My dear wife is a working mom: her full-time job is taking care of our two boys. She recently had an adventure at our local grocery store, HEB:
I had to run to the grocery store on an exceptionally busy day. I was trying to keep stress levels down by recognizing that the store would probably be busy, I would probably need to park a little farther away than I like, and I would probably need to wait in a long line, etc.
Once we got there, I started to feel pretty smug. I was maneuvering the extra long cart (yes, the one with the race car attachment so our oldest boy would stay in it) up and down the aisle with speed and agility! We were blowing through our list with amazing rapidity! We even found an efficient cashier who was moving her customers through so we had little time to wait in line. I could see I was going to make it under my budget allotment, and our son was just seconds away from getting his customary balloon (the only way I can get him to put his shoes on to go to the store in the first place!). It was turning out to be a great trip to the store.
Until I went to pay for the groceries. Yes, that’s right. In my haste to get shoes on, jackets on, boys loaded into car seats, remember the diaper bag, remember my grocery list, and find my keys, I had left my wallet on the counter. I had absolutely nothing with which I could pay for my groceries. Ughrrr… The efficient cashier assured me that this sort of thing happens all the time, told me I could go home and get my wallet and come back and pay for my groceries which would be sitting at cash register 12. Okay, minor setback. I could deal with this. It was a little inconvenient but at least they were nice about it!
We snagged a balloon on the way out and I hustled the boys out to the car and into their car seats. After all, we had milk and apple juice concentrate sitting in a cart in the store. Time was of the essence! Again, in my haste, I managed to knock the balloon out of my son’s hand. My little guy was frantically signing “Please, please, please!” as he pointed to the balloon (which was now getting smaller) and said over and over, “Bah, bah, bah!” I felt so badly that I wished for a moment I had my Super-Mom cape with me so I could blast off and rescue it.
Well, the story has a happy ending. I was able to get home, get my wallet, go back for my groceries, and get home again in under 15 minutes, and we even got another balloon.
What do you do when your customer can’t pay for your product? Do you know the circumstances behind this forgetfulness?
The grocery store cashier in this story did three great things:
- Reassure the customer that this happens all the time. Forgetting to bring your wallet can be a very embarrassing experience. Don’t aggravate the situation. Be calm and understanding.
- Explain what the customer should do. In the midst of an embarrassing and frustrating situation, the customer may not be able to suggest alternatives. Give the customer an escape route or options they can take.
- Look out for your company. For the most part people are honest and trustworthy. However, you need to be sure you’re also protecting the interests of your company. If you know a customer and trust them, you can always let them come back and pay later. If not, then hold on to the merchandise and let them return with payment.
As a customer, have you ever forgotten the money or been unable to pay for something? How did the business respond?
As a business, how do you deal with situations where the customer forgets the necessary payment?