Jane Not Following Her Plain Advice

| Manchester, England, UK | Employees, Extra Stupid, Ignoring & Inattentive

(I am shopping quite late at night in a large local 24-hour superstore that’s half a mile from my house. I find it’s better to go later because I miss the rush, plus there are no queues at the tills and it’s just all-round less stressful. I’m partly disabled and I don’t walk very well, so any reason to reduce stress is a valid one for me. On this occasion, I scan all my shopping through the self-checkout (the only ones open after 9 pm) only to realise I’ve forgotten my debit card. The trolleys (carts) are usually locked up in trolley bays, and either a £1 coin or trolley token will unlock one of them; I used a £1 coin that night.)

Me: *in a panic, totally embarrassed, to self-checkout assistant* “Oh, I’m so sorry, and I do feel so stupid, but I forgot my card. I’m going to have to go home for it and come back to pay, if that’s okay?”

Assistant: “No problem; you can leave your shopping trolley over there–” *points at an unused till area* “–until you come back.”

Me: “Thank you so much! I might be twenty minutes or so because I have to walk home and back and I don’t walk very well. Will my shopping be okay until then? It won’t be in the way?”

Assistant: *with a smile* “Yes, that’s no problem at all. We’ll wait for you; don’t rush.”

(I look at the clock; it’s 9:45 pm. I walk home as fast as I can, grab my debit card, and make my way back. I reach the self-checkout area again, completely out of breath, at 10:05 pm, to find a different member of staff standing there, and no trolley of shopping anywhere in sight.)

Me: *to New Assistant* “Excuse me, but do you know where my shopping went to? I had to nip home for my bank card.”

New Assistant: “No, sorry, I haven’t seen one, and I’ve been here for ten minutes.”

Me: “But the other assistant told me she’d leave my shopping over there for me.” *points in the area I’d left my trolley*

New Assistant: “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.”

(I’m furious now. Not only do I have to do my shopping again, and it’s a big store, but that missing trolley also had my £1 in it and I don’t have another. I grab a basket and start shopping again. Just as I start down the first aisle, however, I notice the first assistant putting something back on the shelf. Sure enough, it’s something I’d chosen earlier.)

Me: *to assistant* “Excuse me? Excuse me! I’ll have that, please.”

Assistant: *with a lovely big smile* “Oh, hello again!”

Me: “Why did you put away my shopping when you knew I was coming back? And when you said you wouldn’t?”

Assistant: “Well, store policy is to put away items that have been there for more than half an hour.”

Me: “I got back in 20 minutes and my stuff was already gone. Why did you do that when you said you wouldn’t?”

Assistant: “The manager told me to. We didn’t think you’d come back.”

Me: “Did you explain to the manager what the stuff was doing there? And about my disabilities?”

Assistant: “Yes.”

Me: “And?”

Assistant: “I still had to put it back. I’m sorry. I didn’t think you’d come back!”

Me: “Okay, who’s the manager?”

Assistant: “I am.”

Me: “…I beg your pardon?”

Assistant: “I am.”

Me: “So, let me get this straight. At 9:45 pm you tell me it’s okay to leave my shopping so I can go home for my card and not to rush, despite knowing there’s a 30-minute limit on that. Then, you totally ignore said limit and put it all back after 15 minutes. But before you do so, you direct a question to yourself about my shopping, and explain to yourself about why my shopping’s there, and you tell yourself it makes no difference, that the shopping has to be re-shelved anyway, even before the time limit’s up? Is that about right?”

Assistant-Who-Happens-To-Be-The-Manager: “Yes… I didn’t think you’d come back!”

(I check her name badge, that only has her first name on it (let’s call her Jane) and, sure enough, it says “Manager” underneath.)

Me: “I’d like a Feedback Form please.”

(She walks towards Customer Service and gets me a form, which I start to fill in right then and there. The customer service clerk is behind the counter.)

Me: *to Manager Jane* “What’s your name?”

Manager Jane: “Sue.”

(I hear the customer service staff member gasp.)

Me: “So why does your badge say you’re called Jane?”

(The manager’s face is growing bright red.)

Me: *to customer service clerk* “What’s her full name, please?”

(She tells me, so I write it down on the form. After I’ve finished writing out my ‘feedback’, including the part about giving me a false name, I read it back to them both and ask:)

Me: “Did I miss anything out?”

(Both of them shake their heads, and the poor customer service clerk looks extremely miserable.)

Manager Jane: *to me* “Er. Um. If you like, I’ll put that in our Feedback Box for you.”

Me: *laughing* “Oh, yes, I’m absolutely sure you will, ‘Sue.’ Is that Feedback Box dustbin-shaped, by any chance?”

(Manager Jane winces with embarrassment.)

Me: “So, where’s my £1 out of the trolley lock?”

Manager Jane: “Your £1?”

Me: “Yes. You took my trolley back to the trolley stand, I’m assuming? Where’s my £1?”

(She gives me the £1 out of her pocket, and I walk off to finish my second go at shopping. When I get back to the self-checkout and start scanning my items, Manager Jane comes over to me.)

Manager Jane: “Hello! I just thought you’d like to know the till you used earlier still has your sub-total on it, so you could just go there and pay if you like.” *she’s beaming at me as if that idea makes everything better*

Me: “So, not only did you not think I’d come back, only half way through my time limit that I didn’t know about, you decided to leave my sub-total on the till in case I came back? Do you know how much sense you aren’t making? At all?”

Manager Jane: “I… er…”

Me: “Look, just leave me alone. I’ve started scanning already, and I wouldn’t use that other sub-total now anyway, in case I forgot something that I had before. Just go away and leave me alone.”

(When I got home, I updated the Feedback Form, plus I emailed the head office. When I next went to that store, Manager Jane’s badge read, “Assistant.”)

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