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    Sticking It Out

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

    (It is the late 1990s. I’m a cashier for a major home improvement store. We have been taught how to spot the various tricks people might use to try to pay less for merchandise than the actual prices. One night, an assistant manager came up to me about 10 minutes before closing time, as I was the only register open.)

    Manager: “Keep your eyes open. We’ve got a customer who’s up to no good.”

    Me: “You think he’s trying to make a grab?”

    Manager: “Yeah, and he’s not exactly being subtle about it. I’ve been watching him roaming the aisles. Just be on your toes.”

    (A few minutes later, said customer approaches the registers. I call him over.)

    Me: “Evening, sir.”

    Customer: “Hi. Just this, please.”

    (He hands me a utility lamp that I scan. Just by looking at my monitor I can tell what he’s up to.)

    Me: “Wait. That can’t be right.”

    Customer: “No. It says $4.99, then that’s the price!”

    (The price is one thing, but the monitor shows that I’ve scanned in a $4.99 house plant from the garden area.)

    Me: “Sir, you’re buying a lamp, not a plant.”

    (A quick inspection confirms what I suspected, that he’s taken the UPC sticker off a lower priced item and covered the lamp’s UPC with it. His mistake was what he took the sticker from. I peel the sticker off and re-scan the lamp, showing the correct $24.95 price.)

    Customer: “No. You’ve got to let me have it for the other price you scanned in!”

    (During training, we were also told never to confront or accuse a suspected shoplifter, to leave that to a manager.)

    Me: “Sir, even though the wrong bar code wound up on this by some error, I have to charge you the right price for the right item.”

    Customer: *sighs* “Fine. I’ve got to go check something out. Be right back.”

    Me: “Okay, but we close in a few minutes.”

    Customer: “Yeah, fine. I’ll put this back….”

    (The whole time, I’ve had my hand on the lamp in case he tries to take it and run.)

    Me: “No, sir. That’s okay. I’ll take care of it.”

    (The customer goes back into the aisle. The assistant manager has been nearby watching the whole thing, and follows him, but passes by me first.)

    Manager: “Nice catch. I’ll make sure your supervisor hears about this one.”

    (Less than two minutes later, he’s ushering the customer to the exit.)

    Customer: “Man, I didn’t do anything!”

    Manager: “Yeah, ’cause I have a cashier who knows what he’s doing!”