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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!

E(B)T Phone Home

| USA | At The Checkout, Money

(We have a department that handles people on the Lifeline program, which gives a free phone and minutes to low-income people. Normally I handle the paid customers, but on occasion the free phone people end up in my queue. Shenanigans invariably ensue.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Company]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I want to know if my [Store] Food Card can be used to pay for minutes?”

Me: “Pardon me, your what kind of card?”

Customer: “My [Store] FOOD Card. You know, you get it from the government to pay for food.”

Me: “Oh. Do you mean an EBT card?”

Customer: “Yeah!  My EBT card! I just scan it at [Store] and it pays for my food. Can I get a plan with it?”

Me: “Um, no, sir.”

Customer: “Well, WHY NOT?! It’s a government phone. It’s a government card. Now, you let me pay for my plan!”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t. The EBT program is only for food and other edible products, not for telephone plans.”

Customer: “Well, just run it through and see. I bet it takes it.”

Me: “No sir, I can’t do that. Do you have an airtime card, a credit, or debit card? I can use those.”

Customer: “Well, this EBT is a card! Take it!”

Make Me One With Everything

| NY, USA | At The Checkout, Food & Drink

(I’m the weird customer in this one. I AM visiting a friend in New York and still pretty groggy from travel. We stop for lunch.)

Cashier: “What would you like on your hot dog? Sauerkraut? Cheese?”

(I am sleepy, but at this point I should clarify I’m from Chicago, where hot dogs are a bit different.)

Me: “Oh, everything.”

Cashier: *looking a little… concerned* “Uh, really?”

Me: *finally realizing what nacho cheese and pickled cabbage would taste like* “Oh, uh, no, guess that would be… silly.”

(At least the cashier was pretty amused. My friend still teases me.)

Pin Down The Problem To Him

| ON, Canada | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Technology

(I work in a Chinese takeout, and our debit/credit machine has a few steps to it: verify total, tip screen, verify total, PIN, and THEN it begins to process the transaction. The steps are clearly labelled. In this particular transaction, I have entered the total manually and handed the machine to the customer, and he has apparently gone through the steps with relative ease until this happens while the machine is processing.)

Customer: “Hang on, what the hell is this? You said my total was [amount] but now it says [much higher amount]. What did it do?”

Me: *presses the ‘Cancel’ button as fast as possible*

Customer: “What’s wrong with your machine?”

Me: *glances at the ‘Cancelled’ print out, to verify what happened, very quickly folds it up and hands both copies to the customer* “These receipts just say that it didn’t go through, if you want to keep those.”

Customer: “I don’t want to keep those; why would I want to keep this?”

Me: “I really think you do, sir. It looks like you entered your PIN number in the tip screen.”

(The kicker? He would have had to enter his PIN twice to get the transaction to that point. I would have thought that would have been a warning sign. Then again, the fact that one of the steps clearly says ‘TIP’ should have been one too.)