TalesFromRetail: The day that a problem “customer” got banned from the store.

I say “customer” too because they never bought anything from us. They just dumped their recycling off with us.

For those who are confused by this bit here’s the context. I work in a retail pharmacy location in the US State of California. I suppose in an effort to reduce costs to the state they cut funding to various recycling centers, which caused them to close, and mandated that large stores (like mine and the grocery store next to us) accept recycling instead.

This has been a bane on my existence because of the myriad of problems it brings: People bringing in wine bottles (Not CRV,) people bringing in 100% juice bottles (Not CRV,) people bringing in motor oil, salad dressing, shampoo bottles and anything plastic such as plastic plant pots (All Not CRV items,) people bringing in large bags filled with literal garbage but packed with a layer of recycling on top, people bringing in bags of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass bottles all mixed together that we then must sort, people bringing in bags that are sticky, smell from 10 feet away, and are filled with “juice.”

All in all, I hate it. We aren’t a recycling center and corporate hasn’t given us a scale to deal with it so we have to use the honor system of people just telling us how many individual items they have. Now, back to the customer.

The customer in question is a regular and brings in a rough ball park of $50-$60 worth of recycling every so often. Always late at night after most of the registers have been counted and cash is tight. We have luckily always been able to float it before though. She infuriates me because she steals shopping carts from other stores and then dumps the cart in our park lot. We currently have four from grocery store that’s three miles away and another from a store that’s 13 miles away and another one from I have no idea where. These are just the ones we have currently. Several months ago the stack of about six that we had before just up and disappeared.

This night she came in as the last register was being counted as it’s 8:40 PM and the day shift “closes” at 9 PM. Which is a problem. If we cash her recycling, she’ll be taking all the fives and some ones as well from the register and we can’t fill that register with cash again until we do a cash transaction on it and get enough cash to swap for what we need from the safe. It puts the register in a bad position of needing cash but we can’t do transactions because people really like to do cash back from us and we can’t cancel the cash back if they request it. Can’t give them their cash back if we physically don’t have the cash. Before we just used to do unofficial IOU slips until we could get it but apparently corporate caught wind and shut that down, no IOUs and we must have funds in the draw to exchange.

Me: Hello sees recycling ooooo. I dunno if we can do that.

Customer: Why, they’ve taken it plenty of times before.

Me: I don’t know if we physically have the cash to do it. The last register is being counted and I would be giving out all my fives to fill it.

Customer: Well, I just came here all the way from city that is 12 miles away and I’ve lost my wallet.

Me: I am sorry about that but if we just don’t have the cash then there’s nothing we can do.

She just stands there silently staring at her recycling pile, in my jaded opinion, trying to use the awkward silence to guilt me into doing it.

Me: Lemme call the manager and see if there’s anything we can do.

So I call up my manager currently in the book keeping office closing the last register.

Manager 1: What?

Me: Customer with $60 worth of recycling.

Manager 1: So you need an overide?

Me: Can we actually do it?

Manager 1: Oooh right, I’m closing the last register. Uhhh, no, we can’t. They’ll have to come back later.

Me: I’m sorry ma’am but my manager says that there’s nothing we can do. If you come back later we might have enough cash by that point.

Customer: Alright, I’ll be back then.

Ten minutes after that I do a ~$70 transaction paid with cash. The customer doesn’t show up until 9:50 PM though and when she rolls through the door the night crew manager, a different person from the day crew manager I talked to before, is at the register helping me kill a line.

Manager 2: Nu-uh. I told you never to come back in here.

A little shocked I looked at my manager and he’s looking at the customer with all the recycling.

Customer: They told me I could!

Manager 2: I told you that you weren’t welcome when I was working.

The details are a little fuzzy but they’re going at it back and forth like two dogs barking at each other through a fence. The issue in question is that he told her one night that she needed to move because she was loitering late at night. He states that she cursed at him and he banned her from the store. Said manager tells her to leave, she refuses, he threatens to call the police (but doesn’t,) and she ultimate settles in my line, thinking I’ll just do it for her. When I finally finish my last customer and she’s next I turn to her and say:

Me: Unfortunately, due to how much recycling you have, I need my manager’s approval to process it.

Anything recycling reimbursement over $10 requires a manager’s approval.

Manager 2: And I told you I’m not gonna do it.

And I’m now a soldier in the Great War, stuck in No Man’s Land. They go at it a bit more before she threatens to call the police herself, my manager rebukes her with a flat no and she leaves, but not before she says one last thing:

Customer: You can all go to hell!

A minute later and I’m finally off the clock and I’m leaving when her boyfriend apparently comes in, asking us if we can do it this one time.

Me: I’m sorry but given how much she has it’s the manager’s discretion.

At that point I’m walking out of the store, eager to be away from this conflict. The next day I come into work and see the opening manager and talk to her.

Me: So was there a note for you this morning?

Manager 3: About last night? Yeah, Manager 2 left it.

Me: They were really going at it, he says that he banned her from the store because she cursed at him for telling her to move. I dunno about that but she did tell us all to go to hell.

Manager 3: Yeah, we can’t have customers cursing at employees. If she comes in again, just call a manager.

And low and behold two hours after my shift started she comes in again and I page Manager 3 specifically. She intercepts the customer before she can start unloading all of her stuff. I managed to overhear the short conversation.

Manager 3: I’m sorry but we’re not going to be taking your recycling anymore.

Customer: But-

Manager 3: I’m sorry but no.

And then she turns and walks away and the customer takes her stuff and leaves.

Problem over.

Until her boyfriend comes in six hours later and manages to weasel the recycling through a fourth manager:

Me: Manager 4.

Manager 4: What?

Me: This is boyfriend.

Manager 4: Oh. Alright sir, I’ll do it this time but you can’t come back here again.

All in all, this was a trying experience.

By: M37h3w3