Store clerk doesn't understand cash.

I had a slightly unsettling experience today. I went in to a local hardware store to buy a bag of potting soil. The price came to $3.15 and I gave the clerk, a young kid, a $20 and got back in change, a ten, 2 fives and $1.85 in change. I gave the clerk back one of the fives, saying he had given me back too much. He looked at me quizzically, insisting that he had given me the correct change. When I persisted, he looked at the printed bill that called for $16.85 in change then started counting it out. When he counted up one five and one ten and saw the second five still sitting on the counter, he finally put the other five back into the register, although he still looked doubtful. My wife thinks that people are just familiar with using cash these days. I predict he won’t last too long as a cashier.

I have noticed that most of the convenience stores locally have change dispensers. Since those are not free, the owners must figure the cost is less than the errors the clerks would make.
Way back when I ran a theatre, I tinkered with the concession prices so everything was a multiple of a quarter. Even with registers, the results were sometimes eye opening. This was after the hiring test included a math test…

I had a similar experience to that of the OP recently at a drive-thru. The amount was something like $7.28; I gave the attendant a $20 and the 28 cents, to even the change out to a dollar amount, and he gave me back a five and 72 cents. He seemed completely lost when I tried to explain where he’d gone wrong, and he tried to correct it by taking back the coins and giving me three dollars instead. I just put it down to temporary brain lock due to having handled transactions like this for hours on end.

Is it possible he was afraid to admit a mistake?

One time I put a bag of carrots and a bottle of fruit juice on a grocery checkout belt, and the total came to around $25. When I pointed out that there had to be something wrong, the clerk wearily and condescendingly said, “Well, I’m sorry, but that’s the price”. When I suggested we see if her boss agreed, she changed her tune and found that the previous customer’s purchase had for some reason been lumped in.

Also, when giving change is involved, new/insecure clerks may be more likely to suspect a quick-change scam.

A few days ago I removed a burned out bulb from my car. I found the bulb on Amazon and was about to order a two-pack for $14. Then I realized it would be easier to drive my gf’s car to the local independent auto parts store, otherwise I’d have to reassemble my car.

At the auto parts place, a guy my age (62) found the bulb I needed. Figuring it would be $7-$10, I handed him a twenty. He handed me change and I put it in my pocket.

At home, I looked at my change, as it seemed excessive. He’d given me $19.93 change, charging me seven cents instead of seven dollars, I guess? And no tax?

In Japan it’s rude to count your change so people don’t find mistakes until later.

I ran a register for many years and still do from time to time. Between that, and training new cashiers and helping out when we get busy, I wouldn’t think anything of it unless it happens regularly. Sometimes people just have a brain fart and for one reason or another, the fact that he gave you extra change just wasn’t clicking. Also, as someone that had this the first few times on register and seen it first hand on people I’ve trained, brand new cashiers sometimes get nervous and you can actually see them get tunnel vision. Once that happens, they’re not even hearing you, much less thinking clearly.

Do you have the receipt. I bet he told the register that you gave him $30 instead of $20. That would mean the part was $10.07. I don’t know what your sales tax is, but it might make the part $9.49.

Also, some people just aren’t good at counting money. I’m not even talking about things like figuring out change in their head or getting confused if someone hands them $23 when their total is only $17.50. For example, at my store, throughout the day, the cashiers take cash from the register and put it onto a drop box. They write down how much it is, paper clip it together and toss it in. I seem to always have one cashier that will drop the incorrect amount consistently. That means that even when they’re out there by themselves with no pressure, they still can’t count out $200 in 20’s without making it $180 or $220.

What do Japanese customs say about blessings and gift horses?

Receipt? Not this place. They have a computer to search inventory but no cash register. If you think you might need to return something, they’ll write up a receipt for you.

I worked retail in my teens and on several occasions since. But I was taught to count back as I gave the change to the customer.

If the amount of the sale was 12.65 and they gave me a 20, I’d count back a dime and say 12.75, a quarter and say thirteen, two singles and say, 14-15, a five and say 20.

Don’t all the registers these days display the total sale, amount tendered, and change due?

The only automatic change dispensers I’ve ever seen are European anti-theft devices to make cashiers less of a target for robbery. Are you seeing a different kind of dispenser?

They do, but if you enter an incorrect number for how much the customer hand you, it’ll spit out an incorrect number for how much change to hand them back.
If your total is $15, you hand the cashier $20 and they accidentally enter $30, it’s going to tell them to give you $15 back (instead of $5).
It happens all the time, usually the cashier catches it and hands you the correct amount, but sometimes they miss it.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t exclusive to cashiers. Just as often the customer thinks they got the wrong amount of change back because they didn’t realize (or forgot) how much money they gave them.
And I’m not talking about scams or arguments, I don’t need anyone to explain about how they were trained to keep the money out of the till etc. It happens, it gets cleared up 5 seconds later and everyone moves on.

Ok boomer, but in your area, hard-hit by the virus, isn’t it recommended that cash not be used?

I am surprised at how many medical clerks don’t know how to deal with money. Back when I had no insurance, many would freak out when I offered them my credit card. I shudder to think what they would have done if I had wanted to pay with cash.

Now that I have insurance, some of them don’t want to deal with the co-pay. On a couple of occasions, I have been told, “We’ll just send you a bill for whatever the insurance doesn’t cover.”

What does that have to do with anything. What he explained happens all the time, pandemic or not.

But that’s a different type of ‘don’t know how’. The OP is saying that the cashier was confused about something with the current transaction. At your doctor’s office, they don’t collect from every patient so when you want to pay them right then and there it throws them. They have to run your insurance, figure out how much you owe, figure out how to collect it so it goes against your account, if you paid in cash, they have to decide where to put the actual money.

They’ve gotten better, but 10 or 15 years ago when I’d go to Grainger, who primarily send bills to their customers, I’d practically have to beg to get them to take my payment right then and even then if I had cash they almost didn’t know what to do.

one time at Wendys the cash registers were 5 cents short at the end of the day. Someone remembered he dropped a nickel at the drive in window. Which meant the money exactly matched the registers total. That never happened again in my 4 months there.

And if you’d been shopping at Whole Foods, the clerk would probably have been right.

Most gas stations (here) have a simple change dispenser hooked to the till. After ringing up the sale, and the amount of cash given, the change portion is dispensed automatically. The clerk is only responsible for counting back the bills.

Those are pretty common around here at supermarkets/grocery stores; have been for quite a long time.

– I don’t know whether “change” often means “coins” in other countries. In at least much of the USA, it can mean either the entire amount due back (as in ‘here’s your change’, meaning both bills and coins) or it can mean coins, whether due back from a larger amount paid or not (as in "I’ve got too much change to easily carry in my pocket’.)

Most cashiers I’ve experienced in Japan show you the change or count it out for you as they give it to you. Especially the notes. I also count it and check it as they are giving it to me. I’ve caught a few mistakes which were rectified immediately at the register. I don’t think it is rude to check the amount as you are putting it away into your wallet.