Sunday, October 4, 2015

Small change got rained on*

One thing I've noticed recently is that I'm more likely to get the wrong amount of change. Not intentional short changing, mind you. It could be too much or too little, but coins especially are likely to get screwed up.

This is weird, since modern cash registers are specialized computers that can easily do the math for you, but really old registers with springs and bells could do the same. But cashiers so often don't use these tools. Regardless of how much money you give them, they enter the exact price into the register and then when they see that's not what they're getting, try to do the subtraction in their heads. Well, I can do simple math pretty quickly in my head, but not everyone can.

I used to think they were just being dense, but now I see where it comes from. In a lot of stores and eateries, I notice that nobody uses cash for anything. A coffee, a pack of batteries or gum, everything gets put on credit. It's going to get worse once more people adopt wallet apps on their phones. And of course people who charge do pay the exact amount.

Charging everything throughout your day can certainly lead you into trouble/ Hope all these people know what they're doing.


susan said...

Innumeracy is to math what illiteracy is to reading. While nobody likes to admit being illiterate a surprising number of people don't particularly care about being innumerate - after all, that's what calculators are for. Unfortunately, one has to have a good basic understanding of the concepts in order to make use of them too. If you can't count change then how could you possibly ever figure out what a 20% off sale means or how much a mortgage is going to cost over the life of a loan - never mind balance a bank account statement.

I agree with your hope people who use cards know what they're doing.

I did hear one good story about someone's experience at a store:

Purchase of $25.72 - submitted 2 $20’s. Change offered of $24.28.
“No, that’s not right. it should be $14.28 change.”
“Not what the register says.”
“Could we speak to a supervisor?”
Supervisor: “Well, we have to go by what the register says.”

Ben said...

I'd guess that functionally a lot of people are illiterate, but you're right that no one advertises the fact. Adding and subtracting - to say nothing of multiplying and dividing - falls in the realm of things that we, or at least a lot of us, expect to be done for us by technology and maybe distant professionals. Well, maybe, but it's better to at least be able to check, isn't it?

That's a funny story, and a pretty strange one. It's rather obvious the cashier fat-fingered the keys and credited the sale ten dollars more than they should have. Did no one at the store think this was a possible mistake?