View Full Version : How to make friends and influence customers ... to go elsewhere (kinda long)

01-18-2019, 04:18 AM
A bit of background before we start: I work in a big-box hardware/DIY/home decor & furnishings type of store. Our computer system is DOS-based; I don't think I have to say much more about that.

Sales Associates have specialties (large appliances, windows and doors, plumbing, etc.) They put large sales into the computer system elsewhere in the store and then lead the customer up to the front tills; the cashiers call up the order and accept payment for the purchase(s).

When you use a scannable coupon, you don't see the dollar value. I don't know why; I usually blame the ancient computer system. All you see is some text indicating that a discount has been applied, but the dollar value is invariably 0.00. The actual amount shows up on the receipt.

This happened a couple of nights ago.

Me (Cashier)
SA - Sales Associate
HC - Head Cashier/Customer Service & Returns person
IC - Irritated Customer

SA leads IC (who was not irritated yet, by the way) up to my till and tells me to call up their order, which I do. SA hands me a $100-off coupon to be applied to the sale, and I scan it. Handshakes and cheery goodbyes between SA and IC, and SA goes back to his department.

IC: "I'm not seeing my discount up there ..."

Me: "No, the exact dollar amount doesn't show on the monitor but it will on your receipt. I'm sorry; this is a very old computer system."

IC continues to fidget and mumble about not seeing the discount amount. We conclude the sale and I rip off the receipt.

Me: "There you are, sir, and our discount was ..." :eek: "... 82.56???"

IC is now starting to look distinctly unhappy. "That's not right!"

Me: "No, it's certainly not! Let me see what I can do."

I don't remember whether I called SA or HC first, but I know I spoke to both. I spoke to SA on the phone.

SA: "Oh, no problem, all you have to do to fix it is blah blah and blah and blah."

Me: :confused: "Um, if you say so ..."

HC, meanwhile, is performing an investigation worthy of CSI as she tries to figure out what's wrong (my opinion of her is that she ALWAYS looks for the most complex and incomprehensible explanation for any problem ... but I admit to being biased), both at my register and back at the computers at the Customer Service/Returns desk.

I flag down a mobile (i.e. not stuck at a cash register) coworker and ask her, if she goes past SA's desk, to please ask him to come back up here. I want to ask him if there were any other sales going on in this particular transaction, because one line of text I saw said "Best discount applied" -- NOT normal for the use of a single coupon.
She says she'll let him know.

Several minutes later she returns. I say "Is he coming back up here?" Her: "No, he says he already talked to you guys."

Okaaaay ... fuck it, then. The IC can deal with the HC, and it will get fixed. Or not.

Next thing I see is IC -- who by now is undoubtedly quite pissed off -- heading back towards SA's area with an extremely grim look on his face. Don't know whether HC advised him to go talk to SA, or he decided to do so himself.

And after THAT, SA and IC come back up and speak to HC.

I'm assuming IC got reimbursed for the extra $20 he should have gotten from the coupon, but I had more customers coming through by then and had to, alas, miss the dramatic conclusion. My guesstimate is that this took about 15 to 20 minutes to resolve.

Anybody want to speculate on the odds of this customer ever coming back ... ?

01-18-2019, 12:17 PM
I know I've said it before: The system is designed to get customer levels down to a point where skeleton crews and elderly computers can handle the load. Not necessarily by intent, but it... works for that purpose. And since 'it works', it must be good, so let's do that.

Besides, updating computer systems to something functional, or training people to better manage the outdated monstrosity, would cost MONEY.

01-19-2019, 04:36 AM
Yes. I don't know whether I've mentioned this before, but a fellow cashier who works in The Dead Zone (e.g. lumber :) ) had asked to be given more training in lumber and insulation so she could better answer the questions of customers (mostly contractors) who come in at 6 a.m.

She was told "That's outside your pay scale."

So yeah ... we'll just ignore the customers' questions and whatnot, oh, and let you take the brunt of their irritation ... because to do anything else is "outside your pay scale."

01-19-2019, 04:44 PM
"If we train her, she might have to get paid more. Also, training costs MONEY." Since the system is designed to spend no money if there's any way to avoid it, NOPE.

Again, see above. Customer volume (and revenue) will drop down to what higher mismanagement will pay for.

Nunavut Pants
01-19-2019, 08:44 PM
And they will blame the retail staff, and cut hours in retaliation. And then be shocked, shocked I tell you, when revenue continues to drop.

It might even drop so far that the top corporate bosses have to go on retreat to the Bahamas for a week to figure out why things are so bad! (Those bosses work so hard, they might even have to stay longer to figure out why the numbers are down!!)

01-20-2019, 12:04 AM
I've spent a shift or two calculating whether I will have enough hours to qualify for unemployment if the store shuts down within a year or so ...

Looks good, thankfully. :)