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Café Worker Stirs Drama By Demanding That Customer Who’s 40 Cents Short Pay Full Price

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Working in retail and foodservice is not for the faint of heart, especially when it comes to difficult customers.

A person on Reddit found themself in this sticky situation when a customer at their cashier till was 40 cents short on her food order.

When they refused to let her have her order for 40 cents cheaper, the customer got very angry.

So they weren’t sure about they’d handled things. They took the issue to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit, hoping for some input.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the username Whole_Winner_5183 on the site, asked:

“AITA for making a customer pay full price”

They explained:

“I work in a small cafe type place in a shopping centre. I had a customer order a roll, then she added a salad and a drink.”

“I gave her total which was $21.40. She holds her hand out and says she only has $21. I told her I was happy to put back the drink and then her total would be $16.90.”

“She said she wanted the drink so I told her the price again and she told me she didn’t have the remaining change.”

“I am just a casual employee so I have no authority over the running of the shop so I told her that I cannot sell her all the items without the correct money.”

“She got angry with me and said that she had been moving house all day and was starving and that I should be sympathetic.”

“I told her there was a supermarket a few shops down that is cheaper but she insisted on having the items ordered from our shop.”

“After a lot of back and forth I caught the owner who was on his break and he said that she could if she paid it back another time.”

“She threw the money she had at my till, grabbed her food and left.”

“AITA for not sparing the 40c?”

Redditors were then asked to judge who was in the wrong based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And almost unanimously, people were firmly on OP’s side.

“NTA. People should be prepared to pay full price for the items they choose.” –RemarkableCranberry7

“There was a Not Always Right this reminds me of. A kid would come to her grocery store.”

“He was ALWAYS just a bit short. The person behind would always feel bad and give him the money.”

“One day the cashier put her foot down and told him to go home for more money. He came back and said ‘My mom says someone always gives me the extra money, so I should do it today too.'” –EinsTwo

“i always freak out and get anxious if i dont have the cash available.”

“i once ordered 5¢ over at mcdonalds (i was 14 and it was my lunch break at work (long story)) and the cashier let me have what i ordered without a fight. i wouldve asked to remove something, but they let me have it.” –RunOnGasoline_

“NTA. Customers try to pull the sympathy card all the time. This isn’t Oregon Trail where you can haggle and barter a price.”

“Things are set at a fixed price for a reason, and that needs to be paid in full. And if you did it for her, you’d have to do it for the next customer too.”

“She only got mad because she couldn’t take advantage of you when she thought she could.”

“I have a feeling she probably does this a lot. Also if you don’t have enough money to buy something, you put it back. That’s common knowledge.”

“You aren’t running a charity. If she can’t afford something, she shouldn’t be ordering something.” –LowImagination3028


“Of course not. You don’t have discretion to give her a discount.”

“You asked the owner (who presumably does have discretion over discounts) and they didn’t give her a discount.”

“You suggested other things, like the supermarket, that would solve her problem of being hungry. You literally did everything in your power to help her.”

“Don’t waste any more time thinking about this, move on with your life.” –Icy-Reflection6014


“In that job role, you don’t make enough to cover everyone’s shortcomings.”

“Hell, you don’t make enough to cover anyone’s shortcomings, and you don’t get paid enough to have to do the emotional labor of even denying that request.”

“Moreover, you are right that you haven’t control over pricing. You also would get some kind of demerit or trouble if your tray contents don’t match what the reciepts say it should have.” –TooFat2Serve

“Not to mention how disheartening it can be when you’re doing your job, trying to protect the owner and your paycheck, arguing with someone that won’t be reasonable and the manager/owner comes over and doesn’t back you up after the energy expent on it.” –Dangerous_Prize_4545

“NTA – if you don’t have the authority to offer to comp her 40c, then you just don’t. All you were doing is your job.”

“You offered alternatives and even suggested a cheaper shop instead, that she could have covered with the money she had. That was an entitled customer, and you didn’t do anything wrong.” –fourleggedfishfood

“NTA, I understand why she felt frustrated but there wasn’t anything you could do (except maybe offer to pay the 40 cents yourself, which you shouldn’t do).”

“It was wrong for her to assume you could/ask that you do cut corners… at some places you would just get fired for that.” –emz272

“That 40 cents would be coming out of the cashier’s pay in most places because the till would be short. Getting the owner’s approval was the right call.” –kindlypogmothoin

“Also I know people will be like “oh it’s only 40c” but I’m more like FOURTY. It’s not like it was 1-9c which could easily even out over the day with people not waiting for a few cents in change.”

“That tills gunna come up short and it’s gunna be OPs fault so absolutely no do not waive 40c.” –Sweet_delusion

“I don’t understand why she’s frustrated actually, she could just order different items she can afford. I’m sure there was a reasonable food&drink option under 21$ available.”

“Somewhere around age 3 or so you usually learn you don’t always get what you want right when you want it.” –rogerwil

“And it’s not like she wasn’t going to be able to eat. She could’ve subbed her drink for water (generally free in the US) or just not gotten a drink as OP suggested.” –lbeaty1981

“NTA. People should understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them and if they don’t have enough money, b*tching about it wont make it easier” –waylo2016

“NTA! I pay with my phone most of the time and assumed I would the other day at Panera Bread as always.”

“I forgot the rewards on the account and ended up owing 6 cent. I didn’t expect her to cover the small amount, I walked to my vehicle to retrieve the change.” –MississippiGirlinNC

“NTA. At all. Customer should understand any mo way missing comes out of an employee’s paycheck. And could potentially get someone fired.”

“They could have got a water, which I’m assuming is free. Don’t feel bad. That was just an AH customer.” –InShapeTrucker


“and all these comments saying its ok to have your cash 40 cents off… when was the last time you worked in a cash handling business? It’s not ok and depending on where you work, any amount gets you written up.” –BitterDeep78

“NTA. That same boss that threw you under the bus with customer would also give the OP a hard time I’d their register count was off.” –BillyBuf

“NTA. You are not the business owner and therefore, you don’t control the prices. You are the one who will be affected if you accept it as your toll will be short.” –NuggetSD

“NTA- I had to fight the urge to pay people shortages when I was in customer service.”

“That 1 customer sees a small 40c from you as nothing, but they don’t see all the customers wanting 40c+ for their shortages.”

“Those small numbers add up to larger amounts, and the customer will learn they can get change from you and then it never stops.”

“It is not your responsibility to pay for others, and I know how guilty it can make you feel to turn someone away over a small amount, but you’re not doing anything wrong!”

“If the store owner wants to let the change go, that’s up to the owner. You seem to be just a regular hourly employee (not a bad thing, but you’re not the owner) so you can’t change the rules” –Whimsical934

“Nta. But real question why didnt she just pay with a card if she couldn’t pay her bill fully in cash? Does your cafe not take cards?”

“If so thats ridiculous and on the owner, because as you have seen not many people carry exact change or cash in general.” –Luff_Angel

Hopefully OP doesn’t have to interact with any more customers like this any time soon.

Written by Peter Karleby

Peter Karleby is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.