Whether renting videotapes, air compressors, or moving vans, or dropping off clothes to be drycleaned or appliances to be serviced, we rely on counter and rental clerks to handle these transactions efficiently. Although the specific duties of these workers vary by establishment, counter and rental clerks answer questions involving product availability, cost, and rental provisions. Counter and rental clerks also take orders, calculate fees, receive payments, and accept returned merchandise. (Cashiers
and retail salespersons
, two occupations with similar duties, are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.)
Regardless of where they work, counter and rental clerks must be knowledgeable about the company’s services, policies, and procedures. Depending on the type of establishment, counter and rental clerks use their special knowledge to give advice on a wide variety of products and services, ranging from hydraulic tools to shoe repair. For example, in the car rental industry, these workers inform customers about the features of different types of automobiles, as well as daily and weekly rental costs. They also ensure that customers meet age and other requirements for renting cars, and they indicate when and in what condition the cars must be returned. Those in the equipment rental industry have similar duties, but must also know how to operate and care for the machinery rented. In drycleaning establishments, counter clerks inform customers when items will be ready and what the effects, if any, of the chemicals used on garments are. In video rental stores, counter clerks advise customers about the use of video and game players and the length of a rental, scan returned movies and games, restock shelves, handle money, and log daily reports.
When taking orders, counter and rental clerks use various types of equipment. In some establishments, they write out tickets and order forms, although most use computers or bar-code scanners. Most of these computer systems are user friendly, require very little data entry, and are customized for the firm. Scanners read the product code and display a description of the item on a computer screen. However, clerks must ensure that the data on the screen pertain to the product.