A Holiday Lightbulb Moment

, , , , , | Right | December 23, 2018

I work for a membership-based wholesale retailer as a supervisor. For the most part, we stick to the “customer is always right” mentality. Since it’s the holidays, it’s even worse. At my particular store, we have coupons, but they all have a limit on how many items you can purchase with that coupon. In this instance, it is light bulbs, and the limit is four.

We are busy, so I’m helping on the register, and a member comes to my line wanting two separate transactions. Each transaction is four light bulbs, so he’s basically circumventing the coupon limit. My manager says, “Hey, it’s the holidays and it’s only four more; just do it.”

Right as I’m about to ring in his second transaction, the member next in line stops me and says, “Hey, just watch him for a minute before you do that.” I turn around and watch him handing cash to the elderly couple I helped prior to him. They also bought four light bulbs. It turns out he is trying to beat the system even more by convincing the elderly couple to charge the lightbulbs to their credit card and get the discount, and then giving them cash.

Upon seeing this, I void his transaction and tell him that he already got his discounts and I’m doing no more. When he tries to argue, the member behind him says, “You tried to pull a fast one, and she’s just doing her job, so leave, because it’s busy and we don’t want to wait!” He grumbled, but left.

The member behind him then proceeded to announce — loudly — about the con I stopped. Yay me? Then, they talked to management about giving me recognition for it. For me, it wasn’t about the “con” he was trying to pull; it was that he manipulated the elderly into doing something for him. Thanks to that member who spoke out, this guy has been flagged, and I actually got thanked by management for turning someone away instead of being scolded.

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Why Did The Supervisor Cross The Road

| Working | April 5, 2017

(I am a supervisor at a well-known wholesale warehouse that is membership based. You have to pay annually to shop there and the register will not ring up orders without scanning a valid paid membership. As an employee, I get a free membership that does not expire. This particular day we are short staffed on supervisors so it is just me and one other guy. We are both exhausted from running around all day helping members and employees with problems. I am required to take a lunch by my fifth working hour so I go, leaving my coworker by himself on the front end. I forgot my lunch that day (per usual) and go grab a rotisserie chicken from the deli. Once I get to the register and wait (a new cashier is on the register) I realize that I ALSO forgot my membership card that day and despite the fact that I am an employee, the register simply won’t ring up my food without that card number. I quickly run to our computer and look up the number manually and hastily write it down on scrap paper as my 30-minute lunch always goes too quickly. I run back to the line, which is five people deep by then and apologize to everyone. The new cashier then manually keys in my handwritten membership number.)

Cashier: “Um… the register says that your membership is expired… You need to pay 55 dollars to renew.”

Me: “Impossible. Employees get free memberships. They don’t expire unless you quit or get fired.”

Cashier: “What do I do?”

Me: “Well, technically I am off the clock so I can’t help. Let me call [Coworker] and see if he can figure it out.”

(Due to my break, my fellow supervisor is busy running around and it takes him a while to hear my calls. Meanwhile the line behind me grows so I decide to try to talk the employee through the procedure until FINALLY my coworker arrives to help.)

Coworker: “I think you wrote down your membership number wrong in your hurry to eat your lunch. Let me go get the correct number.”

(A manager sees the struggle on the front end and comes down to help out with the rush and quickly voids the current transaction, which I couldn’t do since I was off the clock, and my coworker runs over with my ACTUAL membership number, which works. At the end of the transaction I turn to the growing line behind me and apologize to the waiting members.)

Lady: *behind me in line, with a smile* “HEY, I have a joke… How many supervisors does it take to ring up a CHICKEN?”

(Everyone else in line laughs and I run off with my chicken to the employee break-room.)

Another Member In Line: “You’d better be eating that whole thing!”

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Stress Comes In Bulk, Too

| Right | March 24, 2017

(Self-checkout lanes tend to become a complete disaster with people using their time to text, stand there and do nothing, or even sort through the contents of their pockets. Because of this, self-check lanes become completely jammed on an extremely regular basis to the point of being unusable. To keep the lines moving, a lot of regular grocers have employees bag items in the self-check areas. I am at a popular wholesale club to pick up a few items. I get in line behind a young couple who look like they are buying a few things for a party. They are looking on impatiently at the older lady in front of them who has two large carts filled past the top. She is by herself and stops every two minutes to text or dig through her purse. All of the other lanes have similar issues with equally oblivious or rude people clogging up the lanes.)

Young Woman: *to her boyfriend* “Can you check out the other lanes?”

Young Man: *to girlfriend, referring to the older woman* “What is she doing?”

Young Woman: “Who knows? I just want to get out of here. We’re going to be late.”

(The older lady turns to give the young couple a dirty look and proceeds to start texting again, instead of scanning her items.)

Young Woman: “Ma’am, do you need help scanning your items? You have a lot here.”

(The older woman just gives her a dirty look and keeps texting. At this point, I’m also looking around for another lane, but all lanes re having similar issues, leaving people meant for the self-check lanes to look around with desperation.)

Me: *to young couple* “I think we’ll have more luck in that lane.” *points to the lane two over* “This lady clearly plans to spend her day in the lane.”

Older Woman: “Why don’t you mind your own business?!”

Young Woman: “We would, but you’re preventing us from getting to it!”

(The older woman then grunts, puts her phone away, and starts scanning her items at lightning speed. It is good timing because something happens with the other machine and the people who were using it eventually have to go to another line. The items are piling up at the end of the conveyor belt until the bagging area is too full for her to keep going. She stops scanning and looks around instead of moving. Everyone in line is mumbling about how much they want this lady to disappear from their lives. An employee emerges from the back carrying two boxes in her arms and walks by. The old lady waves her down.)

Older Woman: “Miss! Miss!”

Female Employee: “Yes? Do you need something?”

Older Woman: “You need to bag my groceries.”

(The employee looks dumbfounded. Her arms are full and she doesn’t look like she wants to be patient with this goofy woman.)

Female Employee: “Ma’am, you need to provide your own bags. We offer free boxes in the front of the store if you need them to carry your things.”

Older Woman: “My own bags? I don’t have any bags. Just give me the regular plastic bags like everyone else does.”

Female Employee: “We don’t have any plastic bags here. That’s what I’m saying. You need to take care of your own items. If you need boxes, they’re in the front.”

(At this point, the employee leaves because she clearly needs to be somewhere. This enrages the woman. She hits the “Call for Help” button. Everyone in line lets out a collective groan. At the same time, the next machine over jams up and can’t be used until someone fixes it.)

Young Woman: “Great. We are going to grow old here.”

Young Man: “Man, did we pick the wrong time to come here or what?”

(I chat with them and with the people behind me to vent our general frustrations with the situation. This upsets the older woman further, who decides she needs to defend her honor.)

Older Woman: “How is it my fault that [Store] hires incompetent employees?”

Me: “You could have gone to the correct lane to have an employee scan your items for you. THAT is your fault.”

(The older woman throws up her hands and mumbles something. A manager finally comes out, but it is crazy busy at this store. The manager was clearly not just taking a nap.)

Manager: “What did you need help with?”

Older Woman: “Someone needs to get out here to bag my groceries.”

Manager: “Ma’am, you are in the self-checkout lane. You do your own bagging. Do you understand that?”

Older Woman: “That is unacceptable! Do you see how many things I have here? Someone needs to come and bag this.”

(The manager looks back and sees the sea of irritated people who all have a handful of items looking around for a better lane.)

Manager: “I will try to get someone out to help you, but you need to get started. You’re holding up the line. In the future, please use one of the cashier lanes.”

Older Woman: “How am I supposed to get started without any bags?! You don’t have any bags here!”

Manager: “Ma’am, we don’t provide bags. You can either use your own bags or you can go to the front to get boxes to hold some of your items.”

Older Woman: “Is this how you treat all of your customers?! Go get me boxes and have someone put my things away! This is ridiculous!”

Manager: “Do your best. I will ask an employee to bring you some boxes.”

(The manager leaves and the lady stands there and does nothing. Several people in line give up at this point and leave the store without buying anything. Minutes later, an employee comes with a few empty boxes and starts putting items into an empty cart, smaller items into empty boxes.)

Older Woman: “What are you doing?!”

Young Employee: “Putting your things away?”

Older Woman: “I WANTED BAGS! BAGS! NOT BOXES!”

Young Employee: “Oh, I’m sorry. Did you have a bag?”

Older Woman: “I DON’T HAVE ANY BAGS!”

Young Employee: *shrug* “So, you don’t want the boxes?”

Older Woman: “OF COURSE NOT!”

(The employee started taking items out of the boxes and putting them directly into the cart.)

Older Woman: “STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

Young Employee: “You said you didn’t want boxes.”

Older Woman: “I WANT BAGS!”

(The employee clearly didn’t know how to respond. He was pretty young, probably in high school.)

Young Employee: “You could… make believe that the boxes are bags?”

(Everyone still in line laughs. The older woman is beet red, literally hopping up and down, she is so mad. The manager makes yet another appearance and goes back over how the store doesn’t have bags, but the boxes are free. The woman makes some vague threats against the manager’s employment and eventually calms down enough to finish scanning her items with the help of the young employee. The manager stays there the whole time. He occasionally looks over to us and mouths “I am so sorry.” Finally, the transaction is done and everything is in boxes. The screen will not allow her to go to the pay menu.)

Older Woman: “Your machine is broken! Good lord! Does ANYTHING work?!”

Manager: “Just scan your [Store] card.”

Older Woman: “My what?”

(The manager stares at her.)

Older Woman: “What do I need a [Store] card for?”

Manager: “You need it in order to shop here. This store is members only.”

Older Woman: “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”

Manager: “Are you saying you don’t have a member’s card?”

Older Woman: “OF COURSE I DON’T! HOW THE H*** WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT I NEEDED A MEMBER CARD?!”

(Everyone in the line groans very loudly. Someone in line yells “You have got to be kidding me!” The manager points to one of the hundreds of signs hanging that say that Store is a member’s only shop. The woman screams at the manager for a few minutes, but he has clearly ran out of s***s to give.)

Manager: “Ma’am, it’s time for you to go. You’ve wasted everyone’s time and I’m done. Goodbye.”

(She eventually left, but not before throwing out several insults. Everything she had picked out now sat in two carts and clearly had to be put away. The young couple stepped up, finished their transaction in less than two minutes. I went in and scanned my two items and was done. The line was moving. I heard this exchange just before I left:)

Young Employee: “What was her problem?”

Manager: “Isn’t it obvious? She was a stroke victim. I’d guess she had a pretty bad one.”

Young Employee: “Really?”

Manager: “No, she’s just an idiot.”

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Looks A Little Lost And Found

| Right | September 13, 2016

(I am the customer in this story. My purchases have been loaded on the conveyor belt, and I get up to the cashier and hand her my card.)

Cashier: “Did you find everything…?”

(I open my eyes real wide, assume a scared expression, and slump a little.)

Me: “YES! And it was overwhelming!”

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