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    Category: At The Checkout

    The customer has seemed normal and maybe even intelligent throughout the shopping purchase. But then they get to the checkout and as soon as human interaction is required it all falls apart. The checkout operators really are our first line of defense against the stupid customer!

    That Reasoning Doesn’t Fly

    | Boston, MA, USA | At The Checkout, Food & Drink, Tourists/Travel, Transportation

    (I work in a duty free shop and a customer wanting to buy a bottle of cognac comes to my register. All is well until I ask for his boarding pass.)

    Me: “All right, sir, may I see your boarding pass?”

    Customer #1: “No.”

    Me: “Then you can’t buy this cognac.”

    Customer #1: “Why not?”

    Me: “Alcohol is a customs bonded item, and as such can only be bought by people leaving the country directly from this point. I need to see your boarding pass so I can make sure you are doing so.”

    Customer #1: “But I am French.”

    Me: “That does not mean you are leaving the country.”

    Customer #1: “But this is an international airport.”

    Me: “Domestic flights go out of this airport regularly.”

    Customer #1: “Well, I won’t show you my boarding pass.”

    Me: “Than you can’t buy the cognac.”

    Customer #1: “But I want to.”

    Me: “Then I need to see your boarding pass.”

    Customer #1: “NO!”

    (This goes on for five minutes and the customer leaves in a huff without his cognac. The lady behind him comes up toting a five pound bag of pretzel M&Ms, which, like all candy, is not bonded.)

    Customer #2: “Um, I’m on a domestic flight to Phoenix. Can I buy these M&Ms?”

    Me: “Sure. Candy isn’t bonded.”

    Customer #2: “Okay.” *looks at the cognac* “After that last guy you might need some of that yourself.”

    A Spoonful Of Violence Helps The Medicine Go Down

    | OH, USA | At The Checkout, Health & Body, Money, Top

    (I am on quite a few prescription medicines, one of which costs $170. I am picking up four refills.)

    Pharmacy Clerk: “This one is $1.17. The second is $7.79. And the third is…”

    (He trails off and takes a few steps back from the counter separating us.)

    Pharmacy Clerk: “Uh… do you know how much this costs?”

    Me: “If it’s the [Brand Name Medicine], then it will be about $170.”

    (He looks relieved and returns to the register.)

    Pharmacy Clerk: “Sorry. On my first week on the job, a customer assaulted me after hearing the price of his medicine.”

    Take A Swipe At Reading

    | Raleigh, NC, USA | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Technology

    (The card reader in my store is a little different, in that it asks you to select credit or debit before you swipe. It is much more intuitive than most, and the machine gives very explicit instructions, but it still trips people up. The following happens at least 10 times a day.)

    Me: “Your total is [total]. Go ahead and select credit or debit on the screen first, and then swipe.”

    Customer: “Credit.” *swipes card*

    Me: “You’ll need to hit the credit button first, and then you can swipe.”

    Customer: *swipes card*

    Me: “Ma’am, if you’re using credit, you’ll need to hit the blue button on the screen. After you do that, you can swipe your card.”

    Customer: *hits button on screen*

    (Screen now reads, in large letters, PLEASE SWIPE CARD.)

    Customer: *stares blankly at screen*

    Me: “Ma’am… swipe your card now.”

    Customer: *swipes card* “Why is it asking for a PIN? This doesn’t have a PIN, it’s a credit card! Why doesn’t your machine work?!”

    Me: “It’s asking for a PIN, because you hit the green debit button instead of the blue credit button. Hit CANCEL, and we can start this again…”

    Playing The Race Ticket

    | OH, USA | At The Checkout, Bigotry, Money

    (I am black/white biracial. I have just started working at a clothing and home goods store. We have a return policy that states that if an item doesn’t come back with a ticket, we have to go find one out on the floor. I’m working register, as are a Spanish/Mexican lady, a Puerto Rican, two African American women, and our Polish manager. An older African American lady comes up to the register five minutes before closing and wants to return a pair of jeans.)

    Coordinator: *who is Spanish/Mexican* “Sorry, ma’am, these don’t have a ticket and we haven’t received any of these in a while. We will have to find a pair on the floor to match the price.”

    Customer: *huffs* “Those pants were 12.99. Just make a ticket and take them!”

    (The coordinator sends out one of us to look for a pair.)

    Coordinator: “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that, ma’am. I need to have a number to make them from so that the computer will accept it.”

    (It’s taking a while to find a style that matches what the customer is trying to return and two minutes pass. During this time, the rest of us have finished behind the counter and are waiting for the return to finish so that we can close the store. Our manager has come up from the office to see what is taking so long.)

    Customer: *more huffs* “This is taking too long! Where’s your manager? I wanna talk to your manager about this!”

    (We all look at our bemused manager.)

    Customer: “What, that blonde lady?!”

    Manager: “I’m sorry, but this is our policy. To do the return, we need to copy a ticket.”

    Customer: *eyerolls*

    (A match is found and the return is completed. As the customer is stuffing her wallet back in her purse, she leaves the store, muttering.)

    Customer: “That’s racist. If I was a white woman it would’ve been done faster.”

    (We all turned to each other and start laughing.)

    Manager: “[My Name] is the only white person here! This blonde is all peroxide!”

    Over-spilling With Irresponsibility

    | Scotland, UK | At The Checkout, Crazy Requests, Food & Drink

    (We sell hot drinks in takeaway cups. We serve them without sugar, and direct customers to the end of the counter where they can add it if they wish. My colleague has just served a woman her coffee:)

    Colleague: “Okay, that’s your latte there. Sugar is at the end of the counter if you need it. Enjoy your movie.”

    Customer: “Thank you.”

    (The customer takes the drink, and goes to the end of the counter, where she puts her cup on an uneven pile of napkins. When she then takes the lid off, the cup tips, and covers the counter and the customer. At this point, my colleague goes over to help clean up.)

    Colleague: “Don’t worry. We will get this cleaned up, and I will get you another coffee.”

    (After he gets the coffee, the customer asks for a supervisor.)

    Customer: “I think you should take responsibility for this accident. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault, but you should take responsibility.”

    Supervisor: “We should take responsibility for you placing your drink on the napkins instead of the counter, and then spilling it on yourself?”

    Customer: “Yes!”

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