Smoked Out The Scammers

, , , , , , | Right | October 9, 2017

(There’s a very common scam with EBT cards; a customer will purchase something on EBT, then later return it, while claiming not to have the card, in order to get cash or a gift card to purchase non-EBT items, like cigarettes. It’s technically illegal to refund EBT purchases to anything but the card itself, but in most stores, if it’s a small enough amount, or if the customer makes a big enough scene, people will do it anyway. There’s one scammer in particular at our store who will go off immediately if her return is refused. Everyone becomes a racist or a race traitor, etc. because she knows a big scene means management will probably give her what she wants, to stop her. I won’t refund EBT to gift cards, hissy fit or no, but especially not for her as she made one of my cashiers cry recently, so to avoid putting myself and my nasty temper in that situation, I always say I need manager approval, grab whoever is handy, and clear out while they deal with her. On this particular day, she’s returning an item that rings up just shy of ten dollars. She can’t exchange it for them item she wants because she can’t have any type of that product for health reasons, and her son has her EBT card and he’s out of town. I grab my manager, leave him to it, and go pretend to be busy somewhere else. When I come back, my manager tells me to refund the money onto a gift card, and I think that’s that, but my manager stays behind the desk instead of going back to what he was doing, watching the registers.)

Me: “You know that b**** just scammed you, right?”

Manager: *grinning* “Wait for it.”

(The woman shops for a little while, then gets in [Cashier #1]’s line. [Cashier #1] follows the rules to the letter, and one of our rules is “always ID on cigarette sales,” so when this woman, easily fifty years old, tries to buy a pack, he asks for ID.)

Woman: “Why the h*** do you need my ID? I’m sixty! Do I look like a kid to you?”

Cashier #1: “It’s policy to get ID on all tobacco sales.”

Woman: “I never get carded here! This is ridiculous! I don’t have my ID; I’m obviously old enough, so why would I bring it?”

(I get called away, but according to my manager, this goes on for a while, with the scammer calling him a slur that basically means “race traitor.” My manager tells her to get her ID or there’s no sale, and strongly suggests that she settle down before he throws her out. Eventually she concedes and goes to get her ID from her wallet in her car — the wallet and car her son supposedly went out of town with, surprise, surprise. She comes back in, and I see her get in [Cashier #2]’s line this time, muttering all the while and trying to rile up anyone in earshot. Again, she tries to get cigarettes, and slaps her ID down on the counter. My manager is still at the desk, and still grinning ear to ear. I again get called away, but hear him ask [Cashier #2] a question over the earpiece.)

Manager: “[Cashier #2], is she buying those cigarettes with a gift card?”

Cashier #2: “Yeah.”

(I hear the woman screaming from the other end of the store seconds later. I get back up front and find she is gone, and my manager is putting away the pack of cigarettes.)

Manager: “Just so you know, that woman isn’t allowed back in the store.”

Me: “Awesome! What happened?”

Manager: “When she asked for the refund, I knew I could do one of two things: give it to her, or get in a shouting match. Ten dollars wasn’t worth the effort, so I gave it to her, and explained that this will be the only time I’ll refund EBT to a gift card. I explained that it’s the law, because people take the money and use it for cigarettes and booze, and she promised me that wasn’t what she was going to do, and fed me some bulls*** story about how this was a one time thing.”

Me: “[Other Manager] and I were literally talking about her pulling this the other day when you walked in. You were part of that conversation.”

Manager: “Oh, I know, that’s why I watched her. If she took that card someplace else, then oh well, but she tried to do exactly what I told her not to, right in front of me. I was trying to be nice to her, and she threw it back at me, so now she gets to suffer. I’ll let the other managers know, so if you see her in here again, deny her service and we’ll kick her right back out. She can take that s*** somewhere else.”

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