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Thread: I may have just gotten a Costco clerk fired...

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    ...or at least severely reprimanded.

    This is WAY out of the ordinary for ANY clerk... but Costco especially, as they seem to excel at practice, policy, and procedure. It's one of the things I love about Costco. No matter where I go in this world, I know how Costco is going to handle a situation. In New Brunswick... in Nova Scotia... in New Hampshire... in Massachusetts... in Florida... it's consistent and it's something you can rely on. Which is why I was shocked when this happened today:

    I'll have to lay it out (it might be too elaborate but I like to tell it like it happened...)

    First up, I'm a Costco business member. This means I can split an order into two (or more) separate receipts and use different form of payments. They sometimes do it for personal members also, but they can (and sometimes do) refuse... but for Business members, it's accepted and is permitted (primarily) so that one can separate their business expenses from personal (as you use the same membership card).

    I also have a Costco Mastercard, which is my membership ID and Mastercard all in one...

    The faces of the staff that have been at this particular location for years and years are familiar to me... Some have been here for 15 years or more, but the girl working the register at the checkout I selected today, I hadn't seen before. But then again, I'm not at this particular Costco often, and it's one of a number I go between, so while I assume she's a new hire, again she might not be... but I digress.

    ORDER #1 -- Batteries (for the business)... I hand the girl my Membership/Mastercard, she scans the membership barcode, and (like always) rests it on the till as she rings them in. -- Payment time, and I tell the clerk I want it on my Mastercard. She hands me the card... I tap to pay... and I return the card to her so she can scan the membership again to start the second order. (all seems good so far, right?)

    ORDER #2 -- small grocery order (for personal use)... again, she scans my card and rests on the till as she rings the items in. -- Payment time... she takes my Mastercard, and TAPS TO PAY on the pinpad for me, without my approval, request, nor confirmation if that's how I wanted to pay... which I absolutely did NOT. I wanted to pay for my groceries with my debit card. But there's no undoing the tap. It's a done deal. I was livid and I expressed it as much to her. In a seemingly "not a big deal" attitude, she claimed since I paid for my first order that way, that she assumed I was going to pay the same way.

    I know I might come off sounding like a jackass here but truth be told, the whole POINT of splitting the order was to differentiate between business and personal... and to make payments likewise.

    Again in her "it's not a big deal" attitude, she said she couldnt undo it, and (almost as if this was my fault) said I could go to Customer service and have them fix it if I really needed to.


    Oh, I took it to Customer service alright... I explained what happened. But here's the clincher... they can refund the order, but they cant ring it back in there. They aren't setup for that. [I already knew this, but so you the reader on the same page...] They said that if I refunded this transaction, I'd have to go through the checkout again and buy the items again... in fact, the original notion was that a.) they'd refund, and collect my grocery purchase followed by b.) I take the battery purchase out to my vehicle (as I cant go back into the store with them) and then c.) I'd actually have to go shop for my grocery order again. -- This is the strict adherence to policy, practice and procedure for which I commend them, but not the position I wanted to be put in right at this moment for a situation I didnt create.

    Luckily a supervisor (in retrospect I think it was a manager of some sort) was in earshot and came to see what was going on. I explained the situation. He took me aside (as to not have the rest of the staff or other waiting customers to hear the story) and he was aghast as I was originally. He immediately sent one of the other staff to relieve the clerk. I didnt hear what he told her, but she went to the checkout, cash-counted the till, and took the original clerk's place. The original clerk disappeared down a corridor to what I assume was a staff room. He completed the refund of the grocery items. and told me that he could not going ring them back in, but would avoid me the hassle and I could keep the items. (the value was less than $50 for the groceries, to be honest). He then told me that this is not typical behaviour and that the clerk would be "corrected".

    He escorted me to the exit so the cart-checkers knew I was allowed out without a receipt for the groceries... and I was on my way.

    He definitely corrected the bad situation in leaps and bounds as I expect Costco to do... not because of the free groceries, but because he seemed sincere and cared about the transgression. That was more key than anything and typical Costco fashion.

    But as I write this I'm wondering if I'll see that clerk working there again. Kinda feel bad, so I hope she's only scolded, and maybe given a bit more training but she definitely didnt exude the Costco spirit.

    ..
    This thread is currently associated with: Costco
    Last edited by bhlombardy; Mon, Sep 11th, 2017 at 10:34 PM.
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    You just made a compelling case for why it's good not to have the tap feature active on the card.
    But I understand the concern about payment #2-she did not ask/wait for you but just assumed the transaction would be done as for first transaction and then proceeded to use your card for payment which you did not authorize.
    Whoopsie.

    Bet the situation gets shared at the team meeting to remind all cashiers to ask for payment method each transaction and not to use a customer's card unless given expressed permission. If there is video, management likely took a look too.
    Last edited by Ciel; Mon, Sep 11th, 2017 at 10:42 PM.
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    I have experienced bad cashiers at Costco.
    I have stood in a long check out line at Costco, with my favourite cashiers.
    When the front end manager with the clipboard lets me know there is a shorter line, I say, Yes I know and there is a good reason why that line is shorter-- regular know not to go there.
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    I feel bad for that clerk. You could have just told her you would be using a different payment method. Or... just let it go and remember to mention it next time.

    They deal with many customers and you might have been customer 1 out of 10,000 who wanted to split orders and pay with two different methods.

    Customer is always right, but remember there is a human being helping you. Not a robot. (yet)

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    As a business owner I can honestly say I avoided Costco for a long time because of the rudeness of the cashiers in our city. It is frequent practice for Business owners to do two transactions, one for the company and one for any personal items they may be purchasing. I was catering so my business purchases usually would be a very large shop of 1500.00 or more and if I saw something I wanted personally I would have to pay separately. I think because my orders were such a hassle to pack because of the quantity they did not like serving me and it clearly showed when I checked out, with curt almost rude service. I had a very calm conversation with customer service and took a long break from shopping there and went elsewhere for one catering season. I am happy to say I resumed shopping there this summer and the CS has improved greatly.
    The OP had every right to rectify her situation, it is fraud to purchase personal items with your business credit card and it needed to be rectified otherwise when it comes time to do her books year end she would either have to make an adjustment in her credit card expenses and throw her books off or lie and claim her personal groceries as a business expense. Business Accounts are what keep Costco going and the cashiers should be well versed in transactions. A cashier should never take the liberty of tapping a customers card and I am sure she was reprimanded which is what should be done otherwise she will continue to make the same mistake. There are right ways and wrong ways of dealing with things like this and if she was new I am sure Costco handled the situation properly.
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    Agreed 100% with you, @thriftygranny and I don't think you have any reason to feel badly, @bhlombardy . I would have been livid had the cashier tapped my card without my consent. The cashier should never assume that the payment method is the same. The onus is on them to ask the customer how they will be paying.

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    I completely agree that you had a right to be livid. I doubt you go her fired, but she probably got a stern talking to and probably written up. You might not have been the first person she did that too, so you may have saved someone in the future from getting screwed over.
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    When reading your rant, I was impressed with how well the manager handled the situation...commendable. Seems like he will use this as a teachable moment at the next staff meeting. Cashiers are human and may assume things, or do things automatically without thinking given the nature of the job...like @dyalect said, they see hundreds of customers and can easily slip...especially toward the end of a shift. On a personal note, whenever I have 2 transactions, I *always* let the cashier know beforehand, especially if my method of payment will be different between both transactions (and in this case, would need to be kept absolutely separate given the business/personal accounts). Glad it worked out in the end.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dyalect View Post
    I feel bad for that clerk. You could have just told her you would be using a different payment method. Or... just let it go and remember to mention it next time.
    I wasnt given the chance to tell her. She tapped it before I was given the opportunity. It wasnt her place to decide how I should pay. It was akin to taking cash straight out of my hand and telling me that I have to be inconvenienced if I want to get it back.

    Quote Originally Posted by dyalect View Post
    They deal with many customers and you might have been customer 1 out of 10,000 who wanted to split orders and pay with two different methods.
    Actually it happens more often than you realize . I witness business members who do it all the time. I identify with it when I see it because I do it just about half of the time I'm in there as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thriftygranny View Post
    The OP had every right to rectify her situation, it is fraud to purchase personal items with your business credit card and it needed to be rectified otherwise when it comes time to do her books year end she would either have to make an adjustment in her credit card expenses and throw her books off or lie and claim her personal groceries as a business expense. .
    I had a smile reading this... just so you know, the OP is a "he" not a "she"
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    I would not be pleased if the cashier tapped my card. It's not their card or right, even if you were going to pay with it. They still can't do that.
    Good on the manager for fixing it discreetly and efficiently.
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    When it came to the 2nd order, after she scanned it for the membership and placed it on her till, why did you not request it back at that point and indicate you were going to pay with your debit?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovecats View Post
    When it came to the 2nd order, after she scanned it for the membership and placed it on her till, why did you not request it back at that point and indicate you were going to pay with your debit?
    The membership card stays on the cash keyboard while to order is processed. In this case if your card is a MC/Costco combined card you don't actually have possession of it. The card is returned when you are handed the receipt.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilo0003 View Post
    The membership card stays on the cash keyboard while to order is processed. In this case if your card is a MC/Costco combined card you don't actually have possession of it. The card is returned when you are handed the receipt.
    What lilo said. They always do this at every Costco I've been to in Canada and the US. (a count of approximately 20 different locations). It's a standard practice corporate wide.
    Last edited by bhlombardy; Wed, Sep 20th, 2017 at 06:31 PM.
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    It was probably an innocent mistake
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