When I go to the store I get asked questions.
Not by a clerk and not by the cashier. My grand inquisitor is the credit card scanning machine. And I’m getting a bit tired of it.
You know what I’m talking about. When you pay with a credit card or debit card, the card reader sits on a little platform near the cash register for your convenience.
You swipe your card, and the reader asks you for your code.
I’m fine with that question. I’ve been doing the cash machine PIN number flawlessly for decades, despite being old enough to remember lining up at the bank every Friday afternoon to get enough cash to last the weekend.
And that’s the only question I want to answer.
Instead, I face a barrage of questions that only seem to get longer with every passing year.
Do you want cash back?
That’s the first question the machine wants to know. Cash back was once a great convenience. I could go into the neighborhood drug store, buy a battery and get $100 cash back. That’s fantastic.
But, no more. Today, I can get $5 back, or $10 or $20. A measly $10 would barely get me two beers at the ball game.
Is this the correct amount?
That’s question No. 2. Here’s where I start to get annoyed.
I just spent $250 on groceries, I’ve got two full carts, an envelope of coupons and the machine wants to know if the 89 cents a pound I’m paying for apples is correct. How in tarnation do I know?
Some machines ask me if I want the entire amount on this one card. What do I say?
No, I’ve got three others here. And give me my cash back like this: a fin, two singles, three quarters, 18 dimes, 16 nickels and 65 pennies.
Finally, the machine asks if I want to make a donation to someone’s favorite charity. I don’t know whose favorite charity. I never do, and always feel guilty afterward. Is that the experience these stores want me to have — guilt over not giving $1 to save a little dog from meeting the giant dog in the sky.
But just to show I’m not a complete naysayer, I have an idea on how stores can spice things up and even get more people to shop and more people to spend more money at their stores.
What if one of the questions the machine asks, say for every 1 millionth customer, is this: “Would you like $25 today for being such a loyal customer?” Who could say no?
What if the machine asks, “Would you like 10 percent off your purchase today?”
Wouldn’t you come back to that store and shop again and again and again?
How would you like to see this one day: “Thank you. Your purchase is free today!”
People would flock to this store for a chance to win. It would be like hitting the jackpot on the slots in Vegas.
Think about it. Talk about giving back. I’ll be waiting for Mr. Mariano’s call.