I would like to propose a new paradigm in retail, something that will revolutionize the way we do business. I’m thinking this may even revolutionize Life As We Know It. I just need a snappy, memorable name for it because, really, all revolutionary changes in business have catchy names. I can’t actually think of any right now, but I started this at 4:00am so I think you can give me a break here.
I think I will call it I Don’t Want To Pay For That.
To illustrate this new plan, I will share this story from yesterday’s shift with you:
Customer walks up to the register with a newspaper. It is by all appearances straight off the rack. (For our younger readers, a newspaper consists of many layers of paper with words and pictures printed on them, usually consisting of news stories, opinion pieces, sports reporting, fashion, comics and more. It is lightweight and recyclable. Your interwebs have all but made it extinct.)
Me (ringing up the paper): “Hello there, what else can I get you today?”
Customer: “I will have a Very Large Coffee With Too Much Milk.”
Me: “Alright, that’s going to be $5.47.”
Customer: “That’s too much.”
Me: “Well, it’s seventy-five cents for the paper and-”
Customer (interrupting me): “I’m not paying for this. It was just over there.”
Me: “Ah, I see then.” I take the paper off. “It’s $4.72.” Now, I know pretty well he didn’t just find someone’s discarded newspaper sitting on a table. Used newspapers are very obviously used; the pages are ruffled, the sections are out of order, etc. This was clearly a new paper. No matter, I’m not there to argue. “Will there be anything else today?”
Customer: “That’s all.”
I collect his money and am prepared to move along to the next customer when I notice the Newspaper Thief not leaving my register. As I look around to see if I’ve forgotten something, he speaks: “I need two large waters, an empty cup and two honey packets.”
Now, although these are items we don’t charge for, they are a) things we have to ring up to account for inventory and b) exactly the kind of thing I meant when I asked if there was anything else.
I ring them up as quickly and quietly as possible so as not to alarm him and start him off on what he’s not paying for again. He collects his cup and waters and honey and proceeds down to the bar. As I start to help my next customer I hear him asking the barista to fill his empty cup with foam.
This kind of shit is maddening. Yes, we’d do it anyhow. It’s the way he’s going about it, like he’s deliberately avoiding paying for what he’s getting (even though we’d probably just give it to him if he asked). Well, except for that paper he stole.
Gas station attendant: “That’ll be 43.72 for the gas.”
Me: “Oh, I’m not paying for that.”
Gas station attendant: “Oh, okay then. Have a nice day!”
Waiter: “Thank you sir, you can settle your bill with me when you’re ready.”
Me (looking at the bill) “That’s too much. I’m not paying for the salad bar. It was just there.”
Waiter: “Very well, sir. Let me fix that for you.”
Car salesman: “She’s a beaut, ain’t she? And only $1200 down and $375 per month.”
Me: “No, I’m not paying that. Throw in the in-dash mp3 player, GPS and DVD system for free, and I’ll just pay the down payment part and drive away.”
Car salesman: “Deal!”
Fuck yeah. I’m gonna start a revolution.