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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!

    Self-Helpless Against Stupidity

    | Middletown, NJ, USA | At The Checkout, Awesome Customers, Extra Stupid, Technology, Theme Of The Month

    (One of the local supermarkets recently ‘upgraded’ their self-checkout systems. While nominally faster, the new systems are more complicated and far more prone to bugs. The first time I hit the ‘use a coupon’ button the whole screen is covered with a ‘please wait for attendant’ warning. One of the workers comes over.)

    Me: “Oh, I’m sorry; I don’t know what happened.”

    Attendant: “Let me guess. You needed to use a coupon?”

    Me: “Um… yeah?”

    Attendant: “No problem. One second.”

    (She swipes her ID card, types in a code, swipes the coupon, hits ‘done,’ and puts it in the slot.)

    Attendant: “There you go.”

    Me: “I guess there’s a problem with the coupon part?”

    Attendant: “Yeah, we had a rash of people having issues with the sensor when putting the coupons in the slot who were just about ripping the machine apart instead of asking for any help at all.”

    Me: “There’s no way they’d be that—”

    (As if scripted, there’s suddenly a loud banging just behind us at the other machine; another shopper’s receipt jams in the printer because they tried to yank it out before it was done printing, and she is now PUNCHING the printer to try to get it to work.)

    Me: “…okay, thank you for the help. Have a nice day and God’s speed, brave warrior!”

    Attendant: “Once more into the breach!”

    Reached Rock-Bottom Dollar

    | NC, USA | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Math & Science, Theme Of The Month

    (I’m finishing up a transaction with a customer when she hands me two coupons. I scan the $5 off coupon first, and then the 10% off coupon.)

    Me:“Your total comes to [total].”


    Me: *taken aback* “I’m sorry, what?”

    Customer #1: “You scanned the $5 one first, which then lowered the price so the 10 % off comes out to less!”

    Me:“Oh, I’m sorry it looks that way. It’s actually just the way our system works. The $5 coupon is seen as a coupon, and not a form of tender. You haven’t actually paid $5, so if I had scanned the 10% one first, once I scanned the $5 one, it would have lowered your discount to the same.”

    Customer #1: “No, it wouldn’t have. You’re just making that up. You did that on purpose!”

    Me: “Ma’am, I promise you it would have. That’s actually why I did the $5 one first, because I’ve seen it happen, and customers get upset when they see the discount get smaller.”

    Customer #1: “Look, I know it’s only $1, but what you’re saying makes no sense. You have no idea what you’re talking about!”

    Me: “Ma’am, I’ve been here three years. I can promise you that is what would have happened, However, if you would like, I can call the manager up here to void the transaction and I will do it your way so you can see.”

    Customer #1: “No, I don’t have time for that! It’s only $1, but you cheated me. I don’t have time for this!”

    (This goes on for a full three minutes of her yelling at me for cheating her out of $1 and me offering to have the transaction voided and her insisting that she doesn’t have time. Finally, a customer at the tag engraving machine decides that he’s had enough.)

    Customer #2: “Lady! You keep insisting that it is no big deal and that you don’t have time, but you’ve wasted her time and mine by arguing even though she has offered numerous times to do it your way. I will give you the d*** dollar if it means you will shut the h*** up and just leave!”

    Customer #1: *grunts, glares at me and him, RIPS her bags out of my hands, and storms off*

    Customer #2: *sighs* “You couldn’t pay me enough to work even one shift for you.”

    Help You To Help Me

    | OR, USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Theme Of The Month

    (My mother and I go to her favorite store, which is offering a 50% coupon. An employee is rather helpful with us, and when mom has other questions about an extra coupon, the employee explains that we can use both.)

    Mom: *brings the purses up to the register*

    Employee: “And that will be all today?”

    Mom: “Yeah, and, also…” *fishes out the coupon* “I’ve got this extra coupon that I was told—” *stops herself, and realizes it’s the same employee* “Oh! You already know this! You’re me! I mean, you helped me!”

    (I couldn’t stop laughing.)

    Sharing Is Berry Important

    | London, England, UK | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Family & Kids, Food & Drink

    (A young girl and her granddad approach my till and he indicates the open bag of cranberries in her hand.)

    Man: “I’d like to pay for those, please.”

    Me: “Of course, sir. That’ll be 99p, please.”

    Girl: “Would you like one, Granddad?”

    Man: “No, thank you, darling.”

    (The little girl then reaches over the counter to offer the bag to me.)

    Girl: “Would you like one?”

    Me: *surprised* “Oh, no, thank you! But it’s very nice of you to offer.”

    Girl: *sternly* “You should ALWAYS share!”

    Heed The Words Of Wisdom

    | WA, USA | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Technology

    (Our libraries offer self-checkout stations in addition to staff-assisted checkout. The self-check consists of a touch-screen monitor and barcode scanner. Using the scanner can take some practice. If it doesn’t get the entire item barcode an error message appears on the monitor. There are also several other error messages a customer can get regarding late fees, exceeding the checkout limit, etc. Because the monitors face customers and not the staff, we don’t know what error someone has unless we run around the counter to look. Some customers aren’t great at articulating which error message they’ve received or for asking for assistance at all.)

    Customer: *scans an item* “There. Are. Words.”

    Me: “I’m sorry? Did you get an err—”


    Me: “Let’s take a look. It’s asking you to tap the ‘OK’ button and scan the item again because it misread the barcode.”

    Customer: *she jabs at the screen and re-scans the item aggressively*

    Me: “Yay, it worked!”

    Customer: *grunts and walks away*

    Coworker: “If she couldn’t handle reading the screen, how will she manage with the book she’s checked out?”

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