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!

Their Heart Wasn’t In It

| Sydney, NSW, Australia | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior

(I work in a fairly large telemarketing office raising money for various charities (eg. cancer council, police citizen’s youth club, etc.) by selling raffle tickets.)

Me: “Good morning, my name is [My Name] and I’m calling on behalf of the Heart Research Institute of Australia. How you doing today, sir?”

Man: “Sorry, don’t have one of them.” *click*

Stress Comes In Bulk, Too

| Baltimore, MD, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior

(Self-checkout lanes tend to become a complete disaster with people using their time to text, stand there and do nothing, or even sort through the contents of their pockets. Because of this, self-check lanes become completely jammed on an extremely regular basis to the point of being unusable. To keep the lines moving, a lot of regular grocers have employees bag items in the self-check areas. I am at a popular wholesale club to pick up a few items. I get in line behind a young couple who look like they are buying a few things for a party. They are looking on impatiently at the older lady in front of them who has two large carts filled past the top. She is by herself and stops every two minutes to text or dig through her purse. All of the other lanes have similar issues with equally oblivious or rude people clogging up the lanes.)

Young Woman: *to her boyfriend* “Can you check out the other lanes?”

Young Man: *to girlfriend, referring to the older woman* “What is she doing?”

Young Woman: “Who knows? I just want to get out of here. We’re going to be late.”

(The older lady turns to give the young couple a dirty look and proceeds to start texting again, instead of scanning her items.)

Young Woman: “Ma’am, do you need help scanning your items? You have a lot here.”

(The older woman just gives her a dirty look and keeps texting. At this point, I’m also looking around for another lane, but all lanes re having similar issues, leaving people meant for the self-check lanes to look around with desperation.)

Me: *to young couple* “I think we’ll have more luck in that lane.” *points to the lane two over* “This lady clearly plans to spend her day in the lane.”

Older Woman: “Why don’t you mind your own business?!”

Young Woman: “We would, but you’re preventing us from getting to it!”

(The older woman then grunts, puts her phone away, and starts scanning her items at lightning speed. It is good timing because something happens with the other machine and the people who were using it eventually have to go to another line. The items are piling up at the end of the conveyor belt until the bagging area is too full for her to keep going. She stops scanning and looks around instead of moving. Everyone in line is mumbling about how much they want this lady to disappear from their lives. An employee emerges from the back carrying two boxes in her arms and walks by. The old lady waves her down.)

Older Woman: “Miss! Miss!”

Female Employee: “Yes? Do you need something?”

Older Woman: “You need to bag my groceries.”

(The employee looks dumbfounded. Her arms are full and she doesn’t look like she wants to be patient with this goofy woman.)

Female Employee: “Ma’am, you need to provide your own bags. We offer free boxes in the front of the store if you need them to carry your things.”

Older Woman: “My own bags? I don’t have any bags. Just give me the regular plastic bags like everyone else does.”

Female Employee: “We don’t have any plastic bags here. That’s what I’m saying. You need to take care of your own items. If you need boxes, they’re in the front.”

(At this point, the employee leaves because she clearly needs to be somewhere. This enrages the woman. She hits the “Call for Help” button. Everyone in line lets out a collective groan. At the same time, the next machine over jams up and can’t be used until someone fixes it.)

Young Woman: “Great. We are going to grow old here.”

Young Man: “Man, did we pick the wrong time to come here or what?”

(I chat with them and with the people behind me to vent our general frustrations with the situation. This upsets the older woman further, who decides she needs to defend her honor.)

Older Woman: “How is it my fault that [Store] hires incompetent employees?”

Me: “You could have gone to the correct lane to have an employee scan your items for you. THAT is your fault.”

(The older woman throws up her hands and mumbles something. A manager finally comes out, but it is crazy busy at this store. The manager was clearly not just taking a nap.)

Manager: “What did you need help with?”

Older Woman: “Someone needs to get out here to bag my groceries.”

Manager: “Ma’am, you are in the self-checkout lane. You do your own bagging. Do you understand that?”

Older Woman: “That is unacceptable! Do you see how many things I have here? Someone needs to come and bag this.”

(The manager looks back and sees the sea of irritated people who all have a handful of items looking around for a better lane.)

Manager: “I will try to get someone out to help you, but you need to get started. You’re holding up the line. In the future, please use one of the cashier lanes.”

Older Woman: “How am I supposed to get started without any bags?! You don’t have any bags here!”

Manager: “Ma’am, we don’t provide bags. You can either use your own bags or you can go to the front to get boxes to hold some of your items.”

Older Woman: “Is this how you treat all of your customers?! Go get me boxes and have someone put my things away! This is ridiculous!”

Manager: “Do your best. I will ask an employee to bring you some boxes.”

(The manager leaves and the lady stands there and does nothing. Several people in line give up at this point and leave the store without buying anything. Minutes later, an employee comes with a few empty boxes and starts putting items into an empty cart, smaller items into empty boxes.)

Older Woman: “What are you doing?!”

Young Employee: “Putting your things away?”

Older Woman: “I WANTED BAGS! BAGS! NOT BOXES!”

Young Employee: “Oh, I’m sorry. Did you have a bag?”

Older Woman: “I DON’T HAVE ANY BAGS!”

Young Employee: *shrug* “So, you don’t want the boxes?”

Older Woman: “OF COURSE NOT!”

(The employee started taking items out of the boxes and putting them directly into the cart.)

Older Woman: “STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

Young Employee: “You said you didn’t want boxes.”

Older Woman: “I WANT BAGS!”

(The employee clearly didn’t know how to respond. He was pretty young, probably in high school.)

Young Employee: “You could… make believe that the boxes are bags?”

(Everyone still in line laughs. The older woman is beet red, literally hopping up and down, she is so mad. The manager makes yet another appearance and goes back over how the store doesn’t have bags, but the boxes are free. The woman makes some vague threats against the manager’s employment and eventually calms down enough to finish scanning her items with the help of the young employee. The manager stays there the whole time. He occasionally looks over to us and mouths “I am so sorry.” Finally, the transaction is done and everything is in boxes. The screen will not allow her to go to the pay menu.)

Older Woman: “Your machine is broken! Good lord! Does ANYTHING work?!”

Manager: “Just scan your [Store] card.”

Older Woman: “My what?”

(The manager stares at her.)

Older Woman: “What do I need a [Store] card for?”

Manager: “You need it in order to shop here. This store is members only.”

Older Woman: “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”

Manager: “Are you saying you don’t have a member’s card?”

Older Woman: “OF COURSE I DON’T! HOW THE H*** WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT I NEEDED A MEMBER CARD?!”

(Everyone in the line groans very loudly. Someone in line yells “You have got to be kidding me!” The manager points to one of the hundreds of signs hanging that say that Store is a member’s only shop. The woman screams at the manager for a few minutes, but he has clearly ran out of s***s to give.)

Manager: “Ma’am, it’s time for you to go. You’ve wasted everyone’s time and I’m done. Goodbye.”

(She eventually left, but not before throwing out several insults. Everything she had picked out now sat in two carts and clearly had to be put away. The young couple stepped up, finished their transaction in less than two minutes. I went in and scanned my two items and was done. The line was moving. I heard this exchange just before I left:)

Young Employee: “What was her problem?”

Manager: “Isn’t it obvious? She was a stroke victim. I’d guess she had a pretty bad one.”

Young Employee: “Really?”

Manager: “No, she’s just an idiot.”

Showing Signs Of Change

| ON, Canada | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior

(A customer walks into the restaurant, past the sign that says “please wait to be seated,” and towards a darkened section. As he walks into the dark, empty section he trips over a 4.5 foot tall sign, and then kicks it to the side.)

Customer: “Why the h*** is there a sign in the god-d*** way? You can’t even get in here without tripping over it!”

(I excuse myself from the customers I am speaking with and walk over to the gentleman.)

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but this section is closed. You’re welcome to sit in any of the other sections and a server will be right with you.”

Customer: “Well, why the h*** didn’t you put up a sign? How am I supposed to know?”

(I calmly pick up the sign he had kicked over and turn it so that he can see that it says “this section is closed.” He then looked at me sheepishly.)

Customer: “I’ll just go sit over there then…”

Her Sense Of Self-Worth Needs A Serious Discount

| Scotland, UK | At The Checkout

Me: “You’re eligible for a discount if you have a store card with us.”

Customer: “I do, but I don’t have it with me. Sorry.”

Me: “That’s fine. I’ll just need your phone number.”

Customer: “No.”

Me: “Sorry, do you not want the discount?”

Customer: “I do.”

Me: “Then I’ll need your phone number to get your details.”

Customer: “No.” *to her friend* “What a creep!”

(Her friend gives me a sympathetic look, but does nothing.)

Me: “I can’t get your account details any other way. The system only allows me to use a phone number. If you aren’t willing to give me it, then I can’t give you the discount.”

Customer: “Well, the answer’s still no.” *to her friend again* “Persistent!”

Me: “Okay, that’s £177.99, please.”

Customer: “Sorry, but I want the discount.”

Me: “I can’t give it to you without your phone number.”

Customer: “No. Can I speak to a manager, please?”

(I call one down.)

Manager: “How can I help you?”

Me: “Yes, your worker has been making advances on me and refuses to give me a discount until I accept.”

Manager: *shocked* “I’m very sorry about that. I’ll be sure to straighten it out. I can offer you the discount, though, to get you out of here.”

Customer: *looking smug* “Thank you. I don’t have my card with me, sorry.”

Manager: “That’s no problem. I’ll just need your phone number.”

Customer: “No.”

(She never did get the discount. The manager and I had a good laugh about it afterwards.)

Food For Tots

| Columbus, OH, USA | At The Checkout, Food & Drink

(I work at a fast food restaurant that offers fries and tater tots; you choose one for your meal.)

Customer: “I need a number four, with [Drink].”

Me: “Okay, did you want fries or tots with that?”

Customer: “Chili cheese tots.”

Me: “Okay, anything else?”

Customer: “No.”

(We prepare the food, I take it out, and a few minutes later they are back to complain.)

Customer: “I didn’t get my fries!”

Me: “You didn’t order fries. I had you down for chili cheese tots.”

Customer: “I know, but there’s a picture of fries on the menu! It comes with fries!”

Me: “It says at the top ‘your choice of tots or fries,’ and you chose tots. I can ring you out for an extra order of fries, if you like.”

Customer: “NO! It’s your fault; you need to fix it! There’s a picture of fries. That means I get fries AND tots.”

(After several minutes of arguing back and forth, and my manager coming out to explain that you can’t get two sides, he sped off in the middle of a sentence.)

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