Trying To Brush That Scam Under The Rug

, , , | Right | February 20, 2019

(The plaza my store is in is almost directly beside a motel, which would be fine, except there’s a family of about thirty people who, without fail, steal or try to scam every time they come in, which is at least once a day, usually more. We’ve caught on to most of their tricks, and managed to ban a few, but without evidence on camera, there’s not much we can do except make it difficult for them to actually get away with anything. I run the service desk from the afternoon until close — their favorite time to come to the store — and although I’m usually very patient with most customers, I’ve had about enough of this group, and it’s starting to show. Yesterday, one of the men in the group rented a rug machine from me. I was tempted to refuse, because they live in the motel, so I couldn’t figure why they’d be renting a rug machine unless they were planning to sell it, but I went through with it. I did mark down the exact time of the transaction, as well as when they left, in case we need to look at the cameras later, and let my manager know about my concerns. At the very least, I was expecting some kind of issue if they do return it, so I was covering my behind. I’m working today when they bring it back. Important to note: they have had it the full 24 hours, and the prices for rentals are set by the company that owns the machines, not us, so we cannot alter them.)

Woman: “I’m just bringing this back.”

Me: “Sure. You’ve got your slip, right?”

(They get a paper with the return time and date on it, which we usually just look at to confirm it’s not late, rather than find our copy in our book.)

Woman: “Yeah.” *hands me the slip; they’re exactly on time* “I think it’s broken, though. My daughter-in-law was pushing it with all her weight and it barely moved. And it wasn’t sucking up the water or nothing.”

(I know it’s not broken, and I already know what she’s about to say.)

Woman: “Can you give me a refund or something?”

Me: “No. All I can do is call a tech to come to look at it in a few days.”

Woman: “Well, can I get the other one to use since that one didn’t work?”

Me: “If you pay to rent it, yes.”

(We have a second, larger one also for rent that costs a little more.)

Woman: “But it left my carpets all wet. My daughter-in-law almost broke her arms trying to push it. I can’t just pay the difference?”

(Normally, I would be sympathetic, but this is a very common ploy this woman — and her group — have used before, and I’m not having this nonsense.)

Me: “I might have been able to get my manager to approve that if you had brought it back yesterday afternoon. You’ve kept it the full 24 hours, so your rental time is up, regardless.”

Woman: “And you won’t give me a refund, either?”

Me: “Your husband asked if we do refunds yesterday, and I told him the same thing I’m telling you. We cannot do refunds on these machines. We don’t own them; we just rent them out for [Rug Machine Company]. They set the prices and the rules, and we have to follow them.”

Woman: “Fine, then. Can you just write in your books that it’s been returned? I don’t want to get charged by mistake.”

(I take out the book and find her slip, write, “Returned”, and pray I’m done, but since she’s still staring at me, I know it’s not over yet.)

Woman: “Can I get a discount if I come back for the other one?”

Me: “No.”

Woman: “I should get a discount for the inconvenience. The machine you gave me was broken.”

Me: “Ma’am, the machine worked just fine before you rented it; we wouldn’t have had it for rental if it was broken. The only reason that machine wouldn’t work properly is if it was used incorrectly, or damaged in transit from your car to your home, and in that case, we aren’t liable for that.”

Woman: “You really can’t even give me a discount next time?”

Me: “No, I can’t. As I said, all I can do is call a tech. If it’s clogged or jammed, they have it on record that it wasn’t prior to this rental. If something did break — which is rare, but it does happen — I still can’t give you a refund until their company approves it.”

Woman: “That doesn’t mean you can’t give me a discount. I’m telling you it didn’t work. I should be getting a refund, but if you’re going to be so pigheaded about it, I should at least get a discount next time, so I can fix my carpets.”

Me: “Again, we don’t own the machines. They aren’t maintained by us, they aren’t owned by us, and we have no more control over the prices than we do the rules for renting them. A tech would still have to come out to verify the machine you say is broken wasn’t working properly for me to be authorized to give you a discount.”

Woman: “That’s ridiculous. I’m going to call and complain about this. What’s [Rug Machine Company]’s number? I should be getting a refund. And you bet I’m going to call [Store Manager] about this, too. It’s ridiculous I can’t get a refund when you rented me a broken machine.”

(She leaves. I go into the office and tell [Manager she threatened to call] what happened, as she was watching on camera the whole time, and she says I was exactly right to refuse a refund and not to worry about it. Someone rents the machine the next day, and I am there when they bring it back. Out of curiosity, I ask if it was broken.)

Customer: “No, it worked fine.”

(The woman came through my line about a week later when I was on register. I was happy to tell her the machine was rented out several times and worked just fine. She makes five members of that group who now avoid me like the plague, since I’ve caught them out in a scam. Tragic.)

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