Assignment: Describe in 1000 words or less why you like Microcenter over Fry’s.
Today, I set out to purchase a slow 20G hard drive. I wanted to put it on one of the removable hard-drive sleds I have so I can try out the beta copy of Lindows. I ended up receiving this hard drive for FREE. You see, while I was there, I picked up a few things I needed and a few things I had been thinking about getting that were on sale. When I took my items to the register, I think the lady there was rather pissed off that I had to interrupt her book. She had a hardback of some sort–I could not see the name of the book, but the page format looked more like fiction and less like a technical manual–propped up against the register. She took time out of her busy reading schedule to ring up my purchase. The transaction occurred without a single word (well, I kind of mumbled a “Hi”). No “did you find everything you needed?” No “Thank you.” No anything.
She rang up the items, one at a time. When she got to one of the magazines, she was visibly pissed off that the price was not in the computer and she had to manually find it on the cover and type it into the cash register. When it came to something as big and complex as the hard drive, the usual routine is to scan in the product code, then it asks you for the serial number. Somehow she skipped over the serial number, tried to scan something else, was annoyed at the little dialog box that said the serial number was invalid, and dismissed it without reading the error message. Hard drive goes in the bag, next item gets scanned. No hard drive appeared on the receipt. As the credit card was being processed and we were waiting for the receipt, she went back to her book. Somehow, she also managed to rip the receipt out of the printer, tear off the tractor feed tabs, and insert it into the signature digital-pen-tablet without tearing her eyes away from the engaging story.
At Fry’s, this kind of transaction might occur in the assembly-line-like super-efficient checkout lines–you know, the ones where they have to hand-type everything. No scanning. Once your purchase was incorrectly rung up, you would not be off scott-free. You would get to the little receipt checkers near the exit. They would notice you drew the Community Chest card, “bank error in your favor.” They would probably then send you back to a cashier to rectify the situation–do not pass Go, do not collect $200. At Microcenter, I simply lifted the bag (it was not offered or handed to me in any way), and walked out, trying not to laugh on the way out to the car.
I am not sure whether I did the right thing or not. A truly moral citizen might report this to the cashier or even the manager on duty. A mean person would certainly report it directly to a manager. Most Americans would accept it for what it was worth and tell all their friends–either directly or on LiveJournal. A mystic might call this a balancing of Karma. I have had a pretty crappy week. I paid $99 for the benefit of voluntarily beta testing Lindows (after having a hellish time trying to download it because of password funkiness). I donated a decent amount of $monkey to Trillian without anything in return but a hearty “thank you” and a good, happy feeling. Maybe it is time for the positive do-unto-others to be reflected in my direction?