I Bet A Thousand Bucks That You’re Wrong

, , , , , , | Working | January 18, 2019

(I work at a store that sells lottery tickets. We can pay cash prizes if we have enough money in the till. For loss-prevention reasons, we don’t keep a float and we aren’t allowed to add cash to the tills from the safe. The only influx of cash into our tills is from people buying things with cash. So, if we don’t have enough cash in the till to pay a prize, the customer has to take their ticket somewhere else. Our tills are also swapped out with every shift change, so the time of day is no guarantee that there will be a lot of cash in the till. I have just started my shift, and one of my very first customers has a ticket that has won $200. Because the amount is so high, the machine asks if I am able to pay. I know for a fact that I can’t, so I press, “No”, and the machine returns the ticket and creates a printout telling the customer what their prize amount is and where else they can go to get it. I give the ticket and the printout to the customer and explain.)

Me: “Unfortunately, I don’t have enough cash in my till to pay this, but there’s a [Convenience Store] upstairs that might be able to-–”

Customer: “Oh, I don’t like this. I don’t want to carry my winning ticket around until I can find someone who can pay it. You shouldn’t be selling lottery here if you can’t pay this. You’re supposed to be able to pay up to $1,000!”

(Our training isn’t very thorough, so at the time I have no idea if what she’s saying is true. I ask my colleague on the other cash register if she has enough in her till, but she doesn’t. I flag down the assistant manager to find out if there’s any way we can pay the customer’s prize. He confirms that we can’t add cash from the safe, and reiterates that she can try the convenience store upstairs.)

Customer: “You’re supposed to be able to pay up to $1,000.”

(To my surprise, my assistant manager doesn’t contradict her, and actually seems a bit sheepish.)

Manager: “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough cash in our till.”

Customer: “You should have a float. You shouldn’t be selling lottery if you can’t pay this. You really shouldn’t.”

(My assistant manager just reiterates that we can’t pay it, and eventually she leaves.)

Me: “Are we really supposed to be able to pay up to $1,000?”

Manager: “Technically, yeah.”

Me: “What?! But then how do we get away with that? We need to be approved by OLG, right? If this is a requirement, can’t we get in trouble for not keeping enough cash on hand?”

Manager: “I don’t know.”

Me: “That can’t be right. The machine asks, ‘Can you pay?’ if it’s over a certain amount, and if you say, ‘No’, it gives you that printout. It explicitly gives us the option not to pay. And they give us that machine, so it wouldn’t ask that if we were required to pay up to $1,000, right? I’m going to look this up.”

(When I got home that night, I looked it up. The OLG website said, “Every retailer can pay up to — and including — $50. Retailers have the option to pay up to $999.90 — as long as they have the cash available.” In other words, we can pay up to $999.90 if we are able and willing, but we aren’t actually required to pay any amount higher than $50. I texted my assistant manager this information. The next morning, he called OLG to confirm that this was correct, and then he printed out that webpage, highlighted that sentence, and left it behind the lottery counter, so that if any customer ever made that claim again, we’d have an actual response for them.)

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