A Big Bag Of Haggling

, , , , , , | Right | September 30, 2020

The store I work at has a huge holiday sale at the start of the summer. Because of the discounts, we offer the sale prices for any items purchased less than two weeks before the sale. There’s also a coupon for the sale: 20% off one full-priced item. The deals are good, and the store’s overrun with customers. And some of them, apparently, want to try out their haggling skills.

I’m running returns when a woman steps up to the register next to me, holding a backpacking pack with the tags reattached. My coworker is training a new hire at that register, so they talk to her first, but I still hear most of the conversation.

Customer: “I bought this backpack a few months ago, and I haven’t used it, but it’s on sale now and I want to buy it at that price.”

Trainee: “Uh… a couple of months ago, you said?”

Coworker: *Taking over* “Unfortunately, ma’am, that is outside of our window for price adjustments for this sale, so we won’t be able to readjust that price for you.”

Customer: “But it isn’t used, and the tags are still on it, see?”

Coworker: “It’s outside our adjustment window. It doesn’t matter if it’s used or not; we can’t give you the refund.”

Customer: “But it isn’t used! I’ve been saving it for the sale, to fix this price!”

The customer keeps arguing with both coworkers, until eventually a supervisor — notoriously the most patient and understanding one we have — comes up to talk to her as well.

Customer: “Thank God! Finally, someone who knows what the f*** they’re doing! It isn’t used, and I want the sale price!”

Supervisor: “That’s a price adjustment, ma’am. Both of my coworkers have already told you we are not able to do that. You’re welcome to keep shopping, but since you want to keep the bag I’m afraid you no longer have business here at customer service. Please take your pack and leave.”

The customer throws up her hands and storms back toward the sales floor, while the trainee stares open-mouthed at all three of them.

Trainee: “[Supervisor]… I’ve never seen you that mad before.”

But it doesn’t end there. A full hour later, just after my supervisor’s gone on break, a woman comes up to my register and throws down a pile of small items and a backpack. I didn’t catch a good look at her when she was behind me, but I recognize her voice right away.

Customer: “I want to return this backpack.”

Me: “All right, ma’am, when did you buy it?”

Customer: “Three months ago. I want you to give me a refund, and then I’m going to take it back over to the checkout line and get it over there. Don’t worry—” *Sarcastically* “—it’s not a price adjustment or anything.”

I freeze, physically holding the bag from where she’d tossed it at me, more stunned by her brazenness than anything else.

Me: “…and you understand I can’t process that, right?”

Customer: “But it isn’t a price adjustment!”

Me: “No, it is, because you brought up those specific words. You’re out of our adjustment period by two months, and you’ve just told me you’re planning to get around our policies by repurchasing the bag. So no, you cannot return this bag.”

Customer: “Are you kidding me? This is f****** ridiculous! It’s not even used! So what, just because some policy says I can’t return it and rebuy it here, you think I can’t just return it and then go home and order myself a new one? It’ll take a few more days, that’s all, and then I still get the price without doing your price adjustment thing. All I want is to buy the bag here, instead.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, but we have a very specific store policy for that. And to answer your question, I’d be in violation of that policy if I even let you return the bag here, because you just told me what you’re planning to do. Even if, as you say, it isn’t used.”

Customer: “But I can just do it myself!”

She points to the cashier section.

Customer:They don’t know about that… that store policy thing!”

Me: “They don’t have to. You still can’t do the price adjustment.”

Customer: “Fine. Then I want to return the bag.”

I take the bag from her. She’s not wrong; it isn’t used, so my plan is to return the pack, and then immediately throw it into the restock bin and refuse her the resale. I scan the bag, process the refund, and ring her up for her other purchases.

Me: “Your total price is on the screen there.”

Customer: “But where’s the bag?”

Me: “I am refusing the sale. You cannot buy this bag.”

The customer lurches forward like she’s going to grab me, thrusts her face close to mine, and screams. My coworkers and all the other customers in the store are now openly staring at the entire mess. I give up.

Me: *Tightly* “Fine. I will do this for you once, do you understand? This is a one-time exception.”

Customer: “Of course, whatever. Until the next time your stupid policy puts us here again.”

I scan the bag and she pays for it. Between the bag and her purchases, she spends nearly four times the “refund” I just gave her.

Customer: “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

She takes the bag and flounces away. I turn around, pissed, to find another coworker staring at me.

Coworker #2: “Jesus. That wasn’t the woman [Supervisor] yelled at earlier, was it?”

Me: “Yeah. I’m going to go in the back and scream for a bit.”

I step past him, take a healthy swig of my coffee, and prepare to go back to facing customers. I turn back to the line to see the same customer, again, barreling past the waiting line, storming straight up to my register and slamming the backpack down.

Customer: “You forgot to give me the 20% coupon!”

Me: “No, I didn’t. First, that was a one-time exception, and your one time is up. I’m not touching that receipt, or the bag, again. Second, the coupon can only be applied to items that are full price. You know this bag is discounted, since you threw a fit to get it that way. Finally, you have been refused service by four employees, so you can either leave now or I will call security to have them escort you out. Next customer, please!”

She stood there for five more minutes while I talked to customers around her, sneering the whole time. Surprise, surprise — not a single other person tried to help her the whole time she was there. If a customer doesn’t take the hint the first time, maybe they’re just dumb. But the fourth?! Come on, lady.

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