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Training the Trainors: a true story

Training the trainors: proper assessment of situations to know how to manage correctly
Training the trainors: proper assessment of situations to know how to manage correctly
Adin Martin Villanueva

During the yuletide months that just passed, it was inevitable that we would be encountering awkward situations from some stores that hired seasonal staff who did not have enough, if not proper training at all. Well allow me to share mine that would truly make you question what the branch manager was thinking.

The supervisor counting the cash register looking for a missing 40cents
Adin Martin Villanueva

I purchased 2 bottles of the 3 liter water from a popular pharmacy that was along the road off of 880 in Fremont. I lined up the queue and finally got my turn to pay. I was told that my total purchase was $4.60 or so and I handed the cashier a $20 bill. She took the money and told me she would need to call the manager for some change. When the manager asked her what she needed, she handed 2 - $20 bills and said she needed some $5 dollar bills. The manager then went to his office. So I looked in my purse to search for a $5.00 bill and found one. I told the cashier, "Here, I have a $5.00 bill so just give me back my $20, so I need not wait for your manager. She gave me back my $20 and took my $5.... then she handed $15.40.

I smiled and said, "You will have a 'short' by the end of the day, dear because all I need is my change for the $5.00 bill ($0.40 cents). She looked at me and said, "But you gave me $20". I said "Yes and I took it back and gave you a five..." She seem to have gone to 'winter wonderland' and did not pay attention and insisted on giving me $15.40. At this point, if I were wearing my 'devious horns', I would take the money and get that lady cashier in trouble by the end of her shift that day, but I maintained my stand in being fair.

Anyway, I told her, "just give me my 40 cents, darling!"...but she just stared at me thinking I was confusing her, and her manager finally came back with her $40 worth of $5 bills and guess what - she told the manager: "She is confusing me..." (as if I was maliciously doing that to get more money or something) ... so the manager called the supervisor and said "Cash register count please!!!!" and signaled the supervisor to count the cash register money "to see" if I was doing something to his clerk... OMG!!!! Here I was, being 'nice' for the clerk to avoid a 'short' and instead was seemingly accused of some malicious act. While the manager was still in front of me (who did not even ask for my side of the story), I started narrating that I simply want my 40 cents, but instead, he said "the supervisor will make sure that the cashier's money is correct" and turned his back. (Talk about customer service!)

The supervisor started counting the money starting with the pennies!!!... then the absent minded cashier transferred to another cash register and called all the other people in line to check their merchandise out. I could not believe that these three pharmacy staff would actually let me wait until the supervisor finished counting the money in the register before I can get my forty cents. I analyzed what should have been done instead:

1. The store branch manager should have asked me at least what my side of the story was; and with the surveillance camera, what customer would risk "cheating" a cashier when they can post my 'face' on a wall, if I was indeed a cheat, you know?

2. The manager should have handled the situation himself assessing the amounts involved (40 cents!!! ... not $100...) and if there was a short in the register (which obviously there wouldn't be, because all I was asking for was my 40 cents!), then the cashier should be responsible because she was in "LALA LAND" and her mind - not in her job.

Believe it or not, in as much as I was in a hurry to get to where I needed to be - at work - I had to wait as the supervisor counting the coins was still in the 'quarters'... I said, "You know this is an internal issue you should settle within your management, because all I need is my 40 cents change. I can leave right now and you can have that 40 cents, but I dare not leave because I want to hear an apology from your manager and from you - for clearly not knowing how to handle situations like this". I took out my Examiner.com business card and put it on top of the table and another business card for my other business. "If you find everything in order after you count the money, I'll make sure you read about your questionable and failed customer service here - on line - and your corporate office will definitely know about this too". I continued to say "you know the performance of your cashier and you would know if she is reliable or not. I am late for work, you have treated me unfairly, with implications of cheating, your manager does not even know what happened, handled the situation poorly, your cashier not paying attention and does not know her job, and you (the supervisor) you are dragged into this scenario". I took note of his name through his badge, I asked for the manager's name went to the cashier to scribble her name and I took pictures.

I guess the supervisor saw my biz card and he finally realized that the 40 cents is not worth jeopardizing his own "professional" reputation; and from that, the supervisor got 40 cents and handed me the coins and said, "I sincerely apologize, miss - the cashier is new in her job... I am so sorry for keeping you, I am sure there is no money missing here as I have counted the dollar bills too...I'll handle this and explain to my manager".

"Good decision, but you can keep the 40 cents as your 'reward' for being smarter than your manager; I only need my integrity back". I ended by saying "tell your manager that he needs to attend the level one training in customer service". I will be back to give you the URL of my article and a copy of my letter to your corporate office. Have a happy holiday."