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The Fluster Buster

, , , , | Right | May 14, 2019

(I work in an electronic retail store as a manager. Over the past year, we have been hit by a scammer doing fraudulent returns on items he has stolen. Basically, all of the managers have been tricked by him, including me. I see him come into the store and immediately greet him, and he luckily doesn’t recognize me. It would be easy to simply call him out and refuse his return but it’s a slow day.)

Me: “Hello, how can I help you?”

Customer: *said to the person he is on the phone with* “This girl is standing here looking at me like she doesn’t even want to help me! I’m just a big inconvenience to her!”

(I remain calm, as this is part of what he does: try to fluster the manager.)

Me: “Sir, I don’t believe I have given you any reason to think you are an inconvenience. If you would let me know what I can help you with, I would be more than happy to assist you.”

Customer: “I have a return. I bought these laptops for a summer camp, but we ended up not needing half of them. I already talked to [Store Manager] and she approved it.”

Me: “Great! I can certainly help you with that. Can I see your receipt?”

Customer: “I don’t have it, but as I already said, I met with [Store Manager] and she said that you would take care of me. You’re going to do that, right? I would really hate to have to bother your bosses and let them know you aren’t helping me out.”

(I know he is lying. Our manager would never approve such a large return without a receipt.)

Me: “Sure, let’s go over to the return desk and I’ll get it started.”

(He continues to talk to the person on the phone, again stating that I am giving him attitude and that he is going to have to have a talk with the store manager about how rude I am. I ignore him, start to scan the items, and call the store manager at home. She picks up after a few rings.)

Me: “Hi, sorry to bother you on your vacation, but I have a gentleman here who says that he talked to you about doing a receiptless return on about $3,500 in laptops.”

Store Manager: “I absolutely did not talk to anyone about a return. Is this that same guy that keeps coming in?”

Me: “Yep, it sure is. Just wanted to confirm.”

(The entire time I’m having this conversation, the customer isn’t paying attention and is still bad-mouthing me on the phone, trying to be intimidating.)

Me: “Sir, I just got off the phone with [Store Manager] and she has no idea who you are. Honestly, I’m surprised that you keep coming back and running this same scam. You’ve actually already pulled this same thing with me a year ago, so I know exactly what you are doing.”

(The customer goes pale and starts to back away. He tries to push the cart full of stolen laptops with him. I grab it firmly.)

Me: “You can leave those here, as I know you stole them. I have you on camera and I will be immediately calling the police.”

(He bolted out the door. One of my coworkers who was nearby chased him down and wrote down his license plate. I called the police and gave a report. We later found out that upon searching his house they found close to $50,000 in stolen merchandise from stores all over the city. He had also been flagged by numerous loss prevention teams in other stores.)

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