Of all the types of tender (ways to pay) out there, those freaking AmEx and Visa gift cards are absolutely the single most difficult things in the world to use.
Why? Because AmEx and Visa trumpet to customers "It's just like a credit card" and DON'T tell them that if you have a balance remaining it is a gigantic pain in the keister to figure out how to use the balance.
Suburban white women and children inevitably get these -- either as Christmas gifts or as office "thank you" type gifts.
So when this white woman with a daughter-clone bounces up Sunday with a handful of the frelling things, I know I'm in trouble. (I say daughter-clone because they were both short, fat, rotund and dressed in identical khakis with Winnie the Pooh pullovers. They also had identical haircuts and cases of acne. And the personalities were identically bitchy)
I can hear the Mom-Clone screaming at someone out near Register 8, although I can't see it. But as she get's closer, I can hear hear complaining to Daughter-Clone "Don't tell me. She's the one that doesn't know how to run a cash register." And I see a supervisor running in that direction and a minute later drops something off at my register. It is a suspended transaction slip.
And I look up and there is Mom-Clone and Daughter-Clone, both glaring at me even though they are two people ahead of them. Um, okay. Might want to work on that mean look. You know your face may freeze in that position.
So they get up to the counter and immediately launch into a protest of the girl on #8 and how she's so stupid she can't even ring them out and how they hate shopping at Wal-Mart and how every time they come here they have a problem and how this has just ruined her day. (Really, if it is such a hassle, please don't come back. Then, the shopping experience may improve for all of us!)
So she give me a spread of three AmEx gift cards. I tell her "Ma'am, I have to know exactly how much is on each one of those before you can use them."
Mom-Clone: "Well this is ridiculous. I've got good money sitting here and I want to pay. Don't you know how to use these?"
Me: "Ma'am. Those ARE NOT credit cards. You can only use up to the amount of the balance. Have you used any of them before?"
Daughter-Clone: "Momma, didn't we use that one for dinner?"
And I hold up all three and go "Which one? I need to know if you have a balance?"
Mom-Clone: "They're all good."
Me: "I understand that. But I'm asking you how much money you have on them. You can't take off more than you have available. You owe me $78.26. You've got three gift cards -- one for $50 and two for $25, but you say you've used two of them. I need to know the balances on the cards."
Mom-Clone: "Just run them through. They're good."
Me: "Ma'am, it doesn't work that way. If you've got $10 left on one card, I can take $1o off the total. But I can't tell it to just take "whatever is left" off the total."
Daughter-Clone: "Grandma said I could use them anywhere. Why can't I get my games?"
Mom-Clone: "Why is this such a problem?"
Me: "Ma'am, I need you to figure out which cards you have used before. Have you used the $50 card?"
Mom-Clone: "Umm. Maybe not."
Me: "Let's try that then." And I hit 50.00 CREDIT CARD and run it through. It's good. the balance is down to $28.26.
Me: "All right, you still owe $28.26. How much do you have left on these cards?"
Mom-Clone: "I don't know."
Me: "Ma'am, you can't use them unless you know how much money you have left."
Mom-Clone: "Why not?"
Me: "I have to tell it to take a certain amount off the card. It is not going to take off more than you have available."
Mom-Clone: "Can you take off a dollar at a time?"
Me: "No ma'am. If I do that 25 times we will be here for a half-hour."
Daughter-Clone: "Momma, remember, last night you said we had $7.82 on that card Grandma sent."
Me: "Let's try that then." 7.82 CREDIT CARD and it's good.
Me: "Ma'am, you still owe $20.44. Do you know how much is on that card?"
Mom-Clone: "No. I'll just pay with my credit card. But how do I find out how much is on the gift card?"
Me: "There's a 1800 number on the back of the card."
Mom-Clone: "Oh. I'll do that next time."
Me: "Or just tell the grandparents to send Wal-Mart gift cards."