Friday, August 28, 2009

Less Than a Quarter

As a part of the Back to School sales, we currently have a Buy 1 and Get 2 Free special running on a number of different items. One of them is a pencil box which normally sells for $1.99. This morning, my cashier calls me over to tell me that the box had been marked at $1.79 on the shelf and that a customer was complaining that she was being charged $1.99. Now, I completely understand it when customers want to get the shelf price when there's a significant difference, but for 20 measly cents? I had to struggle not to pull a dollar outta my pocket and tell them to keep the change. But whatever - it's an old tag that we missed when doing the weekly price updates, so it's our fault. I told the cashier to change the price.

But there was a problem. The customer was getting the buy 1 get 2 free promotion, and the stupid cash register saw that as an "overriding discount" which automatically removed the 20 cent price drop. In effect, every time I told it to charge $1.79 instead of $1.99, it would automatically raise it back to $1.99. No big deal, though, because the customer was also purchasing two folders at 99 cents each. So I just adjusted them to 89 cents each. Bingo - 20 cent discount. We did all this right in front of the customer.

I walk away thinking everything is fine and that it's over and done with. I help a couple other people and pretty soon my cashier calls me for change. But as I'm heading for the cash office, I see the customer at the copy center talking with the general manager and pointing at her receipt with this confused look on her face. I went over to let our manager know what was going on, figuring that the woman had ignored everything we told her earlier since the receipt still showed the pencil box at $1.99.

As it turns out, she wasn't complaining about that, she was questioning why we'd taken 20 cents off of the folders. I told her it was to compensate for the different price that had been on the shelf for the pencil box. She says, "Oh, OK. I wasn't sure," and takes her receipt and leaves.

I can only come to two possible conclusions. Either she has short term memory problems and simply didn't remember what went on at the register not ten minutes earlier, or she was going to try to scam our general manager into giving her another 20 cents back since the receipt still showed $1.99. Either way, it seemed like a lot of effort to go through over a couple lousy dimes. I realize times are tough for many people financially, but 20 cents? That won't even get you a game of pinball.

Later in the day, I had a guy come up to the register to make a purchase. He pulls out his card and I asked, "Debit or Credit?" If it's debit, he can process it himself. If it's credit, I need to see the card. He says, "Debit." I told him to swipe, the number pad comes up for his pin, and he says, "I don't know the pin," and just stares at me.

I got the feeling he expected me to put some kind of override code in or something. "No problem, Sir. I'll just put in my universal debit pin for you."

I told him he'd have to run it as a credit card then. He kinda rolls his eyes but goes with it.

It's funny, I thought debit cards were supposed to make purchasing easier. I can't imagine what he difficulty he might have if all he had was a check.

Shopping tip of the day for 8/28/09: The following are examples of the proper way to ask for assistance:

"Excuse me, are you busy at the moment?"
"Hi, I was hoping you'd be able to answer a couple of questions."
"Excuse me, could you show me where I might find this item?"
"Hello, can you help me?"

These greetings and any similar ones will greatly increase your chances of receiving friendly and helpful assistance.

The following are examples of the improper way to ask for assistance:

Snapping of fingers
Shouting across the aisle/store
Standing in the middle of the aisle/store and yelling, "Does anybody work here?"
Any commands or demanding sentences such as, "Get me this," or "Come here."
"You don't look like you're doing anything, maybe you can help me."
"You look like you need something to do."

The first four of these will get you ignored in nearly 95% of instances. The last four or any similar statements will land you a reluctant, annoyed, and relatively uninterested assistant.

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