I wonder how much lower math SAT scores are going to drop, as a result of a silly Walgreens policy being applied, at a minimum, in the Guilford, CT store.
I dropped by their store to pick up some photos which I uploaded to their site for printing. (By the way, good deal at 19 cents for a 4×6 and it’s quick and painless to upload them, place the order, and do an in-store pickup)
I gather up a few other things and then walk to the check-out. It comes to $10.29 and I hand the teenager behind the counter a $20 bill. He punches in 20.00 into the register. While the drawer opens, I reach into my pocket and manage to pull out 30 cents. I tell him I have the 30 cents and reach my hand out. He doesn’t make any effort to take it from me.
So I say, “Here, I’ve got the thirty cents, it will make it easier for you to give me the change.” For those of you who already have really low math SAT scores, that would mean that instead of giving me one $5 bill, four $1 bills, two quarters, two dimes and a penny, I was trying to simplify life by making my change one $10 bill and a penny.
Now that I was pushing him to take it, he says, “Ummm. I can’t take it, it’s too late.”
I must have had a puzzled look on my face as I said out loud, “Huh???” because he continued to try to explain:
“We’re not allowed to take extra money once we’ve entered the amount into the cash register. Ummm. It’s just the rules, ummm, for one reason or another… I don’t know… Sorry.”
So I shook my head in disbelief and put my 30 cents back into my pocket and proceeded to be handed one $5 bill, four $1 bills, two quarters, two dimes and a penny
Now I could have been a pain-in-the-ass and gathered up my $10 in loose bills and coins and said, “Hey, could you change this for a $10 bill?” but I didn’t want to break the kid’s stones. I think he was perfectly capable to do the math, but he’s a victim of some dumb policy by the manager of the store (or is it corporate policy?). He did seem a little frustrated that he couldn’t help me out.
Why am I telling you this? Because I believe it’s another case of implementing technology in a way that steals away an opportunity to sharpen the skills of the employees. Walgreens management is apparently telling the employees to let the machine do the math, and don’t let the customer complicate matters by changing the amount that they’re giving you, since the machines won’t let you reenter the amount tendered, and we don’t want to rely on your own math skills. That’s terribly sad that they actively avoid giving their employees a chance to stay sharp or do not want to take time to teach them how to count change back.
It’s also poor customer service; I wanted to eliminate the loose change in my pocket and and thin out my wallet a little bit, but since it’s “against the rules”, I guess I’m stuck.
This isn’t an isolated incident. I was in a McDonald’s a couple of months ago and, while there was no policy against recalculating change in your head, the teen-age girl was simply baffled as to why I was giving her extra change. She was caught in a situation where she saw what the machine was telling her to give me, and she didn’t want to or couldn’t do the math in her head.
My parents owned a retail gift store, and my dad disabled the feature in the cash register that allowed the employee to enter the amount tendered. He wanted them to be mindful of the transaction, what the customer was giving them, and wanted them to be in good practice of counting out change. If a new employee struggled, he’d work with them to transfer his skills to them. I think my Dad helped a lot of kid’s math SAT scores.