You Won These Rounds

, , , , , , | Working | January 30, 2020

(My wife just closed a large transaction that took the better part of a year — a year of stress and constantly being on-call evenings and weekends. She wants to celebrate by purchasing the newest video game console, which features portability as well as easy connectivity to your TV. We head to the store near our house and pick out several games; this store has been advertising a “Buy Two, Get One Free” sale on their games that we want to take advantage of. It’s Halloween evening, so the store is rather packed and busy, and every employee looks exhausted. With our console and games in hand, we head up to the electronics register and…)

Wife: “All six games scanned at full price; two of them should be scanning as free.”

(The poor kid behind the register looks like it’s his third day of his first job — a bit lost and unsure of himself — but my wife and I have both worked retail and customer service:)

Wife: *very gently* “Can we suggest that a manager would be able to help?”

(While waiting for the manager, I do some quick searching on my phone and discover that the store’s sale only applies to very select games; this is not in the fine print on the advertising or their website, as only one game is listed excluded there, but on in-store signage. It’s shady marketing to get you into the store, but definitely not the fault of the employees or store; these are the kinds of decisions corporate makes. We make polite conversation about the games to the kid — really, he can’t be older than 18 — who seems to perk up a bit despite apologizing every three seconds. When the manager arrives, she listens to the situation, and after a few minutes of checking their system, she zeroes out two of the games and we are all set! When we arrive home, I begin setting up the console while my wife unboxes the games — a couple of the most popular releases have booklets with a lot of flavor and lore, and she’s looking forward to the one regarding a particular green-tunic-wearing character.)

Wife: “There’s no cartridge.”

(I stop, because there absolutely should be a cartridge. The game was shrink-wrapped, inside a box with two circular plastic seals, inside a locked cabinet. My wife silently holds up two thick pieces of black plastic that resemble a game cartridge.)

Wife: “This was in the cartridge slot.”

(We frantically check the box and paperwork for a code, despite the fact that the game should not be a digital download. Inspecting the box reveals that one of the circular seals has been opened and replaced. Doing more online searching, we come to this conclusion:)

Me: “Someone has bought the game, opened the box, stolen the cartridge, placed plastic in there to show a black profile when looking through the plastic case, re-shrink-wrapped the box, and then returned it. Even ignoring the actual crime of theft, it screws the next customer — pretty awful stuff.”

(There was really no way of proving this to the store, but I headed back, anyway, to see if anything could be done. I explained everything that had just happened to customer service, who called over a manager to investigate further. It was the same manager as before! She spoke with the electronics kid and he vouched for us, saying that we were very polite and understanding with the wait. The manager authorized an exchange for another copy of the game, which I then opened on the counter in front of them… just in case! Thinking back over the entire evening, the manager and employees could have very easily told us “no” twice and would have been completely within the rules, but went out of their way to accommodate us. I often deal with suspicious situations in my work, where it looks obvious that people are trying to scam us. This was a good reminder that bad situations can happen to good people who can’t prove they weren’t at fault, and also to treat your retail workers kindly because they’re human beings like you!)

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