REAY JESPERSEN:
WRITER OF, AND DABBLER IN,
MANY THINGS

Little scams

I’ve encountered a couple of scams in the last two days that really stood out to me. It’s just weird to me that people try to pull stuff like this.

First, I was at my local Canadian Tire in the Exchanges and Returns line, and a lady a few people ahead of me was trying to return a big can of paint. She maintained it was the wrong colour. The confusing part for me was how that could’ve happened. For those who’ve never purchased a gallon or two of paint before, you typically go into a store, pick the colour(s) that you’re looking for, you take the paint chips to the people at the paint counter, they mix it up via specific amounts of added colours, shake the bejeezus out of it in a machine whose entire purpose in life is to shake paint cans, and then show you a sample of the final product.

That’s how it happens.

Which means that by the very nature of that process, this lady saw and approved the final colour, paid for it and left the store. Yet according to what she told the young lady behind the counter, and then eventually the manager, she got home and opened it up and (surprise, I guess?) found that it was totally not the right colour.

She maintained she didn’t know how it could have happened.

I processed my order and left before her issue was resolved, but I’d never seen anyone trying to pull that before.

Until the next day.

There’s a convenience store in the “lobby” area of the building where I work. As I was getting a few things this morning, I was behind a guy who was trying to cash in a winning (physically large) lottery scratch ticket. The owner of the store, who I’ve gotten to know well enough to consider a friend, scanned the bar code, and the machine informed him that the prize had already been claimed. Meaning the ticket had already been cashed in and couldn’t, of course, be cashed in again.

The customer seemed surprised, asking why that happened. The owner (calm and professional the whole time) explained that it must have been cashed in elsewhere.

The customer said it hadn’t been and—here’s where what could’ve been an easy-going interaction started going off the rails—said that he’d purchased the ticket in that store, and that the owner must have sold him a ticket that had been scratched already. To clarify: This guy was saying that he went into a store, asked for a large scratch ticket, was discretely sold one that had already been scratched, didn’t notice it as he paid for it and took it home and I guess didn’t scratch it? But then saw it was scratched later and assumed he had, so brought it in to cash it? Or something? Because oh, by the way: When cashing in any OLG tickets, you need to sign them. So this scratch ticket had been signed. By him. Meaning, he was claiming that he bought a scratch ticket that had a) already been scratched and b) he didn’t notice that and c) it just happened to be already signed by him.

Air-tight case, right?

The owner offered to call OLG, the group that runs lottery games and operates the lottery equipment in the province. They would help get to the bottom of what was happening. The customer said sure, to go ahead and call. The owner did so. It was at that point I had to leave, but I came back later to find out how the rest of the interaction had gone:

Once the phone was answered, the owner explained the situation. The lady from OLG said she needed to talk to the customer to continue, so the owner handed his phone to the customer. The customer told the OLG lady that he didn’t speak English. To reiterate: He’d been speaking perfectly good English the entire time I’d overheard the discussion, and he told this lady—in English—that he didn’t speak English.

She asked what language he would prefer, saying that they had translators they could use. He said Ethiopian. She gave the owner another number to call to speak with someone in Ethiopian. The owner was about to do so when the customer said something like he’d never heard of this and left the store.

There are times people make me shake my head.

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