From shoving their bank account in cashier’s face, to cutting up the wrong credit card, retail employees share the most interesting reaction they’ve seen when a customer’s card got declined.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
I once had a woman scream at me and call me names, then she dumped her purse out and started showing me expensive makeup to prove she’s not poor and broke. “Could I afford a $50 lipstick if I were broke? No I could not!” (It was a lipstick that normally sells for $25 or so anyway.) She demanded I “push it through” like I had any ability to do something like that. The manager came up and told her she had to leave because we couldn’t push a transaction through a declined card.
I had a lady hand me a card. It was declined. She then pulled out her wallet and handed me… easily 30 more cards and said “Just scan them till one goes through, honey.
That was just… odd.
I had a lady break down and start crying. While she was in line she already looked like her world was falling apart. I don’t remember what it is she bought, but I don’t think it was more than $30 and the guy behind her offered to pay for it. More crying ensued.
I had one lady who screamed and accused me of purposely making her card decline to embarrass her. As if a 16-year-old making minimum wage somehow could manage that, or would have any reason to do that to a stranger.
I was 16 years old, working for minimum wage at this chicken restaurant. A guy and his daughter came in, and she was in a gymnastics uniform. They order and she starts telling me all excited about how every time she has an out of town competition they try the local chicken chain together.
Their total was only $16, but his card got declined. He pulled out a second, but it declined too. She looks disappointed and he tells me to cancel the order, but it was only $16, so I run to the back and grab my own card and run it through.
They get their food and he lingers behind to thank me and tells me that he’s going through a divorce and they probably wouldn’t have gotten to continue their tradition if I hadn’t stepped in. I felt good doing that for someone without expecting anything in return, but to my surprise right at closing that night my manager comes to the back and says someone is asking for me. The guy came back and gave me $30 and thanked me for making his daughter’s day.
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I had this one lady who just kept making me rescan it over and over and over again, until eventually my manager had to shoo her away. She was clearly desperate, but… I worked at a store where nothing we sold was necessary for daily life. Literally, nothing, so I didn’t have much sympathy.
Cashier at a drive-thru. I took his card at the first window, told him it was declined. He says “alright, I’ll just go I guess. He pulls up to the next window, demands food then slams on the gas pulling away, almost crashing into another car. He really wanted his Wendys.
This happened to a friend, but I worked at the same place at the time.
My friend swiped a college kid’s card and it declined. Well this kid very calmly said “Oh my parents must have cut me off, excuse me.” Then proceeds to get out of line walk a few feet away to call his parents. Once said parents answered the phone the kid proceeds to yell at his parents and insist that they give him money all within earshot of everyone around the register.
I had a customer that was yelling in multiple languages in my lobby, demanding a refund onto his gift cards. We had already made his drinks, but he said it took too long (smoothie shop, mid summer, it’s going to take a bit always). The guy wouldn’t stop yelling, was trying to take other customers’ smoothies to ‘replace’ his (even though his were in his hands all good).
After trying to convince him that I absolutely cannot give him a refund on the gift card without the actual gift card and number, he finally walked up to the register, deliberately knocking over two STANCHION with the guided rope between them, then proceeded to flick the 2 gift cards at me, both missing and going over my shoulder.
In the end, he actually didn’t pay on the gift cards. He paid in cash, wanted the smoothies’ refunds put on these non-reloadable gift cards, but also to keep the smoothie. At that point I went to hand him back the cards, he dropped his smoothie (one was mostly gone) and kept the other, and just walked out the door. Left $50 in gift cards.
Utterly astounding interaction.
Everyone was pretty chill during my years in retail. They either paid cash or asked me to hold things so they could hit the ATM. And this was not an affluent area by any stretch so fairly common occurrence.
I did get one person who was in denial and went through EVERY credit/debit card in their wallet. 8 total. I almost thought the machine was broken until the next person in line had no issues whatsoever. Mrs. 8-card was not amused but couldn’t do anything. Never saw her again.
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Just the other day I had a lady whose card got declined. Her response was to try it about six more times, then it hit her:
She works at a resale shop and had to use a big magnet for jewelry (or something). She forgot to take her card out of her pocket and long story short, she managed to demagnetize her card.
Her solution was to run home and grab cash. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal except she ran her food stamp card first, and the register physically will not let me do anything except finish tendering. So I had to cash her out, return the non-food items, hold them until she got back, and re-ring them.
And yes, she spent a good five minutes ranting about how I was conspiring against her until she figured out what happened.
Several years ago, day after Christmas at Target. Woman has three carts full of marked down Christmas merchandise. My scanner was broken so had to hand type each UPS code in by hand, needless to say it took a while. Customer snottily complains about how much I was inconveniencing her by taking so long. Finally finish ringing up her purchases and she hands me a card. Declined. She had me run it again. Declined again. Sighing outrageously she pulls out her wallet and flips it open. I swear the woman had like 20 credit cards, she starts wiggling her fingers over them like she’s picking a tarot card. Hands a new card to me, declined. Another card, declined. Has me try several cards more, all declined. Finally super pissed she writes me a check, in mounting glee I tell her it’s declined also. She slams her front cart away and stomps out the exit. Lady behind her asks if her items are up for grabs. I say yep and proceed to watch as a horde of people ravage the contents of the carts. It was awesome, like watching sharks eat chum.
I had a guy who pulled cash out of his wallet to pay, but before he handed it to me, he stopped and said, “oh wait I can earn points on my card.” So he got his card out and swiped. Declined. Tried again, declined. So he says never mind and just leaves his stuff. It was only like $40 bucks, but I was like, you don’t want it because you can’t get points?
No clue what that was all about.
Back in the 90s, I worked for Rumbelows. Had a guy pick out a new TV and VCR wanted warranty, nice easy sale. Trouble is I noticed the signatures were a bit different and in those days anything over 100 you had to phone through for authorisation. So I did and the card was stolen. Lady at the other end of the phone said I was as much as possible supposed to hold the line and keep the customer in the store as the police had been called. So I say to the guy, sorry it seems their system is playing up, so it’s going to take a while for the authorisation to come through. He seems fine with it. Waited and waited what must have been 20 minutes and another customer said, “You know what mate, you’re making it look like he’s stolen that card!” I told him that I was just told to wait for the auth code and that would take a while, because their system … yada yada. Card bearer pegged it out of the shop, I could now explain to the “good samaritan” that the card was stolen and in the nicest possible way that he was a jerk and should keep his thoughts to himself.
Got paid 50 for the card, handed it to the police who turned up about 5 minutes after he’d bailed. Told them what he was wearing but he was long gone.
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I was told to be quiet and polite when explaining that a card wasn’t working, so when the transaction was declined, I tried to keep my voice down.
Older gentleman, with family, asked me to speak up, he still couldn’t hear me, his family laughed and said something like ‘you daft bugger, the card’s been declined!’ He laughed, said he used the wrong card. Fortunately, the other one worked. At least it was a positive reaction!
Back in the mid 90’s often you would have to call in a credit card, dial in the number and expiration date and the amount over a phone. If it was declined there was no additional information.
So I was working at a walgreens that never closed. The crap that is sold at a drugstore is pretty impressive. The customers are captive for half an hour and the practical items are few and far between. So the store sold toilet piggy banks, and fake mounted deer heads, and extendograbbers that couldn’t actually grip.
So this family comes in and loads up two shopping carts late at night just before Christmas. I rang it all up. The card was declined so we voided the sale and the family took a few things out. I rerang up items and still declined.
This repeated until there was a pile of “rejects” and a pile of “still wants.” The still wants pile got smaller and the rejects pile got bigger. They were dejected and humiliated until it finally went through. I think that this was their Christmas and they waited on a card to come, but the line was not for the amount they wanted. They were stuck with picking out their gifts for each other among over-priced crap.
I spent the rest of my shift putting the entire rejects pile away.
Lady comes through my line early Christmas Eve — as in before 9:00 AM. She’s got well over $300 worth of stuff. She pays with a couple of gift cards and then her debit card. The card is not approved, but it’s not the “you’ve-got-no-money” declined. She tries again and gets the same message. She asks me to suspend and she’ll come back within 30 minutes with another card. About 15 minutes later she comes back. She said she went out to the car and called her husband and he found out the account was suspended. Since the bank wasn’t open, they couldn’t do anything. She had $30 in cash plus the gift cards so she whittled the order down to where she could pay. As she was doing this she explained it was bad news and good news. The bad news was that the account was suspended because of a large purchase the day before. The good news was that it was her husband buying her Christmas gift. She left with a big smile.
I work at a burger joint and I’ve never had anything over the top.
One guy just kept pulling out more cards to try. He must have tried like five cards before one worked. It was like a magician pulling scarves, and I was both awed and horrified (as someone who has only ever had one debit card and that card alone.)
My personal favorite was a some guy, pretty young, who ordered a pretty large order – eight hamburgers and some other stuff, drinks and what not. It’s gonna be our last order for the night cause were closing in like five minutes. Our system puts the order through to get made up before the person pays (bad system) so it takes less time between payment and receiving their food. Well the guys first card declines. So does his second. “Let me go to my car real quick.” Guy walks right out and never comes back. His food is already made though, so the managers gave a burger to each of the staff members who were staying to clean and close that night. Best free burger I’ve ever had.
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Server at a restaurant but it still applies… this guy dining at my restaurant came in with his family. Racked up a pretty large bill, somewhere around $200. When he goes to pay, his card is declined. I run it three more times before I respectfully ask if he has another form of payment. He doesn’t understand. He says it’s a new card and claims I was running it wrong. I ran it with him standing right next to me on three different computers. I tell him that there is an ATM right across the street if he wants to go get money and come back that would be fine. He does but when he walks back in the restaurant after he gives me the cash (with zero tip) starts walking around the restaurant yelling profanities repeatedly, unscrews all the light bulbs in the front of the restaurant by the door and throws them in the garbage can with his family, consisting of 3 young children, watching the whole thing.
I was working at a mega bookstore. A man came up with two or three serious philosophy books.
Then he flicked his credit card at me. Don’t do that to a cashier. Just don’t.
I said nothing and swiped his card. It declined. The screen asked me to call Amex. I tell the customer I have to call. He hisses at me not to say it so loud. I had a phone with me so I made the call right there standing at the register. Amex tells me to confiscate the card “If you believe you can do that.” So I say sorry they tell me I have to take your card.
He screams “My mother cut me off!”
I cut the card in half. I still feel good about that day.
So it wasn’t at retail, but a gas bar / convenience store. Late 90s.
Guy fills up, buys cigarettes and whatever else too, I run his card – declined.
He’s furious. Like went from chit chatting all mild mannered like usual (small city) to eyes bulging, veins popping screaming.
I’m freaked right out. I was like, 18 and tiny. Finally he calls the credit company. Since his card was with the store, and he had a business that used a ton of fuel (landscaping I think), he had some outrageous credit limit on his card. It was 100% a problem with the accounting and not him at all.
Once he got off the phone he had me wait a bit, re-run it, and it went thru. He looks at me and says: don’t ever tell me my card’s declined again.
He walks out and I’m all “did anyone see this?
I was a manager at a fast food Italian restaurant and another store needed help for a week. I volunteered to go help, they were a couple hours away, and left that day.
I was working the register one lunch shift when a construction guy came in to order pasta and subs for the crew. His goal was somewhere around $60 and, of course, his card declined. This was in the mid-90’s, and credit wasn’t widely used there, but the guy had no cash.
I told him if he promised to tell his entire crew they had to come in with their families, I’d take care of it. After lunch was over everyone told me I was gullible and naive, and we’d never see him, his crew, their families, or my money again.
The next day, however, they all ate their words. They did show up, their office staff showed up, and a few of their families also.
My buying their $60 lunch brought the store about $175 the next day, the boys guy paid me back, and I heard they got a small catering gig at Christmas for it.
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We have one card terminal at our store that has a mind of its own, it just refuses cards a couple times before finally accepting them. The other day a woman came through my till and tried to pay for her order of over $200 with her debit. Her card was declined. So I tried again. Failed again. I apologized and told her that sometimes the machine does this, but it should work this next time. She looked at the machine and snapped “Nothing’s happening, do it again” so I flipped the terminal around the welcome message is on the screen but I cancel it anyways. Did it six times before she said “It’s not my card, it’s your damn fault!” and I apologized again and told her that I’m going to suspend her order and move her to a different cashier. I moved her 2 over and her card worked the first time. She looked up at me and I read her lips (my coworker heard her say it) “It’s your fault”.
Now okay, maybe I should have moved her to a different till sooner but she was angry the first time that it didn’t start and there’s no need for that tone of voice. I saw her card, the chip was worn and old. She needs a new card. But no, it’s my fault. Not the machine, not the old card. Mine.
HEB circa 2004. Had a well known local vagabond come in and try to buy single cups of ramen with empty or expired gift cards 3-4 times a week. Most of the time I wouldn’t even ring him up I would just fake it, “oh the system isn’t working right let me slide it back here.” One night about 20 minutes before closing he comes through the line with a shopping cart full of ramen noodles, beef shrimp, chicken, cups, packs, you name it. This time I actually ring it up thinking cool someone gave him some money. Nope, card declined trying to buy $128 worth of ramen noodles. I tell him I’m sorry and then he proceeds to pull his pants down and take a dump in the middle of the checkout isle. Elderly woman behind inline started to vomit. I quit that night.
Had a customer fake an entire phone call. He pretended his bank called him immediately after getting his card declined. The phone never rang he just put the phone to his ear and said, “yes hello this is mr.so-so. I can’t believe your bank embarrassed me in front of this nice young woman. I know I have at least 50,000 in the bank. Next time we talk it will be at my convenience.” Then he put his phone away and apologized ran out to his car and got cash to pay for his items.
A lady and her I assume mother who I recognized as semi regulars (just know what they look like) could not get their card to work because of the chip reader. Tried multiple times and it wouldn’t work. Called supervisor over. I reach around and (without asking) remove the card and proceed to try myself. Supervisor arrives and lady accuses me of “locking up her card” by pulling it out, identically to the 5 or so times she had just done so. They grumble away saying how I didn’t even apologize for what I’d done. Haven’t seen them in almost a year.
A woman in my line on Christmas Eve (the only day our store actually closes) had rang up a bunch of groceries and was telling me how she couldn’t afford all the groceries she actually wanted to get because of X, Y, and Z, and she was hoping she could put together a good Christmas dinner regardless. She was a nervous wreck about the holidays, and her card didn’t go through.
She started crying and panicking and reluctantly asked to take things off her order to see if less would go through, then when it didn’t she tried looking deep in her purse for cash. It broke my heart.
I asked her to use “this card I found,” my personal debit card from my pocket. It worked and she got her groceries and was so thankful. I got to give her a hug and I hope she had a good Christmas.