Stereotypical Perceptions

Saturday evenings are usually lethargic. Sleep in, brunch, movies, chores, take-away food etc characterised the day. One deviant Saturday, I converted 8000 Flybuys points into $40 despite having tax refunds to spend on shopping sprees. Being a government employee and paid on a fortnightly basis, on occasions, especially on the concluding days of the fortnight, I had developed the habit of saving Flybuys points to convert these into dollars and use it when the situation demands.

On that fateful evening, I stormed into Coles optimistically and began to shop. When I finished, I had more items in the trolley than I had planned to purchase and hence decided to pay half the bill with Flybuys dollars and the other half with a key card. I chose a fast moving line and when I reached the customer service staff at the counter, a novice scanned the items and stacked it for me to collect. I explained to him that I intended to pay half the bill with Flybuys dollars and would pay the rest with a debit card. I handed a temporary Flybuys card as I had lost or misplaced my original one. He made several attempts to scan but it failed and I opened the Flybuys app on my phone, accessed the card on it and asked him to scan the barcode on it. The move recorded only the points  but did not access the dollars although the text displayed below the barcode on the mobile stated that the card had $40 on it.

During the various attempts to retrieve the dollars on the card, I looked up just in time to see the novice exchanging glances and a knowing smile with the customer behind me. I could feel my blood pressure rising because I knew what that smile meant. The exchange was as good as talking to the customer about my dwindling finances and anticipating my walk out leaving the goods on the table without paying for it. At that moment, I realised that the temporary card which was printed on paper did not have the swipe function, which explained the several failed attempts to retrieve the dollars loaded on it. Masking my anger, I asked the inexperienced staff if he had heard about Flybuys dollars and his negative reply surprised me. For a front line customer service staff to be ignorant of the different payment methods that a customer could choose from is preposterous. Besides instead of catering to the needs of the customer, if a person in that position makes a customer feel uncomfortable or not valued one would rate their experience as poor customer service. To use a rewards scheme available for customers, one need not cringe with shame.  I was wrong in entertaining the thought that Anglo Saxon or European race had come a long way from being red necks. This incident also shows how pre-conceived notions influence people to form biased opinions about others irrespective of their profession, education or employment which they might be clueless about. 

I had a similar experience when I walked into the cosmetics section of David Jones in my casual jeans, unironed shirt and dishevelled hair. I was under heavy surveillance until I chose the items and paid for it. When I felt intimidated, I even hinted to them to stop breathing down my neck. If you are coloured, I suppose, the laws and standards are different.



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