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Epic Tale of Department Store Hell: From The Eyes of a Young Newbie

Storytime1 Hey everyone.

Call me Jewelry Man. (can't think of anything witty) Been a long time fan of this forum and reader for over a year now. I have kind of an original story, in the sense that I found the biggest threat to your sanity wile being a retail slave, does not always have to be from the customers. Sometimes it comes from incompetent management.

I worked for a department store. Lets call it Fear&Loathing. Let me explain just briefly the way the Hierarchy. There is a General Manager(GM) and Operations Manager(OM) that oversee 10 departments, with an Area Sales Manager(ASM) for each. The ASM's are suppose to be the pit-bosses to keep the slaves in line, handle merchant &custy issues, and make the daily operations run smoothly in their dept. The OM and GM are just kiss-asses and liaisons for the  corporate sector. its rare to see them do much of anything, although we did have one coll OM for a little bit.
some ASM's are cooler than others because they worked their way up through the ranks, but some were born on third thinking they hit a triple. They were under qualified with no social skills, didn't do their job, and abused their power.

Regardless of who was cool or not, They had their own little secret society like the cool kids in high-school. where they would ALL get together at the same time for lunch/dinner, order gourmet take-out, and leave the store effectively unmanaged. Many of the complications that spawned from this dumbfuckery were then blamed on the slaves. All the Pee-on associates were forbidden from ever eating/breaking with the management.

R4We also had a human resource manager that was suppose to order donuts&coffee for the slaves every week, with the petit cash fund. But they essentially stole the money regularly, and instead bought expensive coffee machines, food, and other accommodations for the managers, that never went to benefit the slaves.
So you get the idea, the slaves were the second class.  Even the senior ones.

The management had their own sworn code of silence and backed each other up on everything no matter what atrocities were committed against the slaves, so it was impossible to launch a complaint without coming under some heat, and creating more problems for yourself. People in the past have tried, and their lives were made even more miserable. They got put on a secret shit-list, got their hours cut, and due to the volatile economy, some of these marked associates would be the first to go during times of cut-backs.

One more quick thing I didn't like about this store, was how they squeezed their workers for every penny possible. In order to get your store discount, you had to apply for the F&L rip-off account, with an APR of 24% minimum. If you had bad credit it was even higher, which would effectively trump the 25% back-office discount, which only worked by using the card.

During a typical transaction you were suppose to open a charge account with this ridiculous APR that most people wouldn't go for just to save 15%. They also encouraged the use of 'email capture' (a box that would prompt you to ask the customer for their email to complete the transaction) so that coupons and promotions could be sent to the customer via email. Head1

They had a system called WAM/SIM report. Where at the end of every week they would rate you on your sales, account openings, coupon usage, and email capture. They would then call you to the office and penalize you if anything was too low. This consisted of making you sign a paper that you had been warned. 2 warnings put you on probation, and strike 3 You're out. It was very demoralizing.

They wanted high email capture, which was used to send coupons, but would bitch at you about high coupon usage. That never made sense to me..

Corporate paper pushers with no sales experience would come up with these unrealistic sales goals based on the economy during the clinton administration and  'enron-type mark-to-market' numbers that were impossible to attain.

Then the associates would be blamed at the daily rally for all the problems caused by the stores micromanagement. "Too much coupon usage, Too many returns, not enough sales..IT's ALL YOUR FAULT"

Most of the problems I saw in this store were spawned from bogus unreceipted returns or merchandise that had clearly been worn without a tag, or coupon related issues. There were big signs at every register that stated "We reserve the right to refuse any return" but this right was clearly never exercised.

Associates were mandated to guard against such returns by any means necessary, and when all else fails, to call a manager to back you up. Being caught accepting these returns without approval would get you penalized. But since most of the time all the ASMs were all out to lunch together(both physically and mentally) at their round table group, sometimes there was nothing you could do. Calmly Explaining the store policy to the asshole Crustys would only go so far. Eventually you would have to argue with them. In every case they would then vilify/insult you and demand a manager. Bagfight

But in the off chance one of the managers DID come, they would simply fold like a set of deuces and accept whatever ridiculous return, without question, and make you look like the asshole for doing what you were told.

Most associates worked hard and didn't want to get in trouble, and would never take back a bogus return by their own will. I found it was the hypocrite managers that would.

There was no support when you needed it the most, and it was very humiliating. They would then continue to blame the associates for the return rates. So thats basically how this store works..

As a young guy, down on his luck in student loan debt, I began as a p/t floater and go to see how the store works from a unique perspective.

After a few months I was placed f/t in the men's department, where I had one of those ASM's that wasn't very cool at all. We'll call her dumb bitch(DB). DB was an arrogant, aging thirty-something, control freak that had never been married and I guess hated everyone(especially the men) because she didn't get laid.

She wasn't very humble and therefore wasn't like or respected by anyone, which just made her more angry. She use to write everyone up for petit shit, and would even make things up to get you in more trouble, I guess because most of the petit shit wasn't enough to even get you written up. Meanwhile she would take multiple half hour trips to starbucks, per shift.

Head2 It was a very uncomfortable place to work only because of her. I had a few bad customers, but most of the bullshit fails in comparison to the antics of DB.

During my sentence, I became friends with a guy who was the branch manager(BM) for the Fine Jewelry department. An enterprise which operated by leasing a bay within Fear&Loathing. They provided the merchandise and a percent of sales, while F&L provided  a bay of display cases, loss prevention, logistical support, and 2 registers. It was a completely separate entity from F&L, although the F&L managers had jurisdiction over it and were suppose to help with customer relations/sales issues. The customers were never suppose to know that the Fine jewelry store was separate from F&L.

MY new BM was really cool and knew I worked hard. So he approached me for a f/t position, when one of his associates fell ill. It was better money, better commission (that wasn't rescinded if the customer returned it), better discount (where cash could be used), and a great place to work. I gave 2 weeks notice at F&L and moved downstairs to work for him. Great career choice. Everyone was very nice, and the jewelry sold itself.
Now that I was free from DB, i found that the only issues plaguing my life now came from the customers.

In summary of my experiences, I found that a lot of the customers that pull the antics we usually talk about in the forum, are penny pinching cheapskates that are trying to take advantage. Ive had many good customers that outweigh the bad. But anyway..

A few weeks prior to the following incident, F&L management demanded that a coworker of mine, do a return for a regular trouble maker, that had 'lost' a bracelet she purchased months prior. The logic was that, we sold her a bad bracelet with a bad clasp, and because of that, its our fault she lost it. So now we basically have a management that complains about returns, but accepts returns without merchandise even being present. A very bad precedent to set.

Retail hell underground 020aa Weeks pass. One morning during the rally, the F&L GM just finished the daily rant about how high the returns are, and how its ALL YOUR FAULT. And to call them if there's a problem.

Later that same day I had an overweight bitch trying to return a 100$ bracelet with a faded receipt that dated the purchase to circa 3 years prior. We didn't even carry that line anymore. She didn't like that the silver had tarnished. It had dried hand-lotion in the crevices and stones, scratches, and was obviously poorly cared for. Somehow she was a jewelry expert, and claimed we had ripped her off by selling her bad silver, even though it was 925 quality from Italy. I told her it had been too long to do a return. I offered to put it in our cleaning machine, but that wasn't good enough. It became obvious she wanted money and was just trying to scam us by pawning this bracelet.

I called the branch manager at home on his day off, and he advised me to offer her an exchange for something of equal or lesser value(a generous and fair offer), but a return was out of the question.

Without even looking at the jewelry we had, she animately refused and demanded a manager.

I didn't like this woman because she was rude right from the start, so I decided to fuck with her a little bit out of spite.

Head3 (The unwritten rule in The Fine jewelry dept, was never to call an F&L manager for a bogus return issue, because they don't care and half the time won't even show up if you call them. Besides which, They're pussies and will just return it as usual without question. The protocol was to forward them to our BM(who will always animately say no), or tell them to come back another time when he was in.)

I told this bitch the manager wasn't here, and to come back the next day after 12PM when he was. She demanded to see someone else and I told her only the jewelry manager can approve this return, and none are present. She insulted me some more, said she's gonna write a letter about me, and made a classic TV-Movie-bad-guy statement along the lines of: "You haven't seen the last of me."

I guess she took her lane bryant ass upstairs to the F&L executive office because, 5 minutes later I get a phone call. Its the F&L GM blasting me for 'arguing with the customer' and demanding I do the return 'or else'. I could hear the customer in the background saying "He should be fired".
so I was angry that the GM (who had just made a congress-grade bullshit speech about returns) was enabling the customer to be a piece of shit to me, with no recourse.

I explained my side to GM and Told her what my BM had said, and how rude she was. But it did nothing.

I felt defeated and angry. I stayed quiet my entire time there until the following.

I said "Your'e making me look like an idiot."

I heard her gasp. Before she could retort, I then said "I've been here over a year now and the associates are always being blamed for the returns. Here I am trying to refuse a bad return."

"How can I defend the store policy if I'm being undermined?"

"I refuse to take it. It's illegal and I don't want the transaction tied to my sales ID"

She said " I can't even believe your'e questioning me(mah authoritah lol). How dare you."

I said "Well I'm sorry, GM but this is ridiculous, have you seen the condition of this bracelet?"

Retail hell underground 037 I guess I put her at a loss for words in front of the crusty, because her last statement before hanging up was

"We'll speak about this later."

I found out she did the return upstairs and left the bracelet in an envelope in the BM's mailbox. She then called the HR for my company, Tammy, and said I was insubordinate. My HR was really cool and explained to me that we have to obey to the host store management without exception and it can't happen again. She understood my argument and appreciated I was trying to protect the store from losing money.

Everything went on business as usual for another few months, until F&L bought the jewelry department and no longer did the lease. Jewelry slaves would now receive their paycheck from F&L. We were told we would all be picked up by F&L without question, But that It was formality for the  F&L management to interview all of the jewelry associates and decide which employees to grandfather-in.

Guess who didn't make the cut?

I wasn't even fuckin interviewed. It was very disappointing. Wonder why. I was mostly quiet. a good worker. never allowed a scam to occur on my watch, and made a lot of money for the store. I also caught 6 would-be shoplifters throughout my time there. My sales YTD was over a million $. I had tons of clients that came in just to speak with me and No one else. I had tons of customer commendations because of my etiquette and problem solving skills. There is no other reason why I would have been let go, other than being vilified for the above situation.

I have multiple friends who still work in the store, who told me after I left they hired some real winners..

One such bimbo woman, during her first week, was the victim of a scam. Its known as "the switch". This occurs when 2 or more people come in with only one associate present. Scammer1 asks to see a piece of jewelry (typically diamond stud earrings) and scammer2 will distract the associate while scammer1 switches the diamond studs with zircon studs. In this case they didn't even have to distract bimbo.
This happened right in front of bimbo's eyes. She was 2 feet away.

The greatest satisfaction was when I found out, one of the Loss Prevention guys told my friend, that it wouldn't have happened if I was there. Win.

--Jewelry Man

 

 

Comments

Bosslave

That sucks so hard. If you can, then when filling out resumes, and applications you should try to put the BM as your job reference if possible. Lord knows that if one of those asshole managers answers the call they would go on about how you were "insubordinate" and "rude to customers".

snuzzle

As much as it sucks to be let go, it sounds like you're better off being rid of them. That place is going to drive itself into the ground and you're lucky not to be there when it does.

MrSpellcheck

Sounds like if you could get the BM to give you a reference letter, that you'd be fought over by the jewelry stores in town.

Now, true to my name, I must point out that it is "petty", not "petit", when used the way you were using it. And "petite" is the way you spell it when talking about "small and trim of figure".

BruceMcGlory

Its hard to feel bad for such a multifaceted bigot.

Geer

Unless you're speaking of yourself Bruce, I'm not sure where that's coming from. I didn't see much, if any bigotry occurring in Jewelry Man's story. Take a chill pill.

Svantus the Custy Killer

I think someone's trolling(Hi, Bruce!). Anyway, that sounds a lot like Hellmart aka Walhell. Can we ship the corporate mgmnt to an island and nuke them already?

NC Tony

Sounds like because you weren't a corporate ass kisser with these odd things we call Common Sense, Self Respect and a Brain that it didn't matter what you did for the store, but because of your "attitude" you were let go. Like snuzzle said, you're better off without them. You won't have to be there when the company finally self-destructs.

Joe the Cigar Guy

Soul Brother!
I'm right there with 'ya, Jewelry Man. At Gord & Raylor, it's the same thing: e-mail capture, gift cards, G&L credit cards with outrageous APR, lectures about sketchy returns, managers who break every rule when a custy yells.

You're better off maintaining your sanity.
Peace.

Jewelry Man

Thanks for the comments and support guys.. Yea I had a feeling I was going to get shit canned so I lined up another job ahead of time. It was a smart move, I went back to doing construction, which Im much better at than sales..FYI My BM did nothing to stand up for me, or help, so i left the field all together.. Joe I think we work for the same exact place, brother.. one thing i forgot to mention that will help u to see why this place is such a fail, Fear&loathing is run by a private real estate/development company. They have no idea how to run a retail operation. A few years ago they had this great idea of 'lets buy fortunoff's even though its almost bankrupt'. They ran it into the ground trying to attain the prestige and charisma of Fortunoff, when that failed they tried to 'reinvent' the fine jewelry dept by telling crusty's that they had fortunoff's jewelry(which pissed a lot of people off bc they didn't). Then They hire/fire all kinds of these wall street guys to run the store, so theres low morale and no backbone all the way up to the top. its all gone to shit. Now They barely make status quo and its only a matter of time before they run it into the ground. Sorry for any bigotry, Bruce.. Just telling it like it is

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