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December 09, 2008


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I did this all the time when I worked at the bar. It benefits everyone really. The customer doesn't have to carry a bunch of change and the person with the register doesn't run out of change as quickly on really busy days. Barely makes a difference in the amount of money in the register and transactions are much smoother. I'd throw about a dollar of my tips in the drawer at the end of the shift sometimes to make up for the 1-3 cents I've been giving away all day though.

As customers started using credit cards more and transaction costs increased maybe retailers became more conscious of all the cents they were giving away (which increases transaction costs even more).

Well if it takes them longer than 10 seconds to count change they should just give you the penny.

Assuming $6 wage.

Ken --

Does the cashier get paid by the amount of time they interact with customers or the amount of time they are on the floor? ... The cashier is there regardless of whether or not the customer is waiting 10 seconds to get their change counted.

And that is a slippery slope of an argument, anyways.


Actually, this makes a lot of sense--more retailers should try it. If you had paid by credit card, to avoid the inconvenience of all that bothersome change, the store would have had to pay much more than a penny in processing charges. Seems like this is a good way of encouraging people to pay in cash, improving their slim profit margins in these tough economic times.

I went to Cold Stone Creamery the other day and paid for my ice cream with my credit card ($5). I'm addicted to the rebates now, so I hardly ever pay for anything in cash anymore. I figure it's the same as paying in cash because I pay off my card in full every month. I do see penny jars at smaller retailers, but sometimes people will forgive a penny at larger retailers.

I did this all the time when I was a cashier in college. I could care less if my drawer was off a few pennies...I figured it all evened out eventually from the people that spent $0.99 and left me the penny.

It is nice for the customer not to get back all the change. However, if a big company like walmart lost 1 or 2 cents on every transaction they would be out millions of dollars a year.It only makes sense if it is a smaller company that does not have alot of transactions per year.

I had something similar happen to me at the movie theater recently. I rarely go to movies, and when I do, I *never* buy food. But my sister was in town, and she bought a big bucket of popcorn, partly because you can get a refill for 25 cents (maybe 27 cents with tax). After the movie, she gave me the bucket so I could get the refill on the way out. I walked up to the counter, handed the bucket to the worker, and while she filled it, I fished a $10 bill out of my wallet (the smallest bill I had). When the worker saw it, she handed me the popcorn and said something like, "Oh, don't bother. You're fine," and waved me away! I was surprised enough that I could barely get out, "Really? Thanks!"

I'm sure it helped that it was mid-afternoon with almost nobody around. I can't imagine she would have done that if other customers could see it and ask for similar treatment. :)

Menards is a pretty good company. Kinda makes me feel bad for that time that I used a credit card to buy a 12 cent nut.


Your observation is astute, however one small issue.

You concern yourself and your arguement with WHEN the employee works.

You should concern yourself with WHY the employee works.

To serve customers, or more bluntly, to "cashier" which is to take money from the customer. The more time the cashier spends on each customer, the less number of customers they can cashier in a given timeframe.

The 10 seconds may equal 5-10% of the total average checkout time (1-3 minutes)so by moving the line faster, 5-10% more customers can hand over their money.

That slippery slope of an argument likely adds up to hundereds of dollars in a standard shift.

Seems like quite a wise argument from Ken after all.


You seem to be making that argument based on an assumption that the cashier is utilized 100% and that by improving checkout time by 10 seconds we can increase the customer throughput.

However, in reality as we all know, this is never the case and cashiers experience peaks and valleys. They will have 20 customers come through at 6pm and then 2 customers come through at 630pm. Your argument would make sense if they had a constant rate of 20 customers every 30 minutes, lets say, and the quicker they got them done the more customers they got or the earlier they got off.


This post has been featured on the 89th Carnival of Money Stories at Retire at 40.

Isn't it funny out things fall out of favour (like the penny jars). Still, I've been to a few places recently where they haven't worried about a small bit of cash I was lacking in my hand change. They were very nice about it.

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