Kids These Days
Either I'm getting too old or teenagers are getting too stupid. Or probably a bit of both...
Once a week or so, we'll take the kids to Goody's for a little treat. They're generally good girls, and an ice cream cone is a nice little reward. We've gone there for years since they were both little, and I went there quite a bit growing up (back when the first one opened in Sunriver and we lived out there) and well into adulthood (I even took Paul and his wife there, too, when they came to town). My parents typically go there once a week, and have since the Sunriver one opened, and continue to go to the Downtown branch when we moved to Bend. We typically go to the Eastside Goody's as it's far closer to where we live than the Downtown one and rarely as busy.
The girls were quite happy this week because they both got gift certificates for Goody's as rewards at church. So they had the day off today (Sidetrack: I miss you, Grandpa Floyd), so we decided to go cash in their certificates and get them cones. We went in there, and a blond teenager who's worked there at least a couple months was manning the place, and a couple of her friends were sitting at the counter. We got the ice creams for the kids, sat down at a table while the two kids at the counter were talking to the lady working there (she was still working, for the most part, but obviously distracted by her friends). My wife then decided she wanted some ice cream, too, so I went up to the counter to order some ice cream for her. I didn't have any cash, so I had to pay the $2 with my Visa. The lady behind the counter said "We can take run your card for anything less than $5." Knowing that requiring a minimum purchase is against any credit card merchant agreement, I told her that "Technically, you can. Your credit card merchant agreement says you have to, I've been coming here forever, have spent lots of money here, and I'm sorry but I don't have any cash." Having read those merchant agreements before, I knew that for a fact. Then she proceeded to tell me that she'd get in trouble if she ran it. Not wanting to get her in trouble (as her manager wasn't there), I just let it drop, told her I didn't want her to get in trouble, but she might want to talk to her boss and let her know that she's violating her merchant agreement by requiring a minimum purchase amount. I wasn't mad at her at all, wasn't impolite, was just trying to let her know the rules on things. And really, I usually have a few bucks for this type of things, so this wouldn't have been an issue (as I know all about the money-grubbing bank processing fees, and how they eat up small purchases).
So I let it go. Apparently her baggy-pants punk wannabe boyfriend at the counter had not. As my wife, my two little girls, and I were walking out of the store, the guy -- who was a half my age and a good six inches shorter than me, and I'm barely six-foot -- followed me out there. As we got outside, he proceeded to puff out his chest (as much as he could when he's slouched over trying to look cool) and tell me how I shouldn't have been disrespectful and that I shouldn't have talked to her like that. My reply was basically that I wasn't talking disrespectful to her and I knew it wasn't her fault, which is why I let it drop -- I knew she was just doing her job. He told me that I shouldn't have talked to her like that, and that I should've brought it up with a manager. I would have, had there been one there, but this kid was obviously looking for an argument and wanted to look like a stud in front of the girl (who was still inside and probably didn't give a rip what he was doing). I just told him to ease up and chill out and I walked way, ignoring him. I got in my car and drove off, but the goofball was obviously looking to get in a big ol' argument with me, but after the day I had, I wasn't in the mood to even remotely deal with the schmuck. I'd been patronizing the business before this kid was born, and I'm sure he was just hanging out in the store, not buying a dang thing. And I'm getting the lecture from him?
I got in my car, and flat-out asked my brutally honest wife: Was I rude to him or to her? She said I wasn't, and thought he was being an idiot, too (and she'd tell me if I was being stupid -- she frequently does).
While I'm all about giving business to small, local businesses, I'm going to be hardpressed to go back there if those idiots are there again, especially if I get grief the one time I want to use a card for a smaller purchase. Yes, I understand that card processing fees eat out the profits, but bring it up with your bank. I think they're outrageous, too, but the customer can't do anything about it, so why take it out on them? Just the same, I understand they suck and try not to run such small purchases on my card, especially to small business, but sometimes it has to be done -- and I shouldn't get grief for it, especially when I've probably spent thousands of dollars at that store in my lifetime.
Am I going to report them? No, as that's just mean, too, as this isn't some huge company like Wal-Mart. But folks who run a small business need to be aware of their merchant agreements and how they work, if only to cover their own butt from chargebacks. If you're looking to recoup the costs of those fees, you can mark up all your prices 5% and give a cash discount (but you can't mark up a price by charging a "card processing fee" or similar). I would've paid that extra 5% with no problem. You can also politely ask for a minimum purchase, but you can't enforce it.
And most of all, employers also need to make sure their teen-aged employees don't have their non-customer friends just hanging out in your workplace, scaring off perfectly good paying patrons. At least pretend that I'm a higher priority because I pay your paycheck more then your friends -- even if it's totally fake. With unemployment like it is, I'm sure there are lots of folks who would love to have your job, so at least make an attempt to keep it.