‘Twas the Retail Nightmare Before Christmas, Pt 2
Earlier, we took a look at some QLP employees’ horror stories from their previous days in the retail world. Are you ready for part two? Get ready for some more retail experiences gone awry!
Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
“I would have to say the very worst part of the holiday season in retail, is working the returns desk. The store I worked at had a “holiday items” return policy as follows:
“Any holiday decoration in its original packaging and in working condition can be returned for the full amount with the original receipt before the holiday.
No, you can't return your tangled Christmas lights after the holidays.
Any holiday decoration in its original packaging that is damaged or not working can be returned for the full amount with the original receipt only as store credit or even exchange before the holiday.
Holiday merchandise returned after the holiday will be in the form of store credit at the lowest sale price with or without the receipt.”
I cannot tell you how many people tried to return Christmas lights and trees after Christmas thinking they would get a full refund. When I told them what I could return it for, I was called every name in the book, I had things thrown at me, they threatened to get me fired…anything you could think of. What was I going to do? I couldn’t override the computer and give them whatever they want (if your string of lights didn’t work, then bring them back before Christmas, not two months after!).
People are crazy during the holidays.”
Read all sale details carefully - you'll save time and hassle!
“When I worked at Old Navy, it blew my mind: when I would ring something up, the person would complain that the pants are supposed to be $10 when they rang up $25, so I would go look at the sign and it clearly said “SHIRTS $10.” Then the customer would act like it was my fault that they didn’t know how to read the sign.
Same goes for coupons for promotions that haven’t started yet. When you hand me a coupon for a sale that doesn’t start for two weeks, there is literally nothing I can do. Telling me that you don’t want to come back again in two weeks when you already have all of the stuff picked out now does not help, as I do not care that you are too lazy to a) read, and b) come back in two weeks to use the coupon to purchase all of this crap after the promotion actually starts. And no, we cannot put something on hold for two weeks. You’d be lucky if we could let you put it on hold for longer than a day.”
“Christmas ’09 was spent working the customer service desk. Never before have I met so many unruly, incompetent, and outright rude people. I have a litany of personal stories, but this one happened to my coworker. Luckily, I was able to witness this, but didn’t have to live it:
Retail tip #1: Arguing with your cashier typically won't produce the results you want.
A woman comes up with a digital camera that has clearly been used – the box and the item look like they were beat to crap. So based on that standard alone, there was no way that we were going to take the item back. She – surprisingly – has a receipt, but she bought the item about five months ago, and Target has a very strict 90 day return policy. So without even mentioning the terrible condition of the camera, my colleague politely informs the woman that her receipt has been expired for two months.
She says, “What?”
“Your receipt is expired. They expire 90 days after purchase,” my coworker explains.
“That’s ridiculous. I have never seen that. I have never read that.”
My coworker kindly points out the expiration date (which is clearly labeled on each and every receipt), the policy printed on the back (clearly outlined), and our sign over the service desk.
This lady is now clearly in the wrong, but she is refusing to believe it. “No. I don’t see it. Where does it say that? I don’t see it. I DON’T SEE IT.”
The receipt is not smudged, torn, or missing information. It’s printed clear as day. Which my coworker shows her.
“You’re lying! This receipt doesn’t say anything! It isn’t anywhere on here! You are a liar! Let me speak to a manager.”
Oh, okay, because a manager is going to be able/want to erase that information for you. The manager comes and repeats the policy. I never understood why people don’t believe you until they speak to a manager. Customer service workers don’t want to screw you, they want you to go away and leave them alone.
Anyway, there was a lot of screaming on the customer’s end. It ended, as it usually does, with an “I will NEVER shop here again,” coupled with a dramatic grab of merchandise and stomping out of the store.
And then the customer after her complained about her ruckus…and promptly started yelling at me when I told her I couldn’t accept a coupon that expired two weeks ago.”
“I don’t have one horror story, I think my brain has blocked them from my memory. However I do have an annoyance. A little background: I worked at the Crate & Barrel Outlet in Naperville and the closest regular store is in Oakbrook or Geneva Commons. If I had a dollar for the number of times I had people complain to me that we “didn’t have the same selection as the regular store,” I’d be a millionaire. Customers were always shocked that our merchandise was about 3-6 months older than what the regular store had. Then they’d complain that they’d have to drive there to pick up their full-price item.
Retail tip #2: Outlet stores don't always carry the same merchandise.
Uh, yeah, as opposed to what?
Option A) Invent a teleportation device to magically make this season’s new mixing bowls you wanted appear right before your eyes.
Option B) I should drive out there, pick up their bowls, and bring them back to our store.
I really hated working retail. I still believe in ‘retail karma’ and will refold anything I look at to make it identical to the one the sales person just folded. And if I decide against an item, I take it back to its spot about 9 times out of 10. It’s going to be a cold day in hell when I go back to working retail.”
What lessons can we learn from this smorgasbord of customer service experiences?
Well, for starters:
The next time you’re out doing some Christmas shopping, treat those salespeople as you would like to be treated yourself, or how you wished folks would’ve treated you when you were a salesperson.
And, for crying out loud, please try to put things back how and where you find them.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the old saying that goes, “It is better to give than to receive.” Well, this holiday season, give those folks working retail a break, and almost always, if you give them nothing but kindness and gratitude for their hard work, they’ll be more than sure to send some your way, too.
Do you have any retail horror stories to share? Which one of these real-life experiences was your favorite…or the most shocking?