Thursday, May 17, 2007

A bottle of milk

Before breakfast this morning I went to our local grocery store for a bottle of milk. It's literally a bottle of milk, not one of those waxed cartons. And I had an empty to return for deposit refund. On my way in, the first store clerk I saw told me that it was too early for me to get a deposit refund. "I'm not authorized to do it," she said.

I explained that I was going to buy another bottle of milk, so maybe she could just not charge me a deposit on the new one? No, she said, she didn't think she could.

I said okay and just set the bottle down on the customer service counter and went back to the dairy department. I had a strange sense that the clerk was going to figure something out and there'd be no problem after all. My sense of this was so strong I felt positively peaceful and confident about it.

Sure enough, when I came back she said that she could split the credit card purchase up (I use my frequent flyer credit card for virtually every purchase I make, anywhere) and indicate that I'd paid cash for the deposit. That is, she'd take the empty bottle for cash.

I perceived this as a fine example, first, of the fact that the managers and clerks of this grocery store are sincerely in the business of serving their customers. This has been illustrated time and again, and I always enjoy just being in the store. It's a friendly, upright place. But, second, it was also an example of a conscientious new employee's wanting to "do the right thing," not only by the customer, but by her boss. In fact, as I was leaving, a manager showed up and the employee showed her my receipt and explained how she'd handled the transaction.

I hope that the clerk gained confidence from the experience and that her manager appreciates the thoughtful, considerate way she handled things.


  1. A silly question, I know, but how many bottles of milk would you have to purchase to get a free flight. You are keen on math and I know it will only take you a minute to come up with the answer. You may be thinking, a flight to where. Let's say the next closest airport for the airline you get the miles for.

  2. <chuckle> Thanks for the wry humor, for which you may hold the patent!

    I of course don't know how many bottles of milk and it would take me longer than you suggest to calculate it. But every mile earned through use of the frequent flier credit card adds up. And we travel so infrequently that we rarely have to buy an airplane ticket. We even have miles to give away occasionally (to our son or daughter).

    Frequent flier credit cards seem to me to be one of the better opportunities available (when it comes to conserving one's limited funds). I recommend their use. (Of course, people who might be suckered into making purchases just to earn frequent flier miles might beware...and perhaps seek the counsel of a psychotherapist, because I suspect that they have bigger problems than this would be.)

  3. Good answer. Perhaps one of your readers might take a stab at it. I would suspect it would be more than 8 dairy cattle could produce in a week.

  4. On a serious note for a moment <stiff upper lip>, do you use a frequent flier credit card? Are they available in Germany?

    I failed to mention that another advantage of using a credit card for purchases is that I don't have to carry cash (or a check book). I'd have to think about it for a while to try to decide objectively which is easier, using cash/checkbook or credit card. I've used credit card for so many years it's second nature.

    Anyway, because using a credit card is automatic, I don't distinguish between purchasing a leather sofa or...a bottle of milk <smile>.

    As for my readers' taking a stab at it, what readers? Even including you, I can count them all using the digits of one hand <wink>.

  5. There are the ones for airlines, but I haven't seen any that allow you to collect milea by purchases. Not that they don't have them, but I haven't seen them. Germany is slow to catch up. I do see more debit cards.