When Store Policy Is Damaging To The Store

, , , , , , | Working | April 5, 2021

Our store is well-known for having very lenient return policies, and as a department manager, I am the only one who can authorise refunds and exchanges. We also voluntarily abide by a national code of conduct for supermarkets, which means that if an item scans at an incorrect price, it’s free. Given we are not a supermarket and have many items worth over $1,000, this is problematic.

I get paged to the homewares section and discover one of my associates distraught as a customer is tearing her a new one.

Customer: “Thank God, someone with authority! She just charged me $900 for a crystal glassware set, and as you can see here; it is worth $850! That means I get it for free!”

What the customer doesn’t know is that the $850 variant is slightly different. Our sales staff also earn 20% commission on sales of this item, so I understand why she would be upset. The anger in the customer’s voice indicates to me there has been an argument. 

Me: “Actually, you’re pointing to a slightly different version. The one you have purchased has a crystal serving tray, but this one—” *indicates towards the display* “—doesn’t. Hence the price difference.”

Customer: “You p***ks are all the same; you are just looking out for each other. See this?”

She points towards the trolley full of stock in our bags.

Customer: “I will return every single item here if you don’t give this to me for free.”

The customer hands me her receipt and there is nearly $5,000 worth of items there. I attempt to negotiate and haggle at this point, knowing that if I return $5,000 worth of items under “customer request,” I will be placed on performance review and potentially dismissed.

As I’m mulling it over, my associate begins to apologise profusely for the situation, to both me and the customer. My associate all but admits to putting the stock in the wrong place. We eventually settle on refunding the customer $300 and I write it off as “not as described.” 

I consider the matter dealt with, and I send the associate on her lunch break. About twenty minutes later, the customer appears again and finds me on the shop floor.

Customer: “Look, I feel really bad about the way in which I spoke to the lady earlier. I’ve been trying to find her to apologise; I know she didn’t really do anything wrong. Do you know where she is?”

Me: “Yep. She’s gone. I fired her. That kind of mistake is unacceptable here, and she has already left the building. Thank you for bringing the issue to my attention, because it was clear she was going to prevent us from offering the best customer experience here at [Department Store].”

The customer’s face drained of all colour and she left the store. I told the associate what I had said to the customer and she thought it was hilarious. I, however, resigned the next day and took a $15,000 per year pay-cut to a new role, as that experience showed me just how poorly this store thought of its staff.

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