From Southern Alberta — 09/30/2010
Pay - Promises were made in the interview that were never kept. As a cashier, the only way for me to get a raise was to begin working the customer service desk, something that I made clear I wasn't comfortable doing. Regardless of my misgivings, I was simply scheduled to train and then work that position, and the raise was not worth the extra grief involved with the position.
Respect - Although many customers were wonderful, many were downright rude and abusive. Managers never intervened when customers became insulting, swearing loudly and putting down the cashiers and in some cases even throwing merchandise, receipts, flyers, and so on at the cashiers. Often, the manager would come in and break company policy to give the customer what they wanted when they behaved in such a manner, making the cashier look bad.
Benefits - Although there are posters up everywhere in the break rooms, locker rooms, and so on about health and other benefits for the employees, no one bothered to actually discuss what these benefits were and who was entitled to them. There is an employee discount, but you must wait in line at customer service to get it. This can be frustrating when you have a short break and there is a long line, and usually only one person operating behind the customer service desk.
Job Security - Depends when you are hired, for what you are hired, and what relationship you have with the managers. There are employees that behave atrociously (rude to customers, bring their cell phones onto the floor, disappear for hours, don't complete their work) and get away with all of it because they are either literally related to the manager or store owner or are friends with them.
I was severely reprimanded for my behaviour towards a customer, and when I asked what the complaint was exactly, when it was placed, and what it was regarding so I could improve my behaviour and make sure it didn't happen again my manager declined to give me any information. She told me that the customer had declined to give any information whatsoever about the incident, which I found confusing. I had a complaint on my record without a specific date, much less any real information. A long while down the road, the company seemed to be edging out the employees that had worked there for a while and thus received a higher wage. Hours were cut, and then cut again to sometimes no more than four hours a week, if you worked at all, something that the manager had promised in my interview would not happen (being cut down drastically - thirty hours a week to none). I was called into the office and told I had received another one of these mystery complaints (though I must admit those weren't the words they used) and again they declined giving me any factual information about the incident. I was then told I was being let go, because obviously with two non-specific complaints placed over a year apart my behaviour was an issue.
However, as I said earlier, if you are related to management or very friendly with them, you will not have any worries.
Work/Life Balance - The managers that made up my schedule were very accommodating when it came to weekly schedules, but when it came to holidays those who were closest to them got the best shifts.
One year I managed to pinch a muscle or something in my lower back, we're still not exactly sure what happened, and I had to call in sick. I did not have a history of doing so, and in the three years that I was there I missed no more than 5 shifts. I explained that I was in a lot of pain, and if it didn't clear up I would have to go to the emergency room. I was told there was no one to cover my shift, it was only four hours, and they would get me a chair. I explained that I didn't think they understood how serious the situation was, and I was told that if I didn't come in I shouldn't bother coming back at all. At the time, the job situation here was particularly poor, and I really needed to pay for my medical insurance and student loans. Feeling that I had no other options, I went in for my four hours. After that was up, I spent another four hours in emergency and then two days in bed.
Thanks Canadian Tire!
Career Potential/Growth - They talked a lot about growth potential in the interview, but that was pretty much a joke. Despite having 9+ managers and various assistant managers these positions were rarely open, and often people were hired outside of the company instead of employees that had been with the company for a very long time (a decade in some cases).
Location - Not that great, either on the outskirts of town near several similar stores (making leaving the store for your break hard) or right in the centre making parking a nightmare.
Co-worker Competence - Some co-workers were very knowledgable and eager to help and willing to do their job well. Most were not and spent the majority of their time goofing off. Despite having 9+ managers, only one would be around after 5pm, and they would be expected to handle all departments regardless of what they actually did. For example, if you were working customer service and only the automotive manager was available, you weren't going to have a lot of luck because his knowledge and experience with customer service/returns/the registers is extremely limited, often less than yours. The main problem with this is he's been there five years, and you've been there five months!
Work Environment - Not bad, usually clean. Often sales tags are left up, resulting in confusion/the customer getting angry. When a mess is made it is a challenge getting someone to tidy it, and customers seem particularly obsessed with opening packaging, especially if a display model is available.