Saturday, January 20, 2007

Can I get some money please?

You owe me money.

Have you ever not gotten your change at a store or a retail establishment? I can admit that it might seem like an easy thing to do, but think about it for a minute.

This is MONEY that we are talking about. Money is the grease that keeps our society rolling along smoothly. In my experience, customers know EXACTLY how much they're supposed to get back and EXACTLY what you're supposed to be doing to give it to them. So walking back in to the store two hours later and claiming "I didn't get my money" and thinking we'll just roll over and give you $75 isn't really going to fly.

For starters, there are procedures to follow. At the Wal-Mart, we no longer have individual cash drawers. Everyone at the Customer Service Desk uses any one of the five registers to process refunds, although we still have to sign on to the register under our own operator number and password. Each individual transaction is tracked and can be traced to a specific register and cashier.

Whenever there is a question about the money in a specific drawer (that's what we call the cash registers, because the till has this little drawer that goes in and out), there's a specific process.

You take what's called a "reading" from the register, which gives you the amount of cash that's supposed to be in the register. It also tells you loads of other stuff, like your credit card sales, refunds, food stamp & WIC sales, coupons and voids and can basically be used to balance the entire till. But what you really need is the cash total.

After getting the reading, TWO supervisors remove the drawer from the register and go to a secure place and count the cash, down to the last penny. One counts it once and then the other. If they don't agree, they count the cash till they do agree, or until the difference is really only pennies.

You add up the cash on hand in the drawer and then subtract the amount of loans that particular register has gotten during the day to give out refunds and cash payroll checks. It can take a few minutes, because Service Desk cash registers start the day with $2000 in them and we usually get around another $6000 in loans throughout the day. And you've got to make sure you add our money orders and travelers checks in that too -- both those count as cash.

After you add the cash on hand in the drawer (which is what I've taken in from customers), you subtract the loans and the $2000 I started with (this is what the store gave me). This figure, which may be a negative, should match the CASH figure on my reading. Any amount over or under that is how much cash that particular register is short or over. You really don't want to be over. You especially don't want to be short. Especially not every day. That's a quick way to be fired.

Which leads to the point of all this.

Last Saturday was hopping. There were three of us at the desk and we were still losing the battle. One of the other guys went to his lunch and me and the other girl were stuck there from noon till 1 p.m. by ourselves.

In the middle of all this, some yuppie with two snot-nosed brats comes up to me after cutting off an old lady with an issue over the price of peas and starts hollering that I owe him money.

I hold up the finger and finish taking care of the old woman and then ask him what his deal is. He holds out a receipt and says "That Spanish guy that was here two hours ago didn't give me my change."

OK. It can happen. I'll be the first one to admit that I've been a bit scattered lately and almost caught myself closing the drawer without giving people change. BUT THEY ALWAYS SAID - "OH, YOU OWE ME MY MONEY!" or some variation thereof.

In doing refunds, you can get up to four or five pieces of paper spitting out of the register for just one return. You've got to give them their receipt and a credit slip and then make sure they sign the refund slip.

And then they want "check out" at the Service Desk and sit there like a lump while you're bagging a counter full of frozen food while everyone else in line is looking daggers at them.

But anyway. He's thrusting this receipt at me. I take it and he claims he returned some video games and walked away without his $75. Uh huh. And I'm dating Jake Gyllenhaal.

So I have to call the supervisors over and go through the process of having the register counted. The result, it was over $6. NOT $75. And the employee he's accusing of not giving him his change -- a three-year veteran who was promoted to Customer Service because he was never short or over when he was a cashier.

So one of the supervisors tells the guy "Look, it's not in there. We can't give it to you today. You can come in Monday when they do research and we can go over the numbers again. We can also check the security cameras and see what happened."

Instead of being rational about it, because if someone did forget to give him the change, we can check the tape and find out, -- the guy blew up and started yelling at the supervisor and then at the poor guy who just walked back up from his lunch. "Do you remember me? You didn't give me my change. You're a bad employee and you should really work on your skills."

Yeah. And then the guy goes "I'm going to let it go this time, but Wal-Mart should really train its employees better." And walks off.

The thing is that no one actually remembered doing a return for him.

And then later we finally figure out what was possibly going on.

We think this guy watched Customer Service and found a receipt that someone leaving the counter area dropped. He noticed which register they were at and then just came back a few hours later and said that we didn't give him his change. The kids were just window dressing.

A return with a receipt is the most common thing we do -- at least a hundred per day per register on a weekend and we can't possibly remember each customer, so it was no big shocker that he figured he could get away with it.

But I'm a little shocked that he thought there were no procedures in place to prevent people like him from ripping the store off.

And if we really did forget to give him his change and the cash drawer got screwed up some other way -- I feel bad for him. I mean, they will check the tapes for something like that -- it could be that someone has sticky fingers -- or it could be that the register is off for some other reason. But they're not just going to hand over $75 for no good reason.


Anonymous said...

Wow, no single line cash accountability?!??! You can run on any one of the 5 tills at customer service? When a till is off, how do you determine whose fault it is when 3-4 people have run on the till? I'm a manager at a large retail company, and I can't imagine not having single line cash accountability!

Chunes said...

I was a little shocked when Wal-Mart went to register accountability over cashier accountability. Basically, it makes catching associate theft and mistakes (sometimes cashiers don't dispense change correctly) much harder. Whenever a register is off at the end of a day, an audit gets generated for every single person who used that register that day. If a certain individual gets a lot of audits, then they get scrutinized more.

It's not a good system for catching theft, but it is much more convenient for the cashiers.

sugar. said...


I was surprised, too, but not only does register accountability make it easier for the cashier, but easier for the customer, too. The old way was quite time consuming and only contributed to the long lines factor. Not to mention overtime!

At my Walmart, especially now that time is slow, we try to keep til's to one cashier, two if need be. Granted there are til that will always be three to four cashiers, like our smoke shop registers, self scans, and the outlining registers in electronics, photo, etc. For those registers, we know who is on there, and we are also able to track when issues arise. We also audit our most used register every day (the smoke shop) simply because of the high amount of cash that goes in and out of that register, and are required to randomly audit 35 other registers a week. More audits does not pinpoint a cashier, but I do understand how some can take it that way.

Anonymous said...

Before my old store went to register accountability (when we each had our own individual drawers), there were a few times I had customers tell me that I had forgotten to give them their change--like if they paid with cash, or if they used their debit card to get $20 back; when I called a CSM over, both times (2 different CSMs, too), they were like, well just give it to them!! I was like, 'no, you have to count my drawer down, and then if I'm over that amount, THEN we can give them the money'! And of course, I wasn't over either time. It doesn't really surprise me the way people think they can scam w-m; I mean, the CSMs didn't even know the correct procedures!

Anonymous said...

I'm guilty of leaving stores without my change. Our local store used to allow us to write checks for up to $40 over the amount of our purchases. The cashiers would often forget to give it to me, and I'd forget the check for it. Later I'd reach into my pocket for the money and find only my receipt.

So then I'd have to go back to the store, ask for my money, and wait while they review the tapes. It was a pain, but I can understand why they do it.

Anonymous said...

I love the end where he decided he was just gonna let it go this time! DUH? Like he is doing walmart and that cashier abig favor!! I guess you were supposed to thank him for not getting away with the scam.

Anonymous said...

What surprises me is that if he was telling the truth, which is truely doubtable, HE blew off $75. I mean, if I knew I had $75 coming to me, I'd stand there till I got it back. $75 is a considerable amount of change for the average Joe (more if its from the ghetto poor or the penny-pinching rich).

I mean, I'll admit to forgetting to give a few customers their change (most of the time I'd catch myself) but just even for $20 customers would wait till they got what was truely meant to be given to them. I couldn't imagine someone letting go $75 so easily.

Anonymous said...

Acquire the video of this guy pulling this crap and put it on Youtube. I'm not kidding. PUT IT OUT IN THE PUBLIC!!! EXPOSE THE SCAMMER FOR WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE IS!!!

Anonymous said...

He was just going to, "let it go"?? Just let $75, that's SEVENTY-FIVE dollars??? Who would do that? What person that shops at Wal-Mart would do that???

What a pathetic, lying. loooser!

Anonymous said...

I would think that with all the security cameras trained on these registers and customers that it wouldn't be a problem to have register accountability instead of cashier accountability.
With cameras, you've got your cashier accountablility right there.

Anonymous said...

First, love the blog.

Second, I will never forget my first day working at Sam's Club as a cashier, waiting for an opening in electronics.

They explain everyone gets a till; no one at all is allowed to run on that register. Makes sense to me, seems reasonable.

During the day, they come and do their pulls, so there's not as much cash floating around and/or clogging our tills. So, the cash office women take it back, enter it in the computer, lock it up, etc.

I'm going home, counting my till. It's somehow TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS short. The lady training me shrugs and says, 'It happens sometimes.'

Next day, I was FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS OVER. Again, no write ups, no talking-to's. Just miskeying by the cash office. Something that'd have probably gotten me fired anywhere else.

Ahh, retail.

dreaming78 said...

I've actually walked away without my $20 over twice. Once at a register, once at the pharmacy. I noticed by the time I was to the car both times. Came immediately back, and after waiting my turn, pointed out that my receipt said "Change $20" but I forgot about it and didn't get it. (I'm usually shopping with my toddler. I'm thrilled to be leaving the store. :) ) In both cases, they remembered me, since it had been minutes since they checked me out, and realized that they hadn't noticed the cash back thing. I got my money, and all was well.

Of course, I was also polite and not running a scam. The pharmacy cashier, especially, was very apologetic. People don't usually ask for cash back and she just didn't notice. Yeah. Don't feel bad. It's my money and I didn't notice.

I'm seriously amazed by the scams that people try to run. And I can't imagine not having single-till accountability.

travis wieloch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
travis said...

I have come across a few people like this in my years in retail. They believe that if they make a big fuss and show themselves that the company will just give in just to get them to leave and stop making a scene. I personally have never let anyone get away with it. Lol, I actually had one guy when I was working at McDonalds come back in 10 minutes later to tell me they found a (long) hair in their burger... I look around at my crew and every single one of us has short hair or bald! It did look suspiciously like his girlfriends hair tho!

But yeah, no person in their right mind would just "let it go," especially not after raising such a fuss. The ones that make a fuss right away I know are scammers.

Sad thing is is that there are companies out there that let people like this get away with it every time. Their theory is that they don't want an unhappy customers, not realizing tho that these people are most likely not going to buy anything from them.