Work & Career
13 Things Store Cashiers Secretly Wish You Would Stop Doing
Every job comes with its own set of nuisances and for store cashiers, chances are you’re it.
Don’t expect a cashier to compute the total in his or her head
Granted technology has its glitches, but computerized cash registers exist to make the checkout process that much smoother. So cashiers would love it if you let them do their thing. “I hated when people expected me to be able to figure out their exact change in my head,” says Monica Bender, who worked as a cashier in college. “Guess what? I’m not good at math. But do you know who is? This machine I’m standing in front of. So I’m going to let it do its job.” Find out 29 other things your grocer won’t say to your face but would like you to know.
Have those coupons ready
They get it, you’re trying to save money and those handy dandy coupons you’ve so carefully clipped can add up. But could you present them in a timely fashion? “I’ve had a long checkout line stacked up because a customer is digging through her purse trying to find crumpled up coupons at the bottom,” says Melanie Carson, a grocery store cashier. “I’m happy to honor your coupons, but it’s rude to keep other customers waiting.” Besides, the savviest shoppers know the best grocery store coupons are on their phone.
And another thing about coupons
Rules on coupons may vary from store to store and many don’t accept expired coupons (that date is there for a reason). “Again, happy to honor current coupons, but the store I work at doesn’t allow for any that are expired,” says Carson. “I’ve had so many shoppers try to argue their way into having me accept it anyway. I can’t. I’m just doing my job.”
Sales tax isn’t optional
Cashiers don’t set the sales tax, so do not ask them if there’s a workaround. “A customer actually asked if I would not charge tax if they paid cash,” says Jessica Lee, recalling one of her most questionable experiences while working in retail. “What kind of operation do you think this is and why do you think I can control the prices?”
Don’t ask them to break the law
“In New York, it used to be illegal to buy alcohol before noon on Sunday,” recalls Sarah Shaw, who worked at a grocery store during high school. “Our register literally wouldn’t let me ring it up. And oh man, people would go ballistic over that one, especially if it was 11:45.”
Smaller bills are appreciated
“I was a cashier at a pizza place in high school,” says Megan Molloy. “I still dream about the pizza. What I don’t dream about was the incessant need for customers to break $100 bills at a modest pizza joint. There was a bank right next door!” This is also an example of a time where it’s better to break out your credit card than pay cash.
Treat cashiers the way you want to be treated
Just because they are in a customer service role doesn’t mean that the customer is entitled to belittle a cashier (or anyone for that matter). “People would make demeaning comments about my intelligence like I was stupid because I was working a register,” says Shaw.
Don’t haggle set prices
Whether it’s a department store, grocery store, or any place else that sells goods with set prices, don’t try to negotiate a better deal with the cashier. “You wouldn’t believe have many customers have tried to haggle over the price of an item. This isn’t a garage sale,” says Morgan Winter, who has worked in retail for over a decade. Instead, try one of these 50 money-saving secrets from your favorite stores.
Coins can create chaos
Several of the cashiers we spoke with expressed frustration with customers paying in coins. Coins are indeed currency, but maybe count them out before it’s your turn to pay—and leave your penny collection at home.
Don’t complain about the prices
Maybe you’re just venting about the cost of living these days, but please don’t complain about the store’s prices to the cashiers. It’s one thing to make conversation, it’s another thing entirely to be belligerent about the cost of your shopping trip. “You are the one shopping, if you don’t like the prices then don’t shop here,” says Lee.
Put your phone away
Unless it’s an emergency, phone conversations can wait. “Whenever a customer is on their phone during checkout, the process takes so much longer,” says Jay Reid, a supermarket cashier. “Either they’re not paying attention when it’s time to pay or they want to change something about their order after they’ve been rung up and we have to start the process over again.”
Don’t get in line until you’re done shopping
Picture it: It’s rush hour at the grocery store and the checkout lines are long. Inevitably there will be one customer who parks their cart in a line and then proceeds to run around the store grabbing everything they need. Cashiers would love it if you’d quit doing that. “You’re not fooling anyone,” says Maria Camby, a current grocery store employee. “And you’re also making it so the people behind your cart in line are annoyed and slowing down the checkout process.” It’s also one of the 13 rudest things people do at the grocery store.
Get real about returns
If you think you’re pulling one over on a cashier trying to return well-worn socks, clothes, and other items, think again. “Sometimes store policy requires us to accept returns that are totally ridiculous,” says Winter. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t cringe while doing it. It’s really bad form to return something that you’ve already gotten plenty of use from.” If you’re ever worried about returning an item, these are the stores with the best policies.