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!

The Epic Saga Of Sir Reginald Von Rufflebuttum

| Norwalk, CT, USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Pets & Animals

(I work as the main cashier at my store during the 5 to 11 shift. One day several months ago some kid tried to purchase a toy lizard without having the money for it. At first I didn’t think much of it but, on a whacky whim, I put him on my shoulder for a little bit and the customers loved it. I bought the lizard and he’s been a mainstay ever since. I bring him out once or twice a month and usually let him ‘rest’ on my shoulder or head. Sir Reginald Von Rufflebuttum has been a huge hit, especially with the kids. A lot of people think he’s alive, though, due to me being in constant motion checking people out and it’s usually not until they get up to the checkout that they realize he’s not. A customer enters in with two kids, a boy and girl, in tow. The boy doesn’t seem to notice or care as I welcome them but the girl smiles and waves to me.)

Daughter: “Mommy! Mommy! Look! There’s a lizard on his head!” *points to Reginald*

(The mother doesn’t say anything but gives a quite clearly startled look as they continue on. Several minutes later they arrive at the cashier.)

Me: “Hello. How are you today? Did you find everything you were looking for?”

Mother: *looking at my head* “Is he real?”

Me: “Reginald? Yes. He’s a real fake lizard.” *I take him off my hand and put him in the palm of my hand and bring him down for all three to see*

Me: “See? Want to touch?”

(The kids eagerly do so and give him a poke before giggling. The mother looks very wary as she extends her finger forwards and, gingerly, touches him on his lizard-horn. She suddenly freaks out and swats at my hand sending Reginald to the ground as she darts away. Reggie lands on his back with the ‘Made in China’ showing clearly. The son quickly picks it up, hands it to his slightly taller sister, who gives it back to me as the mother calms down.)

Daughter: “Here you go, mister!”

Mother: “Oh, dear lord, I thought he was real!”

Son: “Mommy. Can I buy him?”

Me: “Sorry. Reginald is not for sale. But there are plenty of his cousins in the toy aisle including some dinosaurs and the like in case you’re interested. They cost about five bucks each.”

Mother: “Do you want one?”

(Both the son and daughter agree and run off, returning a moment later, with another lizard that looks like Reginald and a T-rex, right as we finish checking out.)

Mother: “All right. And add these to the order. Oh, my word, I haven’t been so startled in years. May I have your name?”

Me: “Sure. It’s [My Name], and the lizard is Sir Reginald Von Rufflebuttum.”

Mother: “Thank you so much.”

(I found out later that night that they had filed a survey and given me a high score. Sadly, the tale of Sir Reginald did not end on a happy note when he was stolen a few months later, just before Christmas. However, his heir, Sir Reginald Von Rufflebuttum the Second, has proven to be just as popular as his predecessor and has even had an outfit made for him for the Christmas season. My balance and posture has also drastically improved as well, thanks to him resting on top of my head all day.)

The Customer Is Sometimes Right

| Toronto, ON, Canada | At The Checkout, Awesome Customers

(I’m the customer in this one, calling into the store. I have worked in customer service for years and as such I tend to get a lot of “oh, thank heavens!” reactions from staff. This is one.)

Me: “Hi, I’d like to get a refill on [X] medication.”

Pharmacist: *in trepidation* “Uhh… let me just check if we have your three-months’ refill.”

Me: “No worries.”

Pharmacist: *sounding even more worried* “Ma’am, I am so sorry, but it doesn’t appear we have the full supply. When do you need them by?”

Me: “I’m out as of tomorrow, but that’s no problem; it wouldn’t be the first time I get a week’s supply and come back for more when you have it.”

Pharmacist: “I can try calling another… Do you think… Wait, what? Really?”

Me: “Sure. Happens at least half the time. You only have a few customers on this medication and apparently we all like to refill at about the same time.”

Pharmacist: “And you’re not… You’re okay?”

Me: *laughing* “I’m not cranky-customer-type. My goal is never to be the one you go home complaining about!”

Pharmacist: “Ma’am, you are my favourite customer today. Possibly this month.”

Telling A Label Fable

| UK | At The Checkout, Money

(I am cashiering when a customer comes up to the colleague next to me. She has a barbecue set and is claiming that it is being sold for £19.99. It is actually priced at £89.99 according to the giant sticker, however the customer points to a small sticker on the side, which is reserved for clothing items only, and says so on the sticker itself. She doesn’t take no for an answer and asks for a manager. The manager weakly puts up a defense for not dropping the price, but I’m losing my patience with how dense the customer is being while carrying a smug grin. I kindly ask my customers to wait a moment.)

Customer: “BUT IT SAYS £19—”

Me: “Actually, that set is £89.99. I put that price on myself yesterday.”

Customer: “BUT THE STICKER—”

Me: “This one? It says ‘CLOTHING ONLY’ along the top. It has either has been incorrectly placed or someone else put it there to get a bargain.” *Customer blushes*

Customer: “But you have to honour it!”

Me: “No, we don’t. The sticker clearly does not belong on that item, and therefore we are not bound into sell it for that price. The whole reason for the labelled sticker is to protect against this happening. In fact, even if the sticker was the right one, but for the wrong price, we still reserve the right to refuse the sale if you don’t want to pay the actual price. So your choice is either pay £89.99, or get out.”


Me: “If we sold it to you at your price, we would lose £70 on a £90 sale. I can already see three customers in line with one, so I think they’re popular enough to be sold to people who are willing to pay what they’re worth.”

(The customer looks around, mouths “f*** you” and runs out of the store.)

Manager: “Well done! I was just going to lower the price.”

Next Customer: “And that’s why he’ll have your job someday. Loss prevention is a big deal when it comes to retail, and had it been me in charge you would have had to explain that loss. I might actually introduce a label system like that at my store. It’s genius!”

(I ended up getting written up for mouthing off to a customer and “losing the sale.” I didn’t really care as it was just a job until I went to university. I left shortly after a new general manager took over, and decided that the manager in the story wasn’t allowed to handle sales anymore, and she wasn’t allowed to be the only manager on duty because of it.)

Scoring Ten For Security

| MD, USA | At The Checkout, Money

(In our store, we are instructed to check any bill bigger than a $5 to see if it’s counterfeit. It takes about a second and people usually don’t care, but not everybody is so easygoing. This happens as I’m ringing out a customer who’s paying with a $10.)

Me: *checking the $10 bill*

Customer: *sneering, in the snottiest tone of voice I’ve ever heard* “Ugh. I can’t believe this. Who even checks tens?”

Me: *as I’m cashing her out* “People who have received counterfeit $10 bills in the past.”

Customer: *face falls; she then speaks with none of the snot in her previous statement* “Wait, really? You really get fake tens?”

Me: “Just last week, in fact.”

Customer: *sounding surprised, and somewhat pleasant* “Oh!”

(She gave me no more snot about checking for fake bills. I’m glad that went as well as it did. Some people take me checking bills as directly calling them a counterfeiter.)

I’m So Tolerant I Can’t STOP Talking About It!

| Cedar Rapids, IA, USA | At The Checkout

(I work in a flower shop. It’s shortly after Valentine’s Day, so we’re all recovering from the rush. I’m a woman in my twenties.)

Customer: “So, did you and your husband do anything for Valentine’s Day?”

Me: “I had to work, but my partner understands. I sent flowers and we had dinner when I got home.”

Customer: “Oh, is that what we have to say now? ‘Partner?’ Not ‘husband’ or ‘wife’?”

Me: *a little annoyed* “Well, considering I’m gay and I don’t always feel like outing myself to random strangers, yes.”

Customer: “Ha, sure. You know, we’re having training at my job for that. We have to use different words. Gotta make sure we don’t offend anyone who’s not heterosexual.” *laughs*

Me: “Mm.”

Customer: “You know, I’m fine with it.”

Me: “Okay, good.”

Customer: “As long as you’re happy.”

Me: “I am.”

Customer: “You should go to San Francisco. They’re so tolerant there. It’s crazy.”

Me: “…uh-huh.”

Customer: “So liberal. I mean, it’s insane. They kiss in public there and everything. The first time I saw that, I was like, ‘What the h***?!’ I couldn’t believe it! In public!”

Me: “…”

Customer: “You really should go there. You’d love it. You’d fit right in.”

Me: “Have a nice day, sir…”

(Whatever his training was, I think that customer needed remedial classes.)

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