Okay RHU, we survived the Apocalypse of 2012 but now we have another year of retail enslavement to deal with! For me, it’s this dang gone rain! What is it with rain that brings out the worst in people? Here’s another crazy time at the gift store.
We sell cheap ass $9 umbrellas. I mean bottom of the barrel, break it first time, janky cover-ups that would make Mary Poppins curse up her Supercalifragilisticexpialiodocius chimney sweep ridden mouth. Anyway, I hate ringing up these things but desperate custys that want coverage from the downpour end up grabbing them up like a bargain basement Black Friday sale. Then when it craps out, all hell breaks loose!
Custy: I bought this umbrella five minutes ago and it’s defective! I want my money back!”
Me: Sorry all Sales Final according your receipt and the sign. *points to sign* I can exchange it for you or give you store credit.
Custy: *RAWR* YOU’RE CHEATING THE CUSTOMER! YOU SHOULD STAND BY YOUR PRODUCTS! I WANT A MANAGER!”
Manager tells custy same thing and this goes on repeatedly for each custy that purchased that cheap ass umbrella. Basically people, you have to spend some extra dough for a good industrial sized umbrella but you get what you pay for! It’s not my fault you forgot your umbrella at home! Use that newspaper or a trash bag as a covering!
Crazy Lady: You there! You should stop doing that!
Coworker: Excuse me?
Crazy Lady: You should stop folding shirts and help me! You should always help your customers! Are you new?
Crazy Lady: You must be new. Otherwise, you would know I needed help.
Coworker: (Did she even bother to ask for any or look for someone with a nametag?) Can I help you?
Crazy Lady: You need to help your customers! I’m looking for something of good quality. Price doesn’t matter.
Coworker: Are you looking for a shirt, a hoodie, or jacket?
Coworker: Well we have these sweatshirts up here.
CRAZY LADY: THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT! I SAID I NEEDED SOMETHING OF GOOD QUALITY! PRICE DOSEN’T MATTER! WHERE’S YOUR MANAGER?
Crazy Lady goes to manager who shows her a jacket. Crazy Lady gets all excited.
Crazy Lady: That’s what I want! I was looking for a jacket. *turns to manager* You need to train your employees better.
WTF? You’re the one who needs a brain replacement! My coworker asked you what you wanted but you wouldn’t tell us! We can’t read your mind bitch! Argh!
Now for something high-larious. It’s pouring outside and next to our tourist section of town is a city park where local artisans sell their homemade wares. It also includes so-called psychics offering to do tarot cards and palm readings. Well one of the psychics who I refer to as Miss Cleo (remember her from the 90’s Psychic Hotline) walks in drenched like a drowned rat. She goes and buys one of our cheap ass umbrellas.
Miss Cleo: Oh Lord! It’s raining cats and dogs out there! I didn’t see it coming.
Uh, you’re a psychic. You didn’t foresee the weather being rainy? Did your psychic powers fail you, Sylvia Brown?
She leaves for a minute and comes back with our defective umbrellas.
Miss Cleo: This umbrella doesn’t work! I need my money back and some extra plastic bags. My stuff is getting wet outside.
Manager makes an exception and refunds the lady’s $9 but in my head I’m thinking: Obviously the dead people you see hate you. You would’ve seen the future and known that umbrella you bought was crappy! Then again I’m psychic too. I’m predicting that you’re a fake and my palms are telling me to give you the finger!
I wonder if John Edward or Whoopi Goldberg has this problem?
Sadly, I don’t have any.
Perhaps with the rare exception of a customer going to up to my manager and verbally complimenting me, I have never received any feedback in my retail career where a consumer went above and beyond to acknowledge my customer service skills. Oh and all those thank you letters I got when I was a Big Fancy slave doesn’t count since many of them feel a bit forced. Face it when you work for the Big Fancy, outstanding custy service is expected and you don’t want to know the many instances I’ve seen of fellow asshat coworkers telling custys to write a positive letter about them so they can rack up points for Employee of the Month. *cough cough* BULLSHIT!
However, I will reveal to you all what I did to make a retail slave’s day. As I noted before, I’m a refugee from Big Fancy and everything you read in Freeman Hall’s books about the company are ABSOLUTELY one hundred percent true! Big Fancy has a habit of building up their slaves, working them to death, and spitting them out if they don’t produce their ridiculously high quotas. I have seen the revolving door of employees come in and out of my rinky dink store without so much as a thank you for the pleasure of working for the Big Fancy. Now get the fuck out!
Now when I was working for them, I had the misfortune of being their corporate lackey by manning their complaints counter. Basically, my job was to kiss a custy’s ass and make sure they left happy and massage their overinflated egos to the point they get their happy ending! One night, a sweet little old lady came in to my counter crying and all upset clutching her Basic Fancy shopping bag that contained a blouse that had not been touched. Everything was on it including the tag, the return label, and the poor woman had a receipt. Immediately, I’m thinking. She wants to return.
No biggie. I start the transaction when she suddenly she shakes her head and tells me not to proceed. Then in Spanish she tries to explain to me the situation. Since I’m not a native speaker, I picked up a few key words on her explanation: something about shopping at our other bigger Fancy and needing a gift. Since we had a failure to communicate, I grab the phone and try to contact a few departments with Spanish speaking employees to help me translate. Then the frustrated shit storm hit me like a ton of bricks. All of them REFUSED to assist me because they didn’t want to miss out on sales in their department from their sharky coworkers! Well fuck me that you actually care about getting a potential sale!
After getting nowhere andseeing this poor woman more visibly upset, I finally got Pilar from ladies clothing to help me. Pilar is a white haired, Hispanic woman with the sweetest disposition who raced her little self upstairs to my complaints counter to help me translate for this custy. Taking a few minutes to converse in Spanish, Pilar gives me the 411.
“Basically, this customer went to our Big Fancy store in Ritzy Area and they refused to take it back,” Pilar explained. “She said that the salesperson who sold to it to her was so rude to her that she wouldn’t wait on her. On top of that, she wants to exchange it for something else because it’s a birthday gift for her sister.”
“It’s legit,” I reply to Pilar. “The tickets are on there, it has a return label, and it’s never been worn. Plus, it’s only been week according to the receipt. I don’t understand why they won’t take it back.”
“Because they’re not nice people at the Ritzy Area,” informed Pilar. “They made her cry. It’s only $40. They should have taken care of it there.”
“Can you help her?” I asked Pilar.
“Of course,” smiled the older woman.
Leading the Spanish speaking customer by the hand, she takes the upset consumer into ladies and returns the item. Pilar then finds another dress and even sells more merchandise to the customer landing a total of $300 in sales. If the person at Ritzy Area Fancy knew how to sell, she could have turned it around. The upset customer left our store with her purchases happy as a clam and Pilar with some extra sales figures in her daily pocket.
Yet, I did not want to stop there. Since Pilar worked so hard on this woman and without any appreciation, I went out of my way to do something nice for her. Purchasing a Big Fancy gift card for $20, I went to her department during my break and handed the older woman my gift. Pilar’s eyes widened with surprise to the point she began shaking her head.
“Queer Geek,” she clucked. “You shouldn’t do that.”
I force the gift card into her hesitant fingers. “Oh hush. Just take it. You earned it. You helped with a difficult situation because no one in this greedy company wanted to take time to aid their fellow man. Plus Big Fancy can care less about us so at least I wanted to show you that your assistance is greatly appreciated. Now don’t be humble. Accept it.”
She gave me a hug and I left her department with this weird feeling inside my stomach. Was it generosity? My humanitarianism? My overwhelming need to be a good Samaritan? My ability to sympathize as a retail slave? Damn. It means I’m developing a conscience. Whatever the case I made this Pilar’s day which gave me this warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
Sadly, Pilar didn’t last another year. Big Fancy spit her out because her sales quotas placed her at the bottom of the department totem pole. Pilar, like many of us, became another victim of the corporate serial killer. It shows that even the most decent of human beings can fall prey to the big business bullshit!
Hey ya’ll, half of this story is from a coworker, but I’ll be posting in the first person as if it all happened to me. I don’t want to post anything on her behalf without a disclaimer in case management stumbles on this page, because it is a pretty identifiable story.
Anyway, we work in a well-known retail store going through a MAJOR change, so far, I’m loving the change. It has been REALLY difficult at times, with most of us almost quitting, but I’m glad I stayed on board. Anyway, the return policy is the only thing I cannot stand…we don’t have one at all. We’ll return any item at any point in time without a receipt, even if it is worn, stolen, 9 years old, etc...
My managers have told me even if the items
say “OLD NAVY” (not us) on the tag, we are to take it back if they’re insistent
that they purchased it from us, because we don’t want to upset anyone.
Corporate says they expect 1% of people to abuse the system. I’d peg it
at about 10 or 15%, but really, it is more about the number in dollar amounts
rather than the number of fraudulent people. The ones that do it KEEP
doing it, driving MY numbers down so that almost every single day I am in the
Enter TC– trashy couple. I’m alone at the register when TC comes in the door; I can hear them yelling from outside of the mall doors. The man walks in with tubes and bandages all in and over his face, and the woman is holding an unpackaged air mattress that is halfway in its box.
“I want to return this. It has blood on it from my boyfriend getting stabbed on it.”
My jaw hits the floor…I’ve returned some questionable stuff before: bathing suits without hygienic liners, underwear that ‘doesn’t fit’, shoes that have clearly been worn for years. But I can’t even fathom what possessed this woman to think it was socially acceptable to return a biohazard-laden mattress involved in an attempted homicide.
The man/would-be-homicide victim interjects: “AND I need cash back. We can’t get the receipt because our house is on lockdown because it’s a crime scene.”
I recover as best I can, and explain that without a receipt I can still do the return, but it would be given on a store credit only. If they wanted, they could wait until they could retrieve the receipt, as it doesn’t matter how long ago the purchase was.
TC man starts FREAKING OUT.
Leans over the counter, points at the stiches going up his neck and yells “I JUST GOT STABBED! AND YOU’RE GOING TO DO THIS TO ME!?!?”, and starts yelling the same mantra to all the customers in the vicinity. TC woman starts throwing police reports and hospital records all over the counter to prove that the event happened. (lady… your boyfriend has gruesome stiches and tubes coming out of his face. I believe you. That isn’t the issue here.)
(It’s hard to imagine that such classy couple with such a positive demeanor and such a well-developed sense of social expectation would ever be the victims of a violent crime. . .)
Seeing this is going nowhere, I call over a manager. She is also shocked, but due to our return policy, her hands are tied. I get it, not her fault. She could lose her job if she refuses. She somehow talked them into taking the store credit, and processes the return. She puts on gloves and takes care of the item according to corporate standards.
But I am left with so many lingering questions….. How did they get the mattress out of the house but not the receipt?? Did they bring it to the ER with them? Did I just become an accomplice in the disposal of homicide evidence? And why does corporate train managers to dispose of biohazards??!?
The next day, the same manager tells me “Don’t worry, if you want, you can request an HIV test, and the company will pay for it.”
Greetings Curious Scroller,
If you've never landed in this part of cyber space before, you have taken a hard, fast plunge into the fiery depths of work hell. RHU is dedicated to giving the service worker a voice. If you are an angry customer, a corporate suite, a homophobic race-hater, and you don't like skull masks or swear words, this blog isn't for you. Click away now, before your ears bleed and your eyes explode.
I'm Freddy, Crypt Keeper of Retail Hell Underground RHU -- a place for service slaves to have a voice, tell their story, support each other, or just have a chuckle about the insanity of working in the 10th Circle of Hell! I'm also the author of "Retail Hell," the funny memoir about life as a handbag sales associate at an upscale department store! The sequel, "Return To The Big Fancy," has just been released in hardcover and e-reader and is available wherever books are sold!