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Spoiler: The Scammer Isn’t Who You Think It Is

, , , , , | Legal | October 7, 2020

A customer has come to our store with a return of several window blinds and he has the receipt taped to one of the blinds. I take the receipt to complete the return but find that it does not match with the products.

Me: “Do you have another receipt? This isn’t the right one.”

Customer: “No, it has to be. I specifically asked the lady who served me to tape it on so I didn’t lose it.”

Me: “This isn’t for blinds; it’s only for $2. Did you buy something else at the same time?”

Customer: “No, I paid almost $300 in cash for these yesterday.”

I call the store manager over to see if he can find the correct sale in the register, thinking we could print the correct receipt up, but all he can find is the $2 sale; there’s no sale that matches and none for over $200. He is dumbfounded and tries clicking buttons to see if the sale was done on other days but accidentally brings up sales that have been put on hold. There is one sale from the day before on there for the exact blinds the customer is returning.

Manager: “I can’t understand why it’s been put on hold; it means that it’s not finalised and hasn’t been paid for.”

Customer: “But I did pay for them. I got the money out of the bank right before I came here. I have the bank receipt in my wallet, along with the change, because I gave the girl three one-hundred-dollar notes.”

Manager: “If you wait here for a few moments, I’ll check the takings from yesterday. [My Name], will you carry on with [task and code for ‘watch this guy’]?”

A few minutes later, the manager comes back. He takes the customer aside while I keep on my task. He looks a bit pale as he quietly talks to the customer and takes his details before handing over money for the refund, and the customer leaves.  

Me: “You found the money, then?”

Manager: *Shaking his head* “No, I can’t talk about it. I’ll be in the office if you need me. I know you should be leaving soon, but are you able to stay for the rest of the day?”

Me: “Sure.”

I assumed that my replacement had called in sick, but ten minutes later she walked in, followed not long later by the police, who asked to see the manager.

Later, I saw my coworker walk out with the police; she was in tears and wearing cuffs. The manager told me that he’d checked the CCTV, and he saw the customer hand over $300 and be given $20 back, along with the receipt being taped in place. After the customer left, the coworker put the remainder of the money in her pocket.

What she would do was to ring the sale up, put the sale on hold, and then ring up a $2 item. She had thought that a held sale would cancel out at the end of the day, but they stayed in the system. There was a long list of held sales under her name going back months, each matched to the date and time of a $2 cash sale. She had stolen close to $20,000.

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This Is No Game She’s Playing

, , , | Legal | September 17, 2020

We sell cards for a specific online game, and we always advise people that they are not refundable. Our system does allow the return, as long as the code hasn’t been used, though we only do returns for specific situations. A woman comes in with her son and puts one of the cards down along with a receipt.

Woman: “I bought this and it didn’t work. Your manager said I could return it.”

Me: “Okay, let me go ahead and get that done for you!”

I start the return, but the system won’t allow it since the code has been redeemed.

Me: “It looks like the system won’t allow it, which means you’ll have to contact [Company] for a refund.”

Woman: “No, your manager said you could refund me!”

Me: “She might have, but the system will not allow it. I can’t even force it to refund you.”

Woman: “Fine, I’ll just wait for your manager to come back in.”

I get a weird feeling about the situation and call my manager after the woman leaves.

Manager: “Oh, her? She tried that yesterday, and I told her to get a hold of [Company], since there’s nothing we can do on our end. I have the feeling she might be trying to scam us.”

I’m off the next day, but I work the day after that. The same woman comes in, this time with her husband. She puts the same card and receipt on the counter.

Woman: “Your manager—”

Me: “Nope. Out.”

Woman: “What?!”

Me: “I talked with my manager. She remembers you, and she told you exactly what I told you.”

Woman: “No, she—”

Me: “Our system will not be able to return this card. Period. We cannot override it. No store can return this for you.”

Woman: “But she—”

Me: “My manager has told me, explicitly, that we cannot return this for you. Your only option is to contact [Company].”

Woman: “You can’t throw me out! I want my money back!”

Me: “I cannot give you your money back. The system says this card has been redeemed; therefore, the problem is with [Company], not us.”

Woman: “I’ll have my husband force you!”

Me: “Now you’re threatening me. You are not able to get your refund through us. I am telling you to leave.”

Woman: “You can’t kick me out! I have rights!”

Me: “And so do I and the company. We have the right to ask anyone to leave. I also have the right to call the cops if you don’t leave.”

Woman: “I’ll just stand in the store! You’ll have to drag me out! I’ll sue for assault!”

I call the police. The woman gives me a triumphant look the whole time, as if she’s somehow won by taking up my time. After a bit, a patrol car parks in front of the store.

Officer: “What’s the issue here?”

Me: “I—”

Woman: “This b**** won’t give me my money back! She stole my money with this s*** card and refuses to give it back!”

Officer: *To me* “Okay, can I get your side?”

Me: “My system won’t allow it, since [Company] has marked it as redeemed. I’ve told her to get a hold of them, since we have no way to refund her at this point. She’s also come in several times demanding we do this for her, even after we’ve told her the same thing every time. She also threatened me and refused to leave when I asked her several times.”

Woman: “YOU CAN’T PROVE S***!”

I quietly point to the camera aimed right at my register.


Officer: “Ma’am, I wouldn’t finish that if I were you. Step outside.”

They go outside, and I can hear her yelling from inside the store. Eventually, she’s handcuffed and put in the back of his patrol car. The officer comes back in.

Officer: “Is there a way to pull up a purchase history?”

Me: “Yeah, if it’s bought on the same card. I just need some of the info off the card.”

It turns out, she had been running a scam where she bought various online game cards, sold the codes, then would return them, saying the codes didn’t work. She’d gotten away with a few hundred from our company, and because of a similar scheme with another company, had a warrant out for fraud.

Misplaced Honesty

, , , | Legal | September 10, 2020

I work in a call centre for monthly-posted contact lenses.

Customer: “My daughter is [Daughter], and her account number is [number]. Can I have my daughter’s prescription info?” 

Me: *Looks it up* “No, I am sorry. I see here that she just turned eighteen and it’s considered medical information, which I cannot disclose to anyone but her now that she’s over eighteen. I need her to call us herself.”

She flips her writ, to the tune of:

Customer: “I pay for those lenses! She’s only a child! Why won’t you disclose the information?!”

And so on.

Me: *Over and over again* “This call is recorded. You’re asking me to break the law. I. Can. Not. Disclose. The. Information. You’re. Asking. For.”

Customer: “Okay, so I am [Daughter]. Now give me the information.”

Me: “You introduced yourself when you called. I know you are not.” 

Customer: “So, if I called back and told you I was her, how would you know?”

Me: “That is called fraud, and that’s illegal.”

Customer: “But how would you know?”

Me: “I strongly advise you against committing fraud, as that is illegal.”

Customer: “But how would you know?”

Me: “I strongly advise you against committing illegal acts.”

I was thinking: “You seriously expect me to tell you, on a recorded call, to go ahead and commit fraud? And you’re seriously telling me, on that RECORDED CALL, that you intend to?!”

I put a note on the file to ask the store to call the girl and ask her, and a note that I suspected fraud, to cover my own behind when no doubt the woman did just as she said she would. I know people commit fraud like that all the time, and nothing comes of it if the relative has approved the deception, but maybe don’t tell someone on a recorded call that you mean to break the law.

Doody To Your Duties

, , , , | Working | August 27, 2020

I have a reputation for exercising my initiative, even when it isn’t expected of me. This is my best example so far.

Me: “Thank you for calling [Company], [My Name] speaking. How can I help?”

Caller: “I want to activate a SIM card.”

Straightaway, something doesn’t feel right.

Me: “Certainly. May I please have your name?”

Caller: “[Traditional English Name].”

Me: “And are you the account holder?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “Thank you. Could I also have the password on your account?”

Caller: “[Password].”

Me: “That’s excellent. One minute while I pull up your account.”

The caller speaks with a foreign accent but has a traditional English name. Her address is in an area which is typically English, white, and middle class. That’s why it doesn’t feel right, so I investigate.

Her account shows that an upgrade was recently ordered online. The upgrade is for a top-of-the-range iPhone, but with a delivery address 200 miles away from the billing address. Apparently, someone hacked her online account and ordered an upgrade. The system sends an order confirmation to the real customer. To avoid alerting them, the fraudster needs to deactivate their phone immediately and intercept the order confirmation. Looks like a clear case of fraud. However, I can’t deny them access because they passed security. Instead, I go off script and throw them a curveball.

Me: *Quickly* “What’s your address?”

The caller drops the call.

Surely someone should know where they live? I’m definitely convinced they are trying to scam a new smartphone from us. I do not intend to let that happen, whether it is in my job description or not. I cancel the order.

Meanwhile, I check the account again. Unfortunately, the fraudster has tried the same trick again. This time, they got through to a colleague who did things by the book. The new SIM card got activated. I transfer the service back to the real customer and lock the account. The next time someone calls, they will be asked to contact the Fraud Department. Then, I get a reply to the order cancellation.

Order Reply: “It’s too late to cancel the order by this procedure. However, if you contact the warehouse at [email], they can stop it.”

Since it’s my lunchtime, I decide I’ll deal with it later. I go for some food and come back in one hour.

Me: *To the warehouse* “Hello, please cancel order [order number]. It is fraudulent because of [reasons].”

Warehouse: “Sorry, it was dispatched ten minutes ago.”

I knew I should have done that before lunch. I left copious notes on the account, throughout. The next day, my manager comes in.

Boss: “So, [My Name], apparently, you thought you had a case of fraud. You tried to stop the order, and locked the account?”

Me: “Yes?”

Boss: “That isn’t part of your duties; you should leave that to Fraud Department.”

Me: “Read through the notes I left. Have you seen a clearer case of fraud?”

Boss: “It isn’t in your duties!”

Me: “You have got to be kidding. And doesn’t it take the Fraud Department a week to get round to this sort of thing?”

I wasn’t formally written up, but I was more careful in the future to choose employers who appreciated initiative.

One Small Hitch

, , , , | Legal | August 9, 2020

Car insurance is compulsory in Italy. At the time of this story, upon payment — yearly or twice a year — you are given a piece of paper with your license plate number and insurance expiry date to display on the windscreen. The paper has a filigree and the data are impressed to prevent fraud, but this does not deter the smart alecs.

Coworker #1: “Say, mate, how come your insurance expires in two years’ time?”

Coworker #2: *Facepalms dramatically* “Oh, d’oh! I made a mistake!”

Coworker #1: “I am never again hitching a ride from you.”