Receipt reception is a recipe for retail retaliation.

There’s been a lot of good things said about customer service in Japan, but at the end of the day, the staff are all people too, and equally capable of being pushed over the edge in certain circumstances. Just ask the 22-year-old convenience store clerk in Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture, who was arrested for assaulting a customer.

The incident took place at 8 p.m. on 25 July when a 73-year-old man came in to buy a can of beer. While paying at the register, the customer told the clerk that he didn’t want a receipt, but the clerk handed him a receipt anyway. This angered the customer who then threw the receipt back at the clerk, in turn angering the clerk and triggering a heated argument.

While words were exchanged, the clerk knocked over the customer’s beer can and as things escalated they moved into the backroom of the store. While there, the clerk allegedly assaulted the customer. The extent of the assault isn’t clear but according to reports there was punching involved.

▼ According to reports, the incident occurred at a Lawson in the Mukonoso area

Police arrived shortly after and arrested the clerk for assault. The condition of the customer and his beer are unclear but both were believed to be free of serious injury.

The receipt game in Japanese convenience stores is surprisingly complex, making it difficult to establish who’s ultimately at fault here. Many stores still have clear plastic sheets hanging over the counter which can make verbal communication somewhat difficult and also makes it very possible that the clerk misheard or simply didn’t hear the customer.

▼ The sheets were introduced during the pandemic, and a few stores continue to use them today.

Moreover, most convenience stores have little plastic boxes that you can simply toss unwanted receipts into right at the register. A majority of 7-Eleven stores take this one step further and have the register automatically spit out the receipt, leaving it up to the customer if they want to take it, and letting it fall into a plastic bin if they don’t. In this way, getting an unwanted receipt is hardly a headache for customers these days.

And on top of all that, it’s becoming increasingly common for convenience stores to print coupons for other items onto receipts. I once refused a receipt, only to have the clerk insist I take it. When I did there was a coupon for a free 2-liter (68-ounce) bottle of Pepsi on it.

▼ Here’s a Family Mart receipt with a coupon good for a 950-milliliter (32-ounce) bottle of Aquarius sports drink

That being said, it’s also entirely possible that the clerk simply wasn’t paying attention. There have been incidents in the past of in which elderly people have expressed dissatisfction with certain aspects of conveninece store shopping, sometimes leading to violent outbursts, so it might very well be the case once again.

As a result, online comments have been mixed over who is to blame for this altercation.

“Don’t they have a little basket for unwanted receipts?”
“Always asking if someone wants a receipt is annoying for both people. All stores should do it the 7-Eleven way.”
“It is kind of strange for the clerk to hand him a receipt after he said he didn’t want it.”
“If you don’t want it, throw it away yourself. There’s no excuse for throwing it at the clerk.”
“Why did they go in the backroom? Did the customer work there too?”
“He’s demanding too much quality from a part-time worker.”
“I used to work at a convenience store and the customers can get really arrogant at times.”
“Of course, he can’t accept the cursed receipt. He would die from it.”
“I think the heat is getting to everyone.”

Regardless of the details, in the end, it’s probably fair to say both men crossed a line at certain points during this incident. At least with the advent of self-service convenience stores, there ought to be a decrease in customer-staff violence. Granted, there’ll probably be a sharp rise in customer-machine violence, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes.

Source: Kobe Shimbun NEXT, Hachima Kiko
Images: ©SoraNews24
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