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Retail Hell Memories: "The till balance must NEVER be perfect!"



From  carl0071, Tales From Retail:

A few years ago, I worked at a cookie shop here in the UK.

The shop was a franchise with three branches.

About 6 months after I started working at one of the London branches, I was sent to another branch in London which had recently closed because the manager had resigned/been dismissed (Even today I'm not certain what happened).

It was a small kiosk in a shopping center with a very small customer footfall, with no more than about 10 customers an hour. I'd been operating this small branch by myself for about a week.

At the end of each day, I'd cash up the till and deposit the money into the safe. I'd then enter the details into an Excel spreadsheet on a Google drive which the franchise owner also had access to.

I had a visit from the manager of another branch to see how I was getting on a couple of weeks later. She checked through the sales records on the laptop, along with other documentation.

When she was finished, she said she was 'concerned' about the till balance at the end of every shift.

I couldn't understand why. I explained that the till was always accurate at the end of each shift with no discrepancies or missing cash, and the cash which was sent to the bank was also accurate.

"That's the problem. The till balance must NEVER be perfect! You'll always have a few customers who leave their change behind or give you too much money and walk off..."

I honestly didn't know she was being serious. We had so few customers each day that the till couldn't be over or under at the end of each shift. Plus, we had a charity box on the counter where customers would put their unwanted pennies.

She didn't agree and said it seemed 'suspicious' that the till was never over or under at the end of each shift.

Before she left, she just said to me quietly

"Even if the till balance is correct, say it isn't".

I didn't want to seem suspicious, so every night I entered the till balance on the spreadsheet and made sure the till was slightly over or under by a few pence, even though in reality the till balance was perfect.

Once I started doing this, I never heard anything more about it!

-- carl0071







This amuses me greatly because it was common knowledge that my tills were usually the most accurate. Any time there was a discrepancy it was usually when someone else used my till. I even got a phone call once from the chap doing the end of day telling me that my till was spot on, after I'd had to be on it all day without anyone else using it.

Why yes, I am smug. ;)

Thing is, if you are any good at your job, and the footfall is so low, there is no reason why your totals aren't spot on. Even when it was busy mine were only pennies out, that was usually because people get £10.01 of fuel and never have the penny.

There are some jobs that sack you if your till is out more than a very small amount, they're arseholes though.

Tech Support Survivor

I've never worked a job with a till, but I see no reason why it would be odd to have it spot on. OR maybe off by a few cents. Besides so many people use plastic these days. For EVERYTHING.


I've worked where every day you were off on the till it went in your employee file. A bad record and you were gone. She didn't want you showing better than her, is what you encountered. You could balance every day and she couldn't. She couldn't have that.


Where I work, our tills are rarely to the penny. We round the coin changer, so if there's $43.27 in coins, we count it as $43. If there's $47.52 we count it as $48. We also get a $5 leeway in over/short because people are always leaving change behind so it's not uncommon to be over a few dollars just from 'forgotten' change.


The suspicion is that if your till matches perfectly every day, then you are manipulating it. Humans aren't usually that perfect, so if you are, it MAY be because you are cheating. For example, handle a customer transaction for cash, but don't actually enter it into the cash register--just put the money in the drawer, and at the end of the day remove/pocket enough cash to make the drawer balance. People who are stealing like that won't want to draw any suspicion, so their drawers will always balance perfectly. (This is also the reason that a drawer being over by more than small change is also suspicious--it may mean you just didn't have opportunity to pocket the extra cash.)

Of course, in a small low-volume shop where you are careful, your drawer may balance perfectly anyway, but being a few pennies out is ironically evidence that you are not deliberately fiddling the drawer.

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