Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Retracing my steps …

Next in line, I held my place while the clerk finished with a customer and then took a moment to help a co-worker with something in her line. I wasn’t close enough to hear exactly what the problem was but as she invited me to step up, she continued lamenting how it was her first day alone and “everything has gone wrong.” I laid out each of my items, one at a time, on the counter while she was thinking out loud about an employee on the sales floor, “Yeah, I’m only giving her three hours today, then I’m sending her home.” She tapped my phone number and email address into her register but I declined to have the receipt emailed to me.

The grand total shocked me. Wasn’t the entire store 50% off? I wanted to look over the receipt immediately. I glanced at it briefly then decided that it was probably alright and exited the store. When I got to my car right outside, though, something was still nagging at me. I patiently sat myself down and resolved to have a look. I pulled an item from the bag and scanned the receipt for its SKU. Not there. I pulled a second item, beginning to suspect I had been given the wrong receipt, and couldn’t find it. I got worried. When would the police swoop in and surround my car? I counted four items on the receipt and six items in my bag. I turned the receipt over, thinking more items might be listed after the fold but the order was totaled on the first side.

It was clear so what to do? Well, if it had been an overcharge, I certainly would march right back in there for an adjustment. Why should an undercharge be any different? Oh, but maybe all their scanned prices are screwed up in their system? What was the problem the other checker was having in her line? Wasn’t it about prices not ringing up correctly? Don’t new prices go into effect on Mondays, especially after a holiday? Maybe I broke even?

But I kept coming back to the fact that I got two items that I wasn’t charged for. And then I remembered the checker’s words about everything going wrong that day. It had been a long day at the end of a long holiday season. She was in charge of the store and any loss would reflect on her.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m aware, situated as that store is, where that store is, that merchandise loss is very likely a regular occurrence, whether or not the checkers “aid and abet” through careless transactions. Two items, in the grand scheme, may be a drop in the bucket. But I caught it, maybe not at point of sale like I should have, but before I’d left the vicinity.

So, somewhat sure of the facts, I returned to the store and purchased the other two items. I was not rung up by the same person which may have been a good thing. And I can’t be sure that the person who rung me up even let the apparent manager know of it. I feel my motivation was due to a sort of empathy towards the manager, towards a young person starting out in retail, an attempt to make up for a day when “everything has gone wrong."

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