A Ballooning Lie

, , , , , | Legal | September 6, 2018

(At the store I work for, none of our items are scanned in; instead, cashiers key in prices by hand and automatically apply discounts to items that are on sale for the week. Because of this method, anytime a return is requested without a receipt, there are things that must be done before beginning to process the return. The first thing is to explain to the customer our no-receipt return policy, which is also on display next to EVERY register, not just the return registers. I am running a return register on this day, and a customer comes to my register to do a return. However, I am already suspicious of this as she has come from the back of the store holding several items, none of which are in bags.)

Customer: “Hey, I want to exchange these balloons for these shirts.”

(The customer is holding about 15 of our reusable number-shape balloons that are 20” tall and cost roughly $5 a piece.)

Me: “Okay, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Do you have your receipt with you?”

Customer: “Nah, I threw it away.”

Me: “Okay, well, there are two different things I can do. First, if you paid for those with a credit or debit card, and as long as you have that card on you, I can do a transaction lookup and process the return that way. The second–”

Customer: “No, I don’t have any of that; I paid in cash.”

Me: “That’s understandable; in that case, we can do a no-receipt return and you will get an exchange card. In cases of no-receipt returns, you will get the lowest selling price in the last 60 days. Lucky for you, though, you seem to have items that don’t ever go on sale, so you will get full price back for them. Before I start the process, though, I must verify that we still carry these exact balloons in the store, and also verify that their price has not changed recently; if they have gone on clearance then I have to give you the clearance price.”

Customer: “Oh, you guys still have them; I was just back there and saw them, and they’re the same price.”

(Again, this makes me suspicious, as the balloons and the shirts are in completely separate areas. In order to go past the balloons, you would have to go in the opposite direction of the shirts.)

Me: “While that may be true, ma’am, the company policy is that I must verify with the department manager. If they randomly choose this transaction to review during daily reports and don’t see me verify over the phone then I get in serious trouble. I hope you understand.”

Customer: “Oh, yeah, I understand.”

(I page my coworker to verify the balloons for me.)

Me: “Hey, I just need to verify for no-receipt purposes that we still have the 20” balloons and that they’re the same price.”

Coworker: “Is this person a short, [Ethnicity] lady with long hair and wearing a baseball cap?”

Me: “Um, no, it’s not that one.”

Coworker: “Okay. I was just making sure. A woman of that description just grabbed about 10 or 15 balloons from over here and walked off towards the front really quickly.”

(As she is saying this, the woman she has described has walked up to stand next to the customer I have been talking to. Her hands are empty.)

Me: “Oh, yeah, I see what you were talking about now. That is definitely the one. Would you mind checking on that for me?”

Coworker: “Go ahead and page [Manager] and get him up there.”

Me: *to customer* “Sorry about the wait. It happens to be our truck day today, and that manager is unpacking a box. She asked me to check with another manager, as she isn’t sure how much longer she will be.”

(I see my customer service manager, walk over to her, and explain the issue that we have a possible fraud return attempt, and then I page the store manager from the phone near her so I can explain the situation to him. He comes to the front very quickly.)

Manager: “Here, let me see those balloons. I’m getting on up in age and want to make sure I locate the correct item.”

Customer: “Why is this taking so long? We just want to do an exchange for this stuff.”

Me: “I know, ma’am. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience; because we have to type everything in by hand, it makes no-receipt returns a real annoyance to process. I wish the system was more streamlined, but sadly that’s for corporate to decide. My manager is just going to verify the item and the price for us; as I said it is our truck day today which always makes things move even a little more slowly. Please be patient, though, and I’m sure we can get this sorted out in just a couple more minutes.”

(The customers step a few feet away and start whispering to each other. At about the same time, my store manager and customer service manager both walk back up to my register together.)

Manager: “So, did my cashier here ask you if you guys paid for this with a credit or debit card? If you did, we can do a lookup and give you the actual amount back. We’ve got a memo in the back talking about items moving to clearance in our party department, so sadly it’s going to take a few more minutes to verify the price on these balloons before we can return them.”

(I can tell he is stalling for time, as clearance adjustments are done at the beginning of the week and it’s the end of the week now. At this point the women have caught on that we know what they are attempting to do.)

Customer: “I don’t understand this at all. We were just wanting to buy the shirts, and we were asking if we would be able to return something if we didn’t have a receipt so that we could get the balloons. I think your cashier here just doesn’t understand.”

Me: “Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry! You’re right; I must have completely misunderstood you guys. You wanted to return something else and get the balloons with it. Well, yes, as you have witnessed, as long as we can verify we still carry it, we can return it for the lowest selling price in the last 60 days. Let me just go ahead and ring these shirts up for you now. And did you guys have the thing that you wanted to return with you?”

Customer: “Uh, yeah, it’s in the car, but, um… We actually have an appointment we need to get to, so we will just come back later to get those balloons.”

Me: “Okay, that sounds like a good idea. Just don’t forget to bring your item in with you the next time you come in.”

(The customers paid for their shirts and quickly left the store. We had actually been aware of these ladies for a while, but had never been able to catch them in the act. It wasn’t just by chance that my department manager witnessed the woman grabbing the balloons and heading to the front with them. She had forgotten to put her work vest on that morning, so the woman thought she was just another customer.)


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I’ll Pencil You In For Never

, , , , , , | Right | September 5, 2018

(I produce very fine pencil drawings of city views, done in psychedelic colour schemes. I also sell ink drawings of those same views, which resemble colouring book pages. Customers sometimes ask if it’s okay for them to colour them in, and it is, since it doesn’t affect me. This woman is a lot less polite about it, though.)

Girl: “Ooh, these look nice, Mum.”

Woman: “Yes, they look okay. How much are they?”

Me: “The colour prints are £40, black and white £20, and the originals are about £250.”

Woman: “What?! You’re charging £250 for pencil drawings!”

Me: *taken aback* “Well, they’re each nearly a month’s work and done in very fine detail.”

Woman: “I’m not paying that. I could do this!”

Girl: “Oh, but I really like them.”

Woman: “Fine.”

(She decides to buy one of the black and white prints.)

Woman: “Mind if I take a photo?”

Me: “That’s fine.”

Woman: *to her daughter* “Now we can copy it, and sell our own for £250.” *smiles smugly and leaves*

Me: “It’s your money.”

Another Visitor: “Aren’t you worried about her?”

Me: “It took 300 pencils to do these. A lot of the patterns are in very tiny spaces and done on a whim. Computers have trouble scanning them, and I couldn’t copy them, even with all the pencils to hand. Even if she does succeed, she’ll have to invest a few hundred getting her own art business set up. That’s money I haven’t made back yet. She is not going to make this £20 back.”

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A Deduction Reduction

, , , | Right | September 4, 2018

(As tax students, we have to work at a tax office for two weeks during the period everyone has to fill in their tax return forms. We help people fill in their forms if they have trouble understanding how it works. In the Netherlands, you’re allowed to deduct expenses on certain items of clothing and bedding from your income so you don’t pay tax over them, if you pass a certain threshold. This is proven by simply showing me the receipt. I’m with a 73-year-old customer who has deducted money for this for the last few years and wants me to do it this year, too. He was already slightly irritated when he came in. As students, we don’t have access to any of the databases, so we can’t check any previously filled-in forms.)

Me: “Did you have any expenses on clothing and bedding for medical purpose this year, sir?”

Customer: “Yes, about €400.”

Me: “Can I see the receipts, please?”

Customer: “I don’t keep a receipt; it’s just the regular stuff everyone buys.”

Me: *slightly alarmed* “You mean normal clothes?”

Customer: *getting more irritated* “Yes, clothes like you’re wearing; you can deduct them. I do it every year. Go check your database.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, we can’t check any databases, and also I’m not allowed to let you deduct anything if it’s for regular clothing.”

Customer: *now getting red and talking very loudly* “Well, I’ve been doing it for years. What kind of nonsense is it that I can’t do it now?”

Me: “Then you’re lucky you’ve never been caught in the past few years. I surely will not allow it now.”

Customer: “Next thing you tell me is you won’t deduct my Viagra, either.”

(Luckily for me, he had a prescription for that, so I didn’t need to have the same discussion all over again.)

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Give Me Five!

, , , | Right | September 3, 2018

(Every once in a while, we will have a clearance sale on our tees. The prices will start at $5.00 and go up, and we have signs that are super specific that say that as well. Well, we know how much people read signs, right?)

Lady: “Okay, I think I’m ready to check out.”

(She puts down an armful of clearance shirts and waits for me to scan them. The items all ranged in prices five and up.)

Me: “Perfect, your total will be [price].”

Lady: “Excuse me? No, that’s wrong. The bin said that they are all five dollars.”

Me: “I’m sorry. That is incorrect. If you look at the sign, it says that the items in the bin are priced as marked and it starts at $5.00 and will go up depending on the date we got the item.”

Lady: “This is absolutely inappropriate. Your advertisement is a disappointment and you are deceiving me. I want to speak to your manager.”

Me: “I am the manager. And I can assure you that the items are $5.00 and up. I can show you the items that are five dollars. They will be marked as is.”

(I show her the items that are five dollars and she huffs and puffs and complains the whole way. Meanwhile there are people in line and I am the only one in the store at the time. I show her the items, she brings them up to the counter, and I ring them in for her, giving her the new total.)

Me: “Your total is [price].”

(The lady started screaming. I showed her the prices on the computer and how they matched in my computer. She stopped whining, looked at me, and huffed out of the store. She didn’t come back until five minutes to close and she ended up buying all the items that she had the first time around, the whole time muttering to herself.)

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Damper-ing His Spirits

, , , , , , | Working | August 31, 2018

My husband and I are at a well-known theme park, sitting in the audience of a Bush skills show — sheep shearing, whip cracking, snake handling, making damper bread and billy tea, etc. The showman has just shown around a very large and harmless python; he’s clearly loving the shrieking reactions from tourists, who are all but fleeing from the snake. When he gets to me, I grin and pet the python happily whilst cooing over it as if it was a puppy. He seems a little disappointed he didn’t get the same reaction from me, but the show goes on until he reaches the part about making damper bread.

He calls me up on stage, clearly hoping to get a reaction this time. He jokingly throws random handfuls of flour and salt in a bowl and then pours in far too much water. He looks at me with a grin and tells me to get to it.

It looks like an absolute mess, which is, of course, what he intended.

He goes back to the front of the stage to continue with a demonstration on bush medicine whilst behind him I set about fixing the damper dough. I grab more flour to even out the ratios, add more salt, and by the time he comes back to check on me, I’m kneading a perfect damper bread dough.

He looks at me. He looks at the dough. He looks at me. He looks at the dough, and utterly stumped, all he can say is, “You shouldn’t have been able to do that!” before sending me back to my seat, baffled.

Sorry, mate! You just picked on the wrong lady!

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