Monday, January 13, 2014

It's Made a Liar Out of Me

2014 started off frigid and full of hate. Temperatures which hovered around thirty degrees below zero Fahrenheit proved absolutely remarkable for business, and the Dominion saw a fine surge of custom despite the fact that the bulk of releases were crap that only saw limited theatrical release which nobody in the Saladolsa area had ever heard of. The year seemed destined for brightness and mirth.
Then one of Fernando's regular customers came in to rent one evening and all the good omens were flipped topsy-turvy thanks to Fernando's wretched penmanship and said customer's notions of entitlement.
This person had been coming to the store for years and years, since well before Fernando took over as the Dominion's steward. She was not a perfect customer (few are), but she had never stolen anything nor broken anything and any late fees which she racked up would, eventually, be paid off in slow one- and two-dollar trickles. She came in on this occasion to rent some movies and she also decided to purchase one of Fernando's extra copies of World War Z. She selected, in addition to the purchase, three new releases and two older titles.
Fernando writes up the slip like he had for this woman countless times before, only this time she opts to pay with a check. That's fine; Fernando has no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary with regard to her bank account's credit. She fills out the check while Fernando mills about the shelves retrieving her stack of movies. The total had come to sixteen dollars: eight for the purchase, and eight for two of the new releases. It was a rent-one-get-one-free day, so the other three movies were rendered gratis beneath that aegis.
She writes the check out for $15, doubtless because Fernando's penmanship is a blight to the world about on par with endometriosis, and Fernando remarks on this when he returns to the counter. "You're a dollar short, but it's no big deal. Check's already written," he says.
"What do you mean, a dollar short?" she asks.
"It's supposed to have come to sixteen dollars. But, like I said, it's no big deal."
"Wait, why sixteen?"
Fernando blinks. "The purchase is eight, and then the two new releases."
"Wait, I thought I get one of those free."
"You did."
"Then why is it sixteen? Shouldn't it be fourteen?"
It does not even dawn on Fernando to ask why she would make the check out for fifteen dollars in that case. Instead he is at a loss for words. ""
"Because you have the purchase, and then two new releases. They come to sixteen."
She half-closes her eyes for a moment. "I just did the math, and it comes out to fourteen. You're charging me for the one new release when you shouldn't."
Fernando is confused. "I'm sorry, what?"
"Shouldn't I get two of the new releases free and then pay for one of the old ones?"
Fernando tries to put things as politely as he can. " The rentals have always been done in tiers like this."
"Tiers?" she asks. "I don't under...." She trails off in confusion while scratching her cheek.
"It goes by the number on the tag, descending, for which ones are free."
"Wait, so I'm paying for the new ones before the old ones."
"That doesn't seem fair at all."
Fernando wallows in a mire of pure consternation while putting on a facade of geniality. "It's been done this way every single other time you've come in to rent."
She ruminates on things a bit more. "And you do it like this to everybody?"
"Yes. Not just me, but the owners before me, and the owner before that, and probably even going back further all the way to when the store was first founded. That's the policy."
"It sounds like you're ripping people off."
Fernando cannot even find the energy to get upset at her noxious accusation. He is quite effectively trapped, for any justification he could give for why he insists on being inflexible--primarily that Fernando is not going to make an exception for her which would doubtless be abused, nor is he going to permanently change things so that he runs the risk of earning up to fifty percent less income on a rent-one-get-one day by letting old titles go first--would be taken in the worst possible light, for she has already convinced herself that Fernando is in the wrong and she is in the right.
So he shrugs and reiterates, "That's the policy and always has been the policy."
She then thinks for a little longer, and says, "I probably won't come here anymore."
Fernando shrugs again. He might perhaps have apologized that she feels this way, but he does not particularly feel like lying to her. Instead he tells her, "Have a good evening," and waits for her to perhaps ask that she be refunded.
Instead she takes her movies and leaves.