Double-Sided And Single-Minded

| Croydon, England, UK | Bad Behavior, Technology

(The library has several computers which you can book for up to two hours per day; if you want to print something it costs 12 pence per page. Members of the library can book slots for themselves via a terminal, but often if there’s a problem with their card they ask us to do it for them at the main desk.)

Customer: “Excuse me; can you book me onto a computer?”

Me: “Of course, madam! If I can have your card?”

(She gives it to me and I book two hours for her. Two hours later:)

Customer: “Can you help me?”

Me: “What’s the problem?”

Customer: “It’s charging me too much for double-sided.”

Me: “Really? Let’s see how many pages you’re printing.”

(I open up the option where we ‘release’ people’s printing jobs. The lady has a LOT of print-outs queued.)

Me: “Ah… well, to start with, for this one you’re printing five pages, so that would be sixty pence—”

Customer: “But I’m printing double sided. That’s only three pages.”

Me: “…I’m afraid that’s not how it works. You’re paying for the page, not the paper itself.”

Customer: “I shouldn’t have to pay that! That’s why I’m printing double sided!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but that’s how the computer processes the print job. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Customer: “But I shouldn’t have to pay for five pages when I’m only printing three!”

Coworker: “Excuse me, but you ARE printing five. You’re really paying for the ink, not the paper.”

Customer: “Now you’re just confused. You don’t seem to understand what I’m saying.”

(She says this a few more times, but we eventually manage to explain to her how the system works, and she then proceeds to print off each batch of printing with no hitches — up until the end.)

Me: “All right, so, this last lot will be forty eight pence.”

Customer: “Oh. I don’t have that much change left. Oh, I really need that last one! It’s my CV.”

Coworker: “Well, we could always print it off and keep it for you until Monday when you can pay for it.”

Customer: “Oh, but I need it now!”

Coworker: “Then we can put a note on your account with the amount you owe us, and you can pay us when you next come in.”

(The customer suddenly looks very reticent and mumbles. My coworker and I share a glance.)

Customer: “Oh, um, I don’t have my library card on me today.”

Me: “Yes, you do. We used it to book you a computer earlier. Don’t you remember?”

(The customer looked very embarrassed as she handed the card over. Surprise, surprise. When we looked at her account there was already an outstanding printing charge from a few days ago. We said nothing to her but, while she was collecting her printing, we discretely blocked the card so that she won’t be able to use her account until the charges have been paid, and she can be ‘reminded’ of it and have it unblocked by another member of staff.)

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