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A Tale Of Two Stores

, , , , , , | Right | April 25, 2023

I work for a big grocery store. There is a [Retail Chain] about a five-minute drive from us.

One day, [Retail Chain] shopping carts start showing up in our corrals. It’s only one or two a week, but corporate instructs us to remove them from customer access wherever found, and they quickly start taking up a lot of space in our storage.

About once every month or two, the store manager sends an employee with a van to return the carts to [Retail Chain]. It’s the neighborly thing to do.

Unfortunately, after about a year of this, corporate starts squawking about lost manpower hours and mileage reimbursement and orders us to stop returning carts.

So, the store manager calls [Retail Chain] to explain and asks that they start sending an employee here to pick up the carts.

Instead of being reasonable, the [Retail Chain] manager accuses my manager of deliberately stealing his carts and threatens legal action.

A [Retail Chain] employee never arrives to recover the carts, and after consulting with legal, my manager orders the destruction of [Retail Chain] carts. Now, instead of returning them to [Retail Chain], we’re throwing them in our dumpsters to be carted to the dump. We pay by weight, so this actually costs more than returning them.

My manager calls [Retail Chain] one more time, against the advice of legal, to advise them that we’ve begun the destruction of the carts but that they still have a couple of days in which they can come by to get the carts. He just gets more inane accusations in response.

We do eventually resolve the mystery, though.

One day, I see a young man returning a [Retail Chain] cart to our cart return. I radio the manager on duty and approach the young man.

Me: “Hello. May I ask what you’re doing?”

Customer: “I am returning the cart to the corral.”

He gestures with both hands at the cart and corral when he says those words.

Me: “Why are you returning it to us when we were not [Retail Chain] and the cart is [Retail Chain]’s?”

Customer: “[Retail Chain] doesn’t have any corrals. Carts go in corrals.”

Me: “You should return the carts to the [Retail Chain] building if they don’t have any corrals.”

Customer: “Carts belong in corrals. Carts go to the corrals. Carts need to go to corrals. Carts do not go to the store. You do not take carts to the store.”

When I suggest that [Retail Chain] carts should go back to a [Retail Chain], and not a [Our Store], he becomes agitated and wails:

Customer: “But [Retail Chain] doesn’t have a corral!”

Around this time, my manager arrives and tells me to take a hike.

Manager: “I’ll take it from here.”

I don’t know what exactly my manager said to that man. Perhaps all he did was suggest a different store to return the [Retail Chain] carts to. Perhaps he suggested that the kid shop with us rather than with our competitor.

Whatever the duty manager said, it worked: the carts stopped appearing after that.

I did ask around, just because I wanted a fuller picture of what had just happened, and I found out that that specific [Retail Chain] HAD gotten rid of all of their outdoor cart corrals around the same time that the carts started appearing at ours.

Question of the Week

What is the absolute most stupid thing you’ve heard a customer say?

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