Putting The Customers Back In Their Boxes

, , , | Right | November 2, 2019

(I work at a grocery store where, instead of providing free plastic bags, we use the cardboard boxes our stock comes in and sell reusable bags. We only get three deliveries per week, but some people seem to think we have a constant supply. When we are between deliveries and starting to run low, a couple who bought a dozen small items, like single candies and jerky, start rooting through the bins.)

Customer #1: “Excuse me? Why do you only have these little boxes out? Can you get more of the better ones out of the back?”

Me: “These are the only ones we have left; we’re waiting on our next delivery.”

(They roll their eyes with disdain.)

Customer #1: “Fine, we’ll just make do with these, then.” 

(Then, they bring over a shopping cart and start filling it up with boxes. While they’re doing this, all the items they bought are in a single box up on the kid seat of cart.)

Me: “Excuse me. What are you doing?”

Customer #1: “We’re taking all these boxes.”

Me: “Sorry, you can’t do that.”

Customer #1: “Why not? They’re free, aren’t they?”

Me: “These boxes are provided for customers to carry out their purchases.”

Customer #1: “But we are customers; we bought something! We’re running a home business, and we need boxes to mail our packages. Besides, we’re helping you by recycling these boxes; otherwise, you would just throw them away!”

Me: “No, we don’t throw them away; we use them instead of plastic bags. You can keep whatever box you need to carry out your purchase, but no more than that.”

(Another customer approaches the counter, and I start checking them out. The new customer and I look on in disbelief as they start dividing their purchase up one item per box, thinking they are being crafty.)

Me: “Excuse me. You need to stop that. I told you to only take what you need to carry out your items.”

Customer #1: *rattling a single truffle candy in a much larger box* “But I need a box for this, and one for this, and one for this…”

Me: “And how would you like it if you had a cart full of stuff, and you had to spend extra on bags or carry it all out in your arms because someone else had helped themselves to all the boxes? Put all the items back in the box you started with, and in the future, please go to a shipping supply store for your business needs.”

(The second customer, who has a much larger purchase on the counter, is also giving them a hard stare as an example of exactly how that would make one feel, so they are shamed into backing down, dumping their items into the largest box they had, and grumbling as they leave.) 

Customer #2: “Wow, do you get a lot of freeloaders like that?”

Me: “Only on a bad day.”

(Not long after this, another customer comes in and goes straight to the box bin, picking out the sturdiest ones.)

Customer #3: “I’m just grabbing these before I’m doing my shopping. I’ll be back in just a sec!”

(Some people do this just to make sure their items fit beforehand, but something about the way she grabs about five large boxes and says she’ll be back so quickly puts me on my guard. Sure enough, she comes back with only two cans, and no boxes.)

Me: “Um, where did the boxes go?”

Customer #3: “Oh, I went and put them out in my car before I did my shopping. I only needed a couple things, and they would have just been in the way.”

Me: “Just so you know in the future, we ask that customers only take what they need and not just take boxes.”

Customer #3: *demeanor flipping from cheery to snotty* “Well, I come in here all the time and spend hundreds of dollars, so I really don’t need that attitude from you.”

Me: *thinking* “With all due respect, ma’am, you’re not special, and if you’re such a big spender, then go buy your own boxes.” *out loud* “We value all our customers equally, regardless of how much they spend. It’s just that other people also need these boxes to carry out their items.”

Customer #3: “I come in here all the time, and the other cashiers kindly let me take a few of your precious cardboard boxes.”

(She snatched the receipt and flounced out with her nose in the air. Then, when the cashier came back from her lunch, I went back to my department. Later on, she called me up to the register because the customer demanded a manager because we had run out of boxes. The entire time they ranted, I was screaming internally.)

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