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Not The Light-Bulb Moment You Were Looking For

| Working | August 30, 2016

(While in Germany the customer is not always right, it is generally a rule of thumb to be at least nice to people that make mistakes. I am returning to a particular family-owned small hardware shop, because I bought light bulbs that are the wrong size. I have my kids with me, ages 10 and 11, both of them actually pretty calm, and just looking at the display of decorations behind me.)

Me: “I’m sorry, I wanted to exchange those bulbs for another size and—“

Clerk: “We don’t take stuff back if it has been opened!”

Me: “It hasn’t; it is still wrapped in the original foil and—“

Clerk: “We don’t take stuff back without a receipt!”

Me: *sighing internally* “I have the receipt here. I bought those yesterday, and just yesterday afternoon realized I got the wrong size.”

Clerk: “Put them here; I’ll give you your cash back!”

(The clerk proceeds to enter the light bulbs into the till per hand, and I notice that she put in the wrong price.)

Me: “Excuse me, those bulbs rang up as 7.69 Euros, and you put them in as 3.99 Euros.”

Clerk: “I’m putting them in as they are on the receipt!”

Me: “Yes, but the receipt shows them as 7.69 Euros, without any discount…”

(I turn to look at the kids in the background, then turn back to see 7.98 Euros being placed on the counter, plus (and this is important) a receipt for the cash return.)

Clerk: “Your cash return! Now leave!”

(I turn to leave, with my original receipt still firm in hands, and the cash return receipt, too. Finding the fitting bulbs, with the right light, I go to a check out. Asking the cashier if she could get me the shop owner, showing her the original receipt, the cash return receipt, and the new bulbs I wanted to buy. The owner comes, sees those, walks back to the shelf to make sure that I paid the real price, and that the cash return receipt is wrong. Returning with the clerk in tow, the owner asks me what happened. I give him a short summary, and he turns to the clerk.)

Owner: “Did you give this woman the wrong amount of money back?”

Clerk: “Yes, but—“

Owner: “And you entered the amount by hand?”

Clerk: “Yes, but—“

Owner: “That is the third time today you made a customer complain about you being rude, putting in things wrong, and generally being unhelpful! We are a small family company; I can’t afford making customers unhappy!”

Clerk: “BUT IT IS NOT MY JOB TO MAKE THEM HAPPY!”

(The clerk was told to pack all of her things right away; the owner fired her on the spot. He offered me the bulbs for free, but I was too confused to accept… I was busy explaining to my kids that what happened certainly wasn’t normal!)

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