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A Wake Up Call


I had an experience yesterday which I've not stopped thinking about since so thought I'd share here. As a councillor I'm all too aware of the cost of living crisis and I've been to many meetings where it's been on the agenda, including some where it was the only item.

But it wasn't until yesterday that I finally saw how it affects people in real life and it was a bit of a wake up call.

I'd popped into Aldi in Inverness to do a quick shop between council meetings. They have the best cheap chocolate around, nice tablet too, and I also needed a sandwich for my lunch. There was only one couple in front of me at the checkout and they weren't purchasing a lot. Cool.

Then they tried to pay contactless and the terminal didn't accept it. Nothing that unusual there and the checkout lady said "just put the card in and enter your PIN, that'll be fine".

So they did that ... and the card was refused again.

There followed some mutterings which I didn't hear but I did see the checkout lady casually reach under her desk and press a button and "manager needed at checkout one" rang out around the store.

By this time the woman customer was frantically interacting with her phone and then she handed back one item they'd purchased. The checkout lady swiped it again to reverse it out, the customer tried her card again and it worked.

After they'd gone the checkout lady apologised to me for the delay. Apparently they'd bought just over £25 but they only had £25 of credit on their card (debit presumably) and so the bank wouldn't play.

"It's very sad" the checkout lady said "we see that quite a lot now".

Standing there with lots of bars of chocolate, bars of tablet, crisps and sandwiches on the checkout conveyor it seemed like a very long way away from my world ...

Written 27/04/23

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