Today I had an awesome experience with the very professional people in the ski equipment area, and would particularly like to commend the man that helped me, his name was Brent. He was amazing and so professional and so experienced in his knowledge with helping me with new ski boots and fitting them properly. However, as I went to checkout some other items I shopped for, I had a quite different experience. The nice gentleman who checked out my items kept referring to me as ma’am. Over and over he used this term, which I happen to find offensive. I wish now that I had educated him on the spot. Even more I wish that REI would educate their employees about how to address their customers. I don’t know any woman who likes to be referred to as ma’am. For a forward thinking company such as REI, I would think you would have some kind of sensitivity training about how to address customers. As much as I don’t like to be referred to as ma’am I also don’t like to be referred to as honey or dear or young lady! It really pisses me off! Please include a component to address this issue in your training! If it happens again, I will take the opportunity to educate your employee myself!
Thank you for being a customer of REI and for coming to the community to provide your feedback. We are happy to hear that you appreciated the level of service Brent delivered. We also appreciate hearing from you regarding the rest of your experience. We apologize that we missed the mark. We will follow up with you via direct message to gather some more details before we pass your feedback along.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to learn and do better next time.
Inquiring minds want to know ----what is the preferred term?
I don't know....my mother raised me on 'yes ma'am/no ma'am' 'yes sir/no sir' yes miss/no miss', it's called good manners in my neck of the woods
That is why i asked the question. I am really puzzled. Working in National Parks, I have done a lot of public contact and i am sure I have uttered "Ma'am" from time to time. I am at a loss for an alternative - but I am razor sharp -its probably not "Toots" or "Babe".....
The term ma'am (yes ma'am, no ma'am), like yes sir and no sir, is a term that I was raised with by family, teachers and others (both male and female) that influenced my upbringing to show respect. The term was (and is) a sign of respect, period, nothing else and absolutely not negative or derogatory. I hate that @Chrisfox @ was offended by it but believe a more appropriate response would have been to tactfully and respectfully note that she doesn't want to be referred to as ma'am to that one associate. If the REI associate continued to use the term, thats something to take up with REI management at that store. I think that using a public forum like this to demand a company implement company wide change as a first resort because you were offended by a word that was used (in all likelihood) to show you respect is childish and unnecessary.
I hate that the scourge of political correctness and cancel culture is creeping into this site. We are all humans. We all have a common bond, we love the outdoors. Let's look for ways to celebrate those common bonds.
We trust that people are coming to this with good intentions - that our employee did not mean to offend, that Chris wanted to give constructive feedback on something that is important to her, and those of you who have responded intend to show respect when using the word.
What we’re hearing is that this word doesn’t work for Chris and that not every woman feels respected by it. Replying here and saying that how she feels isn’t right is not a dynamic we’re interested in creating here in the community. When someone is speaking up about their experiences, it’s important to meet them where they are at.
@REI-CarterC thank you for the response and I couldn't agree more. I love the outdoors and come here to meet and correspond with folks who share that love and often bring new perspective. This is also an escape for me from a world that is quickly becoming consumed by negativity and I believeany others feel the same. I completely agree with using this very public forum as a means to redress a wrong (perceived or otherwise) when all other means have been exhaused and failed. I just beileve it's a dangerous precedent to set as a first option.
Yeah, I get it CarterC, and you said it eloquently and succinctly. But I thought Hikermore's question was an honest one. What is the proper term of address for a person whose name you don't know?