Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Cash Drawer Mayhem
Matt Seinberg

I have been in retail a very long time, and have tried to stay away from cash registers whenever I can. The responsibility of handling much cash always made me nervous, because the consequences of being short of money in the drawer are never pleasant.

Many years ago, I used to manage a well-known chocolate store in the largest mall here on Long Island. During certain holidays, the copious amounts of cash that passed through our registers boggled the mind, to say the least. From Black Friday through Christmas was a nightmare and managers were required to work six days a week, with a comp week taken in January to make up for it.

The company policy for the registers required everyone to count their drawer at the beginning of their shift to make sure it had $200 in it. Then at the end of the shift, they had to count out with the manager on duty to make sure all the numbers were correct. If they were short by more than $10, it meant a write up. Three write-ups and they were gone.

Then the week leading up to Valentine’s Day was crazy and Valentine’s Day was insane. I remember getting to the store at 7:30 am and not leaving until 11 pm. The amazing amount of people that came through our doors was so staggering, that one staff member was on the floor directing the customers to the merchandise and registers.

At the end of the night, we had over $17,000 in cash. All of us, including the district manager (DM) were dog-tired and wanted to leave. There was a problem. One of the drawers was $100 short. We counted that drawer a dozen times and it always came up the same way.

Here's the conundrum; do we write up the cashier for being short on an insane day or let it slide? The DM and I just looked at each other, without tired eyes, and without saying a word, decided to let it pass. I never heard about it again.

Let's fast forward to today. My wife and I had been after Michelle to get job for the last year, and she finally made an effort in the last couple of months. We told her unless she could/would contribute to the car insurance and gas money, she couldn't drive. She finally got a job at a CVS Pharmacy, five minutes from our house. She had a 6-hour orientation at another store, and then two shifts of training in her store.

I picked her up the other night. She's complaining to me about the CVS policy about writing people up if a register is more than $4 short. As it turns out, someone counts the drawer only once or twice during the day. The first is when they open. The second is the changing of shifts from afternoon to evening and at closing time.

The problem is that many people can use that same drawer. If there’s a mistake, there is not one particular person that is responsible. If four people were on that drawer, the write up is for each one. Twice in one week, Michelle got written up. She says it wasn't her fault. I'll believe her because she is very careful with money and knows how to count out change.

Two more write-ups, she loses her job. Now, if she made mistakes on her own drawer in that short amount of time, I'd understand if it happens. If you share the same drawer, with other people, that's just a problem waiting to happen.

I believe that CVS is a very responsible company, especially since they recently announced that, starting in October 2014, CVS no longer would sell cigarettes and other tobacco related products: good for them!

Why are their cash-handling policies so lax? Every cashier should have their own drawer at the beginning of their shift and have it counted out when his or her shifts finishes. Sure, it's a little more work for a manager, but this way they can easily find out who is constantly short, and discipline only that person. Why should everyone suffer because one person constantly makes mistakes, and the company policy is faulty?

When you're in CVS, count your change carefully and for goodness sake, if they gave you too much back, tell them. You could be saving someone's job.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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