Monday, November 30, 2009

You've Taken it Before

I was minding my own business doing something in the office when I was paged to the front by my cashier. Now this is my not-so-bright cashier, so I fully expected the problem - whatever it was - to be her fault.

There's a little old man with big glasses and a long beard at the counter, and he does not look happy. My cashier points to the screen. "It wants a driver's license but he doesn't have one." In her hand, she's holding the man's check.

Occasionally, our system asks for a driver's license to verify a person's identity. It doesn't do it every time, it's a random security measure. It might come up because of suspicious activity on a person's account, low funds in the account, security alerts put out by the banks, identity theft checks, whatever. So I said to the man, "You don't have a license?"

"I told her. No I don't," he says. His tone was less than understanding.

There are other options. Not everyone has a driver's license. "Do you have any form of State issued ID? Military ID? Anything like that?"

He pulls out a credit card and points to the name on it. "Here."

"No, that's not state issued ID, Sir. I need something from-"

"You've taken my checks before," he says. "I don't see why this is a problem."

I began to explain to him that the company we use to authorize checks has their own security measures in place and that sometimes they'll ask for ID for the protection of both the consumers and retailers. While I'm telling him that, which took no more than four to five seconds, he's standing there just talking right over me, repeating over and over again, "You've taken it before. You've taken it before. You've taken it before. You've taken it before. You've taken it before. You've taken it before." I doubt he heard a word I said.

"Sir, it doesn't always ask for ID, so that's likely why they took it before. Today there is a request for ID verification on this account, and I'll had to see some form of ID in order to process this sale. There is no way to override this in the system. I need to see some ID."

Again, he points to the credit card.

"No, Sir. State issued ID."

"This is rediculous! Why would I lie about who I am?!"

Do you want the long answer or the short answer, Sir?

Eventually he took his check back and left, telling us that all we'd done is sent him to our competition. His purchase? A single pack of highlighters worth less than 4 dollars. Yup, he wrote a check for three dollars and change.

And in case you might be wondering why a bank would require ID for such a small purchase, oftentimes criminals who steal identity information will try a small test purchase out with the phony information to see if it will work. Small purchases, especially ones paid by check, can be quite suspicious to banks since most would simply pay cash for that kind of thing, so many times they'll enact full security measures just to be safe.

Shopping Tip of the Day for 11/30/09: If you come up to the register with a hand-basket full of product, have the decency to empty it out onto the counter for the cashier. Don't make them sit there and unload your products for you to be scanned while you stand there staring impatiently or talking on your cell phone. There's nothing wrong with helping out.

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