If It’s Tinted Like A Scam… It’s A Scam

, , , , , | Right | June 1, 2018

(I have worked for this company for about seven years. In that time many things have changed, including the style of sticker we use on our paint cans to show what type of tint has been used in it and how much. When I first started in 2006, the stickers were square, but they changed — I think in 2009 — to round ones, and this situation takes place in 2013. A woman walks up to the returns counter with two five-gallon buckets of deck and fence stain — totaling about $200 — that have clearly been tinted — which we don’t take back, anyway, unless we made a mistake with the color. They have square labels.)

Me: “Welcome to [Store]. How may I help you?”

Customer: “I bought this stain, but I got too much and I need to return it.”

Me: “When did you purchase it?”

Customer: “Oh, a couple of months ago. I know I won’t be able to get cash, but could I get store credit?”

(Big red scam flag.)

Me: “Well, ma’am, since we haven’t used square stickers since about 2009, it’s extremely improbable that you bought it a couple of months ago. Also, I’m terribly sorry, but we don’t take back tinted products, anyway, unless there’s something wrong with the color.”

Customer: “The color was wrong; I just didn’t have time to come back in until today.”

(HUGE red scam flag.)

Me: *after checking the stickers* “Ma’am, the date on this sticker is from 2008; that was five years ago. Even if we did make a mistake back then, it’s not possible for us to refund you or replace it now.”

Customer: “Well, can’t you just take it from me and sell it to someone, or give it away, or dispose of it? I just need to get rid of it.”

(There isn’t a flag big enough or red enough to convey that she’s attempting to pull some sort of scam, so I think, “Yeah, right, and open ourselves up to you being able to accuse us of ‘stealing’ your stain? No, thank you.” But what I actually say is:)

Me: “Unfortunately, ma’am, we can’t sell it or give it away to anyone, because we have no idea what the chemical composition would be like by now. We also can’t dispose of it for you because stain is classified as a hazardous material, and we can’t accept anything hazmat that isn’t already considered part of our inventory.”

(This wasn’t exactly the truth, since we constantly accepted things like burnt-out fluorescent bulbs or empty spray paint cans from customers — we’d much rather pay to dispose of it for them than get fined if the EPA finds those things in our dumpster — but at least she left without any fuss! We made sure she had help loading her car back up, too, because we also didn’t want her abandoning the stain in the parking lot and using that as a method to accuse us of “stealing” it from her.)

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