Customer Encounters #16 – Counterfeits

Now this week you may have heard of the brilliant news that Sir Winston Churchill will replace Emily Fry as the new face of the back of the £5 note (personally I’m surprised that they didn’t ride the Thatcher wave but then again that would be pretty controversial).

Whilst being the face of the £5 carries some cultural significance the main reason why it’s done is so that the Bank of England can update some of the security features of the £5. As they are more widely circulated compared to other notes they have their fair share of battering and bruising. I’ve even received notes that have actually been sellotaped together and some people have even asked to swap notes because the one I’ve just given them was too worn out.

I received my first counterfeit when I was about 15 years old, it was quite late in the evening and the customer in question came in and asked for a can of coke. A perfectly innocent request. He then pulled out a £20. I understand that under some circumstances that can be normal when someone doesn’t have any loose change to hand, but where that happens you have to be cautious, and as I understood at the time this person was coming into the shop for the first time.

I took the note and instantly knew something was wrong, it didn’t feel like a note. I went inside to tell my mum and said that it was a fake, checked it under the light and returned it to the customer and said we couldn’t accept the note because it was fake.

There are two ways in which people can react to this: one is where you will go “really? Oh my goodness I can’t believe I was fooled, it had to be the guys from McDonalds”. The second is where you start to get angry, insist that the note is real and go “I just got it from the cash point just now, why would I lie?” If your reaction comes under the latter, the inclination for me would be to think that someone is intentionally using a counterfeit note to sneakily nab some real money off us.

In this instance the man opted for the latter. What I would’ve done differently was to check the note in front of him as opposed to taking it inside and then coming out with the same note to avoid any suspicions that I may have swapped notes (which I haven’t and never will do).

The previous night (I wasn’t there at the time), a pregnant woman came in and ordered a bag of chips, she paid for it with a £20 and in this case the note was real, and £18.70 or something around that value was paid back as change by my mum. Later that evening however a man came in and brandished a £10 going “my wife just came in and ordered a bag of chips, you gave her a fake £10 note.”

He demanded a refund for the chips (but from my dad’s account actually specifically demanded for the return of the £20 that his wife used to buy the bag of chips), he then accused my mum of being a liar, said that the shop was conning them out of money, demanded to see our CCTV footage and even threatened to call the police. He then left and said that he will bring the bag of chips back for a refund. He never came back.

Customer Encounters #12 – But I’m from Peckham!

Around the end of last year we had a customer who came in, a new customer as it happened, she asked quite a few questions about the menu and had a specific interest in wanting something that had king prawns and did keep changing her mind every so often.

She settled for deep fried king prawn with chilli salt and pepper (something of a recommended dish if I do say so myself). We brought it out and she opened it in front of us and took issue with the number of prawns compared to the size of the box and how expensive it was (£4.20).

She made a huge fuss about it being so expensive to which I pointed out that seafood in general is going to be slightly more expensive.

“No  it’s not expensive.” She said giving me the attitude and the “nu-uh” finger gesture, “I’m from Peckham, prawn is not expensive down there, I buy it everyday, I can buy prawn anywhere there and it’s not this expensive.”

“Well I hate to break it to you love but one you’re not in Peckham and two if you’re claiming that king prawn is not that expensive there then it’s either not fresh, or from Iceland or most likely both.”

She said this with a sense of entitlement, that she deserved cheaper king prawns and was oblivious to the fact that we are also aware of the increasing cost of king prawns, which we consider something of a luxury in our house.

She repeated herself over and over again in that agitated manner people get when they’re frustrated and angry and resort to just constantly repeating themselves, as if saying that means that they win the argument.

Nevertheless this woman stormed out and most definitely will not be making the trouble of coming back from Peckham to our shop.