The holidays always bring about the issue of returning things to stores. Do I really want that sweater with the dancing bears on it? Or can I return it for something nicer? Some people really dislike returning things, but I am not one of them. If I need to, I will. Normally it's not much of a problem, but sometimes, it can be an interesting experience.
I am one of those consumers that does her homework. If you have a return policy, damn it you'd better be following it or I will hound you until you do. I'm just that way. Anal? Maybe. I just can't stand being ripped off.
When Jake was 7, he needed a winter coat. I scoured through town looking for a good quality, nice looking winter jacket that was not going to cost an entire paycheck and came up with one at the-store-that-won't-be-named. I dropped my $100 for the jacket, Jake wore it, and all was good for a little while.
A month later, the seam holding the collar onto the jacket inexplicably came apart and left a big gaping hole about 6 inches long that only continued to get larger. So me, being the shameless return-it-woman that I am, went back to the store-that-won't-be-named. This particular store had a 90 day guarantee on it's clothing that was not only printed on signs throughout the store, but on the back of their receipts. We have such good quality items that you can return it after 90 days for a full refund, we promise! The only requirements were that you have a receipt (which I did) and the balls to try to return it (which I also did). I do not think, however, that anyone had ever challenged the 90 day guarantee until I finally arrived.
"I'll give you $25 for the jacket, because that's all it's worth," was the response. "You know, at least he got a month out of it."
No. Freaking. Way. What kind of moron response is that?
I went back again and spoke to another staff member, and this time the offer was different.
"Go get the jacket fixed, and we'll pay for it."
So being the obedient consumer that I was, I trotted off to the seamstress they recommended and left the jacket there. This may have ended the problem, but it didn't. Seamstress suddenly had family troubles and closed her shop up for weeks, with the jacket held hostage inside. To add insult to injury, that week it snowed and Jake was completely jacket-less. By now, I had done my homework and read the fine print about the policy. Fix it? No. I wanted my money back because that was the policy and I was entitled to it. At the first opportunity I got the jacket and marched back into the shop. The answer, again, was no. No refunds. The reasons?
"But we'll get into trouble."
"But your son wore it." (Yes, I'm sure all women buy clothes for their children and don't let them wear them)
"It's not worth that."
"We don't do refunds."
"You know, there's a woman in this shop that sews, she can fix it. She does it for everyone else," (okay I didn't just fall off a turnip truck, what kinda scam is that one? I can say I sew too, but you don't want to see my sewing.)
"No. Your policy is a 90 day guarantee. I have the receipt, the jacket is falling apart, I want my money back. Now."
"Absolutely not," was the response.
Obviously these people had no idea that I am one of those people who is not only tenacious, but a writer. A good writer. A resourceful, tenacious, letter writer. I was not to be outdone. That same day I went home and fired off steamingly angry e-mails to the head office of the company, citing the bad customer service that I was experiencing. The next day I received an apologetic response and confirmation, that I was, in fact, correct. I was supposed to be getting a refund.
Armed with that information from none other then the "Big Guns" themselves, the next day I marched right back to the store, jacket in hand. This time I was met with three employees standing with arms crossed, feet tapping impatiently, and looks of pure hatred. Strength in numbers, maybe?
"I have e-mailed head office, and they told me that I should be getting a refund, and they can't understand what your problem is."
Manager one rolled her eyes and looked me up and down as if I was something gross and sticky on the carpet. "And who signed the e-mail? I need to know who it was, you know." By now I had enough of this nonsense. I'm usually a very quiet, reserved person, but I had been pushed to the brink.
"Fine. I'll go home, print it off, and bring it here as proof. Then I'll write them back and let them know what a bitch you are to your customers."
There were sighs of resignation and eye rolling all around as the she swiped the jacket out of my hand, muttering under her breath all the while, and stomped to the cash register. Finally, after five visits and two e-mails to Head Office, I was receiving the refund that was so blatantly flaunted throughout the entire store.
Before she handed me my money, she paused, as if she was forgetting something.
"I need you points card," she snapped.
"Pardon?" I was confused. Points? I had enough awhile ago to redeem them, and I did.
"You got points when you bought this jacket, and I want the points back." She pauses for emphasis and her eyes narrow.
"There must be some mistake. There's no points on this." the card is swiped again and again, as if points would travel by osmosis through the machine into the card.
"Well ya, I used them." I shrugged and she thew the card over the counter at me in disdain. I threw the card back at her.
"Keep it. I won't be needing it again."
One week later, we were in the mall and as we passed by the store, Jake begins to double over with laughter.
"Look Mom!" he pointed in the direction of the store. There was the sour faced manager, the staff folding shirts, and sale signs advertising 50% off. However, something was missing.
Not a single 90 day guarantee poster in sight.
(To be fair to the store-that-won't-be-named, Head Office sent me $25 worth of gift certificates as an apology. However, when I redeemed them, I was informed by the same snotty manager that whatever I had purchased couldn't be returned or exchanged under any circumstances. The items immediately fell apart and I haven't set foot in their stores since.)