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Bonnie

Burdensome Check-Out Procedures at Stores

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I have lived here for 10 years, but I still haven't received a good explanation of why so many stores, particularly in David, have a three-part buying process. You choose what you want and receive some paperwork from the salesperson, you're sent to the caja for payment, then you take your receipt to pick up your item(s) at a third station. My interest is renewed because of an experience at Electrisa yesterday. My friend/electrician/facilitator George (Panamanian) and I went in to buy a $15 voltage regulator and emerged one hour and ten minutes later with the one small item and eight pages of paperwork plus four cash register receipts stapled to them. The salesman kept entering the wrong item into the computer, even though George clearly said in Spanish that even I can understand that the regulator was for a washing machine. This resulted in our having to start over with all three steps four times. The store was very busy, so each wait, at each station, each time was lengthy. It was excruciating, particularly since it was midday. We were hungry and still had a number of items on the to-do list. Even George who as a Panamanian is used to waiting was exasperated. Why, why, why this cumbersome procedure?

Edited by Bonnie
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It is the same all over except for owners who run their own store. The owners don't trust everyone to have access to the funds so there are checks and balances with all employees. Trying to get a refund or exchange without the owner present is exceedingly difficult for the same reasons.

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The part that is head shaking to me is that at the very end of the multi-step process, they ask you to sign the receipt...  ...yet they give the entire receipt to you, so you are signing something you are keeping and they have no record of you signing anything!  I am unclear as to why I need my own signature and they can not explain it either.

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8 hours ago, Twin Wolf Technology Group said:

The part that is head shaking to me is that at the very end of the multi-step process, they ask you to sign the receipt...  ...yet they give the entire receipt to you, so you are signing something you are keeping and they have no record of you signing anything!  I am unclear as to why I need my own signature and they can not explain it either.

This puzzled me as well, Dan, until I had to return something.

They ask for the receipt and then some ID. If the names do not match, no refund.  Even with the receipt, the store workers are not authorized to do returns without the owner or his representative's OK.  I bought $300 of remodel materials once and found a defective lockset. I had to tell the manager that if I could not swap the lockset for a working one that I would bring the whole order back. He made 2 phone calls before getting permission for the refund.

jim

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I always get a kick out of the procedure at Casa de Batterias -- which actually is one of the better run companies in Panama. If you go in and buy a $.99 item, they produce a very large 4-part NCR paper receipt. I'm sure the receipt costs them at least $.50 to produce.

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Probably one of those caja fiscal machines mandated by the government some years back. It added to the bureaucrazy burden on businesses.

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Speaking of the government-required caja machines and getting a kick out of something, how many stores are there that have the machine in full view gathering dust while they make change out of a drawer? Does this not bother the government inspectors? (It's my understanding that the machines were implemented for better accounting of taxes, although it also was said that certain governmental officials were heavily invested in NCR.)

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1 hour ago, Bonnie said:

Speaking of the government-required caja machines and getting a kick out of something, how many stores are there that have the machine in full view gathering dust while they make change out of a drawer? Does this not bother the government inspectors? (It's my understanding that the machines were implemented for better accounting of taxes, although it also was said that certain governmental officials were heavily invested in NCR.)

I remember the initial rollout for the machines but they were supposed to be on the web or some such requirement. Since the infrastructure could not support the system, the laws went into "review". The administration changeover probably left the whole thing in suspense.

 

Found an old link:

http://laestrella.com.pa/economia/impresoras-fiscales-fracasan/23892043

Edited by JimAndNena

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Sales person specific cash drawers are balanced to the totals on the computer keeping track of sales.  Those sales persons who are short, must make up the difference.  This is the normally accepted way of controlling theft.  A salesperson cannot leave until the drawer is balanced.  By stapling the receipt to the bag those persons at the exit know the transaction was done properly.  Also, cameras throughout the store are not only there because of shoplifters but also monitor the staff.  Panama however, likes to inconvenience it's customers apparently.

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14 hours ago, Bonnie said:

I have lived here for 10 years, but I still haven't received a good explanation of why so many stores, particularly in David, have a three-part buying process. You choose what you want and receive some paperwork from the salesperson, you're sent to the caja for payment, then you take your receipt to pick up your item(s) at a third station. My interest is renewed because of an experience at Electrisa yesterday. My friend/electrician/facilitator George (Panamanian) and I went in to buy a $15 voltage regulator and emerged one hour and ten minutes later with the one small item and eight pages of paperwork plus four cash register receipts stapled to them. The salesman kept entering the wrong item into the computer, even though George clearly said in Spanish that even I can understand that the regulator was for a washing machine. This resulted in our having to start over with all three steps four times. The store was very busy, so each wait, at each station, each time was lengthy. It was excruciating, particularly since it was midday. We were hungry and still had a number of items on the to-do list. Even George who as a Panamanian is used to waiting was exasperated. Why, why, why this cumbersome procedure?

So much less painful to buy on Amazon. And usually cheaper too.

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30 minutes ago, Querencia said:

So much less painful to buy on Amazon. And usually cheaper too.

I love shopping on Amazon, but it is NOT cheaper because of the shipping charges. Even with Amazon Prime, I have to pay for the shipping from Miami.

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1 hour ago, MarieElaine said:

Sales person specific cash drawers are balanced to the totals on the computer keeping track of sales.  Those sales persons who are short, must make up the difference.  This is the normally accepted way of controlling theft.  A salesperson cannot leave until the drawer is balanced.  By stapling the receipt to the bag those persons at the exit know the transaction was done properly.  Also, cameras throughout the store are not only there because of shoplifters but also monitor the staff.  Panama however, likes to inconvenience it's customers apparently.

Marie, what computer? I'm talking about the stores in which the cash registers are left untouched. And the "cash drawer" consists of a big drawer under the counter into which all the money is held helter skelter. Surely you've seen this here.

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1 hour ago, Keith Woolford said:

keeps people employed

I like to patronize local merchants whenever possible, family operated is even better. If small businesses are not supported, they will disappear, just like in the States.

Not sure if many people realize how fortunate they are to have a complete line department store like La Reyna in Boquete. Checkout is quick there, btw.

We do a bit of shopping on Amazon, but only for stuff that's not available here, and of course, we're guilty of hitting Pricesmart about every six weeks.

 

Edited by Keith Woolford
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4 hours ago, Bonnie said:

I love shopping on Amazon, but it is NOT cheaper because of the shipping charges. Even with Amazon Prime, I have to pay for the shipping from Miami.

And Amazon has gotten very annoying lately by shipping a single order (with multiple items) in multiple boxes, often very large boxes that cost more than the weight because the shipping costs are figured on "volume weight." I paid $13.00 (at The Box Shop) for a package of velcro that weighed a few ounces but was shipped in an 8x8x10 box! Thus the "volume weight" was figured at 5 lbs. (Box Shop is less expensive than anyone else; figure how much 5 lbs. "volume weight" would cost with the others.)

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4 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

I like to patronize local merchants whenever possible, family operated is even better. If small businesses are not supported, they will disappear, just like in the States.

Not sure if many people realize how fortunate they are to have a complete line department store like La Reyna in Boquete. Checkout is quick there, btw.

We do a bit of shopping on Amazon, but only for stuff that's not available here, and of course, we're guilty of hitting Pricesmart about every six weeks.

 

I shop at La Reyna all the time and find that its offerings often are on a par with those of the larger stores in David. Customer service is very good, too.

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I too like La Reyna.

 Bonnie, as an accountant in my former life, I only outlined what should be done here in Panama (as is elsewhere in most of the world) to eliminate the lengthy process they go through.  This being said, I have not met a retailer in Canada or the U.S. where they have not experienced employee theft.  These losses are paid for by honest folks like you and me in the prices we are charged.

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2 hours ago, MarieElaine said:

I too like La Reyna.

 Bonnie, as an accountant in my former life, I only outlined what should be done here in Panama (as is elsewhere in most of the world) to eliminate the lengthy process they go through.  This being said, I have not met a retailer in Canada or the U.S. where they have not experienced employee theft.  These losses are paid for by honest folks like you and me in the prices we are charged.

It wasn't clear that you were referencing what should be done. And, as it followed two responses about the use of cash drawers instead of cash registers, it appeared that your post was addressed to that issue rather than to the cumbersome procedures.

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Bonnie, the same thing happened to me at the same electrical store. Ridiculous at best. I'm surprised they put their pants on the right way every morning. 

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