I took my son to get something to eat the other day. He had a gift card that he was going to use for part of the cost. The store was empty when we walked in, so he ordered and talked pleasantly with the workers while they fixed the meal.
When it came time to pay, the gift card didn’t work. I asked if they could try it again, and the person obliged. By this time there were other people in line behind us. Another worker came over to see what was going on. She tried to run the gift card as well, and it didn’t work for her either. My son called the number on the card and showed that it did in fact have money on it, so we were kind of at a standstill.
I began to feel worried about holding up the other people in line, and it seemed as though the cashier was getting stressed too. It’s stressful to have a line of customers and to wonder if they’ll be angry that they had to wait. She tried to get the card working another way, but that didn’t work either. Finally she pushed the meal toward us and said “Just take it!”.
I didn’t feel right about doing that, so paid with a different method instead. It sort of felt like I was being petty by insisting on trying to use the gift card while there were other people in line behind us. After all, it was only a little over $5. But five dollars is five dollars, and I hadn’t planned on spending that money outside of the gift card anyway. I haven’t encountered a problem like that before, so I’m sure it was just some kind of problem with the magnetic strip on the card.
I think this just goes to show that sometimes people make decisions about buying things or spending money based on “what people will think”. The rational thing in this instance would have just been to accept the free meal, or at least part of a free meal. After all, it was a problem with the gift card that prevented us from using it. But I felt bad about doing that, so shelled out money I hadn’t planned on spending instead. I rationalized that I would surely get the money back eventually.
Have you ever had a similar experience? How did you handle it?