Another Choose Your Own Customer Service Adventure

grumpyI live with my sister right now and was in need of stocking up on food for the week. So, where else would we go to buy in bulk other than Costco?

I don’t personally have a Costco membership yet (going to sign up for one after our visit) but that’s never been a problem–I’ve gone with my sister before and we split the bill on one membership card.

It’s been a while since we’ve done this and after stocking our cart with goodies, we reach the checkout line.

We separate our items on the counter.

The cashier approaches us and says, “Oh will you have two totals today?

We say, “Yes and we’ll be paying separately.

She nods then organizes the items on the conveyer belt.

Finally after all is scanned and we’re about ready to pay, I’m mid-swipe with my debit card and WHAM–

“You are NOT Jackie Dempsey so you cannot pay for these items. It must be from Jackie Dempsey.”

I reply, “Oh, I’m sorry–we’ve always just split it where she pays for some and I pay for the rest. Helps with costs, ya know? Has there been a policy change”

The cashier rolls her eyes at us and says there has been a policy change and absolutely no way to override it. Jackie Dempsey, my sister, must pay for everything. No ifs, ands or buts.

It always shocks me when you don’t get the same level of service as you deliver to others. I suppose I set my expectations too high but that’s what I get!

So, I go to instant defensive mode. I probably should have kicked up the kindness but I wasn’t feeling well either so they get to meet Grumpy Jenny.

Grumpy Jenny: If you won’t allow me to pay with my money, then we can’t get anything at all today.

Rude Cashier: [Sighs] Ok. [Starts taking items out of cart without offering any solution]

Grumpy Jenny: Really, it’s that easy to lose a customer? I was going to purchase a membership too but I’m not going to now.

Rude Cashier: [Shrugs] It’s policy. [She then starts to organize the next customer’s goods on the conveyer belt]

The thought of calling a manager crossed our minds but the lines were so incredibly long that we didn’t want to be a burden to the other people waiting. My sister ends up paying for the items and we leave. We approach the woman as she scans our receipt at the door and share that we just had a negative experience. She points to a table outside, “You can go over to the feedback section and write your comments there.

We drive home and my sister calls the store and speaks to a manager.

The manager was kind, explains the new policy and says that if the cashier would have called him over during the visit, he could allow the payment on two cards to happen this time as it used to be something that customers were able to do.

Everyone takes on a different persona when they are confronted with a frustrating situation. While I shouldn’t have gone into Grumpy Jenny mode, the woman shouldn’t have gone into Rude Cashier mode.

So, what would have been the best solution to this situation?

  • The cashier should have called a manager over for approval this one time–’nuff said.
  • The cashier should have done exactly what they did–stated it’s policy and not give a darn.
  • The cashier should have kindly explained the policy and tried to use a creative work around.

What customer service adventure outcome would YOU choose?!


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  • There’s no love for Costco on our blog is there? I still love the return policy. Man, sticking to policies sure makes for sticky situations for customers. Great story, Jenny!

    • Yeah, Costco is pretty great with their selection of items and return policy that’s for sure. But it definitely sounds like the Costco love is dissolving!

  • Empowerment, that’s the answer. Unfortunately most employees are not empowered to make policy decisions so Cashier when confronted with something other than the usual cashier issues pulls a “I’m gonna be mad a the customer cuz there is nothing I can do about this” attitude. Costco has three choices – 1. Change the policy so people can once again split the bill 2. Empower the employee to override the problem and come up with a solution 3. Work efficiently without an attitude to get a manager over when this situation happens to override the policy. Has Costco gotten so big and powerful that the single customer is no longer important or is this a case of a poorly trained employee with an attitude wrecking your shopping experience? Nice Guy Rule — The customer is always right and when she’s not right, figure out how to make her right. xo

    • YES! Empowerment is huge. It definitely seems lacking there. And, it’s funny that when there’s no empowerment, no one cares at all. The care just flies out the window. I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of the cashier with no empowerment and how I’d feel and what I’d do. I’d probably just go against policy and keep the customer happy…but that’s scary when this is the job that puts food on your table and if you lose it, you’re screwed! Tricky position to be in. Thanks for your comment Doug! 🙂

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