Businesses should address customers formally.
Not necessarily “Sir” or “Ma’am” (although I wouldn’t complain if they did) – a simple “Mr. So-and-so” or “Miss So-and-so” would suffice.
I don’t know when the change started, but I do know when I first noticed it. My family was checking into a hotel a few years ago and the clerk called my dad by his first name when she handed him his room key. That surprised me, because until that point people in retail settings have always called my dad by his last name (with a “Mr.” in front).
And that’s the way it should be: when talking to a customer, call him by an appropriate title.
Maybe stores are trying to differentiate themselves by appearing more comfortable, more welcoming. More of a small-town place where everybody knows your name.
It doesn’t work that way. You call people by their first names because you actually know them, not because you read their names off their credit cards.
Perhaps a customer likes to be called by his first name. He is still free to inform the clerk or cashier or waitress to call him by his first name. But to default to being on a first-name basis? I see that as a decline in manners and civility.
Another situation, which is related to the previous point, is when making reservations. Whether you call ahead or it’s just a busy night and you have to wait for a table, the receptionist/maitre d’ will ask for your name. I have noticed more and more people giving their first names. And more and more businesses expecting first names.
When I give my last name, the hostess will repeat it but she will change it to the closest-sounding first name. Then I have to correct her and spell it. That has happened enough that now, when asked for my name, I will usually start with “My last name is” and then give my name and then spell it. I try to leave no room for error.
If prompted for a first name, I am tempted to reply “Mario”.
Intercom-type static noise
Mario, party of 3. Mario, party of 3.
I picture anyone who happens to be a Nintendo fan also waiting in the lobby smiling to himself when he hears that announcement.
For the sake of Jacob My servant,
And Israel My chosen one,
I have also called you by your name;
I have given you a title of honor
Though you have not known Me.