What is it about the 7-Eleven stores in Seattle?
Okay, an admission. I probably spend way too much money in 7-Eleven stores in general. I’m found inside one purchasing snacks, soda, and/or XBOX Points at least four times per week. Sometimes, more.
As a result, I purchase their “X-Treme Gulp” mugs and refill them. At most stores, it’s a reasonable deal: it ranges somewhat, but 99¢ to $1.19 is the typical price range for a refill. Not too bad. I don’t waste a cup, get soda at a good price, and everybody’s happy.
A few days ago I stumble into the 7-Eleven store in Lynnwood and refill my tankard. When I get to the cash register, the cashier proceeds to ring me up (manually, I might add: the cup has a barcode on the side to ring up the proper refill price, but he doesn’t use it) for $1.99. I pull a bill out of my wallet and hand it over, and then start to go.. “haiwaitaminnit.” Even given the higher costs in Seattle (and the Washington Sales Tax, which I will get to in a moment) $1.99 seems way out of line. And sure enough, as a squint to read the prices posted above the soda machine, the highest advertised price is $1.49 for a refill, $1.69 for a Double Gulp.
When I balk at the price, the salesperson behind the counter starts saying something along the lines of “that’s a big cup.” Why, yes, I reply, it’s a big cup: but it’s one of yours, it’s clearly labelled “52 Fl. Oz. [US]”, and is heavily insulated. Besides, your prices clearly state that the highest refill price is $1.49, for “53 to 100 oz.”, and even without the insulation this cup wouldn’t be 100 fl. oz., even though it’s clearly labelled as one of your cups as holding 52 fl. oz., which while the sign is vague (it says “less than 52 fl. oz. $1.19”, leaving you to wonder how much a 52 fl. oz. cup is to refill.. maybe it’s $1.99, I shudder to myself) one can probably safely assume that $1.19 is a reasonable price for a 52 oz. refill.
I can tell that he’s not happy about this, and neither am I, especially because this entire transaction reeks of irregularity. I’m starting to ponder this as he hands me $18.51 in change that he also has not charged me Washington’s sales tax (9.5%, I believe, at least where I was standing) as I examine the receipt and it clearly says “Groc No Tax $1.49”.
I ask to speak to the manager.
At this point, the manager walks out, some words are exchanged in a foreign language (specifically, probably, to prevent me from actually hearing what is said) and suddenly the manager is saying that I was given the wrong change and to give the money back.
The only thought I have in my head at this point is that shit’s going weird. Out of nowhere now he’s asking for me to hand the change back over. “No dice,” I say in an irritated voice. “I want to resolve the dispute over how much I’m being charged for soda,” because at this moment I still believe that $1.49 is not the correct price for me to be charged. I should be charged $1.19+9.5% sales tax. At this point, the manager starts yelling at me, and I decide that the best course of action is for me to leave, as this conversation is NOT going anywhere productive.
“You know what? I’m leaving,” I declare, and start walking to the door.
At this point, the manager follows me out to the parking lot and blocks my departure with his body. I inform him that I am leaving, and that he has no lawful reason to detain me, and to please get out of the way. He responds by threatening to call the police, to which I reply, “call the fucking police. Make sure to tell them how you initially tried to rip me off and only came up with this ‘change’ bullshit once I challenged you,” and managed to back out of the space and leave.
Remember how I said I’m a 7-Eleven regular customer? Well, this isn’t the only time I’ve had something weird like this happen at a Seattle-area 7-Eleven store. I never have any issues at any Portland-area stores, only Seattle ones. There was the time I got sold an (obviously) used prepaid phone and couldn’t activate it (because it was used). There’s the time I got hit with a sponge in the back of the head because a disgruntled employee overshot the bucket he was angrily throwing it at. And I’ve noticed the sales tax weirdness before: part of my confusion over what is taxable in Washington comes from the fact that soda’s taxability seems to be fungible in the eyes of 7-Eleven employees.
Looks like if I move to Seattle I’ll need to find a different place to get my caffeine fix. It’s not like there isn’t a chain of stores that’s known for selling highly caffeinated beverages, even if that beverage is a little more pricey, and considerably more caffeinated…