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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!

Threatened By Your Own Threat

| Tacoma, WA, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, Popular

(It’s a typical busy time with folks who’ve just gotten off from work dropping by to grab smokes, beer, drinks, snacks, or other sundries on their way home. A man who appears to be, at the most, 21 years old has approached the counter asking for cigarettes but doesn’t have any ID on him. The typical bouts of arguing and cussing from him followed by me stating it’s policy and I have to card him ensues, up until he pulls out his phone and brandishes it at me like a weapon.)

Customer: “All right, let’s try this in a way that you might understand. I’m a personal friend of the head honcho of this chain. I press a few numbers on my phone, say a few words to him, and he will literally give me the order to fire you and boot you out the door myself!”

(A pause ensues as I try to process if he’s being serious.)

Customer: “Hey, you listening to me? Give me the d*** smokes or your worthless a** is going to be hitting the pavement outside.”

(I lean to the side and look at the line behind him.)

Me: “Sir, do you know how to run the register here?”

Customer: “Huh?”

Me: “Have you been trained in the pricing of items or our stock?”

Customer: “What? No!”

Me: “Do you know the codes to our safe? How to make change? How to mop and clean the store? How to lock up?”

Customer: “I just said, no!”

Me: “Then I feel I should point out that if you do get me fired there will be no one to ring up you or any of the folk behind you as it’s just me running the store today. Kick me out and you’ll basically be ensuring no one can buy anything from here, meaning you’ll also have to send everyone away empty handed and probably lose the store a lot of money. I don’t think your friend will like that.”

(The customer pauses and looks again at the growing number of folks, many of whom are now looking rather annoyed.)

Man In Line: “I just finished a 12-hour shift. All I want is to buy some beer, go home, and relax. If you’re going to tell me I can’t do that simply because of your own incompetence in not bringing ID then your friend, the head honcho, is going to be getting a very strongly-worded complaint. Probably it’ll be more than one considering how many of us are waiting for you to finish your business!”

(Several other customers voice their agreement, causing the problem customer to scowl.)

Customer: “Man, f*** this! I’m not wasting any more time here!”

(He storms out and I start serving the man who spoke up.)

Me: “Just goes to show most folks like him don’t actually think about the logistics of their threats before screaming their heads off. After all, if it weren’t for us lowly workers they’d have to be the ones doing all these menial jobs.”

Returner Burner

, | USA | At The Checkout, Crazy Requests, Popular

(A customer walks up with some essential oils.)

Customer: “I have to return this; it’s been tampered with. You shouldn’t put this back on the shelf.”

Me: “Okay, would you like to just return it or would you like to exchange it?”

Customer: “I would like to exchange it.”

Me: “No problem! Just grab what you need and I’ll swap them for you!”

Customer: “NO. You need to grab it for me! I’ve had a very long day and I’m too tired for this!”

Me: “…Uh.”

(I remember that my coworker is behind the wall that we sort our returns, so I could leave to go grab it but if she wasn’t there then I wouldn’t have been able to.)

Me: “Sure…” *to coworker* “Hey [Coworker], I have to go grab something for a customer. I’ll be back in a second.”

(I run to go grab it and I’m quite perplexed by his attitude with me. Fortunately, one of my coworkers in that department helps me find it so I get back right away. I process his exchange.)

Customer: “Now, you better not put that one back on the shelf!”

Me: “Yep, and I double-checked to make sure that one wasn’t tampered with for you.”

Customer: “Thank you!” *leaves*

(One of my coworkers comes up to me.)

Coworker: “You should have just pretended like I wasn’t there. That’s what I would have done.”

Me: “I guess; I just didn’t want to make it more troublesome than he was making it out to be.”

Coworker: “I would have made it so awful for them. When people treat me like that, I purposely will make sure that the return will take much longer than it usually does. Such as, restarting the transaction over a few times.”

Me: “…I think, I’d rather just get them out of here as fast as possible so I don’t have to deal with them any longer.”

Coworker: “I’d rather stare them down and make them uncomfortable. I even do an overly happy/obnoxious voice just to make them mad.”

You Are Sew Lying

| Australia | At The Checkout, Crazy Requests, Money, Technology

(I’m 19, but I look at lot younger than what I am so people often mistake me for being school-aged when I work on the weekend. On this particular Saturday I’m working at the counter with my middle-aged coworker. I see a couple deliberately letting people past them in the line, clearly making sure I’m the one that serves them.)

Me: “Hello! How can I help you today?”

Man: “I want to return my wife’s sewing machine.”

(He places an open sewing machine box on the counter.)

Me: “Ok, sir; was there a problem with it?”

Man: “No—”

Woman: “Yes—”

(The man glares at his wife before continuing.)

Man: “No, we just changed our mind.”

Me: “I’m sorry sir, but we only do change-of-mind refunds for sewing machines that haven’t been opened.”

Man: “But it was open when we bought it!”

(I’d been working at this store for a while and knew all the policies; there was no fooling me.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but that’s not possible. All sewing machines are sealed with security tape when they are purchased to prevent theft. You wouldn’t have been allowed to leave the store with an open box like that. I’m afraid I cannot refund you.”

(The man grumbles, and the woman decides to chime in.)

Woman: “I did open it! I tried to use the machine but it was broken! I want a refund!”

(Despite the fact that they just changed their story, I decide to follow company policy and treat the machine as if it was indeed ‘faulty.’ We are encouraged to test all machines that customers claim are broken, mostly because the majority of the time the customers aren’t using it correctly, or there’s a really small problem that we can fix ourselves without having to send it away under warranty.)

Me: “Okay, ma’am, I’ll just have to test the machine to see if I can fix the problem myself. Most of the time we don’t have to send it back to the manufacturer.”

(I remove the machine from the packaging and set it up. I’ve been sewing for years so I know exactly what I’m doing, and I can see the woman getting increasingly panicked as I thread up the machine and find some fabric to test it with. I try all of the functions and they work perfectly.)

Me: “Well, ma’am, it seems your machine is fine after all. Are you sure you set it up correctly?”

Woman: “Yes, I did exactly what you did, but it didn’t work! I want a refund!”

(Even though I’m allowed to turn them away, I can see the machine is still brand new so I go and talk to my manager about giving a refund. She says not to give them any money back, instead they can exchange it for a more expensive machine and pay the difference. The couple don’t take this news so well.)

Man: “Bull-s***! You have to refund us! It’s the law!”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but Australian consumer law requires we refund you only if the product is faulty, wrongly described or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. We have established that the sewing machine sews perfectly and looks exactly the same as the photo on the box, so I do not have to offer you a refund or exchange at all. I am, however, willing to let you exchange it for another machine of equal or higher value.”

(All of a sudden the couple turns to look each other and starts arguing in a foreign language. They eventually turn back to me.)

Man: “So, which machines can we exchange it for?”

Me: “Well, it depends how much you paid for your original one. May I see your receipt?”

Man: “We don’t have one. Only a credit card statement.”

(I had to go back to my manager and ask if I could still do the transaction without a receipt. It is a good five minutes before I get back to the counter.)

Me: “Okay, sir, the bank statement should be fine, but we’ll need extra time to find the receipt in our system.”

Man: “Actually, we’ve decided to keep our original machine.”

(Before I could stop him, he took the machine off the counter and walked off. I had to run to the front of the store and explain to my coworker at the door that someone was about to leave the store with an open sewing machine box and no receipt. The customers waiting in line were not impressed.)