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Regular Customer Hell: Crotchety Check Man



Hello fellow retail slaves, it’s Paint Lady here.

Had a lovely experience with a fellow today that I just had to share, only to try and vent the burning ‘graaagh’ feeling I’ve had bottled inside me since.

I don’t know about you guys, but when you’ve worked in retail too damn long, you get to know some of the customers fairly well. There is one old guy who is a vaguely regular customer (we get a visit from him about once a month) who is a nasty piece of work. He will expect you to run ragged for him, if you don’t have what he wants; he’ll expect miracles for you to get it and all  topped off with the expression of a wrinkled prune.

Anywho, today I was called round to our garden section, to take off one of our staff members for their break. As I came round, I peeked out into our car park to see our member of staff with the dreaded customer who I knew and recognized. Too late to run, my colleague saw me, gave me a look of ‘Good luck with this one’ and bid a hasty retreat. (Cheers mate)

The conversation went as follows – me being ‘PL’ and him being ‘AF’ (Arse Face)

PL: Morning Sir, how can I help you today?

AF: I would like to purchase one of the Arbours you have in your car park.

He begins pulling out a cheque book.

I don’t know how it works in the USA, but in the UK, cheques are pretty much obsolete. A lot of UK stores don’t take them, and I haven’t taken a cheque in this store for years.

PL: I’m sorry sir, but if you wish to pay for an arbour, it has to be cash or card. We haven’t taken cheques in years.

OCTOCAROL 242AF: Well, this is ridiculous. I do not use cards, my sister had her card stopped because when she paid for large item with one, they didn’t recognize it as her purchasing it.

PL: Well, I’m sorry sir. I have no way of taking a payment in anything other than a cash or card. You find most places don’t now. (I said, with a smile)

AF: Well this is ridiculous. You’re going to lose this sale if you cannot take a cheque. I shall take my business elsewhere.

PL: I’m sorry sir...

At this point he interrupted me, with what I can only describe as a look of hatred on his face:

AF: Well, I’ve had it up to here with this place. I’ve a bucket full of ‘sorrys’ back home you’ve offered me everytime I come here, for all the things you cannot help me with. This is beyond the joke. Where is your manager? I want to speak with him immediately.

PL: *putting on best sweetest retail smile on* I’m sorry but she is on her day off at present. She’s in again Monday.

AF: Well! What about your head office??

I write down the head office number, hand it to him still smiling, as he grabs it and storms out the door. At this point, my co-worker was back, looked at me, and covered the till as I ran to the staff room for a small tear and a much needed cup of tea.

15 minutes later, when I was round there again, sorting out another customer, he walks back in with his card and proceeds, as if nothing has happened, to pay and order a bloody arbour for delivery. I laid on thick the ‘ patronising retail smarm’ (that I can never understand how people don’t realise is actually an insult) that he was mollified enough to even offer me a grunting ‘goodbye’ when he left.

Remind me again how working retail is classed as an ‘easy unskilled job’?

--Paint Lady






Checks aren't quite dead in the US yet. They will be soon, but if you have a checking account, you can get an ATM card that works as a debit card, and avoid all the death stares from the cashier and everyone behind you in the line, so they're rare.

(At smart stores, you don't actually *write* the check, unless your bank is very tiny and not part of the massive, worldwide network of banks. You hand the *blank* check to the cashier, he/she runs it through a check scanner, punches in the amount, and the check scanner system does an electronic check transfer. The machine prints "VOID" across the check, and you hand it back to the customer. It still takes at least two days to get the money, but the reason for that isn't technical - they could deposit the money in the merchant's account before the customer gets to their car in the parking lot - but rather, because people expect it to take that long, and kite checks, knowing (or hoping) their paycheck will clear before the check does.)

As for the "patronising retail smarm," anybody who deserves it is almost certainly too stupid to notice it.


The best ending for this would have been if Paint Lady ran an extended ID check and full security theatre on the transaction because "I don't want your card stopped by the bank because they didn’t recognize you purchasing it. Better to be safe than sorry, right?"


The only reason I've written checks in the last 15 years was for rent on the apartments... and I had to write a 75 cent check for a toll because they didn't have toll by plate and I don't carry much in the way of cash anymore. I actually had a dollar bill, but it would only take coins.

Time to join the 20th century, grandpa. Leave your 1st century nonsense in the past. (Romans were using checks back when they were relevant...)


I don't even do checks for rent anymore. I'll get a money order if I can't pay by card or electronic funds transfer, and I rarely carry more than 5 bucks in cash. I keep that tucked in my wallet, and I've had the same bill in there for like 3 months. It's my emergency can't get home or stuck in the desert sun and need water money, LOL

Also there are 2 kinds of old people: Sweet as pie and could give Mother Theresa lessons, or Only reason they're still alive is because Satan is scared to drag their souls to hell. There is no in between

Kai Lowell

I haven't had to use checks since Sam's Club started taking my debit card.

I at least know how to do it, though.


I'd rather do checks for rent than money orders... less interaction with people. My credit union has a thing where they can mail a check for me now, too; sadly, it was only in the last couple of years that it was available at the apartment. I tell them who, when, where and how much and any account information, and boom, dealt with from the computer. I use it mainly for paying my water bill because if I use their pay online, they charge an extra 5$, which is just stupid.


I wound up with a massively overdrawn account and a returned check fee, as well as huge amounts of late fees from my apartment last time I payed by check. I paid a couple days before the first of the month, and they didn't cash it for almost 3 weeks, so I didn't quite have enough in the account to cover it. Once the check was returned, the bank charged me a returned check fee, and the apartment retroactively charged me their late payment fees. 50 bucks on the first day, 5 bucks each day after that that your payment continues to be late. I was pissed


Ouch. Yeah, I can see that'd make you want to switch...

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