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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!

Barking Orders

| Cape Town, South Africa | At The Checkout, Crazy Requests, Pets & Animals, Popular

(I am a customer at a supermarket. I watch this scene unfold at the checkout. It’s extremely busy and there are long lines at all the checkouts. The customer in front of me is a middle-aged woman.)

Customer: “Please, please hurry! You’re so slow. I’ve left my dog in my car, and it’s so terribly hot.”

(It’s actually a cool, cloudy day. As the employee scans the large number of items in her trolley as fast as she possibly can, the customer keeps muttering about her dog and how slow she is.)

Customer: “Wait! Isn’t there a discount on this item? It’s showing [amount] on the display, but there’s supposed to be a special offer of [amount] off.”

Employee: “Yes, ma’am, if you just look at the line below:” *indicating the display*

Customer: *ignoring her* “No, you’re wrong. I’ll prove it! Wait a minute.”

(She rushes off into the supermarket, leaving the whole line standing and waiting. She’s gone a long time, and everyone is showing signs of impatience. Eventually she comes back carrying the price tag and special offer notice that she’s ripped off the shelf.)

Customer: “You see! There’s supposed to be a discount of [amount].”

Employee: “Yes, ma’am. There’s the discount correctly shown on the line below the item.” *she shows her on the display*

(After much peering she reluctantly agrees.)

Customer: “Wait! Here’s my loyalty card. Oh, my poor dog! He’s waiting for me in that hot car.”

(She fishes around in her purse for some time before producing her loyalty card.)

Customer: *repacking a bag* “No, don’t put that in this bag.” *she fusses around, transferring items from one bag to another*

Employee: “Your total is [amount].”

(She spends some time looking slowly through her wallet before she produces a credit card.)

Customer: “And I’d like [amount] cash back, please.”

(The employee processes the transaction and hands her her cash back. With a look of relief, the employee turns to me, next in line.)

Customer: “Wait! You gave me all hundreds. Can you please give me two fifties instead of this hundred? I need some change.”

Employee: “I’ve already closed the drawer ma’am. You’ll have to wait until it opens for the next transaction.”

Customer: “You’re so slow and inefficient. Don’t you know that I have a dog waiting in my hot car?”

Customer Behind Me: *coming forward* “Here, I’ve got change for you.”

(He handed her two fifties for her hundred and she finally left, still muttering about the dog in the hot car. I quickly finished checking out, and walked out into the parking lot. I walked past the customer, busy putting her bags into her car. There was no dog in the car.)

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.”