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This Coupon Seriously Does Not Compute

, , , , , , , , , | Working | October 22, 2021

I was finishing up running errands; the last thing on my to-do list was to pick up groceries, including pet food. My husband and I buy a particular brand of dog food that, while high quality, is fairly expensive (~$50 a bag), so when I see that a “Buy Two Bags, Get A Third Free” sale is going on, I jump on it. I put three of the thirty-pound bags in my cart, grab the coupon, and finish my shopping before heading to the register.

The cashier sees all my dog food.

Cashier #1: “Got a lot of dogs?”

Me: “Nope, just one big one! But y’all have a sale going on that’s almost too good to be true, so I jumped on it.”

I hand over the coupon and we chat a little about our dogs as she rings me up, but when she goes to scan the coupon, her computer shows an error.

Cashier #1: “Huh. It’s saying this coupon is invalid.”

Me: “That’s odd. Is it expired?”

Cashier #1: “No, it doesn’t look like it’s expired. Where did you get it? If it was from another location, then it might be store specific.”

Me: “No, I got it off of one of the coupon rings in the dog food aisle just a couple of minutes ago. There’s a whole stack of them there. I could go grab another one, if you think that would help?”

Cashier #1: “Here, let me call a manager real quick. Do you mind waiting a minute?”

Me: “Sure, I’ve got nothing else to do today.”

The cashier calls a manager, who comes over, and she explains the situation. He checks the coupon, and then tries to override the error, only for the computer to completely shut down.

Cashier #1: “What just happened?”

Manager #1: “I’m… not sure. Hang on, let me try this again.”

He sends the cashier to go get another coupon while he gets the computer running again. They both verify that the coupons aren’t expired or misprinted, and that I’ve brought the correct products to the register, and while they’re doing that, another cashier comes over to see what’s going on.

By now, the computer has rebooted and the two cashiers are unbagging, rescanning, and rebagging my items, which I then pay for, agreeing to purchase the dog food separately just in case. And thank goodness for that, because once everything else is paid for and in my cart, we scan the dog food again, the coupon again, and the computer shuts down for a second time.

We’re all confused, as there seems to be no reason for the coupon to be causing such problems. The first manager has called for a second, higher-ranking manager and two more employees have come over to see what’s going on. The lane has been closed so no one is stuck waiting in line behind me, and there are now seven people, including me, standing around this register.

I’m chatting with them all, trying to reassure them I’m neither upset nor in a hurry — though I am starting to get a little worried about the ice cream in my cart — as clearly, they’re all pretty flummoxed and apologetic. For a third time, the computer shuts down trying to process this coupon, and after the higher-ranking manager calls the highest-ranking employee in the store, we get an explanation… sort of.

Manager #2: “As far as we can tell, there’s a limited amount you can save on any given item with a coupon. For an item that costs [dog food amount], you’ll only be able to save up to $10, and this coupon saves you $40, so the computer won’t process it.”

Me: “Okay, I guess that makes sense. But… doesn’t the computer make the coupons?”

Cashier #1: *Laughing a little* “Yes, it does, so we’re not sure why it printed these if it won’t even process them.”

Manager #1: “It says that, to override the error, it requires a Z-level employee to authorize it, which is something I’ve never actually heard of before.”

Manager #2: “That is literally higher than anyone who works at this store. That’s like the CEO of [Store].”

Cashier #2: “Basically, it’s equating this coupon to trying to sell alcohol before noon on a Sunday.”

That is illegal where I live.

Cashier #2: “Honestly, even if we had a Z-level employee here, the computer still probably wouldn’t allow it.”

By now, we’re all laughing at the absurdity of the situation — that the computer is refusing to accept a coupon it generated unless an employee with an impossible level of authority overrides the system.

Me: “Wow, I guess this sale actually was too good to be true! Well, in that case, I’m going to have to put two of the bags back and just stick to buying the one.”

Cashier #1: “I’m really sorry about that, ma’am. I’ve never seen something like this happen before.”

Me: “No worries! I appreciate you guys trying to get the thing to work for me. Sorry for taking up so much of y’all’s time!”

Cashier #1: “It’s all right. Thank you for being so patient.”

Two of the other employees took the bags back for me while the rest returned to their jobs. Ultimately, they removed the coupons from the shelf to avoid any future issues and I paid for my one bag of dog food before heading to my car with my groceries. All in all, it took almost forty-five minutes from the moment I got in line to the moment I walked out to my car.

Once home, I texted the story to a friend of mine who works for the same grocery store chain but at a different location, and she, too, had never heard of a “Z-level” employee before. Though my ice cream was pretty melted when I got home, I like to think I at least left the employees with a rare, wholesome retail story.

No One Is As Bad At Math As A Customer Who Thinks They’re Right

, , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Tsukikaiyo | October 22, 2021

I work at a backyard and patio store. This was a couple of months ago, in our off season, so there was plenty of time for me to spend with a single customer. This customer came in about a half-hour before closing to sort out an order of his.

He had ordered a fancy BBQ, cover, and assembly and delivery for a total of $2,600. He also got two patio chairs at $370 each, and assembly for both chairs for $60. His grand total was $3,400.

Since the BBQ and chairs were coming from different warehouses, we couldn’t be sure that it’d all be able to be delivered at the same time. Because of this, it was arranged that he’d pay in full for the BBQ stuff and half for the chairs — $2,600 on the BBQ and only $400 on chairs, for $3,000 paid total. He did get the BBQ items, but it turned out that we couldn’t get the chairs to him in time, so he wanted that part of the order refunded. Sure!

But this is where things get difficult. Seems that the customer forgot this arrangement. When he showed up, he wanted a full refund of $800 for the chairs.

I tried — for thirty minutes — to explain to this customer that no, we could not refund him money he didn’t pay us in the first place. I tried four methods of explaining. I added up the value of what he was keeping. I explained that if I gave him $800, he’d owe us $400 on the BBQ. I tried.

I wrote the math on paper. I showed him on a calculator. I proved it every way possible. But no. No. Thirty entire minutes. My manager — the only other one in the store — watched me the whole time, not knowing how to explain it any better than I already had. I felt something break during those thirty minutes that he insisted we were ripping him off.

The customer left that night angry that we had “cheated” him out of $400, but at least my manager told me he’s not sure he would’ve been nearly as patient. Yayyyy.

They Sure Weren’t Hired For Their Technical Knowledge

, , , , , | Working | October 22, 2021

Because I went to one of the top ten public colleges for computer science, I was used to numerous big tech firms showing up to try to recruit us, and often attended these events for the free food and swag. I was a poor college student; I would have done anything short of murder for some free pizza!

One of these events was with [Multinational Technology Corporation]. I got there early and the recruiter started talking to me. I was wearing a shirt given to me by a previous [Corporation] recruiter; I have two of the same shirt, both given to me by recruiters from this company.

Recruiter: “That’s an interesting shirt.”

Me: “Yeah, I like it. It says, ‘Geek,’ in binary.”

Recruiter: “Huh? How can it say anything?”

Me: “Well… each of these sets of numbers is a byte that can be converted to a letter. See, this one is a G, these two are E’s, and this is a K.”

Recruiter: “How do you get a letter from them?”

Me: “I looked up the number the binary represents in a table. Every possible number has some letter or other character it represents.”

Recruiter: “Oh, so it’s like a code?”

Me: “Umm, yeah. That’s literally the code computers use to store words.”

Recruiter: “That’s cool.”

The recruiter wandered off shortly after. I don’t suspect a layman to know everything about a computer. I wouldn’t blame someone for not knowing what my shirt said. Still, I have trouble fathoming how someone whose job is literally recruiting programmers for one of the biggest tech firms in the world, who likely had to give out these very shirts before, wouldn’t at some point have learned that computers use binary.

For the record, I did intern with that corporation, where I received yet another copy of the binary geek shirt at one point, but ultimately, I chose to stick closer to home once I graduated.

From A Different Q Continuum

, , , | Right | October 21, 2021

A customer calls and they have a voucher that they want to use for an online order.

Caller: “The voucher doesn’t work! There’s some weird sign on it that doesn’t exist on any keyboard. It couldn’t be a letter, since it doesn’t exist in any alphabet we know about.”

The unknown thing? The letter Q.

We spoke the same language, they sounded maybe a bit older than me, and I got them to read the rest of the voucher up.

After the call, I thought that they had maybe never really used the letter Q in capital, only in lower case. But still… the letter Q doesn’t exist in any alphabet?

I Don’t Actually Believe You “Get Where I’m Coming From”

, , , | Working | October 20, 2021

I work internal IT for a retail company. We get a lot of password reset calls, and for security reasons, we have to talk to the user who is requesting the password for verification purposes. This is a policy that’s been in place for as long as I’ve been with the company and was in place before that. But for some reason, a lot of the stores think it’s no big deal to share passwords, and we get the occasional manager who tries to sneak around rules and process just so they “don’t have to wait”.

Something we’ve recently started doing is for new employees, on their first day, their temporary password is automatically generated and sent to the manager on file. I get this call from a manager one day.

Manager: “Hi. I have a new employee and I didn’t get his temporary password.”

Me: “Hmm. Can I get [employee identifier] so I can check his account?”

Manager: “It’s [identifier]. He is a rehire, though, and we had to change his start date a couple of times. I don’t know if that would affect it?”

Me: “It can, unfortunately. Sometimes, with multiple start dates, the system just can’t keep up and it doesn’t generate. I can reset his password, but I do need to talk to him. Is he available?”

Manager: “Oh, he’s not here right now. Can’t you just reset it for me? I’ll verify in his place.”

Me: “For security reasons, I can’t provide a password for another employee without talking to them first.”

Manager: “I get where you’re coming from, but I just can’t have him holding for an hour. Last time we tried to call, we were on hold for two hours and no one picked up.”

Me: “Yeah, unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of new hires and there have been some delays. But we do have people on the phones twenty-four-seven, and he can call us from home, as well. Our external number is [phone number].” *Checks the call board* “And I currently show that we don’t have any holds, so if he calls now, we can get him taken care of.”

Manager: “I really get where you’re coming from, but I just really need you to do this for me. I called the other day and the tech was able to do it, so can’t you do it for me?”

Me: “For security reasons, I can’t provide a password for another employee without talking to them first.”

Without telling the user, I also check her call records, and while I do see another call from her that mentions another user, there’s no way to tell with 100% certainty if the tech actually talked to the employee or not. I still send my manager a message, because it’s a new technology, and if they’re not following the process, that could mean trouble for us. I still don’t tell my current caller about any of this. The only time we use someone else for verification is a very specific set of circumstances, but the requesting user still has to be present and the tech does have to talk to them.

Manager: “I get where you’re coming from, but please do this for me? I really can’t have him waiting off the floor. I’ll verify in his place.”

Me: “For security reasons, I can’t provide a password for another employee without talking to them first. He can call us any time at [number] so we can verify him and get him a password.”

Manager: “Ugh. Let me try to call him. If I get him on the phone and conference him in, can you reset him?”

Me: “If I can talk to him.”

Manager: “Hang on.”

I hear her dialing and it goes to voicemail, twice.

Manager: “Well, I guess he’s busy.” *Heavy sigh* “Fine, I’ll— Oh, wait! He’s calling me back, hang on!”

She answers and tells him to talk to me about getting his password.

User: “Hi. I need to sign into [System].”

Me: “Can I get [identifier]?”

I’m able to verify him and I reset his password.

Me: “Okay, do you have a pen or a pencil to write some information down?”

User: “Uh, yeah. Go.”

Me: “Okay, so you’re going to want to go to [Site]—” *spells the site out phonetically* “—and then you’ll use [work email] as your username, and your temporary password will be [password].” *Spells out the password phonetically* “Can you give that a shot?”

User: “Okay, hang on.”

It’s quiet for a minute or so and then he comes back.

User: “It’s not letting me in.”

Me: “What’s the error?”

Manager: *Interrupting* “Hey, [User], are you still in the parking lot?”

User: “Yeah.”

Manager: “Just come into my office. We’ll get it taken care of.”

User: “Okay.”

Things get muffled as I’m sure he starts walking.

Manager: *To me* “He’s not the most tech-savvy, so I’ll take a look at what he’s doing. But can you hang on, just in case?”

My eye is beginning to twitch and I want to bang my head on the table.

Me: “I can wait for a few minutes.”

The user finally got into her office, and she was able to get him signed in and we ended the call. I just don’t get why some of these users don’t understand that it’s not that we’re doing this stuff to be malicious or because we enjoy people telling us we’re useless, but it’s security policies and trying to protect people on the off chance someone decides to do something nefarious. And, seriously, why in the h*** did she try to fight me so hard if he was in the d*** parking lot the entire freaking time?!