Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh


I don’t usually get my groceries at the 39th and Powell Safeway – usually I go to the Hawthorne Fred Meyer or the S.E. Portland Trader Joe’s – but I did so this afternoon because it was closer.

Annoyance came from writing a check. I wanted cash back, so I asked how much I could get (I know that at Freddy’s you can write up to $20 over on a check). The clerk told me $10 was the maximum on a check, and $200 was the maximum on a debit card. I agreed, wrote the check for “Groceries + $10,” and handed it off, but then she asked, “Have you written a check here before?”

This threw me; I’ve written plenty. Except Safeway’s systems said I had written only one in the past several months ($43.26 on Dec. 4th, 2005, if you’re at all interested). The clerk explained that their system only allowed people to get cash back on checks after they had written six. Or maybe it was five. Oh, and if you went six months without writing a check, the system started to believe that you’d written none.

I said, more sharply than I should have, “What?”

The clerk was nice enough to override the system and give me the $10 cash, so I at least have a Hamilton to drop, so to speak, but this seemed fiddly and over-complicated and an attempt to make me jump through hoops I hadn’t had to jump through before. The same chain’s computers still note that I bought a Safeway deli sandwich back in 2004 – my receipt says “YOU HAVE PURCHASED 1 OF 7 TOWARDS YOUR 1ST FREE DELI SANDWICH” – but now I’m expected to write five (or maybe four) more checks before earning the privilege of getting cash back from a check there.

I actually would’ve been fine with showing ID to get cash back; hell, I’d’ve expected that. I used to whip out my driver’s license automatically when writing a check. I don’t mind identifying myself and acting on the up-and-up. So this new system bothered me.

Oh well. To take the edge off (and I should have apologized to the clerk), I pretended to get emotional, and said “I’ve been a bad boy and I must be punished now” before snapping back to my neutrally bland regular expression. She chuckled. A little.
Tags: portland

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