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!

Swipeout

| Bristol, England, UK | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Technology

(We’ve just had some new staff start, and I’m working in one of the aisles when one of them calls me over. In the UK, chip and pin has been used for many years now. Most people under a certain age have never had to use the swipe method.)

Coworker: “[My Name], what do I do when it says ‘swipe card’?”

Me: *coming over* “You use the magnetic strip on the card and swipe it on the side.”

(At this point I’m behind the till with her, and I take the customer’s card out of the machine to show her. The customer, an older woman, chimes in.)

Customer: “I don’t understand what’s wrong; I’ve always used this card this way.”

(It’s now I notice the card I’m holding is the wrong way round in the machine, which would made the machine think it didn’t have a chip and ask for a reinsert before giving up and asking for a swipe.)

Me: “This way?”

Customer: “Yes!”

Me: “This is the wrong way round. This bit—” *points at the chip* “—needs to go in the machine.”

Customer: “No it isn’t! That bit—“ *points at the silver hologram logo on the card* “—goes in!”

(I don’t say anything. I cancel the card transaction and start it again so it lets the card be inserted. I put it in the correct way, the customer insisting it’s the wrong way. Surprise… it works. Once the customer has left, I turn to my coworker.)

Me: “Some people put their cards in the wrong way. Most of them realise. Some don’t.”

(I then explain to her how to tell from our side if the card is in the wrong way, and then what to do when there is a “swipe card”. We both agree that the customer was either too proud to admit she was wrong, or didn’t trust us because we are both quite young.)

Making A Big Deal Out Of No Deal

| NJ, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, Popular

(A woman comes to me with a doll in her hand and asks me for a price check. I take the doll and scan the barcode and, as I’m waiting for the scanner to load, she peers over my shoulder in the most invasive way possible.)

Me: “Excuse me?”

Customer: “Oh, the doll is on sale for $4.99?” *referring to the inventory price*

Me: “No, that is the price the store has purchased it for; the doll is $19.49.”

Customer: “So I can’t buy it for $4.99?”

Me: “No, the store wouldn’t get any money. That’d be bad business.” *we both chuckle and she walks away*

Customer: “What a shame. $20 is very expensive for a doll.”

(About five minutes later I get a call from the register asking for the price of the doll. I tell my coworker it is $19.49. Turns out the customer I just talked to INSISTS that I said it was on sale. I am dragged over to the front and we spend three minutes explaining that no such deal exists. Now there is a line, there are three employees trying to explain to her that she cannot get it for $5, and an additional two employees from the back working the extra registers to deal with the huge line.)

Customer: “Get me your manager.”

(After another two minutes.)

Manager: “Yes, what is this issue?”

(This circus ride goes on for another three minutes until she realizes that the manager is not going to budge and trusts me.)

Customer: “If it wasn’t on sale, he should’ve said something. I misunderstood and caused a scene. Sorry, I don’t want the doll anymore.”

(15 minutes, five employees, and a congested line, and we didn’t even get the sale. This was my worst memory because she was not woefully ignorant; she knew exactly what she was doing trying to get that deal.)

It’s A Retail Thing

| New Britain, CT, USA | At The Checkout, Awesome Workers, Popular

(I work at a sandwich shop. One of the customers, who comes in every single day, is a cashier at a grocery store across the way, and I pretty much hate him. Nothing specific, but every time he comes in he is completely disengaged from the employee serving him and he snaps at you if you ask him to repeat part of his order, or groans out loud if you ask if he wants a value meal. Whenever he comes in I brace myself for the most awkward order ever, yet I must be as professional but plastic as humanly possible, and I am prepared, no matter what I do, to get it wrong somehow. I see him walking across the parking lot, and he already has THAT face on, like he is already in an impatient mood, but I do something different. I look up, and instead of bracing for the worst, I physically relax myself and put on a big, tired smile. The customer before him has just finished their order, packed up, and passed him going out the door. I greet the regular with my big tired smile and gesture at the gentleman who just left.)

Me: “That guy. He’s usually so great, but I don’t know what I did today. Everything was wrong. It wasn’t like, anything specific, but he kept snapping at me and I didn’t know what to do.”

(I am lying. The previous customer did no such thing.)

Me: “I’m glad you’re the next customer. I don’t know what I’d do if the next customer was worse.”

Regular: “Oh?”

Me: “Yeah, you’re pretty low key when someone messes up because you totally get that it’s not on purpose; it’s just a customer service thing.” *gesturing at his name badge* “I’m just glad I’ve got a pleasant friendly face to deal with right now. You’re one of my easy customers, and I appreciate it. So, yeah, bread. You usually get wheat, right?”

(The rest of the transaction went SO MUCH SMOOTHER. As I worked, we spent a minute chit chatting about customers in general and how our days were. When I asked him to clarify part of his order he just smiled and repeated himself gently instead of snapping this time. He didn’t get annoyed with my scripted up-sell asking if he’d like to “make it a meal,” he paid, and he left. And every other time after that he came in, he WAS, FOR REAL, the most low-key, pleasant customer I had, and he would look for me specifically to handle his order. Turns out I am the tamer of beasts!)

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Set Their Pulse Racing

| Indianapolis, IN, USA | At The Checkout, Popular, Transportation

(I am the customer here. It’s the weekend of the Indy 500, and I’m driving for Uber. On the night before the race, as I’m driving visitors around the city, I take a quick break to go into a convenience store to get a snack and a drink.)

Cashier: *as she’s bagging my items* “Are you going to see the race tomorrow?”

Me: “No, I’m driving.”

(Cashier stops and looks at me, stunned.)

Me: *realizing what I just said* “For Uber! I’m driving for Uber!”

Cashier: “I was about to grab a pen and paper and ask for an autograph!”

Stubbornness Is Its Own Reward

| NY, USA | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Money, Popular

(Our customer rewards card guarantees guests a cheaper ticket price on select days, in addition to $10 in rewards points for every $100 they spend. As a result, despite the rewards card costing an up-front fee per year, larger groups of people would actually be saving money if they buy the card on those select days. We’re also doing a limited promotion where people who sign up for the card get a free $10 in rewards on their card. A man is buying tickets from me at the box office the morning of one of those select cheap-ticket days.)

Customer: “It’s my kid’s birthday and I was hoping to take everyone who’s coming to his party to [Movie] at 4 pm. He’s desperate to see it. Do you have 18 tickets available?”

Me: *checking computer* “Yup, it looks like that showtime is totally open.”

Customer: *beaming* “Great! That’ll be 14 kids tickets and 4 adult tickets, please.”

Me: *clicking the tickets in* “That would come out to about $150. However, because today is the day where our rewards-card guests get the cheaper ticket price, your total would only come out to $90 if you have our rewards card. Do you happen to have a rewards card?”

Customer: “No.”

Me: “Oh, then I’d highly recommend getting one. If you signed up for one, even with the up-front fee, you’d still only be paying about $100, so you’d be saving $50. In addition, for every $100 you spend, you get $10 credit back on your card that you can use like a gift-card. We’re also doing a promotion where if you sign up for a card this month, you get a free $10 credit. So if you sign up for one now, you’re not only saving $50, but you’re essentially getting the equivalent of a free $20 gift card in rewards points you’d be earning. Can I sign you up for one?”

Customer: *instantly annoyed* “Ugh. No. I don’t like being ripped off!”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir. I’m not trying to rip you off.”

Customer: “Yes! Yes, you are!”

Me: “I’m giving you an offer that would save you $50 up front and give you a guaranteed $20 credit.”

Customer: “Yeah…?”

Me: “And if you didn’t get the card, you’d be paying $50 more and wouldn’t get the $20 credit.”

Customer: “Uh, yeah. But I don’t like being ripped off. And your rewards card is a rip-off. It costs money upfront?”

Me: “Yes, sir. But it’s a one-time fee per year, so you’d have the card for the next year. And it won’t automatically be renewed after the year is up, so you won’t be surprised by renewal charge a year from now. We only renew it if you want us to.”

Customer: *holier-than-thou tone* “So you want me to pay upfront for a rewards card?”

Me: “Only if you’d like to sign up for one. And as I said, I’d highly recommend it. With the volume of tickets you’re buying, you’re saving a lot and getting $20 in rewards.”

Customer: *beaming* “Hence, you’re ripping me off. I won’t pay an upfront fee for a rewards card!”

Me: *thoroughly confused* “Okay, then that’ll be $150.”

Customer: *completely pleased with himself* “Thank you! You aren’t ripping me off with some bogus rewards program!”

(The real kicker? I later heard he came back after I had left, claimed I told him he would be getting “a free $20 gift card,” and had to be given a verbal warning about being kicked out after he pitched a fit when my manager — who I had told this story to when she arrived, before I left — refused this claim.)

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