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!

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.)

Coming To The Land Of Twenty

| Department Store | Vancouver, OR, USA | At The Checkout, Money

(I am working my first real shift at my new store. The coworker who is training me is pulled away to deal with another problem, leaving me alone for all of two minutes.)

Me: “Okay, your total is $28.67.”

(The customer hands over $20. I wait a couple seconds to see if she just needs time to find the $8.67 left. She just looks at me.)

Me: “$28.67, please.”

(Customer points at the bills in my hand.)

Me: “Yes, this comes to $20.”

Customer: “Yes. $20.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am… it is. Your total is $28.67.”

Customer: “Yes. $28. Is $20.”

Me: “…”

Customer: “Is short. Eight short.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, it is.”

(My manager comes around and asks what the problem is. I explain. She turns to the customer.)

Manager: “Ma’am, you’re $8.67 short. Unless you have another method of payment, I’m afraid we’ll have to take something off.”

Customer: “Oh. No want, then. Goodbye.”

(She picked up her purse and walked away without another word. The customers in line, my manager, and I all looked at each other before continuing on as usual.)

To Give Credit Where Debit Is Due, Part 6

| Omaha, NE, USA | At The Checkout, Technology

(I work in the garden center of a large department store. We only have two cash registers, but only use one unless it is really busy. We are incredibly busy one day, with a line six or seven deep, so I open up the second register. Just as I do so, the first register requires a manager override.)

Me: “Ma’am, I can help you over here.”

Customer: “Thank you!”

Me: “Are you paying with a debit card today? This register will freeze if we try to use a debit card and we would need a manager to reboot it.”

Customer: “No, I’m not.”

Me: *checks out her items* “That will be [total], please.”

(Customer uses her debit card. The register freezes.)

Me: “You processed it as a debit card. The register won’t accept it and it’s frozen now.”

Customer: “Well, just cancel it.”

Me: “I can’t. The register won’t let me do anything at all.”

Customer: “Then check me out on the other register.” *the other line hasn’t moved for several minutes*

Coworker: “We can’t. I need to void an item that needs manager approval.”

Customer: “Then call a manager.”

Me: “We have. The only manager that can unlock the registers is on the other end of the store, and they have to deal with the registers up front first. It could be a little while depending on how busy they are.”

Customer: “Well, maybe you should learn how to use your machines.”

Me: “We know how to use the registers. I told you it won’t take debit cards, you used a debit card, and now both machines are frozen.”

(This goes on for about ten minutes, with me explaining over and over that, no, I couldn’t do anything without a manager, yes, I have called for them multiple times, and no I didn’t know how long they would be.)

Customer: “Well, fine! I’ll just go up front where they know how to do their jobs!”

(A manager came back about two minutes later. The line was cleared five minutes after that.)

Related:

To Give Credit Where Debit Is Due, Part 5

To Give Credit Where Debit Is Due, Part 4

To Give Credit Where Debit Is Due, Part 3

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.”

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