Well, I got to witness first hand that very thing, although on a much smaller scale and with less catastrophic results at my work on Friday and Saturday.
Without going into a big spiel on class distinction, I need to say that the customers that come into my store and that live in the neighborhood are mostly a bit well to do. If I were to guess, I would say that about 90% of them pay for their groceries or whatever with credit/debit cards and never carry more than a few dollars cash.
Around 2:30 pm on Friday all of a sudden our credit/debit machines stopped working. Completely without warning. Also our check machine (the thingee that sucks your check in to see if you are who you say you are) stopped doing it's thing. Oh goody.
We made announcements over the PA system about the problem. We were excepting checks even though we couldn't check any info on them, and we of course, would gladly take your cash. We also put signs up in front of both doors as you would walk in. Big signs. Here is what happened.
- Some people just left their carts full of groceries (even perishable items) in the isles and walked out.
- Some continued to shop and when they got to the checkout stand, asked if they could write us an IOU, since they are regulars. (Isn't that a check?) And were pissed that "we" had wasted "their" time.
- I had a guy that came to my throne...eh hem, I mean the "express line" and wanted to use his debit card to get cash back on his tiny purchase so he could pay us cash for the rest of his groceries. Uh, no. What part of, "Machines not working AT ALL", do you not understand?
- I watched people walk in the door, stop, look right at the sign, shop for 20-30 minutes (we were doing the announcements every ten) then be surprised/angry/upset that we couldn't take their cards as payment.
*Little side note: Often our customers are new age/hippy, save the planet/green people and use not only their own canvas shopping bags made from recycled materials and/or hemp, but also use their own containers for bulk items such as flour, sugar or pasta. (We also carry bulk shampoo and conditioner which I think is pretty cool.) We weigh the container to get the tared weight before it's filled so you don't get charged for the weight of the container.
Scene: Well-to-do thirty something man, sporting very expensive bike helmet/rain gear/backpack. Very in shape, granola eater type. Walks up to my line with just a plastic Tupperware type container.
Me: "Hello, how are you doing today?"
Granola-Eater: "Fine thanks."
He hands me his container. It's filled with raisins. I note that the tare is already written on it with black Sharpie marker. I go through all the appropriate cashier motions.
Me: "That will me $6.07. Will that be debit or credit?"
Granola-Eater: With a look of sudden dismay, "I forgot my wallet. Um, what do we do?"
Me: "Well you could leave it here, and you could come right back with your wallet.
He shakes his head to indicate that that is not acceptable. Apparently he's afraid I'm going to mess with his raisins.
Me: "OK, then I can give you your container back, but I have to throw the raisins away since they were in your personal container, and you can come back later. "
Granola-Eater: "OK." He shrugs and hands me his container. I toss the contents in the trash because I have to. He walks away without a care in the world.
My comment is this: What a self absorbed, wannabe, save the planet, granola, raisin-wasting ass hole! (Said with a snotty, nose in the air tone: "I'm going to save the planet. I recycle. I use tote bags instead of plastic or paper. I ride my bike instead of drive. I reuse my own container for my raisins so I make my ecological footprint smaller.") Don't mind the hungry people that would of appreciated those raisins (or even a fraction of them) that you so carelessly tossed in the trash without being paid for. Fucker.