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As I Explained Earlier… Madam

, , , , , | Right | December 16, 2020

I am a supervisor in womenswear in a department store. Recently, our store manager has let us know that if someone comes in with an item that goes on sale after buying it within two weeks, we can return it and give them the cheaper price. This department store is a bit smaller than a lot in our chain, so it has fewer brands.

One day, a slightly snooty woman comes in.

Customer: “Hi, I bought this [Brand we don’t stock] dress in [Closest Large Store] this weekend, but it’s now gone on sale. Can I get it cheaper here?”

Me: “That’s within our policies, but we don’t sell the brand in this store, so I can’t verify the sale price, I’m afraid.”

Customer: “Well, I found the price online, so I’ll just show you on my phone.”

Me: “Sorry, but I can’t accept that as proof. Sometimes we do online-only sales, so the fact that it is reduced online doesn’t necessarily mean you get the same price in-store.”

Customer: *Sighs* “Look, just ring it up, okay? I make way more than you do in your pathetic little job, so I know if you just scan it through, it will come up with the right price, okay?”

I bite my tongue so I don’t respond to her rudeness.

Me: “Our tills don’t always—”

Customer: “JUST DO IT!”

I sigh internally and try to scan the dress. As I thought, because we don’t sell this brand, it won’t come up on the till and I cannot verify the price she told me, which is £80 less than what is on the tag.

Me: “I’m very sorry, madam, but there is no way for me to process this; the till won’t allow me. As I can’t verify the price, you’ll need to take it back to [Closest Large Store] before two weeks are up and they’ll be able to do it for you there.”

Customer: “Ugh, fine, whatever.”

She leaves. A coworker who was waiting to speak to me asks a question, and I ask her to take some clothes from my fitting room as she goes back to her area. Five minutes later, she comes back.

Coworker: “Just thought you should know that that customer is trying the same trick in the handbags department.”

Me: “What?!”

Coworker: “Yep, but they’ve already started to process the sale, so it looks like we’re losing £80 off our sales.”

I am fuming at this; shrinkage and returns are something my job performance is measured by. Minutes later, I get a call on my management phone from the manager.

Manager: “Hey, they’re having a problem with a return in handbags. Could you go and take a look? I’m doing rotas in my office.”

Her office is up three floors, so this isn’t an unusual request. However, since I know the problem, I’m angry.

Me: “I know precisely what problem they are having!”

I launch into a full explanation, during which I am a little mean about how I think the customer is scamming us. When I’ve finished, the phone line goes very quiet, and I fear I’ve gone too far.

Manager: “Go and tell that b**** where to stick it.”

Me: “Really?”

Manager: “Go nuts. I’ll back you up if she complains.” *Ends the call*

Trying to keep the smug grin off of my face, I head over. Noticing that the customer is getting impatient with waiting, I decide being ultra-polite and professional will infuriate her more. I speak first to the handbag assistant.

Me: “You needed help from a manager?”

Customer: “Wait, you’re a manager?!”

Assistant: “Yeah, she wants to get the sale price on this dress. I’ve tried it on the till, but it won’t scan it right.”

Me: “Yes, I understand.”

I turn to the customer.

Me: “And as I explained to you earlier, madam, you will need to take this to [Closest Large Store], as we do not carry this brand in-store. It’s not against policy, as I explained to you earlier, madam, but we physically cannot do it. As I explained to you earlier, madam.”

Customer: *Spluttering slightly* “Yes, well, I thought you were incompetent and couldn’t work the till.”

Me: “Oh, I understand completely why you came to a different till. But as I explained to you earlier, madam, we cannot do this and you will need to take this to [Closest Large Store]. As I explained to you earlier, madam.”

Throughout this whole exchange, she has been getting more and more irate at my calm demeanour.

Customer: “Fine! I’ll go!”

She storms out, knocking some stock over as she does so.

Assistant: “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to undermine you. She didn’t mention she’d already tried to return it!”

Me: “Of course, she didn’t. And hey, no worries. I got to tell her off. I haven’t had that much fun in ages!”

It did make me smile for the rest of the day!

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