Monday, April 4, 2011

literacy and reasoning skills

If you feel that your faith in humanity has reached unjustifiable heights and you need a way to let a little hot air out of your balloon, I have a simple suggestion. Go to target and engage the checkout girl in a discussion about coupon terms and conditions. Works wonders!
Me, upon approaching the checkout counter: "Hi, I have this coupon and I just wanted to make sure that I can use it to buy four of the item. It doesn't say 'limit 1 per customer' so I assume that is the case."

Checkout girl: Yeah that's fine. [She scans the items and the coupon]

Me: It looks like it only applied the discount to one item.

Checkout girl: Yeah that's because you can only use the coupon once.

Me: It doesn't say that though.

Checkout girl: "Yeah, see it says 'limit one coupon and one manufacturer's coupon per item".

Me: Yeah, but that means you can't use multiple discounts on the same item, not that you can't use the same coupon for multiple items.

Checkout girl, utterly baffled: Let me call the manager...

[Repeat exact same conversation with the manager]

Manager: I'm sorry, it says one coupon per item and I can't use it for all four, the computer won't let me.

Me: But one coupon per item isn't the same thing as one item per coupon.

[Repeat last two statements four or five more times.]

Manager, exasperated: Ok let's pull up your purchases again and try scanning the coupon three more times.

Me: See, it works! Thanks for your help and sorry to be a pain about it, it just doesn't say 'limit 1' anywhere on the coupon.

Manager [puzzled, and giving me a well-you-got-lucky-there's-a-computer-glitch-but-I'll-let-it-slide-to-get-rid-of-you look]: Glad we could work it out.
I really have no idea how you can be hired at Target before understanding the difference between the universal "limit one per customer" and "not valid with any other offers" terminologies on coupons...

Of course, my smugness about my basic literacy and reasoning skills was instantly diminished when I got to the parking lot and realized I'd gone grocery shopping before putting the saddle bags back on my motorcycle after changing the spark plugs and rear blinker. That was a precarious fun ride home...


Nathan said...

Until you've worked at Target and seen all the people who try to use fake coupons and phony deals you wouldn't understand that she was just trying to do her job. There are a lot of dishonest people in the world.

Vera said...

Yeah, I completely understand that kind of suspicion. That's certainly my default outlook in any business transaction as well. But, 1) the usability of the coupon is, as they kept pointing out to me, built into the computer. If you don't believe my interpretation, there's no need to question my intentions, just try it. 2) Nonetheless I understand the cashier playing it safe, but the manager has less reason to fear her job and much less excuse not to know the truth of the matter. 3) This was not an ambiguous situation in which I could be trying to pull a fast one. Anyone who looks at coupons on a regular basis has seen this very standard terminology on every single one: "Limit 1 per customer" AND/OR "not valid with other offers". Those are /clearly/ two distinct things if you've /ever/ used coupons before. 4) I would understand if the response was "I understand what you're saying but this text is meant to restrict both the items-per-coupon and the coupons-per-item" but not the completely confused "yes that is what it says, see look, one coupon per item" ("but it doesn't say one item per coupon") "yes it does right here, one coupon per item!") 5) I asked first! How can I seem suspicious when I went out of my way to clarify what I was allowed to buy with it before checking out at all?

Anyway, I don't mean to rag on Target employees in general. I know that's a very stressful and thankless job in which you have to deal with a lot of dishonest assholes all day long. I am just surprised that the logical distinction between "items per coupon" and "coupons per item" was utterly impossible to communicate to the cashier or even the manager who presumably has to deal with things like this daily. and I really wasn't trying to be difficult, which was why I asked first so i could put back 3 if it was going to be a big deal, so I was pissed off for being treated like a dishonest difficult person, so as I always do, I got on blogger to vent =)

Vera said...

heh well that was a longer comment than I intended... wordiness is a vice of mine.

masonium said...

Hmmm.... I would've been amused to see you trying to ride with your groceries. I don't think I ever go anywhere on my motorcycle without my backpack at least, just in case.

Vera said...

yeah, I think it would've been impossible on your ninja. I had one bag on my lap and one hanging from the throttle... although it probably would've worked hanging by the clutch too, so who knows. i dont think it's worth experimentation to find out =)