Monday, January 26, 2015

Counterfeit Detection

This will hopefully not be an incredibly long post. A couple of years back I read through a bunch of my blog posts and realized that I write a lot of angry diatribes. Granted, much of what I have to say when I am angry is in reality somewhat comical, but I still don’t want to only put negativity out into the world. I resolved to change my outlook and my tone a bit. I admit that did slow down my blog some.
Many of my posts get typed up and I never hit that publish button.
This morning something happened that set off my write an angry letter reflex. I pulled through the drive-through of my local McDonald’s ( ROCK AND ROLL MCDONALD’S ), ordered my breakfast, pulled to the window to pay, and ran into frustration face first.
Before I explain what bugged me here let me take a time out to explain that McDonald’s is about the 3rd most frustrating place I go. My favorite move, and you can see this at any McDonald’s, any day, at any time, is when you pull to the second window and an employee hands your sack of food out without looking at you much less speaking to you. It happens MOST every visit. Once I even got a good laugh as a girl tried to hand my food out the closed window and slammed her knuckles. I might be petty, but it was funny.
I accepted years ago that it is my responsibility to make sure my fast food order is correct no matter where I pick up the food. That isn’t a reflection of the quality people who prepare my heart attack in a bag or anything. That job is damned tough and the majority of people out there don’t want to do it, even the ones that are. Mistakes happen. That almost never stresses me out.
One of the leading causes of my frustration with McDonald’s, in particular, is the time it seems to take the morons in front of me to order. I am pretty well traveled. I can say that the McDonald’s in both England and Germany have the same basic menu that they have here. The food is better over there, particularly in Germany, but the menu is relatively the same.
With that as an accepted truth, how can it take 8 minutes for the person in front of me to place an order? Logic says that the person is a minimum of 15 years old and likely has at least 10 years of knowledge of the approximate McDonald’s breakfast and/ or lunch menu. Most of the time these people do not exceed 1 or 2 people in said vehicle. The last I checked McDonald’s doesn’t hand out loans or offer  drive-through family planning. What is the bloody hold up?
I don’t hold it against McDonald’s that the order in front of me is taking a good week to figure out how to spend the $3.47 that they scraped out of the ashtray of the car to buy some lunch. I get that the dollar double cheeseburger is like $1.39 now, but it really shouldn’t take 6 freaking months to work out that math. Just pull out your government issued smartphone. It has a calculator function. *sigh*
Today though my great anger came at the drive-through window. The young man that confirmed my order could barely repeat it back to me (not lack of intelligence by any means, just seems uncomfortable in his job at the drive-through) but he managed it, gave me my total, and took the $20 bill I handed him.
Then he began the insulting part of the transaction that is not nearly unique to McDonald’s. He felt of the bill, he held it up to the light, and still not satisfied he then marked the $20 with the fraud detection marker. I have had this happen several times at different places and most often I say,” Don’t worry I used good ink when I printed those this morning.” I say this because I am frustrated and I am trying to alleviate that frustration with humor. Most the time whatever clerk I am dealing with realizes that and jokes back.
Why am I frustrated, a thoughtful reader might ask?
I have managed a number of stores over the years and I know that counterfeit bills can be an issue. Even losing $10 to a fake can be a great deal to explain to the people higher up the food chain. I get it, but these people could be trained to handle this with a little more tact.
If I was concerned (since counterfeit bills seem to hit in waves) I told my clerks to mark everything $10 and above as they took the bill. If they did this with every customer in line and not just when a bill or a customer looked suspect, then either everyone is offended or no one is offended based simply on treating every customer and every transaction in the exact same way.
The baser part of my objection comes from questioning their qualification to truly detect fraud. I have had some basic training in detecting counterfeit bills. Rubbing the bill does tell you if the paper feels right, but that has changed a great deal with the newer printing of currency. Yes, you can hold the bill up to the light to look for holograms and for the authentication strip, but even that can be duplicated.
The most reliable way to see if a bill is fake is to mark it with your pen, short of having some of the special lights and equipment that banks have. The truth is McDonald’s and businesses like them are worried about fraud enough to give their people a hard time so that the employee takes it out on the customers, but they are not so concerned that each register has a counterfeit detection station.
That means it isn’t that big a problem. If it is not that big of a problem, leave the poor guy at the window alone about it and don’t ruffle my feathers along the way.  Not to put too fine a point on it but it took him 3 tries to make change for a $20 on an order that cost $10.80.
I would say it is much more likely to cause McDonald’s a problem that he cannot count back from a $20 and make accurate change quickly. That also seems to be common at the McDonald’s drive-through.
Mostly, I just wonder if I could have saved myself a little light frustration and a few hundred words of a rant by getting up early enough to have my corn flakes.

Then again the cashier at Wal-Mart that sold me those couldn’t make change for a $20 in one try either. This is why debit cards are so popular.

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