Cashiers – Don’t Blame them They Don’t Know any Better

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Blaming Cashiers?

Cashiers - Don't Blame Them

I hear people complaining all the time about the disposition of their cashiers. I can tell you, if you think they have a personal vendetta against you because you are using coupons, you are kidding yourself. In terms of performing their normal duties, cashiers only know what they have been trained. In most cases, that is absolutely nothing.

Cashiers in Training

I don’t mean that cashiers don’t know anything or that they are less intelligent than the people that are lining up to hand them their coupons and money. I simply mean that they have not had the opportunity to be properly trained. The truth is that stores are really fighting to hire model employees and when they get the right person, it’s survival of the fittest. If your cashier has been able to weather the storm of natural selection and keep their job longer than six months, it’s because they show up to work on time, they don’t buck the system and their cash drawer balances. Taking coupons and treating customers nice is a secondary component of their job function. Gone are the days of “The customer is always right.” Today, stores are interested in two things: getting you in and getting you out.

Now, I do understand that people will get frustrated when the cashier gives them a hard time, but let me break down the life cycle of the average cashier for you.

  • The cashier is interviewed and hired
  • The cashier comes to work the first day
  • The cashier watches 4-5 video tapes about how to work a cash register
  • The cashier spends an hour shadowing a model employee
  • The cashier is let loose on their own register at the end of their first shift

Do you see anything about the cashier being trained about the store’s coupon policy? The answer is NO. Cashiers are taught how to scan, how to take cash, how to take a check, how to run a card and how to scan a coupon. They don’t even get all of this training given to them sometimes! After that, they are on their own. Just the other day, I went to cash a check and I knew more about how to do it than the cashier because I had read an article called 7 Eleven check cashing explained. The young cashier was very apologetic but I knew it wasn’t his fault. It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Well, before you pass judgement, let’s look at it from the store’s perspective.

Excelling at Customer Service

Cashiers - Don't Blame Them Excellence BadgeThe store manager wants to provide “excellent customer service.” What does that mean? To a manager, it means a clean store with clean bathrooms, well stocked shelves and a quick, efficient checkout process. Nowhere in there does it say “a cashier that is well informed on the company coupon policy.” The truth is that stores are fighting every day to gain more payroll hours to run their location. If you want a store to be well stocked, clean and efficient, there are certain “liberties” they are going to take with the training program.

One of the things that we teach is for the Wiz Kids to print out a copy of their store’s coupon policy. Not only do I want you to print it out, I want you to read it! If you print it out and read it more than once, you will have done more to train yourself on the couponing policy of your store than the average managers or cashiers. Honestly folks, it’s not their fault. They have numbers to hit. They have certain profitability margins that will allow them to keep their job for another period. That said, don’t let it be an excuse. You do the legwork. You print out the coupon policy and read it. Take it with you to the store and pull it out when you need to!

Store Management is Your Friend

As I have stated on more than one occasion, you need to view the management of your store as an asset. If you have an adversarial relationship with your store’s management, you need to find another store. If you have printed your coupon policy, read it and learned it to the best of your ability, use that as a focal point in your discussion. However, you need to make sure your discussion is with a customer service person or a manager. Your cashier is not a decision maker. Spend the time talking with the people that drive change in your store. You will be amazed at the results. In fact, we can quite possibly change the couponer’s shopping experience one Wiz Kid at a time. Just remember: that cashier that is giving you a hard time is more than likely begrudgingly working their second job. They aren’t interested in a hard time. Maintain a positive attitude and lead by example. Just because you have the ability to be more educated on a company coupon policy doesn’t mean you need to rub it in their face. Maintain your composure and be classy. If you do, you will always win in the long run.


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  1. I would just like to mention. I recently worked in a grocery store in Indiana and the cashiers were expected to know the coupon policy. We still had questions on certain circumstances, but more times than not we knew our policy, but the customer would not want to see the policy to verify that we, the cashier, were in fact correct. They would just storm out of the store, cussing and swearing because we adhered to our policy. There are stores that do not strive to share that information with their cashiers, but please respect the ones that know what they are talking about.

    • The Wizard says

      Amy, perhaps a little bit of my background will help before you make the assumption that I don’t respect cashiers. I ran retail grocery stores and SuperTargets for 10 years. While the store you worked with was more than likely exemplary, it isn’t the norm. I have the utmost respect for the front line employees in any industry. Please don’t take my article out of context. You can analyze it and make it mean whatever you wish. However, it was meant to be an aid for cashiers because the truth is that in any high volume store, my scenario is the most realistic.

      • As a cashier and manager of a grocery store for 6 years, David’s view is CORRECT. I was NEVER taught what a Catalina was even as a manager at the time. To me they were just coupons that popped out of the register and I cannot even imagine how many that we may have forgotten to give a customer and just threw away. I am sure cashiers are trained at least 10 minutes on couponing at this day in time, but still not like they should. I agree….don’t get mad at the cashier for being misinformed. I use Walgreen’s for example: the cashier knows the policy regarding not getting overage for a coupon, however, she fails to read the rest of the policy and price down the coupon. It never fails that the cashiers are quoting the policy and then I have to pull mine out and finish the training session. It always works out, but I don’t fault them for it. Heck, even the Bible is misinterpreted and many go to church every Sunday to learn about it.

  2. I don’t know about now, but it used to be that a cashier’s efficiency was measured, in part, by the time spent on each order (I don’t remember now whether it was figured against the number of items or order total). You still see them logging in and out frequently…I wonder if time spent scanning and analyzing coupons is calculated into their “efficiency”? Also, I suspect most cashiers have heard horror stories of co-workers who were fired or taken to the woodshed over coupon misuse. Maybe more jaded cashiers have “warned” them about couponers. And you know those people behind you in line who roll their eyes and mumble complaints? Who knows how much whining the cashiers have to hear once you’re gone! I always TRY to stand in the other gal’s shoes and make it as painless as possible- but I’m still using my coupons 🙂 I think your best advice here is to take it up with CS or the manager if there’s an issue; don’t try to pressure the cashier into doing something she is uncomfortable with- let someone else (who gets paid to do it) make the decisions!

  3. Stacey Micklevitz says

    Very well written, David. We will get more bees with honey than we will with vinegar. The only way we will change the perception of the greedy couponer is to act with class and dignity. Thank you for writing such an article!

  4. I’ve had more friendly cashiers than bitter ones, and the ones I did come in contact with, Did lie and try to say policy had changed, and I had to get out the policy, and talk to the CSM. Another horror story, I was using similac coupons, and the cashier had misplaced the cans, and accused me of taking them, Lets just say the store manager came over, found them after I made a big deal for them to cancel my whole order, and give me back every single coupon. But the store manager made it better, gave me my order completely free, and a 10.00 gift card. I’m not out to “abuse” coupons, but I do like buying things on the cheap. And its not untruthful that sometimes cashiers are bitter they aren’t getting the deals. But like I said, Ive came across more friendly, than the ones that hate me from the start because I use coupons. But theres the couponer that cheats them too. So, its never ending lol. Respect EACHOTHER.

  5. I’m not so sure I agree with you. I understand the lack of training and that this could be a person’s second job. However, that doesn’t not mean they have to have a bad attitude about anything. My Mom always said it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I totally agree with that. We all know people who can tell you where to go and you’ll ask for directions. If there’s an issue, they can nicely say, “Sorry, I can’t take this one,” as opposed to being snippy.

    I do agree that the cashiers are not the decision makers. But if they can’t treat customers with kindness and respect while things are sorted out, they can’t expect to get that back. I usually try to be super nice back to them to make them feel bad for being nasty, but not everyone is going to do that. And this really has nothing to do with policies or coupons – it has to do with how people are inside.

    Bottom line – if everyone treats each other the way they want to be treated, things will be great on all side 🙂

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