TalesFromRetail: Basic Addition

I work in a grocery store in an area where government and non-profit benefits and vouchers are common. Normally this is fine; EBT’s rarely have problems and the customer’s are (usually) fairly nice and understand how the payment process works. Sometimes unusual food vouchers will come up, but even then it tends not to be much of an issue.

Today, a customer came up with a collection of $5 vouchers from a healthy eating non-profit came up with a collection of approved foods. Looks fine, I thought. I’ll be $me and he’ll be the $count.

I ring up his food and the total comes out to be $29.47. He has 5 $5 food vouchers in his hand. Now how this works is that the value of the voucher is manually keyed in, and then the voucher is sent through a small printer to endorse it so that we can be reimbursed later on. The register screen shows the total amount owed at the top, and the remaining total at the bottom.

After I ring four of the $5 vouchers, his total is down to $9.47. For some reason he decides to grab one of the vouchers and stuff it back into his vest, even though it has been used and endorsed, and we need them for reimbursement. He then digs out $4.47 in cash and hands it too me. Through his thick russian accent, he asks me if the payment is complete.

$me: I’m sorry, but you still owe $5 on this purchase. Also, I’ll need the voucher you removed the counter. It has already been used. I’ll need that last voucher you have as well to complete the purchase.

Now, at this point we had argued a little bit since the total had gone down after the first $10 from the vouchers, he noticed the price has fallen to $19.47 at one point, and started to think that that price what what he owed in total.

$count: I owe $19.47, yes?

$me: After these first two vouchers, yes. However, with the third voucher and the cash, you still owe $5 dollars.

$count: No, I owe $19.47, I saw. This is (referring to the three vouchers still on the counter) $5, $10, $15, and (to the cash) $19.47.

$me: That is only for what you have paid. The total is actually $29.47. These three, plus the one you grabbed back and the cash is only $24.47. I still need $5.

He then stared at me for a good while like I was an idiot, and then grabbed a chunk of blank receipt paper and my pen and started working out the price from what he paid, spelling out each item as if I needed to be babied into following along.

$count: $5 + $5 + $5 + $4.47. This is $19.47, yes?

$me: Yes, but as I’ve been saying (pointing the screen that shows the total and remaining balance, which is now reading as $29.47 as the total and $5 for the remainder) your original total is $29.47, not $19.47. With the voucher you took back, along with what is here, you still owe $5.

He had placed the voucher he had taken back at this point, so I grabbed it, added it with the others, and began counting it out loud one at a time:

$me: $5, $10, $15, $20, and $24.47. You still owe $5. Give me that last voucher in your hand, and we’ll be done.

(Handing me the voucher) $count: We are good then with this?

$me: Yes, now it is paid for.

He then grabs his stuff and leaves quickly, and I put his receipt off to the side as he ran off before it printed. He came back shortly later to collect it.

TLDR; No, money isn’t worth more if you count it twice.

Edit: Removed part that made me look like I was drinking at work. I was only drinking AFTER work, writing this 😀

By: knoxaramav2