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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!

    Please Turn Down The Gravity

    | Washington, DC, USA | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Math & Science

    (I work as a courtesy clerk and bag boy at a grocery store. My state has recently started charging people for store-provided paper or plastic bags. Whenever possible, I try to fit all the customers’ items into the reusable bags that they give me. In this case, the customer only hands me one reusable canvas bag. I have just finished packing it as full as it will go, when the customer’s wife joins us at the register.)

    Customer’s Wife: “Oh, that bag is way too heavy. Neither of us will be able to lift it.”

    Me: “I’m sorry about that. Would you like me to get another bag and re-pack these items for you?”

    Customer’s Wife: “Yes, please.”

    (The customer’s wife hands me another reusable canvas bag. I finish bagging their groceries, distributing the items as evenly as I can between the two bags. I then put the bags into their shopping cart, to make room on the counter so that I can start bagging the next person’s items.)

    Customer’s Wife: “Oh, no. These bags are still too heavy. We still won’t be able to lift them.”

    Me: “I’m so sorry about that. I can get you some of the paper bags that the store provides, and help you re-bag your items again.”

    Customer’s Wife: “No, no. I don’t think we need any more bags. We just need these bags to be less heavy!”

    Pola-Roid Rage

    | Wasilla, AK, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, Liars & Scammers

    (I work the returns counter at a retail store. We have a customer that comes in every couple of months and returns several packs of Polaroid film, each worth about $20. She never has a receipt and always has the same excuse that she bought too much for the occasion. We suspect she is stealing them from another store in the area, and returning them at our store. Our loss prevention team doesn’t have enough on her to deny the returns. The electronics department implements a policy that we are not allowed to return Polaroid film without a receipt if it doesn’t have one of our security tags on it. Sure enough, the customer comes back in after this policy is in place. None of the boxes she brings in have our security tags on them.)

    Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m not able to return these without a receipt.”

    Customer: “But I’ve returned these here before. Why can’t I now?”

    Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. They changed our return policy. We are no longer allowed to return this type of film without a receipt if it doesn’t have our security tag on it.”

    Customer: “Well, I know I bought it here. I want my money back.”

    Me: “Again, I’m sorry, ma’am. These do not have our security tag on them. I cannot do a return without a receipt. Could you have purchased them from [other store in the area]?”

    Customer: “NO! I bought them here. If I can’t return them here I just won’t shop here anymore!”

    Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, ma’am, but I have to follow our return policy.”

    (The customer walks off with her film, huffing as she goes. After about 10 minutes the customer’s husband storms up to my counter.)

    Customer’s Husband: “You calling my wife a thief?!”

    Me: “Excuse me, sir?”

    Customer’s Husband: “My wife was just up here trying to return film. She said you told her she couldn’t return it because it was stolen!”

    Me: “No, sir. I explained to her that I couldn’t return the film without a receipt because they don’t have our security tags on them. Then I asked if she might have purchased them from [other store in the area]. I never accused her of stealing.”

    Customer’s Husband: *shouting* “I’ve never seen this ‘security tag’ you’re talking about. You’re lying to me!”

    (The customer’s husband storms off towards the electronics department, shouting.)

    Customer’s Husband: “I’m going to prove you’re a liar. Then I’m gonna kick your a**!”

    (I run after him to try to warn the department manager of what’s about to happen. When the husband gets into the department he starts pulling 35mm film packs off the shelf shouting.)

    Customer’s Husband: “I don’t see no security tag!”

    (He then throws the packages over the shelf. The manager of the department is now dodging packs of film as he is trying to get to the customer. I reach him first. I grab a Polaroid film pack off the shelf and show the man the security tag on the back that I have been referring to all along. The man stops mid-throw and mid-shout, looks at me for a moment and then walks away without saying a word. We never saw either of them again in our store.)

    High Five Low Point

    | MD, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, Math & Science, Money

    (A customer has come in to pick up some parts they ordered. They provided part numbers and quantities. He is looking through the items. The manufacturer sells some of their small parts in package quantities only, and we always let customers know when they have to buy a whole package.)

    Customer: “These five are individually packaged?”

    Me: “Yes. You ordered five.”

    Customer: “No. It’s supposed to be a pack of five.”

    Me: “So you needed twenty-five?”

    Customer: “I only need one, but they’re supposed to be $2 for a pack of five.”

    Me: “Well, since we can buy them individually, we sell them individually. They’re $2 each.”

    Customer: “But I don’t want five. I only need one. I only want to buy one if they’re individually packaged.”

    Me: “That’s fine.”

    (I take the others back and finish up the transaction. The customer intently looks over the receipt after I give it to him.)

    Customer: *in a mildly upset voice* “You charged me shipping and handling.”

    Me: “Yes. You ordered things we don’t keep in stock and we were charged to have them shipped in for you.”

    Customer: “Look, I don’t want to be that a**-hole customer and stand here and argue like a jack-a**. I just want to have a conversation.”

    Me: “Ok.”

    (I wait for him to keep talking.)

    Customer: “I just want to have a conversation.”

    Me: “Ok.”

    (Again, I wait for him to keep talking.)

    Customer: “Instead of getting all upset.”

    Me: “Ok.”

    (I still wait for him to keep talking.)

    Customer: “You charged me shipping and handling for something I didn’t even want. The one part was supposed to be $2 for a whole pack.”

    Me: “Well, you called me with the part numbers you wanted. Right?”

    Customer: “Yeah…”

    Me: “And you also told me the amount of each you wanted. Right?”

    Customer: “Yeah…”

    Me: “The pricing and availability on what you wanted was looked up before they were ordered. You were told the pricing, on each, and package quantities. I told you what the prices would be plus tax and shipping. We don’t know the exact shipping amount until the items arrive. I gave you the option of paying more for shipping to get them here faster, which you declined, because you said you weren’t in a hurry.”

    Customer: “I wasn’t told there would be shipping. The guy I talked to didn’t say anything about it. Nobody said anything about additional shipping and handling.”

    Me: “You talked to me. When I gave you the prices I told you they would be plus tax AND shipping. You told me to go ahead with the order using the slower, cheaper, shipping option. I was also able to combine your order with an order of parts we normally stock, so you were only charged for part of the total shipping.”

    Customer: “Uh, oh, well… um. Thanks for having a conversation with me.”

    (The customer takes a couple of steps away, then suddenly switches to a perturbed huff.)

    Customer: “I’m going to keep the extra shipping charges in mind the next time I need to find someplace to order parts.”

    Me: “You do that, and I’ll be keeping in mind your reluctance to pay for what you ordered and the shipping you approved.”

    Take Note Of Your Child

    | Winnipeg, MB, Canada | At The Checkout, Love/Romance, Money

    (A rather elderly customer is purchasing several packs of cigarettes, and other items. After I give her the total, she pulls some money out of her purse. She decides to buy the cigarettes as a carton, for the larger discount. I tell her the new total and she suddenly looks confused.)

    Customer: “Where’s the fifty dollar bill I gave you?”

    Me: “You haven’t given me anything, ma’am.”

    Customer: “Yes, I did. I handed you a fifty dollar bill.”

    Me: “Are you sure? Maybe you put it back in your purse.”

    (After arguing with me long enough for my coworker to serve four more customers at the other till, she finds the $50 bill… in her purse. She pays and leaves in a huff, via automobile. Moments later, a seven-year-old boy approaches the front doors, holding a beverage and looking confused. We stare in confusion ourselves, until the customer’s car pulls back into our parking lot. She had forgotten her grandson in our store.)

    Flip Flop Flop

    | NM, USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Money, Themed Giveaway

    (I work in a department store selling shoes. I’m all alone in my department one night. A rather bedraggled looking customer comes in, grabs a display sandal, and slams them on my counter.)

    Customer: “I want to buy these.”

    Me: “Okay. What size do you need?”

    Customer: “Whatever. Just pick one.”

    (I look down at his feet to estimate his size, and notice he is barefoot. I go back into the stock room and grab a pair of the sandals he wants. When I get back out to the counter, security is standing there waiting.)

    Me: “Okay, sir. I grabbed you a nine. Do you want to try them on?”

    Customer: “No. Just ring them up.”

    Me: “Okay. That’ll be $107.80.”

    (The customer rummages through his wallet for several minutes, and finally hands me $4.)

    Me: “Thank you, sir. Now we just need $103.80.”

    Customer: “I handed it to you, sweetie.”

    Me: “You only handed me $4. That’s not enough for these shoes.”

    Customer: “Oh, gosh, sweetie. I’m sorry. Here.”

    (The customer hands me another stack of dollar bills, which I count. He’s still about $70 short.)

    Me: “Okay. That’ll be another $70.”

    Customer: “I already gave it to you!”

    (I count out the total bills he handed me, and show him my screen showing the total. I grab a calculator and work out the difference for him.)

    Customer: “I’M TELLING YOU, I ALREADY PAID YOU!”

    Security: “You didn’t pay her enough, sir.”

    Customer: “Screw this place!”

    (The customer takes his money back and storms out the door.)

    Me: *to security* “Well, that was interesting.”

    Security: “I told him he couldn’t be in here without shoes, so he said he’d go buy some. Glad to see that worked out for him.”


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