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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!

    Six Red Flags

    | TX, USA | At The Checkout, Criminal/Illegal, Liars & Scammers

    (Two customers come to my register with two baskets overflowing with groceries. They’re accompanied by four children between the ages of 4 and 11. The carts are loaded to overflowing with baby food and formula, diapers, expensive meats, cheese, beer, wine, sodas, and lots of frozen meals. They are extremely friendly and lay on the endearments quite heavily.)

    Me: “So, did you find everything okay tonight, folks?”

    Customer #1: “Oh, honey! Bless you! You bet we did, baby!”

    Customer #2: “Woooo! More than everything! Look at these steaks! These are gonna be great!”

    (The customers and their eldest two children load the first cart onto the belt. They take it, empty, to the end of my register to bag and load their groceries, since I don’t have a bagger. After several minutes, I finish ringing them up.)

    Me: “Okay. Your total comes to [large, triple digit sum]. How would you like to pay that today?”

    Customer #1: “By check. Let me write it up for you, honey.”

    (As the first customer writes the check, the rest of the group finishes packing the groceries. She finishes writing the check and hands it to me.)

    Me: “Okay, great. Can I see your ID to confirm a few details?”

    Customer #1: “Sure, honey. Sure.”

    (She opens her wallet and flips to the clear ID panel. The driver’s license inside looks really wrong.)

    Me: “Sorry. Do you mind if I remove the ID from the plastic to see it better?”

    Customer #1: “No, baby! Go ahead, sweetie! Help yourself!”

    Me: “Okay. Ah. Do you have another form of identification, ma’am?”

    Customer #1: “What’d you say, honey?”

    Me: “Another form of ID? A driver’s license or something?”

    Customer #1: “Honey, that IS my driver’s license.”

    Me: “Actually, no, ma’am. It’s a Six Flags ID. See? The back here says ‘not government issued ID’ and the ‘Texas’ holograms are just gold puff paint.”

    Customer #1: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. That right there IS my real ID, baby!”

    Me: “And your check has a few routing numbers scratched out—”

    (The customer suddenly snatches the check and ID out of my hands. The whole group bolts for the exit as I call for a manager. He commends me on catching them out and gets staff to put the items in the freezer for the time being. A few minutes later, I get a phone call on my register.)

    Me: “Hello. This is [Store Name], register 12. [My Name] speaking. How may I help you?”

    Cashier: “Hey, [My Name]. Can you get me [Assistant Manager]? I’ve got someone trying to pass a bogus check on gas and soda out here.”

    Me: “Does she have [Name] tattooed across her chest in a script font?”

    Cashier: “That’s her.”

    Me: “Stall her. Tell her the check’s jammed in the machine or something. I’m sending him out.”

    (I call the same assistant manager as before. The acting unit manager, loss prevention member, and the assistant manager book it out the door to the parking lot. By the time they arrive, the customer and her group had made a run for it, leaving the stolen check and fake ID behind. Police are called. We are questioned, and then told that the woman has no fewer than three warrants out for her arrest.)

    Not Acting Their Sunday Best

    | IN, USA | At The Checkout, Books & Reading, Crazy Requests, Religion

    (I work in a shop that exclusively sells Christian books, music, and church supplies. The store is, strangely, open on Sundays.)

    Me: “All set? Did you find everything you needed today?”

    Customer: “I did. Thank you.”

    (She places a large stack of items on the counter. I’m halfway through ringing them up when she speaks up.)

    Customer: “I can’t believe you’re open on Sundays.”

    Me: “The owner believes it’s convenient for customers who can’t make it during the week, so it’s no hassle.”

    Customer: “You shouldn’t be open! This is the Lord’s day!”

    Me: “We do have reduced hours on Sundays so the employees can attend church. I came straight to work from a service at [local church] this morning.”

    Customer: “No! You should be closed today in honor of the Lord’s day!”

    Me: “Ma’am, if we were closed today, how would you get these things you’re buying right now?”

    (The customer blinks in surprise and stares at her purchases. Then she scowls and thrusts a credit card at me.)

    Customer: “It doesn’t matter! You should be closed on Sundays! Now do your job and ring me up!”

    Working A Double

    | Stuart, FL, USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Funny Names, Technology, Top

    (I work as a sales associate for an electronics store in a mall. Another sales associate gets a new job and peacefully quits this job, leaving his name badge behind. A couple days later, just for fun, I put his name badge on and begin helping customers normally. My manager gets a chuckle out of this, but lets me continue. Over time, I forget I have the wrong name badge on. The next day, a customer comes in that I talked to the previous day. I approach her wearing my name badge.)

    Me: “Hello. Welcome to [Electronics Store]. How can I help you?”

    Customer: “I was talking with [Former Employee] yesterday and I would like to get more information on a product before I buy it. Is he in?”

    (I look over at my manager standing at the end of the counter. He is listening to the exchange and looks back at me with wide eyes. I give him a smile.)

    Me: “Sure! I’ll go get him.”

    (I go to the office. I put on the former employee’s name badge, then go back to the sales floor.)

    Me: “Welcome back, ma’am! How can I help you?”

    (The customer begins asking me questions about a product as if I was a different person. I try to keep a straight face while my manager, now hunched over the counter, is erupting in laughter. Eventually, I answer all the customer’s questions. She buys the product and leaves, not once realizing I am the same person.)

    Understaffed But Not Understood

    | Greensboro, NC, USA | At The Checkout, Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

    (On the day before Father’s Day, with a huge sale going on, the coworker who is supposed to come in to work with me doesn’t show up. I am swamped and can’t answer any phone calls. I just stay at the counter ringing people up. We are so busy that I don’t have time to call any of my coworkers to see if they can come in to cover the shift. There is only about half an hour until two other coworkers are coming in, so I just do my best until then. With a line about ten customers long, a customer comes storming up to the register and interrupts the conversation I’m having with the customer currently at my register.)

    Customer: “I need some help! Where is the employee who should be working the sales floor right now?”

    Me: “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but no one else is here right now. If you’ll kindly wait in line, I’d be glad to help you shortly.”

    Customer: “What?! This is outrageous! You should have more than one person working! Everyone knows that is just good business!”

    Me: “Unfortunately, there was a scheduling mix-up. I’m the only one here right now.”

    Customer: “But I need one of you to help me find something! What am I supposed to do? That’s what you all get paid to do! I am very busy and I need to get my Father’s Day gifts bought! I don’t have all day! Really, on a holiday, you should have more than one person working!”

    (Since the customer isn’t listening to me, I just turn back to serving the line at the counter. I finish the next customer, and try to explain the schedule issue again, but she’s not having any of it. One of our regular customers is standing nearby at a sale table and finally speaks up.)

    Regular Customer: “Ma’am, what is wrong with your hearing? She just explained to you that her coworker didn’t show up! I think she’s doing a remarkable job handling all of this by herself. You are just making things worse!”

    Customer: “All I need is to see if they have these items in stock! Can’t she see I am in a hurry?”

    Regular Customer: “As are most of us. It’s a busy holiday at a popular store. What do you expect? When people don’t show up to do their jobs it makes it harder on the rest of their coworkers, especially when there’s only one other person working!”

    Customer: “But—”

    Regular Customer: “Now, I don’t work here, but I shop here often. In favor of giving everyone in line and this poor employee a break, I’m going to help you find what you need. But only so you leave us all alone!”

    (I thank the regular and the two disappear into the back of the store. The customers in line make some comments. A moment later, the original customer storms to the front and out the door. I turn to the regular customer as she returns.)

    Me: “What happened?”

    Regular Customer: “You didn’t have the item she wanted. Her sale flyer was for the bookstore down the street.”

    A Gross Grocery Error

    | Newark, NJ, USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Health & Body

    (The customer in front of me is dropping off a prescription. She’s on her phone.)

    Customer: “…and then can you pick up [Name] from school, or do you want me— Hang on, I’m at the front of the line.” *to pharmacist* “Here’s my prescription, ID, insurance data. Need anything else?”

    Pharmacist: “Just give me a minute to read through this.”

    Customer: *on phone* “So, anyway, about the groceries. Why is taking—”

    Pharmacist: “Excuse me?”

    Customer: “Oh, hang on.” *to pharmacist* “Sorry, I know it’s rude to talk on the phone, but—”

    Pharmacist: “No, no. Your prescription. It says ‘cheese, yogurt, chunky peanut butter.’”

    (There is a pause.)

    Customer: *on phone* “I think I know why it’s taking you so long at the grocery store.”


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