by Saeed Khan
I went to the local grocery store on Monday to pick up a few things we needed for dinner. It was nothing special, just some milk, vegetables and butter. The total came to $11.64, if I recall correctly. I handed the cashier $20 and she punched it into the cash register and was counting out the change.
I realized I had a bunch of loose change in my pocket and said, “Hold on a sec, I have some change to give you.” and started counting out the coins. My intention was to give her $.64 or even $1.64 so I could get a rounded amount of change back — either $9 or $10. Seemed reasonable enough.
She looked at me, with an expression somewhere between astonishment and fear, and said “But, I’ve already opened my drawer.”
I said “Yes, and here’s some change.”
She looked back at me and said, “I can’t change the amount I punched in.”
I responded “You don’t need to change anything. I’m going to give you a little extra change and you give me the right change back.”
She looked across at the next cashier and asked her to call a manager. I looked at her, surprised at this response to a simple request and said, “Look, you don’t need to call a manager or anyone. Just take the coins and give me the change.”
She turned back to me and nervously said, “We have to wait for the manager. I’ve already opened the cash drawer.”
I had no idea what was going on. The manager came over, and explained to me that they had had incidents where “Quick change artists” had intentionally confused the cashiers by changing the amount of money they gave, and as a result had been given too much change back. So they had enacted this policy of not allowing the cashier to accept additional money once they opened the cash drawer.
OK, so let’s analyze this.
They’ve had a few customers successfully confuse their cashiers into giving extra change. In most cases it couldn’t have been more than a few dollars, maybe 10 or 20 dollars maximum in any individual case. So they’ve instituted a policy to treat EVERY customer as a suspect if they offer additional change once the cashier opens her cash drawer.
i.e. because the cashiers they hire cannot properly make change unless it’s calculated and displayed by the cash registers, and some customers took advantage of that, the solution is to be suspicious of all customers.
Now, why would I want to shop there any more if they treat their customers this way? In fact, because they treated me that way.
Would I recommend that store to anyone? Will I go there if I have a choice of going somewhere else?
It’s stunning how companies forget how to treat customers, the VAST majority of whom have no intention of shoplifting or stealing. You want loyal customers? Then be loyal to them.
Focus on the big picture – don’t penalize the majority for the actions of the small minority.
As with any good relationship, it has to be founded on trust.
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