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This Coupon Seriously Does Not Compute

, , , , , , , , , | Working | October 22, 2021

I was finishing up running errands; the last thing on my to-do list was to pick up groceries, including pet food. My husband and I buy a particular brand of dog food that, while high quality, is fairly expensive (~$50 a bag), so when I see that a “Buy Two Bags, Get A Third Free” sale is going on, I jump on it. I put three of the thirty-pound bags in my cart, grab the coupon, and finish my shopping before heading to the register.

The cashier sees all my dog food.

Cashier #1: “Got a lot of dogs?”

Me: “Nope, just one big one! But y’all have a sale going on that’s almost too good to be true, so I jumped on it.”

I hand over the coupon and we chat a little about our dogs as she rings me up, but when she goes to scan the coupon, her computer shows an error.

Cashier #1: “Huh. It’s saying this coupon is invalid.”

Me: “That’s odd. Is it expired?”

Cashier #1: “No, it doesn’t look like it’s expired. Where did you get it? If it was from another location, then it might be store specific.”

Me: “No, I got it off of one of the coupon rings in the dog food aisle just a couple of minutes ago. There’s a whole stack of them there. I could go grab another one, if you think that would help?”

Cashier #1: “Here, let me call a manager real quick. Do you mind waiting a minute?”

Me: “Sure, I’ve got nothing else to do today.”

The cashier calls a manager, who comes over, and she explains the situation. He checks the coupon, and then tries to override the error, only for the computer to completely shut down.

Cashier #1: “What just happened?”

Manager #1: “I’m… not sure. Hang on, let me try this again.”

He sends the cashier to go get another coupon while he gets the computer running again. They both verify that the coupons aren’t expired or misprinted, and that I’ve brought the correct products to the register, and while they’re doing that, another cashier comes over to see what’s going on.

By now, the computer has rebooted and the two cashiers are unbagging, rescanning, and rebagging my items, which I then pay for, agreeing to purchase the dog food separately just in case. And thank goodness for that, because once everything else is paid for and in my cart, we scan the dog food again, the coupon again, and the computer shuts down for a second time.

We’re all confused, as there seems to be no reason for the coupon to be causing such problems. The first manager has called for a second, higher-ranking manager and two more employees have come over to see what’s going on. The lane has been closed so no one is stuck waiting in line behind me, and there are now seven people, including me, standing around this register.

I’m chatting with them all, trying to reassure them I’m neither upset nor in a hurry — though I am starting to get a little worried about the ice cream in my cart — as clearly, they’re all pretty flummoxed and apologetic. For a third time, the computer shuts down trying to process this coupon, and after the higher-ranking manager calls the highest-ranking employee in the store, we get an explanation… sort of.

Manager #2: “As far as we can tell, there’s a limited amount you can save on any given item with a coupon. For an item that costs [dog food amount], you’ll only be able to save up to $10, and this coupon saves you $40, so the computer won’t process it.”

Me: “Okay, I guess that makes sense. But… doesn’t the computer make the coupons?”

Cashier #1: *Laughing a little* “Yes, it does, so we’re not sure why it printed these if it won’t even process them.”

Manager #1: “It says that, to override the error, it requires a Z-level employee to authorize it, which is something I’ve never actually heard of before.”

Manager #2: “That is literally higher than anyone who works at this store. That’s like the CEO of [Store].”

Cashier #2: “Basically, it’s equating this coupon to trying to sell alcohol before noon on a Sunday.”

That is illegal where I live.

Cashier #2: “Honestly, even if we had a Z-level employee here, the computer still probably wouldn’t allow it.”

By now, we’re all laughing at the absurdity of the situation — that the computer is refusing to accept a coupon it generated unless an employee with an impossible level of authority overrides the system.

Me: “Wow, I guess this sale actually was too good to be true! Well, in that case, I’m going to have to put two of the bags back and just stick to buying the one.”

Cashier #1: “I’m really sorry about that, ma’am. I’ve never seen something like this happen before.”

Me: “No worries! I appreciate you guys trying to get the thing to work for me. Sorry for taking up so much of y’all’s time!”

Cashier #1: “It’s all right. Thank you for being so patient.”

Two of the other employees took the bags back for me while the rest returned to their jobs. Ultimately, they removed the coupons from the shelf to avoid any future issues and I paid for my one bag of dog food before heading to my car with my groceries. All in all, it took almost forty-five minutes from the moment I got in line to the moment I walked out to my car.

Once home, I texted the story to a friend of mine who works for the same grocery store chain but at a different location, and she, too, had never heard of a “Z-level” employee before. Though my ice cream was pretty melted when I got home, I like to think I at least left the employees with a rare, wholesome retail story.

No One Is As Bad At Math As A Customer Who Thinks They’re Right

, , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Tsukikaiyo | October 22, 2021

I work at a backyard and patio store. This was a couple of months ago, in our off season, so there was plenty of time for me to spend with a single customer. This customer came in about a half-hour before closing to sort out an order of his.

He had ordered a fancy BBQ, cover, and assembly and delivery for a total of $2,600. He also got two patio chairs at $370 each, and assembly for both chairs for $60. His grand total was $3,400.

Since the BBQ and chairs were coming from different warehouses, we couldn’t be sure that it’d all be able to be delivered at the same time. Because of this, it was arranged that he’d pay in full for the BBQ stuff and half for the chairs — $2,600 on the BBQ and only $400 on chairs, for $3,000 paid total. He did get the BBQ items, but it turned out that we couldn’t get the chairs to him in time, so he wanted that part of the order refunded. Sure!

But this is where things get difficult. Seems that the customer forgot this arrangement. When he showed up, he wanted a full refund of $800 for the chairs.

I tried — for thirty minutes — to explain to this customer that no, we could not refund him money he didn’t pay us in the first place. I tried four methods of explaining. I added up the value of what he was keeping. I explained that if I gave him $800, he’d owe us $400 on the BBQ. I tried.

I wrote the math on paper. I showed him on a calculator. I proved it every way possible. But no. No. Thirty entire minutes. My manager — the only other one in the store — watched me the whole time, not knowing how to explain it any better than I already had. I felt something break during those thirty minutes that he insisted we were ripping him off.

The customer left that night angry that we had “cheated” him out of $400, but at least my manager told me he’s not sure he would’ve been nearly as patient. Yayyyy.

They Sure Weren’t Hired For Their Technical Knowledge

, , , , , | Working | October 22, 2021

Because I went to one of the top ten public colleges for computer science, I was used to numerous big tech firms showing up to try to recruit us, and often attended these events for the free food and swag. I was a poor college student; I would have done anything short of murder for some free pizza!

One of these events was with [Multinational Technology Corporation]. I got there early and the recruiter started talking to me. I was wearing a shirt given to me by a previous [Corporation] recruiter; I have two of the same shirt, both given to me by recruiters from this company.

Recruiter: “That’s an interesting shirt.”

Me: “Yeah, I like it. It says, ‘Geek,’ in binary.”

Recruiter: “Huh? How can it say anything?”

Me: “Well… each of these sets of numbers is a byte that can be converted to a letter. See, this one is a G, these two are E’s, and this is a K.”

Recruiter: “How do you get a letter from them?”

Me: “I looked up the number the binary represents in a table. Every possible number has some letter or other character it represents.”

Recruiter: “Oh, so it’s like a code?”

Me: “Umm, yeah. That’s literally the code computers use to store words.”

Recruiter: “That’s cool.”

The recruiter wandered off shortly after. I don’t suspect a layman to know everything about a computer. I wouldn’t blame someone for not knowing what my shirt said. Still, I have trouble fathoming how someone whose job is literally recruiting programmers for one of the biggest tech firms in the world, who likely had to give out these very shirts before, wouldn’t at some point have learned that computers use binary.

For the record, I did intern with that corporation, where I received yet another copy of the binary geek shirt at one point, but ultimately, I chose to stick closer to home once I graduated.

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.”


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.

If You Tackle It, You Might Nail It

, , , , | Related | October 22, 2021

I am notoriously bad with directions. My dad and I are planning on meeting in the town where we live; I am walking from my house and he is walking from his.

Me: “Where will I meet you?”

Dad: “You know the tackle shop?”

I’m a woman in my twenties with absolutely zero interest in fishing.

Me: “Why would I know where the tackle shop is?”

Dad: “You know the nail bar?”

I can’t express how little I care about nail décor.

Me: “Why would I know where the nail bar is?”

Mum: “You know the church?”

Me: “Which one?”

Mum: “The church of England in the middle of town.”

Me: “Uh…”

Eventually, Dad gets out Google Maps and points to a landmark.

Dad: “I’ll meet you here at 3:45.”

Me: “Oh, the fountain? Why didn’t you lead with that?”

Dad: “I didn’t think you’d know there was a fountain in town.”

Me: “But a tackle shop is essential knowledge?!”

Fortunately, I found him easily enough!