks are aimed at them."
He added: "It is proving quite difficult finding somebody with the experience to take the job.
"I'm not averse to offering a youngster the chance to secure a job, but I don't have the time to tell them the importance of making eye contact or the art of making conversation.
"These are skills they need to have developed already."
Conservative councillor Stephen Godfrey, who represents the village on Winchester City Council, said: "It's a very successful business, which has been built up over a number of years.
"Ten years ago it was under threat of closure but it is now thriving, and at the heart of the village. The owner should be commended.
"There may well be a few people who are offended by the advert but it should be taken in jest.
"I've been in the store many times and have never been abused. I just hope I'm not the customer who bores them with the same story every time."
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