Something doesn’t add up here

I don’t consider it a hard sum to work out. If I were to buy items that cost a total of £5.40 and I am paying with a £10 note, I will often offer the 40p extra (£10.40). The intention is quite clear, I would like to receive a note as change rather than coins.

Rounding an amount up to a full pound

When this happened today, the offer of the 40p extra in exchange for a note was met with ‘No, I am alright, thank you’.  When I said that I would like to receive a £5 note as my change, the cashier then struggled to work out the numbers. He saw that the till was saying £5.40 and that he didn’t understand his customer’s preference to give more change, helping them out with more coins in the till, in exchange for a £5 note in return. He stood there for over half a minute trying to work out what to do.

I understand that if he had rung it through the cash register already as £10.00, it would say £4.60 change, but simple mathematics and some common sense would work out that his till would still balance if he is getting 40p extra and that he is giving the correct change amount back. He couldn’t work out what I was trying to do. He looked suspicious as if I was trying to rip him off. I had to explain the transaction to him and he finally got what I was trying to do. I can’t have been the first person to ‘over-pay’ to round an amount up to a full pound to make the change easier and for the customer to have less to carry round with them.

Often I wouldn’t want to take more of their change unnecessarily so by being thoughtful on my side means that they could keep more change for other customers with possibly more complicated amounts that need to be paid. Good luck to them with that one!

Confused man

Confused man

Working sums out in your head

It got me thinking that simple mathematics skills of adding up and subtracting aren’t utilised enough nowadays. Quite a lot of people dealing with cash aren’t required to add up or work out amounts now in their heads as they just type numbers into a till or swipe a barcode across a scanner. When I was growing up, my parents would help my education by letting me add up the prices in my head and to work out what the change would be. They didn’t get me to do it. I wanted to do it, and enjoyed doing so. Through doing this at an early age, I have a good grasp of addition and subtraction which has seen me well in life.

I am quite surprised that people working in some stores don’t have simple arithmetic skills such as these. If primary school age children are learning these skills, surely grown adults who have chosen that sector to work in should have the skills and knowledge to be able to do quick calculations in their heads without the reliance on cash tills and calculators.

Working out change

Working out change

Personal reflection

Some may think I am being a bit harsh on people here, but I was polite and explained what I would like to happen, and he finally got what was happening. I guess that at times, I do get a little incredulous and shocked when basics aren’t able to be grasped. That is something that I will have to work on, as I can only see more of this scenario happening in future rather than less of it. That is definitely the way that much of Britain is heading nowadays, and it is up to me to adjust my expectations rather than expect some others to raise their game beyond primary school age ability in mathematics.

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