This story is nuts.
I go to Payless to see if birthday girl can find herself some tennis shoes, and to get the littlest girl her birthday shoes. So after a bit of hunting, trying on, and running around,
we set aside dress shoes, tennis shoes, regular boots and snow boots. Payless, mind you, is running a 40% off sale storewide, so I do the math and figure that we owe about $67.
This is where the story gets weird. I go to check out, and send the big girls on their way to Penneys to look at clothes. So the (very) young man scans the shoes and I can see he’s giving me the discounts,
Finally he gets to the end and says to me, “Your total is $15.28.
Excuse me? Now I would think off the bat that this young man should know by common sense that $15.28 is way WAY less than $67…but I would be wrong. So I question him, and he insists that he has rung me up correctly and that this is the 40% off. He was so confident in himself that I did pay, but I continued to question him to see where I was misunderstanding things.
“Do you ring up 40% off and then take another 40% off each pair of shoes? I’m not sure what’s going on here because I’m telling you that if I only get 40% off, then I need to pay way more than $15.28. I even whip out my flip phone and show him how the subtotal multiplied by .60 is $67. At this point I think he realizes he messed up and that I’m not likely to just walk off.
First of all, I know for a fact that the merchandise I’m about to walk out with is worth more than $15, and that this was an honest mistake. If I had simply said, “Coolbeans!” and hiked it on out of there, then in all honesty I think I would have been stealing those shoes, or at least some portion of them. A huge mistake had been made, and it was my obligation to point it out. We’ve done this for years, especially at restaurants, because…
Secondly, someone is going to take a hit and get in trouble for these mess-ups. I’d much rather someone speak up and say, “Hey, you mischarged me,” than take advantage of my screw up and leave me to take the fall. This kid was probably around the age of some of my older children and likely needed this job. He said he was somewhat new to the position. I’d have felt awful if he had lost his job over a mistake that I had caught and never corrected, just so I could save money. Apparently I was more concerned than he, because he told me he could just say to his higher-ups that he “didn’t know what to do because he was new.”
“How long have you been working here?” (I’m thinking a week…2 weeks..)
I see. Yikes. Not that new.
“Look. It’d be one thing if this were your store and you were telling me to just go ahead with these shoes for $15, but it’s not… You could really get in big trouble for this.
So he calls his co-worker over. They chat it out. I explain to him the math. He tells the cashier that short of returning everything and re-ringing it up, he doesn’t know how to fix the issue. I’m just sitting there thinking, “Then do the return already!”
They both act like they don’t know what to do. Co-worker walks off. Manager arrives. “Hey can you come help me out?” he asks. She comes over. He shows her the receipt.
You CAN NOT make this stuff up! This is crazy!
“What did you DO? Did you ring up the discount twice?”
She looked shocked…and at a loss. And she said something about the only way to get around this is to return everything and re-ring it up.
Obviously this return-rechecking out must be equivalent to the third plane of hell because nobody wants to touch it with a ten foot pole.
Manager turns to me and says, “It’s fine. You’re good. We’ll just go ahead and leave it like this. It’s ok. You can go.”
I once again express my concerns that someone is going to get in trouble for this egregious gap in accounting. I also tell them that if I walk out of there with four pairs of shoes which should cost $67, for only $15, it will absolutely feel like I’m stealing them. Manager swears up and down that nobody will get in trouble, that they will tell the higher ups that they didn’t know what to do, that it’s all good and to go ahead and take the shoes. “Happy Birthday” she said…not even realizing the shoes were birthday presents for the little tyke.
And so there you have it. I saved 87% off my shoes during the 40% off event.
My question is: How many other people did this young man check out in the same way, yet they either didn’t catch his error or they said nothing?
My other question: Is it any surprise Payless is struggling to stay afloat?
My suggestion: Please, Payless, screen your employees for common sense and basic math skills. Also, make sure they’re not only trained in returns and how to correct mistakes, but that they’re actually willing to put forth the effort to do so.
Even if they don’t get fired for this, they’ll end up out of a job because the company will fold from the financial hit due to their lack of training, math skills, and reticence to correct mistakes.