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If He Won’t Change His Attitude, He Won’t Get Change

, , , , , | Right | October 22, 2021

I’m an assistant manager in an off-license — basically, a liquor shop. We are part of a well-known chain and hence accept our own gift vouchers as well as a number of generic “high street” vouchers. Both brands of vouchers come in £5, £10, and £20 denominations, but corporate policy forbids us from giving more than £1 of change in cash. Most of our customers are understanding of that rule.

A customer approaches the counter and places several cheap bottles of wine and some crisps (chips) on the counter. I ring it up.

Me: “Your total is £16.”

He hands me two £10 high street vouchers.

Me: “I’m sorry, I can only give you £1 in cash as change. If you take the crisps off, I can give you a £5 gift voucher to use another time, or if you get some more things to round your total up to £19, I can give you £1 back as change. Or you could just use one of your vouchers today and pay the rest of the balance by card or cash.”

The customer gives me a funny look but doesn’t say anything before walking away briefly and coming back with a selection of more crisps and sweets which takes his total to just over £19. I thank him, take his vouchers and frank them, which means I rip them and put the date and store information on the back so that they can’t be reused. Before I can put them in the drawer, he asks me:

Customer: “So, is this your store policy or the voucher policy?”

Me: “Pardon me?”

Customer: “That you can’t give out change! Is that your policy or the voucher policy?!”

I’m not too familiar with the high street vouchers, as I haven’t taken many of them by this point.

Me: “Well, it’s definitely our company policy. I’m not sure if it’s the voucher company policy but I can check.”

Customer: “Oh, so you’re telling me that I should take my business elsewhere in future?”

I am looking away from him when he says this because I am in the middle of franking his vouchers and reading the terms and conditions. This very quick escalation and the fact he says this quietly leads me to think he isn’t serious at first, but when I look up and see an angry look on his face, I realise that he isn’t kidding.

Me: “Well, sir, I’m still checking the voucher’s terms, but in my experience, it’s rare to get change from vouchers in cash. That said, it’s entirely up to you if you would rather use them elsewhere in future.”

Customer: “Oh, it’s entirely up to me, is it? Then give me them back!”

Me: “Pardon me?”

Customer: “You heard me! If it’s entirely up to me, then give me the vouchers back so I can go spend them somewhere else.”

Me: “Well, I can give them back, sir, but they’ve already been franked so you would have a problem spending them anywhere else.”

Customer: “I’m not the one with the problem; you’ll be the one with the problem! Give me corporate’s phone number.”

I am a little flustered. I have only had to call corporate once at this point and I know their phone number is in a folder behind the counter. Unfortunately, someone hasn’t put it back in the right place, so it takes me a few minutes to find it as the customer stands there and scoffs. I eventually locate it and write down the number for him.

Customer: “What’s your name?”

Me: “It’s [My First Name].”

Customer: “Oh, so you don’t have a surname, do you? Give me your full name!”

Me: “No, sir, you have my first name. That’s all you need to identify me.”

Customer: “I WANT YOUR FULL NAME!”

Me: “Sir, there is only one [My First Name] working in this shop. You have all the information you need to identify me when you phone corporate. I am under no obligation to give you any more information about myself and I will not.”

Customer: *Scoffs* “This is obviously just a part-time job to you, isn’t it?!”

He then storms out, slamming the door open and closed as I try to understand the relevance of his last remark. I go to the back shop area to take a quick break and then resume work, foolishly believing that this is the end of it. About thirty minutes later, my coworker tells me that the guy is on the phone and demanding to speak to me.

Me: “Hello?”

Customer: “Hello, [MY FIRST NAME]! I want you to know that I’m phoning corporate tomorrow, but I demand that you post out the receipt you didn’t give me!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but what receipt? You didn’t buy anything, so the sale was voided.”

Customer: “I know that your store has a record of the void sale! I demand that you send me that.”

Me: “We don’t normally do that, sir. Can I ask why?”

Customer: “Because I know you’re up to something!”

I’m getting a bit frustrated and anxious, so after this really vague accusation, I start to lose my temper a bit.

Me: “Sir, I have given you my information and the information to contact corporate. If you give me your details, I will pass them on to my manager tomorrow and she can send you the receipt.”

The customer gives me his address and then his full name before snidely saying:

Customer: “…because unlike you, [MY FIRST NAME], I actually have a full name.”

Me: “Sir, I have a full name. I am just not giving it to you.”

He continued to bicker at me and make a number of strange allegations before I told him that further discussion was clearly not going to achieve anything and that I needed to get back to work. He hung up.

I spoke to my manager the next day who couldn’t believe the story, but after phoning the customer and getting a twenty-minute rant from him, she realised I wasn’t exaggerating. She agreed to post the receipt to him, hoping that would get rid of him. Unfortunately, there was a minor fault with our machine and it chopped off the very bottom of the receipt, omitting some information like the date and time.

When he received the receipt, he phoned my manager and told him the fact that “I” had “deliberately” removed part of the receipt was proof I was stealing from her and the company. How he came to that conclusion was never made clear, but she told him in no uncertain terms that this was an outrageous accusation, that there was no money missing, and that I was a trusted member of staff. Furthermore, she told him that there was nothing else she could do for him and that he would need to take his complaint up with corporate.

He spent the next six days phoning corporate every day to complain but, much to my surprise, they phoned my manager to get an explanation from her. Corporate and my manager both agreed that I had followed policy and behaved appropriately despite the bizarre behaviour of the customer, so I didn’t get in any trouble.

They offered him two options: they would either replace or otherwise compensate him for the franked vouchers so he could spend them in our stores or one of our other local branches. A week later, I was told by my manager that he had sent his wife in with them, who spent their full balance without saying a thing, but apparently looked completely embarrassed the whole time she was in the shop.