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Needs An Application Of Listening

| Working | January 31, 2015

(I’m at a large department store fairly early in the day. My items are a little more expensive than I would like, but they offer a 20% discount if you sign up for a card. There’s only one cashier at the station I’m at, but two registers.)

Manager: *passing by* “Hey, [Cashier], when you’re done with this customer, we need you at the front.”

(The cashier looks extremely reluctant, but nods.)

Cashier: “All right. As soon as I’m finished.” *turns to me* “It’s just going to take a few minutes more to finish signing you up for the card.”

(At this point I’ve looked up the bus schedule on my very slow phone and realized I have ten minutes to get to the bus.)

Me: “Actually, I kind of need to go. Could you cancel the card?”

Cashier: “Oh, I’ve already run your credit card. With [Store Card] linked up to your bank account, your life will be a lot easier!”

Me: “That’s great, but I’m running a little late.”

Cashier: “This will only take a few more minutes. Can I have your bank account number?”

Me: “What? No. I don’t want the card. I need to go.”

Cashier: “It looks like there’s a problem. Hold on, let me call them.”

Me: “Call who?”

Cashier: “Sometimes we need to call them, sometimes we don’t. I think it depends on how busy it is. It’s not very busy now.”

(I can see a line forming at the front station, which is clearly understaffed. A few other customers have wandered over and are waiting in line behind me.)

Me: “Actually, it looks like it’s getting a little busy. Can I get the card later?”

Cashier: *shushing me* “I’m on the phone.”

(She talks for a few more minutes, while I try to find another employee to flag down so I can get my items and leave. Suddenly, she holds out the phone to me.)

Cashier: “They want to talk to you.”

(Reluctantly, I take the phone.)

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Hello, ma’am, I just wanted to confirm your application for the [Store Card]. You put down your income as [amount]; you do know this is yearly and not monthly, right?”

(At this point I am a little annoyed; I don’t make a whole lot of money, and I’m buying clothes for a job interview right now.)

Me: “Yes, but I actually don’t want the card.”

Caller: “You don’t want the card? Then why did you call?”

Me: “I didn’t. The cashier did. Can you cancel my card application, please?”

Caller: “Of course, ma’am, but I just thought you should know that with [Store Card], you can get—”

Me: *finally losing patience* “Great, thank you for cancelling the card application. Goodbye.”

(I reach over and hang up the phone before the cashier can get to it again.)

Cashier: “What happened?”

Me: “I don’t want a store card. Did you pay for these items when I handed you my credit card, or should I give it back to you?”

Cashier: “I’ll take it now. I’m very sorry about the wait. Sometimes they’re just so slow!”

(She finally processes my payment. By this point, the line at front has dissipated a bit, so she turns to help the people who were behind me. Another cashier also steps up to help. I’m walking away, mentally writing it off as her having an off day, when I hear her talking to the other employee.)

Cashier: “Oh, no, honey, that’s not how you do it. You must be new. Here, let me get this gentleman’s purchases, and you can watch me.” *to the other customer* “Would you like to sign up for a [Store Card] with us today?”

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