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snopes
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It wasn’t exactly a crisis. I mean, it was only a matter of 80 cents. The price of a candy bar, or a can of soda or a bottle of water. How big of a deal can that be?

Still, it was embarrassing. I was short 80 cents for the gas I had already pumped, and the convenience store clerk was not interested in my problem.

“Thirteen dollars and 20 cents is all that I have,” I told her for the third time.

“You need $14,” she said, without a trace of sympathy or understanding in her voice.

“Can you try running the debit card through again?” I asked. “Maybe you did it wrong.”

She stared at me coldly. “I didn’t do it wrong,” she said. “I’ve already run it through twice. It’s denied. Insufficient funds.”

An older woman and a teenaged girl stepped into line behind me just in time to hear that. Wonderful. This was awkward and embarrassing. I’ve really come to rely on that debit card. I don’t carry credit cards or a checkbook, and I rarely carry much cash (it was a miracle that I had $13.20 on me at the time). Anita and I have learned through painful experience that it is best to keep me on a pretty short leash financially. So I carry a debit card for my purchases and turn in my receipts to Anita at the end of each day. The system has worked pretty well – until now.

“Don’t you have a credit card or a check or something?” the young woman at the counter asked in a tone that made me want to tweak her nose ring.

“This is all I have,” I said as I pushed my cash toward her.

“It isn’t enough.”

“I know,” I said. “I can bring the rest tomorrow. I just work around the corner. I’m in here all the time. I promise – I’ll bring it tomorrow.”

It must have been the suit and tie I was wearing that made her not trust me.

“Sorry,” she said in a way that made it absolutely clear she really wasn’t. “Can’t do it.”

“OK, there’s a dollar in my desk at work,” I said. “I can be back here in 10 minutes.”

“If you drive your car off the lot without paying I have to call the cops,” she said. “They’ll pick you up for theft.”

“For 80 cents?” I asked incredulously.

“Theft is theft,” she said coldly.

“But I would be right back . . .”

“Excuse me?”

A soft, gentle voice behind me suddenly interrupted the downward spiral of my conversation with the clerk. I turned to see the woman behind me smiling and extending her hand toward me. “Here’s 80 cents,” she said, dropping a few coins into my hand.

My first reaction was to decline the woman’s generous offer as a matter of pride and principle. I was just looking for a little compassion and understanding from this clerk – that’s all I wanted. But then I looked into the woman’s eyes and realized that there was plenty of compassion and understanding in the gas station. It just wasn’t behind the counter.

“Thank you,” I said, a little embarrassed and flustered. “How can I repay you?”

“Oh, I’m sure sometime in the next few days you’ll come upon someone who can use 80 cents,” she said. “Give it to them.”

I turned and dropped the coins into the clerk’s hand. She seemed almost disappointed that she didn’t get to call in the police. I probably should have said something triumphant or clever, but somehow it didn’t seem appropriate in the face of such kindness.

Which, come to think of it, really IS a big deal – even if it wasn’t exactly a crisis.

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Raven Waift
The First USA Noel


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Yeah, damn clerk, trying to make sure that she didn't get canned for allowing someone to not pay for all of their gas.

How about having some compassion for the poor clerk who probably gets people saying "I'll pay you later" all the time, or who has the manager that will fire you if you let somebody off like that.

Next time I pay rent, I'll be 80 cents short. My landlord should have some compassion. So will the electric company, and the bank, and the phone company, and the cable company.

It's just 80 cents, right?

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Ovalescent
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Ah, don't you love it when someone who's never worked in retail takes it upon themselves to criticize someone who has?

I'm a gas station clerk myself, and this... THING just enrages me. First off, if someone can't afford to pay the entire amount for the gas, it's S.O.P. to get the person's information and ring it up as a drive-off until the person CAN pay for it. You only call the police if they never come back.

Second of all, if she was just getting gas, why didn't she use her card at the pump?

And lastly, if the card showed that it had insufficient funds when run as debit, then the cashier would have just run it as a credit card. If THAT hadn't gone through, that usually means the card is bad. In which case, I wouldn't trust her either! If my drawer comes up more than $2 short at the end of my shift, the entire shortage is taken out of my paycheck. So if her job's anything like mine, if she was "kind-hearted" enough to allow two more people to run off with eighty cents, she'd be out half an hour's pay (yes, the deduction, AFAICT, is taken from the amount left AFTER taxes.).

This is a stupid, stupid piece of absolute fiction.

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"You're all suffering from trauma because it was so boring in the womb!"

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Spam & Cookies-mmm
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Ovalescent:

Second of all, if she was just getting gas, why didn't she use her card at the pump?


Not all gas stations have those kind of pumps.

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Priestley's Mouse
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Or perhaps a person might not choose to pull out their cards outside of the store.

Or perhaps they have pumps set up like some of the pumps around here, where the card won't validate unless there's more than a twenty-dollar balance on it, no matter how much (or little) gas you intend to pump.

PM

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guruwan2b
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My first thought was.... Anita? Is snopes stepping out on Barbara??? [fish] [fish]

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Dara bhur gCara
As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks Buy Now Pay Later


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quote:
Originally posted by Ovalescent:
Ah, don't you love it when someone who's never worked in retail takes it upon themselves to criticize someone who has?



I used to work in television, and it really ticks me off that people who've never worked in television have the audacity to talk about or criticise television programmes.

I've spent some time as an elected representative, and it really ticks me off that people who've never served as an elected representative have the audacity to talk about or criticise their elected representatives.

Maybe we should only be allowed to have an opinion on our specific areas of expertise. But then this sort of website would be in trouble, wouldn't it?

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This wrinkle in time, I can't give it no credit, I thought about my space and it really got me down.
Got me so down, I got me a headache, My heart is crammed in my cranium and it still knows how to pound


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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Ovalescent:
If my drawer comes up more than $2 short at the end of my shift, the entire shortage is taken out of my paycheck.

$2? You've got it easy. Back in my cashiering days (before debit cards, 90% of transactions in cash), any variation (under or over) more than 25 cents rated a written warning. Three "cash" warnings in three months and you're fired.

Four Kitties

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Bad Ronald
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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There are still places in the country that allow you to "Pump first, pay later"? I haven't seen one of those in 30 years.

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Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
Winston Churchill

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Doc J.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Raven Waift:
Next time I pay rent, I'll be 80 cents short. My landlord should have some compassion. So will the electric company, and the bank, and the phone company, and the cable company.

It's just 80 cents, right?

That's right. And most service providers (banks, electricity companies etc) are usually very accommodating as long as you don't make a habit of it.
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Spam & Cookies-mmm
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Bad Ronald:
There are still places in the country that allow you to "Pump first, pay later"? I haven't seen one of those in 30 years.

Most places here let you pay after you pump. Some of the ones in rougher neighborhoods make you pay first after dark.

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chillas
Coventry Mall Carol


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quote:
Originally posted by Dara:
quote:
Originally posted by Ovalescent:
Ah, don't you love it when someone who's never worked in retail takes it upon themselves to criticize someone who has?



I used to work in television, and it really ticks me off that people who've never worked in television have the audacity to talk about or criticise television programmes.

I've spent some time as an elected representative, and it really ticks me off that people who've never served as an elected representative have the audacity to talk about or criticise their elected representatives.

Your analogies are highly flawed.

Television programs are entertainment for the public, and therfore the public has every reason to have an opinion on them.

On the other hand, if people were criticizing the day to day operations of a television studio, with the frame of referencs for doing so, then you'd be quite reasonable to be pissed at them for arguing from ignorance.

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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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The OP criticizes the way the convenience store staff interacted with the public - how is that different from criticizing a TV program?
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Dara bhur gCara
As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks Buy Now Pay Later


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quote:
Originally posted by chillas:
quote:
Originally posted by Dara:
quote:
Originally posted by Ovalescent:
Ah, don't you love it when someone who's never worked in retail takes it upon themselves to criticize someone who has?



I used to work in television, and it really ticks me off that people who've never worked in television have the audacity to talk about or criticise television programmes.

I've spent some time as an elected representative, and it really ticks me off that people who've never served as an elected representative have the audacity to talk about or criticise their elected representatives.

Your analogies are highly flawed.

Television programs are entertainment for the public, and therfore the public has every reason to have an opinion on them.


A convenience store clerk is providing a service to the fee-paying public, and therefore the customer has every reason to have an opinion on the service they have received.

I stand by my perfectly valid analogy, and invite you to articulate exactly why it is 'flawed.'

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This wrinkle in time, I can't give it no credit, I thought about my space and it really got me down.
Got me so down, I got me a headache, My heart is crammed in my cranium and it still knows how to pound


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diddy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
The OP criticizes the way the convenience store staff interacted with the public - how is that different from criticizing a TV program?

Simple, you have vary little leeway in dealing with paid servcices. 9/10 if you dont pay for tehm outright, you either are denied teh serive or you get in bigger trouble. It doesnt matter how much ou are short weather or not it is 80 cents or 8 cents. A cahier is under no obligation to give money out to help pay for people who dont carry enough money. We arent goint toe sent an exapme and let other people think they can get away from it.

Criticizing televisoin however is very different. Telivison is a medium that survives partially on feedback and opinions from teh audience. TV stations go out of their way to find out what people like in TV shows and will often compensate them for this info.

If you dont like the fact that a clerk is following the rules you can complain to the manager who will say the same thing. Theft is theft and the cahier is not obligated to make exceptions. Its the law in many instances.

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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I'm not saying that stores have some sort of duty to let people pay less than the price of an item. However, I would think that a store with a policy and service like that described in the OP, while acting fully within legal limits, has a bad customer service policy (demanding 80 cents on a purchase about 20 times that value, and one that cannot be returned). Just as I am perfectly qualified to judge a certian TV show bad and choose not to watch it and recommend that others not watch it also, I think I am also qualified to do that with regards to stores that I think have bad customer service. Notice that the OP never demanded that the store be sued or closed down by the government or anything like that.
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Methuselah
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
It wasn’t exactly a crisis. I mean, it was only a matter of 80 cents. The price of a candy bar, or a can of soda or a bottle of water. How big of a deal can that be?
(snip)

Hmmmm...maybe one should only pump the amount of gas one can afford. It's rather irresponsible to start pumping gas knowing that there is a distinct possibility that you don't have enough funds to cover the cost. Would you do the same thing at a restaurant?

And before anyone suggests that the character in this story might not be aware that they have insufficient funds, I fully believe that every person has the responsibility to look after their own finances. I always know how much of a balance I'm carrying on my credit cards, and how much is in my checking account...hence, I don't find myself in situations even remotely similar to the one in this little story.

Now, if this character had been subjected to a different set of circumstances, I might be more forgiving, but this would appear to be an average day with nothing out of the ordinary. I would have no sympathy for the character in the story. [Razz]

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"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G.K. Chesterton

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damsa
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Gas prices have narrow margins only 10 cents per gallon, most of the profit coming from grocery items, so 80 cents is quite a bit for a gas station.
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BeachLife
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They guy should have asked the clerk to go ahead and call the cops. When they arrived, he could explain to them what was going on they would most likely allow him to go back and get the dollar from his office, or at worst walk him back to his office to get it.

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Dara bhur gCara
As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks Buy Now Pay Later


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quote:
Originally posted by diddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
The OP criticizes the way the convenience store staff interacted with the public - how is that different from criticizing a TV program?

Simple, you have vary little leeway in dealing with paid servcices. 9/10 if you dont pay for tehm outright, you either are denied teh serive or you get in bigger trouble. It doesnt matter how much ou are short weather or not it is 80 cents or 8 cents. A cahier is under no obligation to give money out to help pay for people who dont carry enough money. We arent goint toe sent an exapme and let other people think they can get away from it.

Criticizing televisoin however is very different. Telivison is a medium that survives partially on feedback and opinions from teh audience. TV stations go out of their way to find out what people like in TV shows and will often compensate them for this info.

If you dont like the fact that a clerk is following the rules you can complain to the manager who will say the same thing. Theft is theft and the cahier is not obligated to make exceptions. Its the law in many instances.

I'm not disagreeing with anything you're saying here per se, it's all true as far as it goes, but not really relevant to the matter at hand. The TV analogy was introduced by me, in response to this:

quote:
Ah, don't you love it when someone who's never worked in retail takes it upon themselves to criticize someone who has?
Now, in introducing the analogy (and another one, about elected representatives, which doesn't seem to have taken off as well), I'm not saying "Television and Retail are the same."

I'm saying "Questioning the validity of a complaint from a customer on the basis that they've never worked in retail (which incidentally is mere conjecture and has never been established) is as ridiculous an assertion as it would be for me to question the validity of someone's criticisms of television on the basis that they've never worked in television."

On a very basic level, retail customers and TV viewers are both service users. Their comments or complaints on the level of service they receive have broadly the same validity. I'm frankly astonished that anyone should dispute the matter.

--------------------
This wrinkle in time, I can't give it no credit, I thought about my space and it really got me down.
Got me so down, I got me a headache, My heart is crammed in my cranium and it still knows how to pound


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chillas
Coventry Mall Carol


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It's a difference of process versus end product.

With retail you're (generic you) complaining about the process without knowing any of the inner workings. That is - I won't say completely invalid, but certainly carries a great deal less weight. Arguing from ignorance is never a good thing.

With your television analogy, you're complaining about the end product. I don't have to know how "Survivor" is filmed in order to know it's crap.

Put another way, I don't have to be a chef to complain that the dish tastes bad. I do have to be a chef to stand over the cook's shoulder and criticize his technique.

--------------------
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Dara bhur gCara
As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks Buy Now Pay Later


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quote:
Originally posted by chillas:
It's a difference of process versus end product.

With retail you're (generic you) complaining about the process without knowing any of the inner workings.



But I (generic me) am not necessarily complaining about the process, merely about the level of service received. I'm not saying that this, probably imaginary, eighty-cents short guy is justified in any criticism he may have, just that his complaint is not necessarily rendered illegitimate because he is unfamiliar with whatever process is involved.

Indeed, if you read the OP, and I don't blame you if you have just skipped through it because it's pretty poor, the author's primary complaint was with the clerk's unsympathetic and unhelpful nature, rather than blaming her for the process itself.

quote:

With your television analogy, you're complaining about the end product. I don't have to know how "Survivor" is filmed in order to know it's crap.



Exactly. Any more than I need to know the gas station's rules in order to know that I'm unhappy with the customer service received. Working in a petrol station is not the Vietnam war, so "You don't know man, you were never there" is simply not a valid argument.

quote:
Put another way, I don't have to be a chef to complain that the dish tastes bad. I do have to be a chef to stand over the cook's shoulder and criticize his technique.
And just because I don't know how to work a cash register doesn't mean I don't know when someone's being unhelpful and unsympathetic. I'm worried that we're talking at cross purposes here, because you seem to be rebutting me using the same arguments I'm putting forward.

--------------------
This wrinkle in time, I can't give it no credit, I thought about my space and it really got me down.
Got me so down, I got me a headache, My heart is crammed in my cranium and it still knows how to pound


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chillas
Coventry Mall Carol


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No, you don't need to know how to work a cash register to know when someone's being unsympathetic - you do need to know how a retail job works to know if they're being unhelpful. In the (yes, badly written) OP, the customer made many assumptions that were ultimately wrong. This happens all the time in the real world (not just Glurgeland). Lacking that frame of reference causes one to argue from a place of ignorance. And again, while I won't say this makes their opinion completely invalid, it does cause it to carry less weight.

--------------------
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snopes
Return! Return! Return!


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quote:
Simple, you have vary little leeway in dealing with paid servcices. 9/10 if you dont pay for tehm outright, you either are denied teh serive or you get in bigger trouble. It doesnt matter how much ou are short weather or not it is 80 cents or 8 cents. A cahier is under no obligation to give money out to help pay for people who dont carry enough money. We arent goint toe sent an exapme and let other people think they can get away from it.
And is that "example" worth the revenues you're going to lose from all the customers who get fed up with waiting and leave for a competitor's store while you stand there arguing with a customer over 80 cents he clearly doesn't have?

- snopes

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Vivling
Happy Holly Days


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I have seen this happen a lot of times working till, when one person is short and another person in line offers to pay for it. No, I don't live in Pleasantville, but most people realize that under a dollar isn't going to break the bank.

That being said, those "cents" add up for cashiers. I generally don't insist on pennies, and if someone makes a big deal like, "Oh, I don't have a PENNY! I HATE pennies!" I'll just give them a damn nickel back instead of four cents. But 80 cents? If the person expected me to cover it, I wouldn't. I'm not paying to serve anyone, I'm being paid to serve everyone. But if it were the case in the OP, I'd just take down her plates and wait for the person to come back with the dollar.

You can tell by the tone of the piece that the author has never worked retail. For every snarky cashier there's a self-rightous customer.

--------------------
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snopes
Return! Return! Return!


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quote:
Gas prices have narrow margins only 10 cents per gallon, most of the profit coming from grocery items, so 80 cents is quite a bit for a gas station.
But the OP is about a convenience store that also sells gas, not a gas station that also sells grocery items.

- snopes

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Methuselah
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
...I mean, it was only a matter of 80 cents. The price of a candy bar, or a can of soda or a bottle of water. How big of a deal can that be?...

Off-topic (I apologize), but the "only 80 cents" argument got me thinking. How would this character feel about the municipal government raising taxes in their neighborhood by 1/10th of 1%?

Everytime that there's a referendum in the communities surrounding my hometown that offers to build a new school, or give teachers a raise, etc. it's soundly defeated...even though the tax increase would amount to an average of 15 cents a week per family.

"Only 15 cents a week, you say? Why, that's less than the cost of a candy bar or can of soda!"

Obviously, I'm just engaging in conjecture, but I guess when it's someone else's 80 cents it no big deal. But if it's your 80 cents...

Okay, sorry for straying. [Wink]

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Posts: 1514 | From: Wisconsin | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
snopes
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quote:
But 80 cents? If the person expected me to cover it, I wouldn't. I'm not paying to serve anyone, I'm being paid to serve everyone.
But the narrator wasn't expecting the cashier to "cover it"; he was just asking her to stop arguing and allow him to go retrieve some money to make up the shortfall. Regardless of the "rightness" of the customer's actions, what is the point of continuing to harangue a customer over a relatively small amount of money he clearly doesn't have? It doesn't resolve the problem, and it interferes with other business.

- snopes

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Dara bhur gCara
As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks Buy Now Pay Later


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quote:
Originally posted by chillas:
No, you don't need to know how to work a cash register to know when someone's being unsympathetic - you do need to know how a retail job works to know if they're being unhelpful.



What, really?

I can't think of a single commercial transaction where I would be unable to ascertain whether or not the person in question was trying to help me or had no interest in my satisfaction. What processes do you think I would need to understand to be qualified to make that call? While it is the fault of the customer that they have insufficient funds, in the situation of the OP this clerk has an impasse that she is making no attempt to resolve. The issue is not with process, it's with effort. You (generic you again) can be helpful without actually helping, just by doing your best. The clerk in the OP was not doing her best to resolve the situation, and did not seem to care, ergo she was unhelpful. What process would more qualify me to assess that?


quote:

In the (yes, badly written) OP, the customer made many assumptions that were ultimately wrong. This happens all the time in the real world (not just Glurgeland). Lacking that frame of reference causes one to argue from a place of ignorance.



Customers make wrong assumptions all the time. In a situation like that, a good thing to do is to correct those assumptions, in a polite and helpful manner. I don't think even the most charitable person would say the clerk in the OP did that.

I would add that helpfulness is an entirely subjective measure, measured in terms of customer satisfaction. Only the person seeking help is qualified to judge whether or not a shop assistant is being helpful, and only their opinion matters

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kathryn
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I have to admit this made me wonder.

I personally carry very little cash and depend on my credit cards. I start my week with $20 cash and use it only in emergencies... but sometimes by the end of the week I only have a few $$$ left. But even at my "max" - I can't fill my car with gas for $20 anymore, either. Just this morning my car took $29 (it was almost completely empty)

So I'm curious as to what I would have to do in that situation. (I have more than one credit card and I usually have a check in my wallet for emergencies, but if I didn't) If the gas station calls the police- what can they do? Escort you to a bank? I mean, obviously the cashier at the gas station can't let someone walk away without paying (I'm using a much more extreme example than $.80) but as snopes pointed out- if you don't have the money, you don't have the money. You can stand around the gas station all day long, but you still wouldn't have the money.

I used to work retail, and there's a big difference. If you can't pay for your groceries or office supplies or your OTC medicines, you just can't walk out of the store with them- you put them aside and come back and pay for them later (or you don't, in which case the cashier then needs to spend X amount of time putting everything away, too). But with gas- it's not like you can take it out of your car again...

I guess that's why most places require you to pre-pay, either at the pump or inside the store.

Kathryn

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Bad Ronald
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quote:
Originally posted by Spam & Cookies-mmm:
quote:
Originally posted by Bad Ronald:
There are still places in the country that allow you to "Pump first, pay later"? I haven't seen one of those in 30 years.

Most places here let you pay after you pump. Some of the ones in rougher neighborhoods make you pay first after dark.
Well, I'm not sure where "Paradise Ceded, Fla." is, but every place I stopped in Florida this spring made me (and everyone else) pay first. Maybe some remote regions still have this method of paying, but I've bought gas up and down the East Coast from Maine to Florida and have never come across this in recent times.

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reflex
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Why didn't she give the cashier the $13.20 and have her try to run the remaining $.80 on her debit card?

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The opinions expressed herein do not represent those of any rational human being and are solely for the purpose of entertainment.

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Spam & Cookies-mmm
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Northwest Florida, Bad Ronald. Between the two shark attacks that happened this week.

I never pay first unless I absolutely have to. I once overpaid a whopping amount that way, because I didn't realize that my gas guage had quit on me. I was 16 at the time, and too shy to go back in and ask for my money back, so I guess the clerk pocketed the money at the end of her shift.

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Posts: 7767 | From: Paradise Ceded | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Sub-Contractor
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I've worked retail.
I've been short as a customer.

The OP is a trivial situation, ended in 30 seconds by any sane person behind the register.

Take the money, write up the receipt, wait for the return, put it on the board in they don't come back. It the assitant prick you answer to throws a hissy and threatens your paycheck, scratch yourself...look for another job...and call off 15 minutes into your next shift to quit.

For a glurgy ending, go back in a month, get gas and treat the assistant manager like s/he expected you to put up with....

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Mistletoey Chloe
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Thank you. I wondered that too.

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