Chamberlain's Shop Rules
Conditions for staff in a Victorian shop
By Nicholas Blatchley
The following are the rules staff had to follow at the Victorian shop Chamberlain Brothers. This was located in Holloway Road, London, but shops in Hertfordshire towns would have imposed similar sets of rules, giving an idea of just how difficult and demanding life could be for a shop assistant at this time.
1. Assistants to be in shop at 8.55am, fine 3d. Dusters at 8.15 am, fine 1d.
2. 45 minutes allowed for breakfast and dressing.
3. Any assistants prevented from attending business through illness their salary will discontinue after first two days.
4. Any assistant requiring goods to be served between 10 and 11 in the morning, or between 6 and 7 the evening, and then to be served only by shop walkers; the goods always to be entered in a book kept for that purpose, to be made into a parcel, and sent up to the dining-room. No one allowed to take their own parcels from the shop; they must without exception, be given to the cashier to be sent up.
5. A bill to be made out for 1d.and over, or where the articles exceed three in number the same to be called back, examined, and every bill to be signed, or fine 3d.
6. All bills to be made out and money taken to the desk before making the goods into a parcel, and the bill always to be enclosed in the parcel, unless “otherwise desired ; for disregarding either of the above fine 3d.
7. All money left on goods to be taken to the desk with memorandum for same, or fine 3d.
8. Any article left in shop by customers to be taken to the desk, or fine 6d.
9. All bills to be properly numbered and dated, and amount given in payment of same to be put at foot of bill, or fine 3d.
10. For not counting change before leaving desk. and not counting same to customer when giving the change, fine for each 3d.
11. For presenting bad money at the desk, fine 1s.
12. For taking money to desk without checking it first, fine 1d.
13. All bills to be made out with blue leaf, or fine for each 3d.
14. For giving wrong measure, fine 3d.
15. Leaving goods out of parcel, fine 6d.
16. Cutting goods off, or selling them and not charging for them, fine 6d.
17. Losing sale of goods when in stock, or spoiling goods by badly cutting, or not assisting in finding and showing the nearest goods asked for in their own department, fine for each 3d.
18. Where goods are in stock and lost sale of by the one keeping the same not being able to find them, the one keeping the same will be fined 6d.
19. Disappointing a customer through neglect, fine 3d.
20. Every article not in stock to be entered in order book, or fine 3d.
21. Any article sold out to be entered in order book by one selling same out, and any article asked for which is regularly kept in stock, and the same being sold out and not entered in order book, the one keeping the same will be fined for each article 1d.
22. Anyone allowing a customer to leave the shop unnerved without first calling attention to the same 3d. fine.
23. For not being polite and attentive to customers, fine 6d.
24. Anyone taking special order must enter the same in order book, with address of customer and with full particulars, with number of the one taking same, date, &c.. And must see that their own special orders are executed to time, or fine for each 3d.
25. Neglecting to put down goods wanted for stock for Tuesday in every week (being the most important day of the week for sorting up stock), fine 3d.
26. Goods sent out on approval must be entered in approval book, called back and signed for, and the same, when returned to be examined back and signed for and the bill or duplicate for those kept to be signed for at the time of seeing the goods back. No goods to be returned to stock until examined and made returned or fine 3d.
27. Goods brought back to be exchanged must be in good condition, or cannot be exchanged the same must be properly marked before put into stock, and a bill of the difference (if any) always given in debit and credit form, and the goods never to be put into stock till the bill for difference has been examined, or fine for each 3d.
28. Sending goods or patterns out on approval without a price, or with two different prices on same article, or not putting in paper, fine for each 3d.
29. When goods are sent out on approval, the one taking the same is always to have the check and premiums for the goods sold, except when they are taken by the lad; in that case the one sending them out is to have the check and premiums.
30. For leaving goods on counter after serving which ought to be in fixtures or boxes.
31. For standing talking two or three together, the same will be fined 3d. each.
32. For walking over goods.
33. For scribbling on goods.
34. For pulling down paper or bags and leaving them on the floor.
35. For careless packing goods.
36. For throwing away boxes without seeing that they are quite empty.
37. For being without scissors and pencil.
38 For leaving goods on counter after serving which ought to be in fixtures or boxes.
39. For leaving less than one yard of ribbon, &c., or half a yard of frilling.
40. For running out without permission.
41. For eating sweets or other things in business. Fine 1d.
42. For undercharging in a bill, maker and examiner, to make good the amount
43. For omitting to have a bill examined 6d.
44. For omitting to put down a check, 3d.
45. For losing a duplicate, 2/ 6d.
46. For using any other book than your own, 6d.
47. For not making a clear and distinct bill, 3d.
48. For gossiping or speaking to an assistant when serving only to ask business questions, 6d.
49. For leaving the shop with less than two in.
50. For standing on chairs without a board or something for protection.
51. For not removing all old marks from cards, boxes, blocks, &C., when re-carding, or transferring goods from one box to another.
52. For having goods in departments not plainly and correctly marked, the one in department keeping the same will be fined.
53. For not keeping remnants and soiled stock properly marked up.
54. For putting goods down in order book when plenty in stock.
55. Leaving goods out of paper or boxes in stock room, or otherwise sprawling about, the one having last used them will be fined. For each of the above rules the fine will be 3d.
56. For putting wrong address on parcels, fine 3d.
57. All parcels to be neatly done up, and where sent for customers the same are to be fully addressed on labels kept for the purpose, with number of the one selling same if paid or to pay; if to pay, the amount, and the date, or fine 3d.
58. All parcels are to be entered in parcels. book by cashier or shop walker, the same to be signed by the one taking the same, and all money brought back to be given to the shop walker, and the same to be signed for by the shop-walker receiving the same.
59. No pms. will be allowed unless signed for at the same time as bill; the same must then be signed only by duly authorized persons.
60. Piece goods to be shown before remnants, unless otherwise desired, or fine 3d.
61. Of late there has been too little attention given to introducing goods to customers, and as ours are a class of customers that as a rule will buy goods introduced to them, no customer must be allowed to leave the shop without at least one or more articles being shown to them or fine 1d.
62. For Exchanging Customers without permission, fine 3d.
63. For sleeping in any bed room other than the one assigned the fine 2/6d then dismissal for a second offence.
64. For sleeping out without permission, 2/ 6d. first offence, second, dismissal.
65. The time for being in at night is 11 pm., 5 minutes grace. Gas out at 11.15 pm.
66. For having candle in bed rooms, 2/ 6d.
67. For driving nails in walls or doors of bedrooms, 6d.
68. 30 minutes allowed for dinner, 20 minutes for tea.
69. All fines to be appropriated to a library fund.
291 to 295, Holloway Road.