Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hi and pie

One of my most endearing memories is from high school when, while parked at the Sonic Drive-In, my friend was trying to order and the girl working the speaker was basically too incompetent to breathe. Finally, my friend just yelled out "Look, do I got to break it down for you?"

So you know when I gots to "break it down" behind the counter that I'm dealing the cream of the stupid crop.

Now, a Wal-Mart receipt is not all that complicated. Item name, UPC number and price. There's other information, but that's really all that's germane to this discussion.

So this woman (of a certain age) rolls up Saturday afternoon. She's probably a Red Hat Lady in her spare time, but today, she and her companion were doing a garden-party theme. Don't you know that old ladies always shop in pairs?

This old bird (well, she really wasn't all that old, or that little - she could probably start at linebacker for a prep football team) was sporting pale yellow culottes with strawberries embroidered around the bottom hem. Then there was a white tunic and matching jacket with strawberries around the cuffs and collar. And a ladies straw hat. And a gigantic white and pink Lilly Pulitzer bag. The friend had the same outfit, down to the hat, except the friend had on pale blue with grapes. Where do old ladies get this stuff?

Anyway. This woman was convinced - and I mean CONVINCED - that the cashier charged her four times for a lemon pie. (Lemon pie, yellow outfit -- maybe it was a theme!)

So she gets to the counter and slams the receipt down and before I can ever start to ask her what the problem is, she turns loose. "I got charged four times for this one pie and I told the girl she was doing it wrong but she didn't speak any English and didn't want to listen to me and this always happens when I come here and why does this always happen to me and why can't they fix this at the register and what are you going to do about it?"

So I gently tease the recept out of her gnarled and arthritic claws. The that really annoy me won't let me see the receipt while they're talking. Really, you can babble on all day. But I've got to have a receipt to fix the price of your stuff. So shut up and give it to me.

So I see that a pie was charged once. And charged again. And then it was voided off the receipt, probably because the girl realized that she double-scanned it. And then, probably accidentally because the old harridan was yelling at her for double-scanning it while she was trying to bag the freaking pie, the pie got scanned again.

So the score goes like this (Plus One), (Plus One) (Minus One) and finally (Plus One.) For a grand total of (TWO). So the woman got overcharged for one pie. I figure all this out in like ten seconds and tell her so. "Ma'am, I owe you for one pie."

And she totally loses her cool. "What do you mean? I better get more than that."

"Ma'am, it is true that she accidentally scanned the pie more than once. However, she did take one of them off the receipt. It says *****VOIDED ITEM***** and the price has a minus behind it. See, right here?" And I show her.

Her: "I don't understand."
Me: "Ma'am, she charged you for three pies. She took one off. I need to refund you for another one. You're going to get $3.17 back."
Her: "Well, I think I should get more than that."
Me: "Ma'am, that's the price of one pie. That's what I owe you. Do you need me to explain it again?" And I do.
Her: "That's not right. I should get money for three pies back."
Me: "Okay, ma'am. I'm going to illustrate this. Watch me."

And I act out the whole thing using my fingers. Scan one pie, one finger up. Scan another pie, two fingers up. VOID pie off receipt. One finger down, which leaves one pie. Oops, scan another pie, which means two fingers up.

"Ma'am, you're taking one pie home with you. Okay? That means I owe you for the pie you were over-charged for." She's still shaking her head and look to her friend in the blue to back her up. And again she goes "That's not right. You're cheating me somehow."

The woman behind her, who was filling out a MoneyGram, came around and tried to shed some light on the situation. In retrospect, she might have made it worse. "Look, I understand. It's not hard."

But I was DETERMINED to get through this. So I grabbed three boxes of Jello that someone had returned and ACTED THE WHOLE THING OUT AGAIN.

And the old bat was still shaking her head and going "That's not right. I should be getting more back."

Finally, I was like "Ma'am, I'm going to give you $3.17. I can let you speak with someone if you would like, but I really need to help the customers behind you."

And she goes, "You can give me the money. It's not right, but it's not worth my time to argue with you. I just want to get out of here."

Believe me lady, I want you out of here just as bad!


Anonymous said...

I work in retail too, and that is a very common problem. Customers don't understand what VIODED ITEM and a minus sign mean!!! It would be better to not have the item show up at all if it was voided, but that would make things to easy on us :)

Ben said...

You handled that like a champ - you told her exactly what you were going to do, told her she was welcome to escalate it, and gave her a reason that you want her to go away (the customers behind her).

yellowdog granny said...

if I had your job ..I would intentionally eat the bad peanut butter..

Library Rat said...

Slap her twice.
Pet her on the head once.
Slap her again.
She might understand that.

Anonymous said...

I sympathise with you man, I really do. I worked for 7+ years in retail and the stress alone between managers and customers was enough to kill me. People who don't work in retail will never understand it. Well, most people will if they aren't the 10% of idiots who ruin it for the other 90$ of the good crowd.

Unfortutately for you, you get to deal with the 10% of those people all day long. I at least had to pull a bag over my customer's heads and rob...err...sell them stuff they didn't need but had to convince them they needed. Can I interest you in a gold USB cable?

Anonymous said...

$3.17 is worth her arguing all that time? Granted, she thought she was charged for four pies, so it would have been 3x that, or $9.51, but still. I've been charged 2x for a $15 DVD, took one look at the CS line and said, 'No way in hell!' because I'd already waited over 45mins in line to check out. Thankfully, I've convinced my husband to dwindle down our Wal-Mart trips to about one every two or three months. I dread even stepping into the place.

Eyebrows McGee said...

sadly, this happens to me with clients - I'm a lawyer - when I'm helping they're suing over a contract payment issue and there's an accounting dispute over who paid what to whom when. Half this country, including a scary number of people who own actual businesses, appear entirely unable to do math. Or to believe me when I show them how math works.

At least I'm getting $150/hour for them being bad at math, which I'm sure is more than their grade-school math teachers made to experience the same level of screaming frustration.

Anonymous said...

My favorite way to get a point across when they won't accept my math skills is to ask them how they came up with that amount and make them walk me through their "math". I love that "ah ha" moment when they realize how stupid they are. Sometimes it's well worth the time spent just to see the look on their face.

Rob the Webkahunah said...

I'm thinking the only form of communication you had left to use after hand signals and visual aids was interpretive dance... Maybe that would have helped her get that 3-2=1.

Anonymous said...

I worked in the food industry a long time ago, when a woman came in and started ordering a whole bunch of food (most likely for an office or something). Once she had ordered she proceeded to hand me about a dozen coupons that clearly state on the back "one per person per day". I pointed this out to her and she started screaming at me "IT DOESN"T SAY THAT ANYWHERE", even though I was pointing right too it. So to make a long story short, she CRIED and screamed at me until my manager came up and put ALL the coupons through for her. Arg.

inspectorguy said...

I am shipping you a large box of sporks this afternoon.

j-yo said...

If, as she claims, she's getting overcharged at your store ALL THE TIME, why the hell does she keep shopping there? That's one of those things I've never been able to understand. You are a saint for not hurling yourself over the counter and beating her with her own damn lemon pie.

Chunes said...

I feel your pain. Today at the service desk I had this insane woman that insisted, no less than six times, that since "our store sold it," we had to take back her television. This television was bought more than ninety days ago and the woman had no receipt.

I explained to her that I could not help her, and suggested she call the manufacturer regarding their repair warranty which I gladly offered her. She went nuts.

"MY DAUGHTER BOUGHT THIS FOR ME! DO YOU THINK A 17-YEAR-OLD GIRL IS GOING TO KEEP A RECEIPT?!" And this has what exactly to do with anything? You think I'm going to cave in just because your daughter bought this T.V. and she's 17? What kind of 17 year old girl buys her mother a $100.00 television set for Christmas?! This lady doesn't deserve such a wonderful daughter.

After insisting many more times that "We had to help her because we sold it here," whatever that means, we finally got her to leave somehow. But not before she screeched and hollered about how this is such "BAD BUSINESS!" This lady had quite the entitlement complex. She made it sound like our policy was the spawn of Satan, even though it's far more lenient than any other comparable department store. I should have dared this lady to try this at Target. They'd laugh her out of their store.

She also threatened to call the media, because, she said, "They need to hear about this!" Yeah, I can just imagine it now. She calls up the local news station and says, "Wal-Mart refused my return! You have to do a story on this!" with her self-important attitude and everything. I'd get a good laugh out of that.

Some people are just completely bonkers.

Sarah said...

It would be funny if she did go to the media, and they in turn ran a story about people being entitlement bitches. THAT would be hilarious.

pearly1979 said...
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