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.)

A Card-Carrying Member Of The Idiot Club

| VA, USA | At The Checkout, Crazy Requests, Extra Stupid, Health & Body

Me: “Will this be everything?”

Customer: “Yes.” *watches as I pick up each item, handle it to turn it over, scan it and place it in a bag*

Me: “Your total is [total]. You can slide your card now, right there.”

Customer: *slides card*

Me: “Oh, is it credit? May I see the card?”

Customer: *holds the card in front of my face and waves it back and forth, so I can’t see it*

Me: “Uh…”

Customer: “You can SEE it, but you can’t touch it.” *patronizing smile* “That’s how GERMS get passed around.”

Me: “Well, can you hold it still for just a moment?”

Customer: “I don’t want to catch anything…” *holds card still… and continues lecturing about germs*

Me: “Okay, now you just sign there on the pin pad and hit ‘Done.'”

Customer: “You have to be very careful!” *grabs pin pad and attached pen (which has, by that afternoon, been handled by hundreds of people)* “I never let anyone touch my cards!”

Doesn’t Have A Liquor Sense

| Northampton, MA, USA | At The Checkout, Criminal & Illegal, Food & Drink

(I work in a grocery store with a liquor store attached. You can pay for groceries in the liquor store, but alcohol can only be purchased in the liquor store. A customer comes up with a bottle of liquor.)

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, you have to pay for that in the liquor store.”

Customer: “What?! Why?”

Me: “Even though the two stores are connected, the liquor license only applies to the liquor store.”

Customer: “That’s ridiculous! Can’t you just sell it to me?”

Me: “Sorry, sir, the register won’t let it go through. And anyway, I’m only 17 so it would be illegal for me to sell you this.”

Customer: “You know, you’d think that with the technology we have we’d have figured this out by now!”

Me: “Well, it’s not really a technological issue. It’s against the law…”

Customer: “The customer is always right!”

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