Should I Be Embarrassed That A Supermarket Cashier Assumed I’m Receiving WIC?

Shopping at her local Publix supermarket, Kathleen took some of her wholesome, perishable groceries–dairy and fruit–and put them on the conveyor belt before the rest of her items. This prompted the cashier to assume that since she had put the dairy items first, that she would be paying for those with a WIC check. She could have shrugged, said “no,” and forgotten about the incident. But the false assumption, the volume of the cashier’s voice and the attention that the question drew to her really embarrassed and upset Kathleen. She complained to store management and wants an apology from corporate that is not forthcoming.

WIC, if you’re not familiar, stands for Women, Infants, and Children, a federally-funded, state-administered program that provides nutritious food to pregnant or breastfeeding women, and to low-income families with small children. The vouchers they issue cover only specific brands and sizes of a limited list of items. They need to be processed in a specific way at stores, and experienced WIC shoppers know to separate those items out. Kathleen didn’t know this.

Here is part of the letter that she wrote to Publix about the incident and how store management treated her.

When shopping at Publix Supermarkets, one expects to hear, “Paper, plastic, or do you have your own bag?

One NEVER expects to hear “YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA’AM”? Oh, and not just once but twice and so loud that everyone around you is staring. Well that is exactly what happened to me on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 – 8:15PM.

Publix cashier, [redacted], caused me extreme embarrassment and humiliation. I was mortified!

You see, as I put my milk, cheese, grapes, etc… on the conveyor belt, [the cashier] screams out “You got a WIC check ma’am?” My eyes got wide, my head popped up and I looked around wondering if she was talking to me ~~ well, yes, yes she was. When I said “excuse me?”, she screamed it out again – Now, people were staring, not just the ones from the first time she screamed it out loud but now, even more.

As I walked up to the register, I asked her why would she scream out something like that? She didn’t apologize, just states, “What!, lots of people have it!” “So”, I said, “you assume that I do?” “You have embarrassed and humiliated me.” And as I left, I realized just how mortified I was.

I have spoken to various management personnel associated with this store and I have been “well-educated” on the workings of the WIC program and how I should understand because WIC checks must be entered a certain way. How about Publix being “understanding” because their employee humiliated me? What do Publix employees ASSUME about other customers? Does this make what happened to me OK? NO, it does not. Does it make stereo-typing appropriate – NO, it does not.
The manager of the [redacted] Publix store advised me that the cashier did not judge me by my appearances but by the way I placed my groceries. REALLY???

Wednesday, May 23, 2012, [redacted] from your risk management department called me. He advised me that there was no stereo-typing or discrimination, that the cashier just assumed, and that yes, it was wrong for her to assume.

The question is why she assumed. Kathleen presumes the worst (whatever that might be) but it could be that someone who spends all day handling grocery transactions notices that customers receiving WIC tend to put those items first on the conveyor belt, and that’s all.


Edit Your Comment

  1. brinkman says:

    Calm down, Kathleen. Just…calm down.

    • PHRoG says:

      I know Laura posted this just knowing it would be an absolute riot. :D

      I’m rolling over here.

      Thanks Laura!

      • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

        She must not be Catholic. She likes to serve red meat on Fridays.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      She complained to store management and wants an apology from corporate that is not forthcoming

      Oh good grief. boo f’ing hoo. Get over it and act like an adult. Where do these people come from?

    • wade says:

      Geez, I’m surprised she’s ok with the question of “Paper, plastic, or do you have your own bag?” rather than overreacting to that and thinking they’re calling her a bag lady, too.

      Take a deep breath and some time to get those panties unruffled, Kathleen. . .

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      The article is not clear if Kathleen is on WIC or not. She could be and that is why she was embarrassed.

  2. GrayMatter says:

    While not even hinted in the writeup above, I wonder if there might be a racial subtext.

    • absherlock says:

      If the cashier had asked if the person was on food stamps, I might agree. The fact that they asked if she was on WIC, though, is more likely because of how the groceries were organized than who was doing the organizing.

    • deadandy says:

      Oh, it’s hinted in the writeup. The racial subtext is in how the OP described the language and tone of the cashier.

  3. Sarahlara says:

    An apology from corporate?!?!?

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Yes, an apology from corporate for not knowing the difference between less/fewer.

      Ohh wait, wrong story.

    • Moweropolis says:

      Of course, their employee assumed a customer was one of “them”! Why, if anyone from her republican book club heard about this, she might never live it down.

      She was exposed to so much socialism just from that one question, she is going to have to go through years of rehab to earn her bootstraps back.

      Seriously though Kathleen, stop acting like a snob. Your reaction to the question only shows that you believe you are above those that use WIC.

      • Kuri says:

        I think she was more worried about negative attention from other snobs

      • CubeRat says:

        Would you feel the same if Kathleen had been using WIC and complained about being shouted at by a cashier and embarressed?

        The cashier is a tool.

        • Moweropolis says:

          You know what? Yes

          The cashier made no remarks showing that she thought that WIC was a bad thing to use. How does it make the cashier a tool by asking a direct question? Putting all the variables together, seeing a pattern emerge and clarifying with the customer? Oh, unless you mean the cashier should have quietly pulled her aside and explained exactly what was going on? I don’t think even if that had occurred, Kathleen would have not been upset. She was angry because someone else had insinuated that she was poor, end of story, and for that she is wrong.

          The sole reason anyone (using WIC, or not) in this story would be embarrassed is being too prideful. So what, some people need help sometimes. If they feel it belittles them by needing it, they are going to have a hard time getting through life.

  4. ClemsonEE says:

    Wow, I’m usually not one to blame the OP…but, really?

    • MonkeyMonk says:

      Agreed. In all my years reading Consumerist this about one of the most ridiculous looking OPs I’ve seen. At least she hasn’t threatened to sue them (yet).

      • Witty Nickname says:

        “this about one of the most ridiculous looking OPs I’ve seen.”

        Allright then, who is number 1? For my money it is the guy who didn’t want the security wires denting his cardboard DVD covers.

        This is definitely in the top 5 though.

      • Witty Nickname says:

        “this about one of the most ridiculous looking OPs I’ve seen.”

        Allright then, who is number 1? For my money it is the guy who didn’t want the security wires denting his cardboard DVD covers.

        This is definitely in the top 5 though.

        • ugly says:

          Was that the same guy that wanted the collectors DVD covers from Target? I didn’t think that guy was too unreasonable.

      • Rob says:

        Or the 15 year old tinkerbell who had her dream crushed by Disney.

    • namcam says:

      RIGHT ON! why would consumerist even publish this story. i would assume most people who use WIC need it. is the OP to conceded to think that she is above what some people use to survive? what an ass!

      • zandar says:

        Actually, I’m glad it is here- I find it a valuable lesson to learn that sometimes, the customer is just NOT right, no matter how you try to spin it.

    • Scoobatz says:

      Kathleen, I wish I could give you a great big hug right now and make things better. However, you did the right thing by bringing this to the attention of The Consumerist so we can all learn from your experience.

      I probably would have broken down in tears had I been subjected to such awful cruelty. People on the WIC program shouldn’t even be permitted to associate with other people in the store. In fact, each store should have a separate entrance and dedicated cashiers to avoid this exact situation from happening. There’s really no reason these people should mingle with the ‘good’ people, like you and me. I can only hope that you additionally notified your local media outlets so they can conduct an investigative report on this.

      It will take time, but the pain and embarrassment you are feeling will pass.

  5. verymegan says:

    Oh, this is ridiculous.

  6. SkokieGuy says:

    Clutching her pearls, Kathleen was mortified that people might think she was one of “them”…

    • ClemsonEE says:

      I’m willing to bet the cashier spoke at a normal volume, maybe only slightly elevated over the noise of the conveyor and beeping of scanning items, and the only people staring were the people in line behind her.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Yeah. This.

    • Red_Eye says:

      While it may sound silly to some. A great deal of us take pride in the fact we earn a living substantial enough to not only feed our own families out of our own pockets, but also those going through unfortunate times, and even the occasional deadbeat who milks the system for $800 of Godiva chocolates with their EBT card.

      I use coupons and some find that embarrassing, but I can completely sympathize with someone being asked this loudly having been embarrassed. If the cashier is unsure if there will have to be multiple transactions due to multiple payment types than that’s what she should ask. If the cashier was smart enough to see WIC approved and on WIC items on the belt the simplest question would be, is this going to be a single transaction purchase ma’am or will there be more than one form of payment used?

      • SkokieGuy says:

        So the opinion of complete strangers is important enough to cause you “embarrassment” when you use coupons?

        The largest portion of benefits are children. Lazy, unemployed children that need to leach off decent hardworking people like you.

        I’m guessing your thrilled that the Republican budget cuts SNAP benefits, ’cause we don’t want poor mothers and children getting fat and lazy, do we?

        How is the view from your high horse?

        • Red_Eye says:

          Actually there wasn’t a high horse involved just an observation that the customer was treated poorly. I’m no Republican mind you. However I do live in an area with a near 40% poverty level and the one thing I see is rampant abuse. The other thing I have an issue with is ignorance and the you owe me mentality.

          Just because someone chooses to have sex and pop out 5 or six kids shouldn’t mean I am obligated to support them. Yet I see that constantly. “Oh yeah we are having another baby. No Bubba still only works part time at the Chevron but we get WIC and PeachCare so they will pay for everything, so no biggie.” No, wrong, I and others like me will pay (without any choice). I am glad I could finance your litter.

          The above is why it would be embarrassing to me to be equated with a WIC user, because for so many in my part of the country, its a lifestyle choice.

          • Rose says:

            You could pay a fair price for goods and services, which would allow employers to pay a living wage, after which they would no longer qualify for benefits. It wouldn’t cost you any more than you are currently paying in taxes, either.

            Of course, then you (and the many, many people like you) would have to get off of your high horses, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

          • BarbiCat says:

            You’re right. They “choose” to have sex. In the same way they “chose” to be born in to an area that more than likely has sub-par schooling and sex education. In to families who have probably been born in to poverty for decades, making the uphill battle to even be on equal footing with people who haven’t been born in to poverty. You know, people who maybe aren’t minorities or women, who are statistically more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped, who don’t have the financial or personal resources to either obtain an abortion or proper medical care when they are assaulted. It’s all personal choice! It exists totally in a vacuum, you know.

            It’s not as simple as “X person abuses the system”, and anyone who tries it is just trying to fool themselves they’re not throwing out the old “Bootstraps!” argument.

          • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

            I recently fell on some hardtimes and have been getting SNAP benefits, first time in my life I have ever asked for assistance! I don’t have kids, I work as many hours my job will give me. The only job I am able to find and it pays 8.25 an hour. So shove your assumptions somewhere because I am helping myself and not popping out babies!

            • Patriot says:

              40 hrs a week at $8.25/hr should be plenty enough to eat with on your own dole. Do you pay for an internet connection and a cellphone which you consider necessities but really aren’t? Are you living alone instead of splitting utilities with a roommate? I’m just trying to figure out why $8.25/hr isn’t cutting it.

              • chux0r says:

                Well if you’re really interested in actually figuring it out, get an $8.25/hr job and swing it. There is no other real effective way of wrapping your head around it other than walking that mile. It’s a great exercise actually.

                • katastrophreak says:

                  In some larger urban areas, $8.25/hr * 40 hr/wk * 4 wk = $1320/month before tax.

                  Since a rental in the suburban areas (1br or less), including utilities, can be $800/month, that leaves $500 month for car, car insurance, gas, clothes, laundry (if not included), food, and extras (including internet, cell phone, landline, etc.)

                  $500 is possible, but not easy, and doesn’t leave much room for emergencies, like a muffler or tires; it certainly doesn’t leave room on the margins. It’s surviving, not living.

                  • Serisent says:

                    And this, of course, is assuming that you can get a job to actually give you 40 hrs/week. Most hourly jobs try to stay far, far away from that magic number.

                • incident_man says:

                  No Sh*t! I went from a 40+hr/week job paying $15/hr to a 15 hr/week job paying $7.95/hr in a matter of weeks BECAUSE the better-paying employer didn’t want to be held accountable for violating overtime wage/hour laws and shuttered the job site in retaliation.

                  I’ve walked SEVERAL miles in those shoes, and it’s definitely a great way to build one’s humility (no insult to anyone intended). There were so many “luxuries” I had to give up just to pay the bills: Television, cell phone, internet, car payment, and medical care just to name a few. I was lucky I was barely able to pay for my housing. I received a little bit of unemployment compensation because I worked less than 40 hours, but that went to the power bill and food.

                  That was almost 3 years ago. Nowadays, my income level is back to where it was, but I find myself donating as much as I can to local charities and I don’t bitch anymore about being in a higher tax bracket because of my former experience.

              • HogwartsProfessor says:

                It depends on where you live, for one. Housing costs in some areas can eat up your paycheck in seconds. Also, internet is getting to be a necessity, especially if you’re job hunting (because many companies use online apps), and a prepaid cellphone is often cheaper than a landline.

          • Beegadz says:

            When I was a kid, my mom left my father (her husband) because he’s an asshole. It was not the best time because she was going back to school to finish her bachelors in accounting and taking care of my grandma who was on death’s doorstep and who begged my mother not to put her in a home. She worked some hours as a waitress but it wasn’t enough to take care of everyone. So we had WIC benefits for awhile. I still remember going to the WIC office and helping my mom pick out the WIC approved items when we were shopping.

            My grandma eventually died, my mom eventually earned a Masters, and eventually met someone much better than my father. Without those WIC checks, I’m not certain how she would’ve fed me. It’s not all trailer trash abusing the system and these people, like you, who think they’re better than us are wrong. It shouldn’t be so stigmatized.

        • SkokieGuy says:

          Well if you see fraud, you have every right to report it. If I see a burglary, I can notify the police, or I can just tsk, tsk and move on.

          And so judgey about all those poor sluts just makin’ babies. Perhaps they should just keep an aspirin between their legs to prevent pregnancy?

          Of course only daughters of well to do families should have unintended pregnancies, right?

          Do you vote to support comprehensive sexual education in schools, (since states with abstinence only education tend to have the highest teen birth rates).

          Do you vote to support continued funding of Planned Parenthood which can be the only source of low-cost of free contraception?

          Do you vote to encourage jobs bills that will put people to work so they can afford to take care of themselves?

          Again, since the children and the elderly and disabled are the most common recipients of government assistance, the “Welfare Queen” trope (started by Reagan and later disproved) is truly old and stale.

          • jholdaway says:

            “However I do live in an area with a near 40% poverty level and the one thing I see is rampant abuse”

            True there is rampant abuse, but you don’t have to have a bleeding heart to believe that poor people exist and not be embarrassed.

            I think the question here would be why someone would feel embarrassed to have someone ask if they have wic or ebt. Maybe the poor (yes they exist contrary to the believe most people are scammers) are embarrassed every time they are asked “check or credit” neither of which they have. Kathleen may have a case if she was asked “aren’t you poor? you should get food stamps” rather than just if they were going to use a kind of payment.

            • LanMan04 says:

              “However I do live in an area with a near 40% poverty level and the one thing I see is rampant abuse”
              CITATION NEEDED

              If these welfare queens are so prevelant, shouldn’t it be EASY to show the abuse in the system? yet no one has done so….just like the non-existent “voter fraud” issue.

              • Bladerunner says:

                There is a difference between a “welfare queen” and a person abusing the system. The “welfare queens” were the people who were gaming the system for large sums of money and living like “queens” on the results. Far more often is the person who lies on their income form, or doesn’t get a job even though they could (Uncle Eddie in NL Chrismas Vacation “It’s been twelve years”… “He’s holding out for a management position”), or who has state-funded, income-related insurance so calls 911 for a sandwich. Best example in my personal experience of food stamp abuse: I knew of a girl who was in college, and supported by her folks, but on food stamps because she had no income. You’re right; studies could find these people…but they don’t, because no one audits unless there’s a BIG discrepancy or a public disclosure, so studies rely only on data that was never thoroughly vetted.

          • Doubting thomas says:

            You now err on the other side. Anyone who has worked at a grocery store or cash based business in a poor area can give you as many welfare abuse/fraud stories as you could possibly want. The welfare queen exists and flourishes. That does not mean that all welfare recipients are scum or criminals, but any time you give someone something for free for life they are going to begin to feel entitled to it and many of those will then decide they are entitled to still more.

            Having seen so many people come in with top of the line smart phones and driving newer nicer cars than mine and pay me with an EBT card or a WIC check makes me cynical. That does not make me in favor of abolishing any sort of aid, or even for drug-testing, etc. I would like to see more fraud investigations and harsher criminal penalties for fraud. I would also like to see less money spent on direct aid and more on job, health, English, etc training

      • K-Bo says:

        All she had to do is say no, and prove it by paying in whatever form she intended to pay. It’s not like she was screaming “I know you you always use WIC, go ahead and give me the check”

        • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

          + 1

      • dolemite says:

        If someone asks you loudly “DO YOU HAVE WIC CHECKS?” and you are so hypersensitive that people might think you do, why not answer back: “NO, I AM PAYING ON MY GOLD CARD”.

      • KyleOrton says:

        Pride is only a virtue in the face of persecution.

      • JJFIII says:

        Which is EXACTLY the mentality of those who think they are somehow better than somebody who receives assistance. I suppose if you had child and wanted to feed them your PRIDE would be more important than trying to give them proper nutrition?
        If this is what embarrasses this bitch, she deserves scorn and ridicule for that alone.
        Get over yourself

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Yeah, maybe a little embarrassing, but “extreme humiliation?” Nuh uh.

      • grumpygirl says:

        “If the cashier was smart enough to see WIC approved and on WIC items on the belt the simplest question would be, is this going to be a single transaction purchase ma’am or will there be more than one form of payment used? “

        Ding, ding, we have a winner! Problem solved!

    • dolemite says:

      Lol, good one.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:


    • milk says:

      Heh, when I was younger and a smoker, I stopped at a small town gas station and asked for my brand. The cashier didn’t know what I was talking about and said, “The cheapest ones we have are […]” Before I knew it I had clutched my own pearls and informed her I did NOT smoke cheap cigarettes. Of course I immediately felt ridiculous and thanked her as I rushed out. I was pretty broke at the time anyway; she just offended my hipster smoking sensibilities I suppose. It still makes me laugh.

    • nsv says:


      I’d kill to get WIC, but then I sold my pearls to pay the rent.

    • ovalseven says:

      That’s exactly how her letter reads. I think her letter is more embarrasing to herself than the incident in the checkout line.

    • HeatherLynn30 says:

      Yep. The cashier didn’t have to yell it, but wow. Perspective, lady!

    • alana0j says:

      And thanks to this woman I am now embarrassed that I DO have to utilize the WIC program…

  7. bnceo says:

    How about just an apology from the cashier. Corporate did not do anything wrong. Unless they have this in a rule book or training session. But that’s it.

  8. TheBear says:

    I’d also be mortified if I was on WIC like Kathleen. White people..

  9. d0x360 says:

    Mortified? Could you be any more stuck up? The op deserves nothing not a sorry not a thing. I.can’t believe she used the word mortified. People who use wic are not subhuman scum.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      They’re not? A certain contingent in society (which I won’t name but one make drinks from it) seems to think they are.

  10. GMFish says:

    Cashiers deal with hundreds of customers per day. Over time they notice patterns and react according to those assumed patterns. No one’s assumptions are perfect. Not even minimum wage workers.

    Get off your high horse and cut him/her a break.

    • flyingember says:

      knowing it’s a WIC purchase is hugely important for the cashier.

      so you can check that the correct items have been picked up. why wait until the end to figure out that the wrong kind of frozen orange juice or milk was purchased?

    • HalOfBorg says:

      It wasn’t the question – it was the volume.

      Go buy some embarrassing personal hygene product or something and have them ask for a price check over the loud speaker – it’s like that.

      • El_Fez says:

        Yes, because the opinion of total strangers that you will never see again should be foremost in your mind at all times.

    • Rifter says:

      Generally, cashiers are these kinds of stores are very well paid, not working at Minimum wage.

      • msbask says:

        According to, the average cashier at Whole Foods makes $10.23 an hour. Is that what you consider “very well paid”?

  11. Max Headroom says:

    Wow. Just… wow.

  12. AlanRappa says:

    absurd. move along please…

  13. Power Imbalance says:

    Everybody wants to be offended.

  14. MattO says:

    you know….I cant remember which commedian said it – i think Bill Maher…but when did this country get to the point where saying something that is “humiliating”, or “bothers someone” else become such a huge issue? People are way too sensitive these days. I am not saying she shouldnt have been embarrassed, but seriously, shit happens – people assume things incorrectly some times….move on.

    • msbask says:

      Ok, I’ll say it for you: She shouldn’t have been embarassed.

    • Kuri says:

      I’d say the problem are those who go out of their way to treat anyone who gets benefits for any reason as less than a person.

  15. ZenListener says:

    I didn’t realize I should be looking down on people on WIC. Now I know better.

    And knowing is…

  16. lehrdude says:

    …so much for “where shopping is a pleasure”.

  17. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    Assuming the OP’s comment about the cashier was yelling, yes, THAT part is out of line.

    Being offended that the cashier asked if you are paying by a method that helps out people in genuine need, well that is the OP’s problem. This is the kind of reaction that makes people that genuinely need this and other similar programs embarrassed to use them when they really need them.

    I worked in a grocery store for 11 years, many as a cashier. Grouping WIC items together is a common practice. If she had her items laid out in WIC grouping, I could easily see this question being asked. I will admit I never asked, because most people had the vouchers out as soon as they got up to the front of the line.

  18. sufreak says:

    I’ll just leave this here:

  19. sirwired says:

    Mortified? Why? Is there something shameful about people that require public assistance? If she WAS a WIC shopper, it’d be pretty inconvenient if her transaction had to be re-processed because the cashier didn’t use the voucher.

    • rugman11 says:

      Personally, I think there should be a stigma against welfare, if only to encourage people to get off of it, but her reaction to the whole affair was ridiculous.

      • msbask says:

        As a former WIC recipient, I could not disagree more strenuously.

        People using it for the purpose it was intended (temporary assistance during a time of need) don’t need to feel like crap about it. People abusing it and using it for a free handout wouldn’t care what anyone thought of them.

  20. Theodore says:

    Kathleen, what you should be embarrassed and humiliated about is thinking that using WIC checks causes embarrassment and humiliation.

  21. cameronl says:

    “My eyes got wide, my head popped up and I looked around wondering if she was talking to me…”

    Sweet mango chutney! Overreact much?

    • Anathema777 says:

      If she’s wondering why people were staring, her bizarre overreaction could be the reason.

    • dolemite says:

      “The room began to spin wildly. Slim Jims, Twizzlers, Handi-Wipes, Slim Jims, Twizzlers, Hand-Wipes…before I knew it, I was on the floor. My heart was racing. My breathing became very shallow and rapid. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Everything faded to black. When I awoke several seconds later, the world slowly came back into focus. The cashier was standing above me, along with several people that were unknown to me. They were shoddily dressed and stank of cheap K-Mart perfume. I immediately felt around for my purse, which remained at my side, but the effort caused me to collapse again. The cashier, a concerned look on her face, knelt down and put her hand on my shoulder and said : “YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA’AM”?

  22. absherlock says:

    Makes me wonder what Kathleen thinks of people who really are on WIC…

  23. Blueskylaw says:

    She could have just said: No, fortunately for me, i’m in good enough financial position that I don’t need to use WIC.

    1). This would have told cashier that you don’t have WIC
    2). It makes you feel good/fortunate that you don’t need it

  24. Sian says:

    “Kathleen presumes the worst (whatever that might be) but it could be that someone who spends all day handling grocery transactions notices that customers receiving WIC tend to put those items first on the conveyor belt, and that’s “

    … tight deadline on the copy for this one?


    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Kathleen presumes the worse,,,

      Exactly what I was thinking also. This kind of tripe is what causes cashiers and others such as waiters/waitresses to become anxious anytime we come into the store or restaurant. At times I can feel the tension as I approach a cashier because she probably got reamed by some customer (such as Kathleen) earlier in the day. I just smile to try to make their day better.

  25. Underpants Gnome says:

    I was at a small diner with Mrs. Gnome and the 6-month old gnomeling, and a lady came up to us and gave us her card advertising free services for low income parents. She went on for way too long about how everything was completely free and such, and told us to call her.

    We had the same reaction, we weren’t sure whether to feel insulted, but just decided she was trying to help. Definitely didn’t demand an apology from corporate though.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Stay out of me bureau drawer.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      She probably gave it to everyone she saw that had a baby. I’ve had people give me unrelated propaganda, by virtue of them blanketing an area and targeting all the women, for example.

  26. leprofie says:

    Yep, I’m with the majority of the comments. I’m sure Kathleen dismisses all those who feel entitled to benefits from the government. She is living an entitled life that is actually just as bad. Embarrassment has little to do with what was said, and everything to do with one’s own perspective. Grow up.

  27. El Matarife says:

    Yeah what? This lady needs to go back to that Pubix and get some chamomile tea or something. Reeeeeeeeeeelax.

  28. Gravitational Eddy says:

    See Kathleen.
    See Kathleen shop.
    Shop Kathleen, shop.
    See Kathleen at the checkout.
    Kathleen has lots of food and no coupons.
    Kathleen is in the WIC checkout line.
    See Kathleen get all fake indignant after the cashier asks her for her WIC check.
    See Kathleen try to justify her bigotry by telling her “story” to The Consumerist.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      See Kathleen stop posting on Consumerist for a while while changing her avatar.

    • Auron says:

      I didn’t know grocery stores had a special line dedicated to only WIC customers………I suppose if they do, the store or chain should look into these new-fangled devices called computers that could then be programmed to accept WIC at each register. I’m guessing the stores you shop at have separate lines for WIC, EBT (food stamps), cash, check, and credit/debit?

      • Gravitational Eddy says:

        And maybe they do have preferred checkout lines for WIC and Food Stamps.
        But why would Kathleen stoop so low as to shop in a store where they sold food to people on public assistance?
        And did she park her Hummer sideways in BOTH handicapped spots out front?
        And did she kick the blind beggar guy’s dog on her way into the store?

      • exit322 says:

        Some stores do not because of the technical ability of the computer, but because WIC transactions can take forever and reeeeeeeeeeally annoy customers that get stuck behind them.

  29. dulcinea47 says:

    I think Kathleen should now publicly apologize to all the people who are on WIC for being a flaming snob who thinks they have something to be embarrassed about.

  30. Dirt Farmer says:

    Where I live, WIC is delivered by truck, directly to your door. The driver leaves a box of food on your porch. It’s healthy, nutritious food, like Cheerios, milk, yogurt, peanut butter, etc… I didn’t know you could get food yourself, from a store.

    Hell, let me get in on that action.

    • Shadowfire says:

      Vermont does that, but unless the distribution is in a small area that is a very expensive program to run.

    • nicoleintrovert says:

      Around here the food items are marked with a little emblem on the shelf. Under things like milk or Cheerios. It says “WIC Approved” for all the items that qualify. I’d think if I used it, this system would be much more helpful than a random delivery (unless you could pick out the specific items.)

  31. FilthyHarry says:

    Implicit in the complainer’s complaint is that one should be ashamed and humiliated for having WIC. So fuck her.

  32. Pagan wants a +1 button says:

    Wow…the OP is a real snob, isn’t she?

  33. chucklebuck says:

    I have to assume that Kathleen is a Consumerist reader since there’s no external story attached to this. So she felt it was so horrifying to be asked if she had WIC assistance that not only did she write this letter to Publix, she also copied Consumerist on the letter in hopes of preventing this same horror from happening to other Publix shoppers.

    All I can say is that I hope Kathleen also reads the comments for a little perspective.

  34. humphrmi says:

    Yes, Kathleen you need an apology from corporate for someone mistaking you for po folk.

    Also, go F yourself.

  35. CycloneBD says:

    Get in line. When I went to [REDACTED], and it came time to pay, the cashier yelled to me, “Will you be paying with cash or credit card?” Can you imagine my horror when everyone started staring at me? I steeled myself, and finally, calmly, and in a quiet voice, responded, “Gold bullions. And why would you assume that I would be using cash? It’s dirty, and touches too many hands! Or, heaven’s have mercy, me – a card of credit?!”

    Well, ok, this didn’t happen to me, but it did happen to my houseboy and it sounded horrifying. I immediately had my houseboy contact [REDACTED]’s senior management, but I still haven’t received an apology.

  36. keith4298 says:

    As someone that used to work in the supermarket industry, there are several things to consider. The most important being what time of the month she was shopping. Items like food stamps, WIC, etc, that are distributed at the beginning of the month mean that a flood of people come in on the fist and second day of the month to use them.

    From your perspective, they may be asking you because of your race – from theirs, however, they just had 200 people using WIC and you are just another person on their line.

    My advice – move on, there are bigger battles to wage than going after a minimum wage slave.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      “The most important being what time of the month she was shopping”

      This might be the problem.

    • partofme says:

      …oh, if only the article had hinted at race! We’d have a whole different slew of comments. People suddenly aren’t optimizers as soon as someone else is identifiable as part of a group, no siree!

  37. SamiJ says:

    Only those who think being poor is shameful or a moral failure would be humiliated.

  38. r-nice says:

    No Kathleen, you should not be embarrassed because a supermarkt cashier asked if you were using a WIC check. Good grief.

  39. jrwn says:

    So?? My wife and kids are on WIC and when I go shopping, I just put the check on the belt first, followed by the items. I have never been asked about it. Question: Why should she care what other’s are thinking about her? I’m sure the chances of her seeing them in the future are next to nill.

    • HalOfBorg says:

      Nothing embarrasses you? If something does, go out and have it happen – now you know why.

    • krista says:

      It’s not a good idea to put anything paper (wic check, coupons, etc) directly on the belt. They tend to get sucked under and can mess up the conveyor as well as ruin the check. I don’t use WIC, but I do use coupons, and some cashiers want them at the start of the transaction, so I hand them directly to the cashier before she starts scanning.

  40. Doubting thomas says:

    Kathleen either needs to pull the suck out of her butt or go ahead and shove it the rest of the way through.

  41. MonkeyMonk says:

    Damn! She needs to sue the shit out of Publix.

  42. mister_deez says:

    Why are people in the USA such sensitive pussies now? Everyone feels like they’re entitled to perfect treatment and nothing that offends them in even the slightest way. We’re all human, we slip up sometimes, and usually we don’t mean to offend anyone by it.

  43. SweetJustice says:

    I think Kathleen has some deep seated issues regarding pride and public assistance.

    The hoops she’s making them jump through to appease her are a colossal waste of the store’s time and resources.

  44. dolemite says:

    Umm….if a cashier asked if I had any WIC checks, I’d say ‘no’, and that would be that. Perhaps it was the day they were disbursed? Perhaps the last 25 people in line had them? Perhaps the cashier has a different process for ringing up WIC checks, and is tired of having to call a manager over to fix the process when someone notifies her at the wrong point in the transaction that they had a WIC check?

  45. xamarshahx says:

    get over it…

  46. redskull says:

    Jesus Christ… Did she have to have her lady in waiting administer the smelling salts to her after her harrowing ordeal?

    As someone who worked part time at a grocery last year to make a little extra money, I can tell you that WIC transactions are a royal pain in the ass. You have to know if the customer is going to pay with WIC ahead of time so that you can press the WIC button. If you start ringing up items first and then they say, “Oh, by the way, I’m paying with WIC” then the entire order had to be voided (which involved calling over a manager) and you had to start over. I would imagine that’s why the clerk asked first, before they started ringing up anything.

  47. balderdashed says:

    What’s upsetting to me is the customer’s notion that to be a recipient of a program to help mothers feed their children, or mistakenly regarded as one, is apparently the ultimate in humiliation. I can imagine being annoyed in the situation she’s described, but to be — in her words — embarrassed, humiliated, and mortified? I hope she never finds herself in a position to need government assistance; she’d evidently prefer to die of starvation, than shame. If the clerk indeed “screamed” at her or was otherwise rude or hostile, that’s another matter — I don’t much like anybody screaming at me, whatever they happen to be screaming. But this customer’s extreme, nearly pathological reaction leads me to wonder if she isn’t exaggerating the clerk’s volume level as well.

  48. sahovaman says:

    Wow. Get off your high horse woman! So what if someone asks if your on WIC, just say no and continue with your day. It’s people like this that cause such a nightmare for people in retail and fast food.

    If I were that company, there is no way i’d willingly apologize for something as childish as this.

  49. blinky says:

    Put the wine bottles first next time.

  50. Master Wolfe says:

    Jeez, get over yourself.

  51. PadThai says:

    NO you shouldn’t be embarrassed AT ALL that the cashier asked if you have a WIC check. And people on WIC shouldn’t be embarrassed to be on WIC. WIC is for pregnant and breastfeeding moms, infants and small children to make sure they’re getting healthy food so kids turn out healthy. I don’t think there’s anything embarrassing about using what’s available to make sure your kids get the healthiest start to life possible. It’s also pretty restrictive, you can’t buy junk.

    • Nyxalinth says:

      I know one can’t buy junk and that’s reasonable, but why are they limited to certain brands of healthy things? Like X brand of peanut butter, Y brand of bread, and so on? Is it a cost issue, do they have agreements with certain companies, or did they figure out “X is the most nutritious” or whatever?

  52. SoCalGNX says:

    Tone of voice might be the problem here. Had the cashier asked the same question with a little more tact, it might not have been a problem.

    • 12-inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

      That’s assuming that the OP is in no way overreacting when they note: “[the cashier] screams out “You got a WIC check ma’am?””

      Having shopped at Publix for over 20 years, I’ve never heard a cashier scream out anything. In fact, the Publix employees are some of the most tactful and helpful grocery store employees I have ever dealt with.

  53. neverecho says:

    Have a little compassion, kathleen. This is a ridiculous post, I don’t really care if you were embarrassed, the cashier was just trying to do her job, and NO ONE should be embarrassed by their financial situation. You are coming off as a horrible snob here, and I’m embarrassed for anyone that knows you.

  54. TBGBoodler says:

    “Should I Be Embarrassed That A Supermarket Cashier Assumed I’m Receiving WIC?”


  55. Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

    “So”, I said, “you assume that I do?” “You have embarrassed and humiliated me.” And as I left, I realized just how mortified I was.

    Vapors, someone haz them.

    It’s wonderful that in the face of such emotional upheaval, Kathleen managed to stay so calm and refined. Because I’m sure that’s exactly how the dialogue went.

    You know, much like the woman who had an accident in a Jo-Ann store because they didn’t have a public restroom, I’m always amazed that people think the cure for being “embarrassed and humiliated” is to tell a ton of people what happened and post the story on the internet.

    • feetmonkey says:

      You know, much like the woman who had an accident in a Jo-Ann store because they didn’t have a public restroom, I’m always amazed that people think the cure for being “embarrassed and humiliated” is to tell a ton of people what happened and post the story on the internet.


  56. Madapple says:

    wow – sounds like someone that looks for drama in everything! People were probably looking at her because she was making a scene about being asked a question the cashier probably asks a few hundred times a day.

  57. naenae78 says:

    Kathleen needs to get over it. Yes, WIC customers know that they have to check out those items a certain way. Why is it so embarrassing?

  58. HalOfBorg says:

    Once, while we were on WIC, we were in a local grocery and as we were almost done at the register one of the clerks (little, snot-nosed, post-pubescent know-it-all asshat) bagger says to the cashier “Boy, I’d like to get fired so I could go on welfare and have a vacation!”

    My wife dragged me out fast, before I could come to a full boil. I wanted to go back and demand the manager give him his wish. I should have. Asshat.

    • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

      Yeh that is completely different from Kathleen’s situation. In fact you would actually have a complaint or a point. Kathleen not so much.

    • Talmonis says:

      Your wife sounds like mine. I would have that kind of reaction even though I’m not currently on any assistance. I hate people who disparage the poor and working class men and women of the world.

    • Witty Nickname says:

      A person made a comment in line to me once about how I have WIC and an iPhone.

      I told him I get WIC benefits because I am a foster parent for abused children through CPS, and if he wants to take care of Crack baby screaming though withdrawl pains all night he can get a WIC card too.

  59. crashfrog says:

    Technically it’s not an “assumption”, because she asked. It would have been her assumption had she not asked.

  60. Rose says:

    No. No, you should not be embarrassed at the cashier’s assumption. You should be embarrassed that you’re Helen Lovejoy.

  61. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I wouldn;t be so “mortified” but I do think that the cashier’s should keep it down in general about that thing.

    I can see getting embarrassed, on the program or not.

  62. Leftstrat says:

    Maybe the cashier thought Kathleen was pregnant, when she might just be… uhm… a bigger woman….

    Now that I’ve seen happen a few times.

    The recipient of the question or remarks, when they aren’t pregnant, tend to be instant offense, and humiliation.

    Take a chill pill Kathleen. People make mistakes..

  63. UhMerican says:

    I am sure that Kathleen’s maid would have taken it in stride. Too bad she was on unpaid vacation that week.

  64. anthem11 says:

    OP has no reason to be embarrassed, nor does she deserve any kind of apology. She’s the one who pushed the issue. She should have just said no. No one really cares what your financial status is while waiting in line at the grocery store, lady. All they care about is you finishing your transaction in a timely manner, which if you’re arguing with a clerk, you’re not (unless of course they are insecure, judgmental, and status obsessed like the OP). Next time, just say no and move along.

  65. 8bithero says:

    First world problem.

  66. ChrisC1234 says:

    MAYBE I’d feel for the woman if the woman assumed she was using WIC, but she ASKED her “got a Wic check”, which basically means “DO YOU HAVE A WIC CHECK”. For all anyone knows, that cashier could ask everyone in the line that question.

    This place seems like it’s becoming a gripe fest for customers getting pissy about store employees who are human and make mistakes or who are rude and unpleasant people (and most of us would be too if we worked in a lousy job for low pay).

    You need to stick with the major customer service issues. “Cashier pissed me off” probably happens at least once in every store in this country.

  67. dwtomek says:

    The worst and most shocking part was how when prompted to repeat the question (Excuse me?) the cashier had the audacity to repeat the question. How dare she!

  68. Ashman says:

    Who cares, there is nothing wrong with getting wic benefits. I have known a few people who have gotten it and it really helps alot. Milk, Eggs, cheese, cereal, some fresh fruit or veggies, benas, bread, peanut butter. These items all add up. They even give formula to women with infants which is very costly.

    If you can get the government to help why not take it. In this economy I see no shame in getting help when it is needed.

    I suspect this lady wants something for free, rather than just an apology. Otherwise she would not make a big deal of it and move on. Life is too short to let this kind of B.S. affect you.

  69. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    “This prompted the cashier to assume that since she had put the dairy items first, that she would be paying for those with a WIC check.”

    Is it really that uncommon for non-WIC recipients to do this with groceries? I always put frozen items first, refrigerated next, then other items, and finally chips and bread (bagged last to avoid crushing). I just do this so that there’s a good chance my groceries will be bagged properly, regardless of the experience level of the cashier.

    Maybe the “dairy first” in a major oversimplification of how WIC recipients organize groceries.

    On the topic of people assuming you’re poor … I have a tech job in a well known financial services company. We have a relaxed dress code, which I actively embrace (not to the point of being sloppy, but I wear t-shirts and jeans all the time). Most days, the clothes I’m wearing – including the shoes – cost less than $100 total. I get misjudged a lot, and I don’t really care. In fact, it make shopping at some places a lot more pleasant, because the sales people are trying to sell/upsell me things. A friend of mine is usually dress in a nice shirt and dress pants and get pestered all the time.

    • CubeRat says:

      Actually, I always place my dairy, fruit & fresh veggies first….never knew it meant anything, and I know people who have used WIC or currently are using WIC. If you’ve never used it yourself, how would you know?

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I do it too. They don’t bag groceries in a way that makes sense anymore; they just stick it in as it comes down. I like all my cold stuff to be together. This is why I like shopping at ALDI and Save-A-Lot, besides it being cheaper. I can bag my stuff the way I like it.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I do it too. They don’t bag groceries in a way that makes sense anymore; they just stick it in as it comes down. I like all my cold stuff to be together. This is why I like shopping at ALDI and Save-A-Lot, besides it being cheaper. I can bag my stuff the way I like it.

  70. gargunkle says:

    Kathleen sounds like sort of a whiner.

  71. bkdlays says:

    This is why I don’t work with the public… oversensitive idiots. What is there to be sorry for? For inquiring as to what payment method is being used? Oh no!

    I’ll bet this woman lives in Boca Raton, Fl

  72. Bsamm09 says:

    If she fucked the Best Buy dude who had the employee write on his “collector” DVD, their baby would be the most annoying person ever. And the most fun to pick on.

  73. Now-n-Later says:

    First world problems.

  74. heysuburban says:

    Absolutely NO WAY should Publix be apologizing in any more public fashion to Kathleen. For them to do so would be for them to acknowledge or admit that they feel there’s something embarrassing or shameful about the WIC program – & there is not. Kathleen should spend less time worrying about her ego & more time worrying about the fact that 44 million Americans live on a $5-a-day food budget. WIC isn’t something to be embarrassed of – it’s literally life-saving.

  75. Now-n-Later says:

    First world problems..?

  76. Caulkman says:

    This just furthers the embarassing stigma around WIC, which no doubt prevents at least a few families from eating well. There’s nothing wrong with needing a little help, so let’s stop acting like it, no?

  77. TuxMan says:

    When I was at Publix the cashier asked if I had any coupons. Do I look like I need to use coupons? I demanded to talk to the Manager.

    Told the Manager, the Publix cashier, [redacted], caused me extreme embarrassment and humiliation. That I was mortified!

    No one has the right to ask if I will be using coupons! No one!

  78. Not Given says:

    I tried to get WIC, once. They measured my kid and said he was too healthy. I know you have to separate the items for food stamps and WIC and tell them so they can be rang up differently.

    At the store I go to the most, the checker takes the stuff from the cart to ring it up but when I go to places that you have to put the stuff on the belt I put the cold stuff next to last and the crushable/breakable stuff last. That way when I go to load it in the car the crushable stuff isn’t already crushed and the cold stuff is easy to find and put in the cooler. If I put grapes and eggs on first, the sack they are in gets put in the cart first and the heavy stuff gets put on top because the kids don’t seem to care.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      Yeah, same here. Some cashiers are great at grouping like objects together; some aren’t so great. I’ve had cashiers put AA batteries, laundry detergent, and yogurt in the same bag.

      Easier just to group the items myself and make it easier on the cashier. And every once in a while (once or twice a year) a cashier thanks me for doing this.

  79. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    Yeah, the cashiers in Winn Dixie always think I have food stamps. i WISH I had food stamps!

  80. LightningUsagi says:

    I’m very curious as to what type of ‘stereotyping or discrimination’ Lady Grantham thought happened.

  81. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Um, maybe because they need to know that information up front? The cashier was just doing her job — something that a lot of people don’t even have these days. You should be mortified that 50 million people are on food stamps, not that someone asked you if you had any. Quit being a self-absorbed over-sensitive twit and get real.

  82. exconsumer says:

    I worked in a grocery store for a bit, and yeah, certain items in a certain order, and I would assume that it was WIC. Most WIC users, out of convenience for themselves and consideration to me, would put those items together and first (or together and last).

    All you had to say was no the first time she asked. The cashier isn’t embarrassed, the other patrons aren’t embarrassed, no need for you to be embarrassed. Actually, it was probably your prolonged reaction that brought attention to the situation more than anything else.

    We’re trained to think that there is a big difference between those of us who have plenty of money for groceries, and those that need state assistance; that this is obvious just by looking at a person. It isn’t. And really this is proof. What does the person who will have to process the WIC order look for to determine who’s using it? Answer: the order of the items, that’s it and that’s enough. Not your clothes or demeanor or other cues, because the cashier, who does this all day long, has figured out that those aren’t reliable things to look at. You should take her lead.

  83. Cat says:

    She could have shrugged, said “no,” and forgotten about the incident.

    Get the fuck over it.

  84. iblamehistory says:

    This is ridiculous. I’d like to know Kathleen’s background… because I have my master’s degree in social work, my husband has his bachelor’s in psychology (as do I), and I’m on WIC. Has anyone actually looked at the income requirements for the program? When I signed up, they counted us as a family of three: mother, father, and unborn baby. And oh yes, I’m married; for almost 4 years, in a relationship that has lasted for almost 10 years (married on our 6th anniversary). So, Kathleen, what is your incredibly high status that basically precludes you from even needing to know what WIC is?

    Anyway, the income limit for a family of 3? $34,560 per year. $2,716 per month. If we made that kind of money, I wouldn’t even need WIC, because we’d be doing FINE. In the city of Chicago, in a very safe, desirable area. We’d live modestly (as we do regardless) with no trouble at all. Apparently the program is underutilized and therefore overfunded so a lot of what’s available goes unused. I attribute this to such high income guidelines that many people who actually qualify don’t even feel as if they need any assistance, and therefore don’t look for it.

    Granted, I’m not advocating that people accept assistance that they don’t feel they need, but I almost wonder how red Kathleen’s face would be if she added a child to her hypothetical situation (or maybe she already has one/some, I don’t know) and looked up her eligibility based on the income guidelines. If she does this we may see a follow up article regarding her demand for an apology from the federal government for assuming she would need assistance in her situation.

    I’m not ashamed of it at all. If anything, I’m extremely pissed off that after 6 years of college and a master’s degree, we make less than half of the WIC income requirements. But the help is there for those who qualify and need it, and for now, it helps cover the basics.

  85. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    Frst wrld prblms.

  86. B* says:

    Gee Kathleen, I hope your husband never gets laid off when you’re eight months pregnant. Then you might have to ask for help and deal with your problems like a mature adult. The shame!!!

  87. corridor7f says:

    This just sounds like a misunderstanding to me. Kathleen seems to think quite highly of herself and was aghast, which only aggravated the situation:

    Kathleen states she was shocked the first time the cashier asked her about the WIC cheque and replied, “excuse me?”. The cashier repeated herself, loudly. Anyone who has ever been a cashier can relate to zombie customers who drag the process out and practically ignore you – then get offended when you demand their attention.

    I’ve had people just hand me a card, wordlessly with no eye contact. I do need to know if it’s debit or credit, thanks… and it’s natural to repeat yourself a little more loudly if you don’t get a response.

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      Kathleen was probably yammering away on her phone and never even acknowledged the cashier until she raised her voice.

  88. JJFIII says:

    Publix response:

    Dear Kathleen,

    We at Publix believe all of our customers are valuable and important. We do not belittle those that receive WIC or Food Stamps. It is obvious you feel you are better than those that do. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to find another store to shop at. We do not want you as a customer anymore.

  89. El_Fez says:

    caused me extreme embarrassment and humiliation. I was mortified!

    Because the cashier asked if you had food stamps? Christ, man – calm the hell down. Nobody knew who you were and nobody cares if you were on food stamps or not. I absolutely, positively guaranteed that nobody (but you) remember the incident half an hour later.

  90. Kyle says:

    Wow, Kathleen, you need to do some thoughtful self-reflection on what your reaction says about your attitude toward women who depend on WIC to feed their children.

    If you were simply embarrassed and lodged a protest with management, that would be one thing. But your near-rabid anger toward the store’s management and Publix corporate says to me that you somehow think you’re better than those women, that women who use WIC are beneath you.

    How sad that you see those women that way, and not as sisters deserving of your compassion.

  91. ferozadh says:

    Should’ve just answered back just as loud and said NO I WILL BE PAYING WITH MY CENTURION CARD THANKS.

  92. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I had to chuckle over this. There are much worse things in life that can happen.

    I sometimes buy about 100 lbs of dog food at a time, and the cashier asked me “do you have a dog”? I looked right at her and said “no”. Just “no” with no explanation. The look on her face was priceless, and I didn’t say another word during the transaction. That cashier never asked me another question about my purchases.

  93. syxx says:

    maybe more people use WIC at that particular store then pay for their groceries themselves

  94. Syntania says:

    The other thing to consider, maybe the cashier asked her because WIC transactions have to be handled separately from other items, and there is a process of entering check information and checking ID’s before the WIC items can be rung up. It’s likely this cashier processes a lot of WIC transactions, and has had one too many people say, “Oh, this is WIC” after she’s rung up everything. That means, cancel out the entire transaction, enter the WIC info, then re-ring everything. The cashier was probably just trying to save everyone some time and hassle.

    Sorry, but people need to stop being so butthurt over stupid little things. Grow a backbone and suck it up, already.

  95. cabalist says:

    Uhhhhhh…insensitive, maybe a little bit. “Embarrassed and humiliated” as well as “Mortified,” in front of strangers? Get over it.

    I have had money and, not looking my best, entered a store where they were snooty or whatnot (through action, attitude, or inaction) obviously because they felt, according to their experience, that I was a ‘non-sale’. I didn’t demand an apology, I just never shopped there again. In business speech=money and a consumer ‘speaks’ to a retailer by taking their money elsewhere.

  96. Syntania says:

    The other thing to consider, maybe the cashier asked her because WIC transactions have to be handled separately from other items, and there is a process of entering check information and checking ID’s before the WIC items can be rung up. It’s likely this cashier processes a lot of WIC transactions, and has had one too many people say, “Oh, this is WIC” after she’s rung up everything. That means, cancel out the entire transaction, enter the WIC info, then re-ring everything. The cashier was probably just trying to save everyone some time and hassle.

    Sorry, but people need to stop being so butthurt over stupid little things.

  97. Kyle says:

    It now occurs to me to ask the Consumerist editors, and Laura in particular: what motivated you to put this story on the site?

    It does nothing but make Kathleen look bad, not Publix, and is bait that calls the trolls out of the “woodwork” of the Intardtubes.

    • BlueHighlighterNextToACoozie says:

      To remind people to pat themselves on their back and say good job for not being a kathleen.

  98. Holden Caufield says I'm a phonie says:

    I once went to a gas station in a “bad neighborhood,” that didn’t allow pay at pump transactions because apparently they got a lot of chargbacks because of the high number of stolen cards that were used. When I went inside to purchase my gas, the attendent looked at me and said, “you don’t seem like the kind of person who’d use a bad card,” and authorized my transaction without any ID check. I was mortified, stupified, and simplified. I demand an apology from the attendent, his wife, his parents, and his next of kin. I also demand a lifetime of free gas, free gas station coffee, and one free Slim Jim a week.

  99. WorldOPeek says:

    It’s a Laura Northrup story, so you have to expect it’s something that’s not going to help consumers.

  100. Cerne says:

    Kathleen is kind of a hyper sensitive bitch.

  101. El_Fez says:

    So you know the funny thing? Before this message to the Consumerist, perhaps a handful of total strangers were in a position to form an opinion about Kathleen, how she might poor and on food stamps. Now, after this post, a whole FUCKTON of total strangers have formed an opinion how she *IS* a stuck up, arrogant bitch.

    Funny how that works.

    • wade says:

      THIS x 1000. The sad thing is, with the way that she whines, Kathleen probably doesn’t care that you now know she’s a stuck up, arrogant bitch. . .just as long as you don’t insinuate, even in the slightest way possible, that she might be poor. How embarrassing! Where’s the manager???

  102. CartmanPat says:

    Kathleen is a loser. That is all.

  103. CartmanPat says:

    Kathleen is a loser. That is all.

  104. Abradax says:

    So now we are getting embarrassed by cashiers asking valid questions regarding their check out processes?

    Seriously, this world needs to DIAF.

  105. DoubleShortMILF says:

    I think Kathleen should get an apology from corporate and an assurance that cashiers will get more training on how to handle customers (i.e., don’t ask for WIC). It seems like she’s one of the few people left who realize that taking handouts from the government is shameful. Applause to Kathleen.

    • framitz says:

      There is nothing shameful about receiving -temporary- assistance.

      I’ve known a number of families that received food stamps or WIC. They all went on to find employment and contribute.
      Shortly after marrying I was laid off and received food stamps for 1 month, I got aother job and had no further need for help, but the help was critical in getting back on my feet. That was nearly 40 years ago.

      Those that abuse the systems have no shame, they are criminals.

      The shame here is on YOU.

  106. Black Knight Rebel says:

    Personnel should be trained to simply ask “How will you be paying for these?” The customer will then chose their payment method discreetly if they are sensitive to their perceived status.

    I kinda want the cashier fired, but it probably isn’t her fault that she was poorly trained.
    When you assume, you make an ass of you and me.

  107. HRGirl wants a cookie says:

    Wow, reading the comments, I bet this is NOT how Kathleen thought this was gonna go down. On the upside, A+ for my fellow consumerists for calling out her BS.

    I once used a brand new debit (i know, I know..) card at a store and mis-keyed the pin. Before I could try again, a cashier (not even my cashier, just one walking by), yanked it out of my hand and said very loudly “No! It’s declined! Don’t even bother!”. I called corporate and lodged a complaint because it was crap customer service and sent me into a tizzy fearing that my bank account had been frozen or drained by a thief.
    Reasons that never factored into my complaint: personal hubris, snobbery, or being mistaken for a poor.

  108. mrbucket says:

    Kathleen needs to get over herself. What if the person behind them DID use that plan and had to hear her throw that tantrum? How would someone on WIC have felt if they were next on line and heard that tantrum? So what if a member of the proletariat didn’t immediately identify a member of the bourgeoisie, just pay for your groceries and get out.

  109. PhilFR says:

    So, the idea here is that being poor (or being thought of as poor) is ‘humiliating’.

    Get a clue, Kathleen. You’re no better than anyone else, WIC or no WIC.

    Affluence. Arrogance. Coincidence that they look and sound similar?

  110. CubeRat says:

    I’m such a bitch, I would have embarrassed too, but my response would have either been: (if I was in a good mood/feeling charitable), No.

    If I was my normal sarcastic self: (shouting) NO, I DON’T, AND I DON’T WEAR A HEARING AID. IS YOUR HEARING AID BROKEN? OR DO YOU NEED NEW BATTERIES? OR DID YOU JUST FORGET IT TODAY? I would then continue to shout my conversation, attempting to be heard throughout the store. When finished, I’d say something to the effect of – don’t shout at your customers and they will not shout back.

    You see, I know several people who have needed assistance at different times in their lives. And I know they would have been extremely embarrassed to have this pointed out in such a rude manner. The cashier was a tool, and so is the management of the company. It doesn’t matter where the funds to pay for the groceries comes from – your business is making money so STFU and treat your customers politely. Thank you.

  111. framitz says:

    I wonder how mortified she will be when she realizes she’s made a fool of herself in such a highly public way.

    Way to go fool!

  112. Patriot says:

    This is a clear case of why so many people blame the OP. The OP here is arrogant. The Consumerist should restrict submissions to those who actually post here who seem to be a lot smarter than your average individual.

  113. taedium vitae says:

    Am I missing something here? Why would any rational human being be embarrassed or ashamed that a supermarket cashier assumes one is doing the right thing for one’s child(ren), whatever that may involve?

  114. isileth says:

    Once I went to a perfumery.
    I asked the owner of the shop to be shown red nail polish.
    She looked at me with disdain because I was dressed casual, nothing high-fashion or expensive, then she turned toward a salesgirl and told her with a disgusted tone: “Show her the cheapest ones”.
    The girl brought a basket with some mismatched dusty bottles.
    I looked at them and replied, before getting out, to never return: “You can keep these”.
    I wasn’t pissed at the fact that she assumed I was poor, but at the patronizing tone this assumption warranted.
    This is something that happens frequently in some stores and my “revenge” is never returning there.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      You could go to an expensive perfumery, buy a lot of stuff, then go back to the first perfumery and show them all the sales they missed.


  115. Kuri says:

    I slogged through a few commetns, and, honestly ,Kathleen did over react, vastly, and no apology is needed from the store.

    However ,that said, I somewhat understand her reaction to it.

    My grandmother, aunt, and young cousin just moved to my area from several states over. My grandmother used the last of some food stamps she had to get my cousin some stuff for their trip, and the one who rung them up gave them a HUGE attitude about it.

    Giving how some treat those who receive assistance of any sort, I can somewhat understand her reaction to it, however she does need to calm the hell down.

  116. ktbeta says:

    Could train the cashiers to speak at a lower volume but this is not an issue of discrimination. To be honest I’m amazed that a cashier was paying enough attention to notice the pattern!

  117. Geekybiker says:

    Only foods approved for WIC? Check
    Probably check issue day? Check
    Store gets a lot of WIC? Check
    Dressed like you might be homeless? Check

  118. celinesci says:

    Funny, the you can tell the people around here who receive public assistance for food because they purchase steaks and lobsters at the grocery store with their EBT card.

  119. debjwhe says:

    Grow up, lady. You embarrassed yourself by reacting the way you did.

  120. HogwartsProfessor says:

    “The manager of the [redacted] Publix store advised me that the cashier did not judge me by my appearances but by the way I placed my groceries. REALLY??? “

    Yes, really.

    1) I agree the cashier should not have yelled it out. A simple quiet inquiry would have sufficed.

    2) There is NO SHAME, or there should not be, in receiving aid from a program that is designed to keep mothers and children healthy. In this economy, it’s very difficult to make ends meet, especially if you have kids and a shitty job, or no job.

    3) What is your hang-up, Kathleen? Why on earth would you be embarrassed, or assume that something about your appearance caused this? It’s such an odd thing to happen. If it were me, I would have looked confused and said, “Nooooooo…” I wouldn’t have gotten all butt-hurt about it, unless the cashier said something offensive to me.

    Which she didn’t. She was trying to find out if she needed to ring up your purchases a certain way. In an uncouth manner, yes. So you had a right to complain about her yelling, but it’s silly to be embarrassed. I was on food stamps for a short time years ago, back when they were the coupons. It was really obvious when checking out. But I needed them, they were there, and it wasn’t anybody else’s business why. I had one or two people snort and move to another line when I pulled them out, and I just ignored them. They weren’t worth my time or attention.

    So all you had to do was say firmly “No, I don’t.” Then step to the customer service desk and ask for a manager after you checked out. It might be a little embarrassing, but you’re blowing it waaaay out of proportion, IMO.

  121. SeanPatrick says:

    Perhaps Publix should install First Class checkout lines so that people like Kathleen will never be mistaken for someone on WIC.

    • Patriot says:

      What a great idea. Charge $5 extra to not wait in line. I’m patenting the idea and selling it to all the major grocery chains.

    • krista says:

      The American Express Black line, where you get a pedicure and champagne while the cashier scans your groceries.

  122. ovalseven says:

    It’s usually harmless if somebody asks if you want a breath mint. But it’s embarrassing if you admit to consumerist that you have bad breath.

  123. Buckus says:

    I’m not sure why asking if she is using WIC embarrased her? It’s a legitimate question, prompted by how she ordered the items on the conveyer. If she’s so self-conscious she thinks other people care whether or not she’s using WIC, she has other issues.

  124. TriplerSDMB says:

    You left out the part where she clutched her pearls.

  125. PLATTWORX says:

    While the cashier was less than professional, does Kathleen realize that the basis of her embarrassment and humiliation is because she believes that people using WIC are beneath her and how dare someone call her a person in need of public assistance because she would “never be one of THEM!”?

    Kathleen you are no better than a woman shopping and using WIC to pay for your groceries. People who use WIC are now “lowlifes” as your reaction seems to reveal YOU think they are.

    Calm down Kathleen. Look in the mirror and analyze WHY you really were embarrassed and humiliated. It’s not going to be pretty.

  126. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Princess Beech as “Publix Cashier”:
    The OP caused me extreme embarrassment and humiliation. You see, the fact that she was so “mortified” by the whole situation my head snapped up and my eyes popped off their sockets and I had to put them back in. I looked around hoping no one would notice and raised my manicured finger at her. “Excuuuusssse me?! Do you know how educated I am?! I do not deserve to be spoken at in the most rude way. You just shattered my dreams of being a fairy princess!” I grabbed my Louis Vuitton purse and stomped out the store as fast as my Jimmy Choos can take me.”

    *** This lady is unbelievable. I am SO mortified.

  127. VA_White says:

    God forbid that people at Publix think you might be low-income. That’s exactly as shameful and embarrassing as being accused of pedophilia or prostitution or murder or being a Republican.

  128. The_IT_Crone says:

    That poor cashier. They are either yelled at for NOT assuming the purchase is WIC, and when they ask, they’re yelled at.

  129. aaron8301 says:

    The only reason I can think she’d be embarrassed is if she felt the cashier asked her this because the cashier assumed she was poor. So the appropriate response to the cashier would have been (in a loud voice): NO, I PAY FOR MY GROCERIES WITH MY HARD-EARNED CASH, THANK YOU.

    Problem solved.

  130. Harmoniousvibe says:

    Someone needs therapy. If being asked if you are on WIC is that humiliating, you have led a very sheltered life. The employee asked because of the way items were placed. Not a big deal. I seriously doubt that everyone was looking at the woman the way she thinks they were. WIC is not embarrassing to have. Lots of people have it when they have babies and small kids. My cousin had it and the income limits were actually not as low as one would think.

    She sounds like one of the people who think that there is always someone discriminating against her and looking for reasons to sue.

  131. Sir Winston Thriller says:


  132. wade says:

    Freaking [redacted], with all their poor people. Kathleen ought to be humiliated for the indignity of stooping so low as to shop at a store that accepts WIC! In fact, how dare she even live within a convenient drive of some place that would cater to such poor filth???

  133. Jemaine says:

    Maybe she looked preggars?

  134. km9v says:

    Oh, no! Somebody call a wambulance!

  135. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Is Wednesday when WIC cards are refilled? I didn’t realize there were still WIC Checks – I thought it was all WIC cards now,

  136. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    So, is Kathleen on WIC?

    That would be the obvious reason for being embarrassed. Perhaps the cashier was right & wanted to be sure before ringing them up.

  137. Mike says:

    Glad to know that I am not the only one thinking that Kathleen is overreacting. Wow…

  138. SteveHolt says:

    I can understand being embarrassed if the cashier really was yelling that loud. Yelling is just embarrassing. OP could have yelled NO! in response.

  139. Bog says:

    I’ve gotten some weird responses and statements from store clerks over particular purchase ordering, sometimes rude. I am a licensed caregiver with DSHS and part of my job is to go do shopping for the disabled person I may be assigned to. I will use, or help the person’s use a check or card or EBT to complete their shopping, sometimes the person is with me and sometimes not. Either way I have had issues with the occasional clerk with issues even though it may have been pre-arranged with the store.

    Some clerks are hostile to poor and/or disabled people, especially if they are disabled. This seems to be truer if they are shopping alone. Not that that applies in this situation, but the clerks often make assumptions.

  140. sparc says:

    funniest story on consumerist in a while.

    Kathleen should start a boycott. The outrage!

  141. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Less embarrassing than….”Price check. Price check needed on on 36 pack Trojan Twisted Pleasure Condoms.”

  142. RayanneGraff says:

    Well, it just wouldn’t do to have anyone think you’re one of those people, would it Kathleen? You incredible bitch, you.

  143. Tigerantilles says:

    It really depends on where your market is. Some stores have a really high percentage of people using WIC. If 8 out of 10 customers use WIC, and you have to re-ring everything if they hand over the WIC check after the beginning, a cashier is probably going to just ask after a day or two of re-ringing everything.

    Compare it to “Do you have any coupons today?”

  144. DragonThermo says:

    Considering a majority of Americans are receiving a government check of one kind or another, I think one would/should be embarrassed if you are NOT on WIC or Food Stamps or the like. Almost everyone else is on some welfare state program, what’s wrong with you if you aren’t?

  145. krista says:

    “The manager of the Publix store advised me that the cashier did not judge me by my appearances but by the way I placed my groceries. REALLY???”

    Yes, Kathleen, really. Get over yourself. Nobody waiting in line cared – they were probably staring because you looked like you were having a stroke. Now that you understand the WIC program a little bit, you will know to not put all your produce and dairy first if you don’t want to risk being asked that question. The cashier was just doing her job, and trying to ring up your order as efficiently as possible. The only people who deserve an apology here are the ones using the WIC program, who you just insulted with your petty complaint.

  146. 2 Replies says:

    Yes, you should.
    But it’s an honest mistake and a FIT shouldn’t be thrown about it.
    Consider instead the image you’re conveying… there’s probably a reason they may make that mistake… :-

  147. 2 Replies says:

    Dear Kathleen,
    Not being on WIC does not make you a better person.
    Being on WIC doesn’t make anyone a WORSE person.

    Taking extreme offense at the assumption and expecting a apology for something that IS NOT an insult DOES make you a horrible person.
    Act like an adult!