Yesterday, I left work 10 minutes early so I could stop by Staples to pick up some batteries.  While there, I managed to find a new pair of ear buds (I must one day rant about how horrible earbuds are and/or how obviously misshapen my ear canals must be since they all just fall out…but I digress…).  I took my battery/earbud purchase to the front and waited in line as the three or four people in front of me paid for their pencil and paper purchases.

An older woman who was all of 4-foot-nothing was in line right in front of me.  As she approached the counter, I pulled out my wallet and readied my VISA card and license (I have “Please check ID” in the signature area of my VISA instead of my actual John Hancock).  Suddenly the cashier, an Asian woman in her 30s, shoves her hand towards me.  The little old woman was just starting to sign her credit card slip and the cashier shoved her arm between the old woman and the wall to grab my purchases.  I was a little taken aback by her total rudeness so I said, “No, that’s alright. I’ll wait until she’s finished.”  With a huff, the cashier grabbed the signed credit card slip from the old woman and sent her on her way – only then did I approach the counter.

I placed my earbuds and batteries on the counter and she rang them in.  It came to like $50.  I handed her both my VISA and my license.  She seemed to be going to grab both, but then stopped and looked quizzically at the license.

“What’s this?” she asked, ” I don’t need this.”

“Uh…you don’t check signatures on credit cards?” I replied.

“Huh?  Why would we.”  It was a statement, not a question.  “We haven’t been advised to.

My blood was hitting a nice simmer at this point.

“So…you’re telling me that it’s Staples policy to not check signatures on credit cards.”

Nearing a full boil.

“No – we don’t do that.”

Rolling boil.

Then I uttered the words that so often caused me total embarrassment as a young kid accompanying his mother on a clipped-coupon assisted shopping trip…

“I. want. to. speak. to. the. manager.”

She looked totally annoyed with my presence at this point.  I handed her my signed credit card slip and she sighed, visibly.

“He’s in the back – do you want me to call him?”

At this point my blood was boiling over, hitting the element and sizzling, pink foam covering the stove top and sloshing down to the floor in gurgly splats.

“No – don’t bother.”  I had resigned myself to the fact that the manager would likely reaffirm her assertion about her inadequate training.  Fortuitously, he came out from behind a door that second.

“That’s him…” She half-assedly pointed in his general direction and continued on with the next customer, who looked as appalled as I was.

The manager walked up to me and I said, “Is it this store’s policy to not check signatures on credit cards?”

“Uh, no…” he mumbled, “We always get them to-” Instead of a period, he finished the sentence with a gesture of flipping the card over with his hand.

“Well, you might want to inform this cashier of that since she stated the complete opposite to me not 10 seconds ago.”

He looked at the cashier, then looked at me and shrugged.

I stormed out of the store, vowing to phone VISA, write store management and most importantly, never return there again.  Then as I continued steaming down the street, I realized that there was very little any of that would do.  If the cashier working there is a completely buffoon, there wasn’t much that the store’s management, or VISA for that matter, could do about it.

I realized that the only way to truly protect my VISA from being misused was to actually keep it under lock and key at all times.

I write this as a warning to those of you who might not already know – don’t trust that a store clerk will check the signature on your credit card, and most importantly, don’t ever lose them.

Ah – and don’t shop at Staples.  Or if you do, use your credit card and then claim you never made the purchase.  They’re a ripe breeding ground for credit card fraud and if you got caught, it might at least affect some change in policy (or lack of) there.

Rant over.


~ by seangstm on December 2, 2009.

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