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The International Writers Magazine: Christmas Karma

The Customer isn't always right
J A Laraque

Have you ever been somewhere such as a store or a bank and someone in front of you is getting all loud and making a scene about something that is completely their fault? Doesn’t this make you want to just bludgeon them to a pulp on the floor?
About nine years ago I was at a best buy on Christmas Eve. I was in a long line waiting to buy a video game for my sister. It was easy to tell everyone just wanted to get home and the cashier looked as if she wanted to commit suicide.
A middle aged lady in front of me had a ton of various electronics, CD’s and DVD’s. When the order was rung up and the total given she proceeded to pull out her platinum card as if it were a gold medal in the Olympics and gives it to the cashier. A few seconds later I hear the cashier whisper to the lady that the card didn’t do through.

You see they do this to save the customer embarrassment because the rest of us have no idea why a card would be declined, but we usually pick the worse reason so they try to keep it quiet. Well the lady did not take it well and very loudly so everyone could hear says. "Well you must have done something wrong! Run it again!"

The cashier shoots a few laser eye beams at the lady, but trying desperately to remain professional runs the card again. "Sorry the card shows declined." says the cashier in a soft voice. This didn’t sit well and the lady yells at the top of her lungs. "This is the day before Christmas. I do not have time for your incompetence. You better ring up my orders or find someone who can!"

As the cashier begins to look for a gun underneath the counter the store manager comes over. "Is there a problem I can help you with?" He says as cheerfully as possible. The lady points at the cashier as if identifying her in a courtroom. "I don’t know what kind of idiots you hire her, but I am making a large purchase for Christmas and this person can’t even run my credit card correctly."

At this point the rest of us in line and a few lines over are getting upset, but we are also curious now as to what the issue is since the lady is so loud. The store manager looking as if biting his bottom lip scans the card. "The cashier was correct. Your card was declined. You will need to pay with another card, or in cash." The cashier smiles feeling vindicated. The lady however, just becomes more upset.

"Look!" She yells. "I have many lawyers on speed dial and I know our local congressman personally. You find out what happened to my card NOW! Or I will have all your jobs!"

Now I know personally from working retail that 90% of the time you let the customer call the card company. The cashier use to, but they changed how it is done so most of the time out of respect for privacy we don’t call ourselves unless it looks like the card was stolen or other evidence of fraud.

The store manager gives the nod to the cashier to call it in. As she was on the phone with the card company you could see a smile forming on the cashiers face. The store manager noticed as well however, the lady didn’t. Then the cashier hung up the phone and the store manager almost on instinct stepped in.
"Ms. If you can step this way we can clear all this up now."

I can only guess that hearing the store manager say this made her believe it was them in the wrong and not her. So even though there was a high probability that this would turn out badly for her she decided in her infinite wisdom to take advantage of the situation.

"I cannot believe you have me standing here because you can’t do your job! I want to speak to the general manager and the president of Best Buy. I belong to a large club of wealthy individuals who I will make sure will never shop here again. I don’t want to follow you anywhere. You cannot hide your incompetence from me. Tell me what you have done or I want a police officer here right now.

At this point the cashier was holding back her smile and she looked at the store manager who had an I give up look on his face and just said very loudly. "The reason your card was declined was that your fiancee claims you did not return his credit cards after your separation and that he had to call in and remove you from a purchase rights on all of his credit cards."

The lady turn beet red. Some of the people in the store were laughing and almost all were smiling. The lady began to cry as she ran towards the door. "How could you make a fool of me like this? The cashier smiled saying. "The only person that made a fool out of you was you. About fifteen people applauded when she said this. The store manager apologized to the people and with a giant smile on his face went back into his office. The line moved quickly after that and cashier rang me up and I was on my way.

I think it is always best to keep a cool head and not put yourself in a place to look real stupid. If this lady played it cool she could have walked out without anyone knowing anything. But because she had to act so badly in public she ended up with a very public humiliation and the karma circle is complete.

© J.A. Laraque December 2007
jalaraque@yahoo.com>

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