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Pumping You Full Of Frustration

, , , , , , | Right | February 12, 2021

I am working at a gas station. The place is small and pretty run down so sometimes the pumps don’t work correctly. In this situation, I accidentally put someone’s gas on the wrong pump. This is generally an easy thing to fix with the “move pump” button at the register. Of course, this time around, that button is not working for some reason and I see the lady waving me down from outside. I wave her back inside so that I can explain what happened.

Me: “I’m so sorry about that. It seems I put your gas on the wrong pump. I can fix it for you. Did you pay with cash or card?”

We are pretty busy at the time, so it is hard to remember. The pumps don’t specifically tell you how people paid; as I said, they are pretty old and outdated. They just show an amount.

Customer: “It was cash.”

Me: “Okay, easy fix, then!”

I simply pop open the drawer and close it again so that I can re-ring the gas at the correct pump. 

She goes outside and pumps around $40 worth of gas. It dawns on me when she’s coming back to use the ATM that she paid with a card, not cash, the first time around. Since I canceled the pump and re-rang it as cash, my drawer is now $40 short and the money will go back to her card. So, basically, she will be getting this gas for free if she does not pay for it again. If she had said it was a card transaction, I would have simply instructed her to pull around to the right pump and it wouldn’t have been an issue.

Me: “Ma’am, now that I think about it, you paid for your gas with a card, right?”

Customer: “Yes, I did.”

I immediately know that this is going to be an issue. People don’t understand that a pending charge is not the same as an actual charge on her account. It will be refunded in about an hour or so, depending on the bank.

Me: “You told me you paid with cash, so the gas you pumped was rung up as cash. That means it won’t charge your card. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but your gas hasn’t been paid for yet. So, I have to charge your card again or you give me cash to fix the drawer.”

She immediately gets irate.

Customer: “What do you mean, I haven’t paid yet? You charged my card! I can pull it up right here on my phone!”

She pulls up the bank app, and yep, there’s a pending charge. I try to explain to her that the charge will not actually go through because she never pumped the gas from that transaction. I even print the receipt from the gas she pumped showing it as paid with cash. She doesn’t believe me. At this point, I have not been rude and have been nothing but apologetic to her. I understand that it is a weird situation for both of us, but with the system I have, there aren’t many options.

Customer: “I want a manager now!”

I explain that there is no manager here, just me, but that I can call the owner and maybe he could explain it better. He is an immigrant who speaks English but has a hard time explaining things in depth. I dial the number as she’s staring me down. She’s on the phone with her bank while loudly explaining to everyone in the store that there was fraud on her account and that the cashier is trying to steal her money.

Thank God, the owner answers the phone. I start trying to explain the situation and the customer keeps shouting, “You need to tell him this is your fault because you put it on the wrong pump!” At this point, I shout back because I am over being screamed at for something that was both our fault. Plus, I don’t like being accused of being dishonest or a thief when I do everything I can for my customers.

Me: “You shouldn’t have lied and said you paid with cash when you didn’t! And I’m not giving you $40 of free gas! Call the cops if you want to! We have your plate on surveillance as well as everything else you said to me! Yes, I put it on the wrong pump! But that doesn’t mean I’m paying for your gas!”

I put the owner on speakerphone so she can hear what he has to say.

Owner: “We can not give you free gas! You pay, you have to pay again. Your card will get the refund! I promise you.”

She goes out to her car to scream at the bank for a few minutes. I keep watching her making sure she doesn’t drive away. I guess the bank tells her the same thing that I told her — that it is only a pending charge that will go away. She comes back inside with her card.

Customer: “Just charge the d*** card again! Guess I can’t pay my bills now!”

I’m hoping that the next time a customer service rep asks her a question, she will actually listen and respond correctly. And yes, I recognize the fact that I made a mistake, but so did she. If she had just called her bank calmly and asked if what I was telling her was the truth instead of screaming at me, I wouldn’t have had to shout at her. Thinking about her still makes me mad to this day.

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