September 05, 2011

Just an observation as a customer trying to buy something

Over the weekend the DH and I were out shopping at the local mall. I was dying of thirst and so we went on the hunt for a drink. The discount store (Shopko) at the mall is less expensive than the food court.

There are ten checkout lanes and only 2 cashiers working. We stood in line waiting with our drinks for almost 15 minutes while the cashier was upselling a customer on an extended warranty plan for cheap electronic junk.

When it was finally our turn, the cashier begins his interrogation.

Do you have a phone number?

No, sorry.

How about a zip code?


You don't have a zip code?

No. I'm paying cash. Do you want? (as I wave it in front of him).

It doesn't matter, I still have to ask.


Ok. I'll enter in a default zip code.


Then we get lectured. Shopko just updated their checkout software. He was required to enter in that data. He's just doing his job. He hates the new procedures - thinks it's insane.

I agree. (meanwhile, I'm still waiting to pay with 4 greenbacks in my hand).

Finally, our drinks are scanned. We pay.

I'm just doing my job.

I know. I'm sorry.

I've experienced identity theft. Giving out information like phone numbers and zip codes gives me cause for concern, the zip codes less so. The retailers who ask for it never explain why they ask for it. But by law, they can't force you to release that information. And to be fair, I've been asked the same questions by several retailers. It's a mistake, especially when the customer has cash in hand.

Writing a check is a little different. The retailer wants to make sure your check is good. How many retailers take checks anymore? Nowadays, retailers run your check like a debit card where the money is automatically removed from your checking account at the point of sale. Even so, contact info is usually pre-printed and scanned.

Buying online is different too.

Paying in cash in person? Who cares?

The moral of the story is that retailers should make it as easy as possible to check out. Not harder.

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