Mairsy Dotes

"No faith is as solid as a wounded faith."

Our thought for the day September 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — beege @ 10:35 am

“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle of some kind.”

Someone from corporate has this as their tagline on their emails. I really like it. I think it contains a lot of truth. I also think it’s freaking hard.

Take last night, for instance. At 8PM (an hour before closing) a customer came in to return several items that

  1. She’d had in her closet for at LEAST three years.
  2. She had no receipt for.
  3. All but 2 of the garments had no tags left on them.

Apparently, one of my team of associates told her that there was no time limit on returns, and that OF COURSE she should bring those items in and we’d be happy to take the return. Since I couldn’t find any record of the sales, our store had to take the hit of a $400 return (yikes!) and since I couldn’t find any record of the sales, I told the customer that I would have to give her a merchandise credit. To which this woman replied, “Well….I guess that’s fair.”

What the f*ck?!? I freaking DARE her to find ANY retailer out there that would take a return on merchandise she’s had for a minimum of three years even if she DID have her receipts, much less without them. And she thinks we’re just being FAIR?! Great googly moogly. What a yatch.

I wasn’t kinder than necessary to her. I pretty much processed her return, gave her her $400 merch credit, and left my associate to deal with her pissyness.

Last week, I had a customer walk up to the register with an armload of clothing. She was dressed in clothing from the Fashion Emporium, but it was older. She announced, “I am one of your best customers. Clearly, you can see that I am, since I’m wearing your clothing right now. But I frequently get burned by Fashion Emporium, because I spend several hundred dollars and then it inevitibly goes on sale.” I nodded, “Yes, all our merchandise goes on sale at the end of the season. But if the merchandise you buy goes on sale within two weeks from the purchase date, you can come in for a price adjustment.” She shook her head and sneered, “No, it always goes on sale more like a month or so after I buy it.” I just smiled. She continued, “So, I’m wondering what you can do for me on these prices. I’m one of your best customers. What can you do for me?” Now, I’m sorry. She may have been wearing our clothing, but that doesn’t make her one of our best customers. We’ve got a small customer base. I know all our “best customers” by name, and quite a few of our “not quite best” customers by name, too. I didn’t know her. So I said, “Everything is priced as marked. Unless you have a coupon of some sort, there’s no discount that I can give you.” She looked at me and snapped, “I want to see your manager.” I said, “I AM the manager.” (God, THAT felt good.) Her demeanor immediately changed, “Oh. So there’s really nothing you can do?” Negative. “Well, I just don’t think that spending money like this on clothing is a wise decision in this economic climate.” I said, “Everyone needs to make their own decisions on how they spend their money in times like this. I would be more than happy to put these items on a 48 hour hold so that you can think about what things you want, and see what pieces would work with pieces you already own. I’ll leave you for a few minutes to think about it.” I moved away to help other customers, and overheard her talking (quite loudly) to her friend about how expensive the items were, but how much she loved them, and how much she wanted them, but how she REALLY didn’t like the prices, etc. I ignored her. Finally, she decided she’d put everything on hold. My cashier took care of that for her, and she left the building. Five minutes later, she came back, and announced she’d buy everything, but that we owed her friend a commission because her friend was the one that had talked her into buying the items. I smiled (oh so sweetly), “I’d be happy to give your friend half of the commission I make on this sale–if we worked on commission. But since we don’t, I’m afraid she and I are both out of luck.” Then she pissed and moaned about the prices a little more, bought the stuff, and our “best customer” left.

It’s INSANE. I would never, ever dream of doing what these two women did. Lord knows, I’ve got plenty of pieces in my closet that I’ve had for years and maybe only worn once or twice but it would NEVER occur to me to try and return them! And bartering? At a store like Fashion Emporium? Forget it. I don’t even barter at the Farmer’s Market. I think it’s rude, and disrespectful. If I can’t afford to shop in a store I don’t go into that store. It’s as simple as that.

But we’re going to be seeing more of that, with things going the way that they are. Fashion Emporium has great clothing, but it’s one of the more expensive stores in this area. People don’t want to have to give up their standard of living, but they aren’t able to support their standard of living any more. It’s an ugly time to be working retail. That’s why I hope my interview goes well today.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

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5 Responses to “Our thought for the day”

  1. Julia Says:

    I am definitely experiencing more price resistance at work. Plus so many of our prices have gone up. $75 for plain jeans seems frakin’ crazy to me.

    Stupid people with their stupid misplaced feelings of entitlement. It’s really hard to be nice to those people. Sometimes I even watch myself be not nice and think I should be nicer but I just can’t handle doing that sometimes. Like the lady the other day complaining about how there aren’t any dresses in the store. Bah bah, grump grump grump.

  2. jess Says:

    I find it SO hard to be kinder than necessary at my corporate job – but I rarely deal with customers now, so I’m lucky. I get the occasional customer banging on the window next to my desk after we’ve closed (in what universe is that appropriate??) and it is SO much easier to be kind to someone when they’re polite. At the library, I usually find it easier to be kind – maybe because it’s a public service job and not a corporate job. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and not think snarky things like “SURE you returned that book – you just lost it and don’t want to fess up.” Um, sorry for ranting in your comments 🙂

  3. Sarah Says:

    When I lived in the US I was constantly amazed by the way people returned old, used, and worn merchandise back to shops. I remember a colleague returning a pair of boots two years after she’d bought them because the heel was starting to wear. I blushed when she told me the story! In New Zealand, you only return things that are defective or there’s something else wrong. The funny thing, there’s so much more of a customer service ethic in the US. Shop assistants are (generally) unfailingly helpful and polite. There’s hardly any, “I’m not going to look up from my magazine even though I know you’re standing there waiting for help” or “I’m not going to come over and ask if you need help because you don’t look like you can afford to shop here.” The US is refreshingly democratic that way. So it saddens me to hear your story, because it sounds like you were being polite, respectful, and gently firm about store policy. I honestly don’t know how someone can meet that with belligerent grumpiness. It’s almost like she didn’t see you as another human being.

  4. ~moe~ Says:

    I’m totally hoping your interview went well today. I, too, would not do what these women did. In fact, when i cleaned out my closet a few months ago I found 3 shirts from NY&Co that still had price tags on them. I had never wore them and never would. Did I go back to get my money (I had purchased them a year and a half ago)? Nooo. I gave them to Goodwill, tags and all. Maybe someone else can benefit that way. Sorry you had to deal with their pissiness. You did quite well, I must say. 🙂

  5. beege Says:

    Oh, Sarah. I could tell you stories that would make you despair of human kindness. It’s as though just because I’m a shopgirl, I’m below common courtesy. I’ve had customers come into the store and hand me the garbage out of their cars, saying, “Throw this away for me.” and then walking out.

    I want to snap, “I’m not your bitch.” at someone on a near daily basis…it’s really wearing.


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