Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Remember Folks... It's Not Your Clerk's Fault...

So apparently last night the computer system running the gas pumps, credit card and check verification systems took a big ol' dump all over itself, resulting in there being several hours of no gas, no credit cards, no checks, cash only. (The pumps would work, but since the credit card information couldn't be transmitted you couldn't pay at the pump, and since the pumps weren't sending anything to the registers you couldn't pay inside...)

Oh yeah, and no loyalty cards either.

See, the store I now work for is part of the group that owns a couple of large grocery store chains as well. In trying to tie in all of their stuff, apparently, they've instituted a few perks for customers using their loyalty cards, like a gas discount and a point system... for every dollar of applicable merch in the store you get a point, and if you get such and such points in a month you get a higher gas discount.

Now, everyone loves a gas discount, and since the cards are free and easy to use, most people in the area have them and use them, if they fill up at our store.

Problem is, when the system crapped out, and got reset, somehow the gas pumps decided that there was no such thing as a valid loyalty card anymore. The cards have a magnetic strip and a barcode, and the newer ones are linked to your phone number, if you want, so that if you forget your card you can (supposedly) still get all your benefits. I haven't been able to get that to work yet but no one seems really surprised when it doesn't.

It was probably about five thirty this morning when I got my first grumpy customer saying that the cards wouldn't work. The pump said invalid loyalty, please enter phone number. After that, it was all downhill. People would come inside before pumping their gas and demand that I go out and show them how to get their cards to work at the pump, in spite of the line of customers stacked half way to the back of the store. As I tried to explain that I could apply their discount inside before they paid only if they prepaid, or they could fill up, then come inside and pay and I could apply their discount then, I was trying to check out other people attempting to get drinks or breakfast or snacks on their way to work, but this didn't faze the irate people, they by god wanted their three cents a gallon off.

And when they would pay at the pump with a credit card, and come in and demand their discount, and I figured it and handed them a handful of change, they got even more snippy, even though I had clearly told them that I could only apply the discount to a credit card purchase if they paid inside.

The system allows us to pay out the loyalty card discount after the fact, but not to refund that amount to a credit card. When you're talking thirty some cents as the largest pay out for the card I did, it's understandable that they're just not set up for that.

But I swear, by the time I got off work at one, I was ready to absolutely beat people. Not because they wanted the discount, not because they were grumpy that it wasn't working right, but because they refused to understand that there wasn't a damn thing I could do about the pumps.

"Go hang up the nozzle, and hit cancel until you get back to the first screen you usually see. Don't put your cards in the pump, just hit pay inside and select your fuel grade, pump your gas, and then when you come inside and pay, I'll apply your discount."

Simple, right? Apparently not. My ass got chewed so hard that "I'm-sorry-but-our-system-fried-last-night-and-its-not-quite-right-yet-but-we're-working-on-it-and-I-can-get-you-your-discount-in-here-if-you'll-just-hand-me-your-card-thank-you" was just about on automatic as a greeting as soon as a pissy looking customer stepped in the door. And even getting the discount, whether in change because they didn't listen or on their gas because they decided to pre pay or actually follow instructions, didn't resolve their grumps, in a lot of cases.

Instead, I, as the newest employee (and everyone who is a regular and used to getting their fuel discount knows I'm the newest) got ass chewing after ass chewing about how we should fix that because it's just such an inconvenience for them.

Well, here's a news flash. We had absolutely no freaking control over what was happening. The only thing we could do was log a helpdesk thingy, which the manager did as soon as she finished transmitting her paperwork at about eight. At noon they contacted us back wanting to know what the pumps were actually displaying, so she went out and tried to make her card work and then called them back and told them. When I left at one, it still wasn't resolved, and only time will tell if it will be at five in the morning when I open.

The moral of the story is, I had a miserable day because customers just didn't seem to realize that I had no control over the issues they were having.

When the problem is computer related, I.E. the credit card reader on the pump or such... don't get cranky at the clerk. They have no secret knowledge, as I can now tell you with certainty. There's no mystical handshake that magically fixes glitches in that kind of stuff. The thing that controls all that stuff is pretty much a magic elf box to us. We have no way of altering, fixing, corrupting, or otherwise effecting the thing.

So be nice, be patient, and listen. I promise it'll make things seem so much better if you just pull your panties out of that knot and take a breath.

I feel so much better now....