Retail Hell Memories: Software Store District Manager Caves To A Bogus Return From a Surprising Custy
As usual, this goes back awhile and involves the Commodore 64. When I first started working at the store, we sold the NES and Master System as well as PC/DOS software, Apple II, Commodore 64, and Amiga software. As you might expect, as the years went by, the computer software slowly migrated to PC/Windows exclusively. This event took place about five years after the last piece of C64 software was shipped back to corporate to make room for something else.
Now, a little background. We had an insane return policy that basically said if you have a receipt, we'll take it back. No time limit, opened or unopened (the store eventually changed the policy to 30 days at least - but too late to avoid the chapter 11 firesale). If someone returns an item without a receipt and unopened, we can offer store credit based on the current price in the computer. When items in our system got too old, instead of removing them, they are knocked down to 99 cents so there's at least a record of them.
So these two teenagers come into the store with two unopened Commodore 64 games and they want a refund. They, of course, don't have a receipt. The items have ragged/unraveling price tag on them for $40 each and are clearly from my store - but they had to have been bought at least five years earlier.
I look them in the system and they are both set to 99 cents so I can only offer them store credit for $1.98. They object to this and insist on a full price refund since the products are unopened. I apologize to them, point out that it's been at least five years since these were purchased. They agree and tell me they found them at the bottom of a closet. I let them know that we can't do anything with the returned items ourselves... that we'll be taking a complete loss on the items since we can resell them or get a credit for them.
They continue to argue, blah blah blah. I eventually get my manager who backs me. They then say they are going to get their dad and then we'll give them a refund.
They leave... and come back in later with an angry dad... who says, "You will take this return" and then flashes his police badge.
So my manager has a conversation with the district manager who, of course, tells us to give them a full refund of the marked price... which we do with the cop looking smug the whole time.
There are few things more ego-defeating than letting a customer win an argument over a return and have to eat crow while they look on, knowing they won. I should have shrugged my shoulders and let it be - I had no ownership in the company and I was just a peon... but there's something to be said for (one-sided) loyalty for a store you've spent (at that point) about six or seven years working for.
I wish this was the only case where the district manager folded and I know this is hardly a rare occurrence based on other stories people tell. What bites my butt most is the abuse of power and the self-righteousness that the badge would let him get his way. And the lesson that taught his entitled kids. Of course, they'd probably long since been taught this lesson.
If I had the balls at the time (and hindsight), I should have taken his badge number down and reported him to the local police department. But, alas, this was many, many years ago and that would probably have developed into its bureaucratic mess.