The Moaning Customer Has Been Activated!

, , , , , | Right | February 25, 2020

I’m a cashier. The store I work in sells gift cards, prepaid cards, and phone cards. An activation receipt is printed and given to the customer when they purchase any of these cards, which they are meant to keep in case there’s some issue with the card. They are also given a purchase receipt, which is the same as the receipt for any other kind of purchase; it shows that they purchased the gift card, but it does not prove the card was activated.

A customer comes to my register with a prepaid card, saying that she bought some for her son and none of them are activated. She has the purchase receipt, but not the activation receipt. I start to fill with dread, since the customer already seems a bit hostile, and I know that not having her activation receipt might mean that she won’t get her money back. Card issues aren’t resolved on the store level, though, so I page my supervisor, since she’ll know what the customer needs to do.

My supervisor tells the customer that she needs to call our corporate line in order to resolve this. The customer immediately becomes even more hostile. She wants us to fix it right there and now, because she came all this way. My supervisor tells her that without the activation receipt there’s no way we can do that.

The customer argues that the purchase receipt should be enough; the supervisor tells her it isn’t, and also points out that the card number on the receipt doesn’t match the one on the card. They go back and forth for a while longer, and the supervisor even asks me to confirm that the number on the receipt should match the one on the card, because the customer just won’t accept it. I confirm that they should match. The customer asks her son if this is the same card she gave him, and he insists it is. She gets more and more upset, acting like we’re refusing to help her; she even tells my supervisor she needs to fix it because “This is your fault.”

I wish I was part of the conversation at that point, because I would have loved to point out that we have no control over these kinds of issues, and it wouldn’t be my supervisor’s fault even if she had personally sold her those cards. Our register either tells us the card activated, in which case the customer gets an activation receipt proving that, or it tells us the activation failed, in which case the register automatically prompts us to refund the customer, and we can’t exit that screen until we do so. If the card is activated according to the register but not in reality, that’s an issue with the card or card provider, and we have no way of controlling it or knowing about it. That’s the whole reason we give activation receipts.

Of course, none of this was relevant anyway, because even if the customer had her activation receipt, she would still need to call our corporate line.

Later that same day, a different customer — fortunately not as hostile — reports the same problem with a prepaid card not being activated. She also doesn’t have her activation receipt. Unwilling to bother my supervisor about this issue again, I just write down the same number my supervisor gave to the first customer and send her on her way.

I have no idea if either of these customers will be able to get their money back. This scenario is exactly why I tell customers who are buying gift cards to keep the activation receipts.

If you ever buy a gift card, keep your activation receipt!

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