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Thursday, June 06, 2013

My Two Cents on Cash Register Training

Before I go ahead with this edition of the Thursday Diary for this week, I thought I would take the time to offer up a little bit of an explanation about Canadian currency, as well as some recent changes to the way that people spend money here.

I don't know how many of you outside of Canada are aware of what is happening, but as of 2012, the penny is slowly, but surely being taken out of circulation. The Government of Canada decided to get rid of the penny because the cost to manufacture a penny is actually worth more than the value of the penny itself.

I costs more than one cent to actually make one cent. Go figure.

Now, as of June 2013, there are still pennies floating around the country. And, most retailers are still instructed to accept pennies if they are given to them by a customer who is paying in cash. Retailers, however, are not to give pennies back to people in their change, as the government is dead set on pulling them entirely out of circulation...

...thereby making the nickel the new “unwanted coin”.

So, what does this mean for the people who are paying for goods and services? Well, very little really changed. If people are paying via debit card or credit card, things will work exactly the same. But, if you're paying by cash, well...let's just say that in Canada, you already are aware of the changes (or you SHOULD be anyway).  After all, the chart is posted at almost every single retailer in town (including the one I work at).

For those of you outside of the country, here's the conversion chart.

And, here's an explanation both ways.

Okay, so say that you're buying a carton of chocolate milk that is on sale for, oh, let's say a dollar. And, let's say that you're living in the province of Ontario, where the harmonized sales tax is a whopping 13%. With the tax, that will bring the total to $1.13. Because the price ends in a three, the price ACTUALLY becomes $1.15. If you pay the amount of $1.15, expecting to get two pennies back in change...well, that will no longer happen.

On the flipside, if one were to purchase something, and the total came to $12.62, then it would actually be worth $12.60 (rounding down), and if one were to give the cashier $12.65, you would actually make a three cent profit!

All in all, everything will balance out quite nicely, and for the most part, I am happy with the decision to axe the penny (although I do admit that I want to find a penny from 1981 to save as a memento).

The reason why I wanted to start this blog off with this explanation is because it will make my diary entry make much more sense. And, to keep with the spirit of the blog entry, I will be typing today's blog entry in the same colour as a penny...copper.

June 6, 2013

I can't believe that it's been six weeks since I moved over to the Garden Centre area at work. And, you know, if there's anything that I have learned over the last seventy-two days, it's that there's really no job out there that I can't do if I really put my mind to it.

Oh, sure, the tasks that I have to do on a day-to-day basis are a lot of work. Shoving fifty bags of topsoil into a truck is hard work...especially after the driver announces that they also want to squeeze in an additional dozen bags of black cedar mulch on top of that.

Watering every plant in the entire department, and knowing exactly just how much water and sun each plant is supposed to get...that is also another hard part of my job. Prior to working the Garden Centre, I was notorious for murdering everything that had green leaves on it. But, to tell you the absolute truth, I'm learning quite a lot about gardening each day I spend out in that area. If ever I end up ever having a backyard of my own, I suppose that I have learned enough to possibly plant and garden and keep it going for months.

Or at the very least, a lot longer than, say, twenty-four hours.

I've even become a bit of an expert in cramming an entire patio set into almost every make of vehicle. Sure, in some cases, we might have to take some of the chairs out of the box, but I did find a way!

And, I'm already noticing that my arm muscles are getting stronger every day!

But there was one aspect about the Garden Centre that I was absolutely dreading. It was one duty that was expected of almost every single staff member that was placed there, and it was one part of the job that I was absolutely DREADING.

I was dreading it so much that for eight years, I made every possible effort to avoid it at all costs. I purposely steered myself towards departments that were as far away from it as I could get.

For eight years, I had successfully managed to avoid getting trained on a cash register. And, here I was, entering a department in which it would have been an asset to learn it.

The very thought of having to go behind a register placed so many butterflies in my stomach that I was impressed that I wasn't belching out caterpillars and cocoons!

And yet, as of now, that's exactly what I am doing. And, to be honest, it still makes me feel incredibly nervous.

I knew that heading into this new challenge in my life, I wasn't going to be completely perfect. In fact, I was heading into the world of cash training with a...shall we say...less than optimistic attitude about it.

I thought that I would be the one to accidentally scan the same item three times before I noticed that I made a mistake. I thought that I would be the one to break a cash register to the point where it would cost thousands of dollars to be replaced. I even had the really bizarre thought that I would accidentally get a packet of Kool-Aid wedged in between the conveyor belt of a register and while I was prying the Kool-Aid out of the register, I would accidentally hit a button and end up severing two of my fingers, spraying blood all over the customer and the poor CSM who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(And, don't make fun. Those are some of the bizarre thoughts that occasionally make their way through my brain circuits!)

So, imagine my surprise when none of those things happened!

Oh, sure, I was incredibly nervous about getting behind a register. It was a brand new experience. My first transaction, I was shaking like a leaf! But, it went by smoothly. As did the next, and the next one after that.

I will also be the first one to admit that most customers seemed to be very understanding over the fact that I was not used to working a register. I especially want to thank the family who waited very patiently for about ten minutes while I was trying to get the debit card machine working again! It certainly made me feel a lot less nervous when you feel like you aren't being judged so harshly!

Truth be told, I've only handled a few transactions, but the ones I have handled, most of them went through without any hassle. I even managed to sell a couple of balloon decals for the Children's Miracle Network fundraiser, which I found to be a big deal...

...probably even more of a big deal than it really WAS, mind you.

Though, I will say that as a new trainee on cash, I'm still trying to get the hang of certain things. The hardest part of my job on cash is trying to give back the proper change. I know that the total change you are to give back is displayed on the screen, but you really also have to pay attention so that you accidentally don't give back one too many dimes or quarters. I'm not as fast at counting change as some of my co-workers are, but that's only because I am trying to make sure that I don't goof up the counting. After all, if our tills are unbalanced at the end of the day, we could get in serious trouble for it.

So, that's why when a customer pays for an item worth $1.13 with $1.15 in cash, and due to new government rules that correspond with the banishment of the Canadian penny, are not given back any change as a result of the rounding (which might I add is already programmed into the system which I cannot override even if I wanted to), I cannot simply give them two pennies just to make them happy. And, I don't care if the customer complains to every single person under the sun for getting shortchanged. There are rules to follow when it comes to cash, and I have no choice but to obey them. It's going to be the case at essentially every retailer in Canada, so we all have to learn to deal with it. And, in the grand scheme of things, are two cents REALLY going to make a difference in this economy? I don't even know anything that even costs two cents in this world anymore.

(Sigh...I guess we are all entitled to ONE rant every now and then.)

Though, I will say that when another customer received a nickel back in change instead of four pennies, it was quite amusing to see her cheer and holler the same way a person might react to seeing the Publisher's Clearing House staff at their front door surprising them with the news that they have just won a million dollars!

I guess what I am trying to say is this. Working the registers is not as bad as I thought it would be, but like every job, it has its pros and cons. And, one thing that I have noticed is just how alert one has to be at all times.

It's not just your scanning accuracy that I am talking about (though it is very important). I'm talking about having to deal with various customer complaints and not being able to run away from it. I'm talking about having to multitask in certain cases, and keeping everything balanced. I'm talking about trying to come up with a quick fix to a problem yourself, or knowing the right person to call to bail you out of a sticky situation. I'm talking about having to cope with people who are “extreme couponers”, or people who force you to call several different departments for price checks while you're trying to ring through items.

I mean, going into the Garden Centre, I knew a bit about what I believed the main problems with being on cash were, but that was only scratching the surface. Anyone who has ever worked a register in a retail store automatically gets my absolute seal of approval. I had no idea just how much work cashiers really have on any given day. I certainly won't look at them the same way again having been exposed to the other side, so to speak. They will forever have my complete and total respect.

And, you know something? While I may have been apprehensive about working the cash register before, now I'm starting to realize that every now and then, it's not so bad. Just don't ask me to process a credit card application, because I KNOW I'm gonna bungle that up!  But, that's okay!  After all...weren't we all the new guy on the job once?

And, that's my TWO CENTS on that matter.

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