TalesFromRetail: "I AM THE CUSTOMER!!!"
I have worked in retail for roughly 10 years and never in my life have I ever witnessed a return go oh so very wrong like it did today. I am currently employed at grocery store that has the fairest return policy known to man: If you need to return an item without a receipt, you get your money back. If you return an item that we normally carry in our store with a receipt, you get your money back and the item is replaced for free (as long as it is of equal value). Even though this is a god-tier return policy, some customers tend to take advantage of the company and this is what leads me to my story.
Background: You know those customers that ALWAYS have a problem with something they’ve purchased? This is exactly the type of customer I deal with every time she shops at my store. She is never satisfied with anything she ever purchases and always wants to replace her items. The first time she shopped at my store she had purchased ground beef. Some time passes and she comes back to my store and explains to me that she found wood chips in the ground beef and our store needs to notify corporate of this hazard. She did not have the product with her, but had a receipt. Horrified, I told her I would make an exception and replace her item, as well as give her the money back for the extreme inconvience. Turns out she had already approached the store manager about the issue and the manager told her that we were unable to replace the ground beef without the item brought back to us. This is where I fucked up and I will tell you why–this caused a chain reaction. From then on, she continued to bring back items either half consumed that went bad or items that she did not like and usually I was the one that had to return it for her. Some of the times she did have the receipt and item with her, so I gladly gave her the replacement items and her money back. Other times, she complained about bad produce she purchased and even though she didn’t have the item, I gave her an even exchange just to keep her happy. She is the type of customer that is very abrasive, but I have always been nice to her to reduce any tension. All of this leads to the nuclear situation that occurred because she had to complete her return with a different associate other than myself.
Story: The customer, who we will call Manic Lady (ML for short), came up to me and brought two items to return. I told her if she would like to exchange them, we can complete the return once she finished shopping. After my line was cleared, I went on the sales floor and was speaking to my Supervisor (S) when the Associate (A) at the register started to frantically call for S for assistance. Immediately following, I was asked by A to line up customers at my register. Walking up to the front, I could hear ML yelling at S.
ML:…I’m returning these two items so I get my money back and my free items.
S: No, you don’t have your receipt, so we can only offer you your money back.
ML: Look at this! (holds up the item) It has mold on it.
S: Okay, but you ate half of it and without a receipt I have no idea the last time you purchased it and how long you have had the item open.
ML: SO?! And this one tasted disgusting. You need to give me my money back and my free products.
S: I cannot offer you your money back and replace the items without a receipt. This is company policy.
ML: This is ridiculous! I have shopped here for a while and always got my money back with free items.
This goes on for another 5-10 minutes until the customers behind her become increasingly angry with her blatant disrespect for S. Finally, a hero rises. After ML accuses A of being rude to her the last couple times she shopped at my store and how she is going to contact corporate, Hero Customer (HC) steps in a calls out ML for causing a scene.
HC: Look, I am just try to check out and you are being so rude to this woman. You need to have some respect.
ML: I have respect, but she won’t give me what I deserve.
HC: You need to go away.
ML: WHY DON’T YOU GO AWAY!
HC: Go away, old lady.
ML: Do you hear how disrespectful you are being?!
HC: (laughing) I was behind you at another store just earlier and you did the same thing to the cashier so just go so the rest of us can check out.
At this point, this altercation had been going on for about 15 minutes and S started to get tired of holding everyone up and allowing ML to throw her temper tantrum. To avoid anymore melt downs, S returned the items, gave her the money back and replaced them even though the items ML picked out were way above the price of the original items. Then it came down to paying for another item that ML wanted to buy. ML thought that she could replace and get refunded for two items that cost about $5 with three items that cost over $15. Even though she continued to argue that she shouldn’t have to pay for the final item with her refunded money, she gave in. But wait, there’s more!
ML: Where’s my $5? Did you give me that $5?!
A: Yes I did. I handed it to you with your receipt.
ML: (frantically searching through her purse) It’s not here, I don’t think you gave it to me.
A: (Puts hands up) Ma'am I don’t have it. I gave it to you.
ML: Well, I’m not calling you a thief, but you need to have your manager check the cameras to make sure you gave it to me.
S is called back and tells ML that the cameras can only be checked by the general manager. ML is set off once again and A agrees to at least count the drawer. While A and S are counting the drawer, ML decides it’s a good idea to openly vent to other customers that witnessed this catastrophic return. One person that she turns to must of been in the military or an off-duty cop. We will call him P.
ML: Can you believe how that girl (HC) was talking to me?
P: Well, she was a lot nicer than I would have been.
ML: WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?! IS THAT A THREAT?!
P: You are being a public nuisance.
Finally realizing that everyone in the store is sick of her, she finally shuts up and waits for A and S to return. They come out of the office and inform ML that the drawer was only short a few cents and she did indeed receive her refund. S even printed out the balance sheet to prove that A did not have her $5. ML pays for her final item, but not without yelling how she is going to return tomorrow to get her money back. This would be the end, except now she wants to replace a refrigerated item that is now warm due to her having to wait so long. She goes back, replaces her item, and begins to leave the store while yelling, “I AM THE CUSTOMER!!!”