Serve Their Own Logic Back To Them On A Plate

, , , , | Right | June 7, 2021

One of my first run-ins as a new manager is with a customer over an “exchange.” This customer is being helped in our dish department by an employee who sells luggage. He is covering a coworker’s lunch break. The customer came in with her husband looking to replace a plate from a brand that is very popular in our stores. My employee calls me over since he seems to be unable to satisfy the customer. 

Me: “Hello, [Employee] tells me you wanted to speak with a manager. How can I help you?”

The customer gives me a weird look. I am twenty-four years old and my employee is in his sixties, as is the customer.

Customer:You’re the manager?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. How can I help you?”

Customer: “Well, last week, my son broke one of my salad plates and I need to replace it. You see, I bought the box set that had service for twelve and now I’m one short.”

Me: “Of course, which design and pattern was it? We’ll be happy to ring it up for you.”

I am thinking I was called over because she forgot the pattern and he needed a manager to find the purchase.

Customer: “No, that’s the problem. I want you to replace the plate; I’m not paying for it.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

Customer: “See, my son broke the plate. He wanted to warm it up, so he put it in the toaster oven. I told him that it wasn’t oven-safe so he could only put it on the warm setting, but he didn’t. He turned on the toaster oven and the plate cracked.”

Me: “Yes, those plates aren’t oven-safe.”

Customer: “Exactly. So, I called and spoke to some gentleman. He said you’d replace the plate with no problem.”

Me: “Of course. We can easily get a replacement for you; we are still carrying the line. But you will have to pay for the replacement.”

Customer: *Raising her voice* “That is unacceptable! Why should I have to pay for the plate?! I didn’t break it! How much does the plate even cost?!”

Me: *Scans the plate* “Well, with today’s sale, it’s $12.”

Customer: “$12?! That’s outrageous! I did not pay that much for it originally!”

Me: *Trying to keep smiling* “Okay, let me see what you purchased originally. I should be able to match the sale. When did you purchase it?”

Annoyed, she throws her store card on the counter.

Customer: “I don’t know! I purchased it on this card when we were in town sometime last fall.”

Great. Hopefully, there aren’t a million purchases! I look up her history and see she’s a snowbird — someone who only comes down for the winter — so it’s easy to find.

Me: “I found the set. You paid full price for it: $500. Good news! Today’s sale of 30% off is a much better deal than you originally purchased the set for!”

Customer: “No, it is not! This is ridiculous. Why should I even have to pay for this plate?”

Me: “You don’t have to purchase it. I’d be more than happy to put it back for you.”

Customer: “This is ridiculous. What kind of place is this? You sell nice things; you should take care of your customers. I am now one piece short of my twelve-piece set. I need the plate!”

Me: “Ma’am, I understand, but your son broke the plate. I wouldn’t be able to just give you a new one for free.”

The customer is now screaming because she has gotten nowhere.

Customer: “I have never had such terrible service in my life! Why should I have to pay for it?! I didn’t break it!”

Enough is enough so I’m shutting this down.

Me: “You’re absolutely right. You didn’t break the plate; your son did. He should pay for it.”

The customer’s jaw drops and she stares at me.

Customer: *Huffs* “Well, I never! [Husband], we’re leaving!”

She stormed off.

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