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Retail Hell Memories: Software Store District Manager Caves To A Bogus Return From a Surprising Custy

BadreturnersJAH here with another encounter from the ancient software store.

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. 

New Freddy 047aa

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.





when the "cop" flashed his badge, I would have:
1. written down the badge number
2, asked for his superior's name.

cops are NOT allowed to use their position to get favors or to intimidate the public.

just like military personnel and their dependants are NOT supposed use their status to get stuff nor put the unit or the military as a whole in a bad light.


Just what I'd expect from a cop...


I second Racket_Man; that Police Officer was out of line; provided he was a real Officer.


What Racket_Man said. Another possibility would be the local newspaper as well. In my town, at least, they love discussing police wrongdoing.

Queer Geek

And this is why there is corruption in law enforcement.


"and what law will force us to?" would have been my question to the cop.
Provided the store had their policy ( no full-return possible after a certain time) clearly printed somewhere, then it was the cop being unlawfull.


Sadly, I allowed myself to be cowed by it... but when I was young and stupid, I was young and stupid. In the immediate aftermath (when the requisite bitching happens), we knew how badly we'd just been treated by the cop. But that was hindsight too. Bitchy, bitchy hindsight.


Ugh, reminds me of the man my aunt got married to, the second time round. He's RCMP, and an utter asshole. We have no proof, but there's no doubt he stole from the familiy cabin a number of years back :/ I hate when people who are supposed to protect the public instead use their status to run roughshod over everyone.

Retail Psycho

That is ridiculous. My father is a police officer and I know he would never use his position to gain an advantage over someone like that. Especially over something as stupid as a couple of 5yo video games.

As for WMDKitty I take offence at the fact that you just blatently lump all police in with one of the very few who use their position for their own good rather than for helping others.

The majority of the police force around the world are honest, hard working people like we are who put up with way more bullshit than we will ever have to in our line of work.

Next time you're in need of help I hope the police simply say "that's what I'd expect from you" and walk off leaving you to deal with it yourself


Retail Psycho - This encounter only confirmed my suspicion that some people will abuse their power (and teach their kids horrible lessons). It didn't teach me that all cops are awful people. I've had a few really positive run ins with cops too (just not in retail).


I don't even...UGH!

I a cop flashing his badge to get a BS refund? Completely disgraceful!


I am on a forum that is run by police officers. They have helped me in so many ways by answering questions I have about the law, posting web articles I find interesting, and actually giving me some full-on, lauging-till-I'm-not-making-a-sound-and-I-can't-even-breathe. They even post web articles on dirty cops and proceed to bash the hell out of them. They don't like them any more than we do.

Not all cops are dirty, and the one that came and took my report after I was assaulted this last time was the one who suggested the Indictment Against Harassment, something I didn't know I could get. Without that, I might be subject to further harassment and assault until my dog or I was beaten to the point of critical injury.


On the other hand, the store could have just sucked it up as a 'customer relation loss'.

That was mostly the policy with my previous workplace, and it's a real stress-reliever in its own way to be able to tell the customer 'Relax, we've got this and we'll take good care of you.' Happy customers aren't bitching customers.

Now, if there's a repeat offender, we start using stricter measures, eventually going to the point of banning them from sales since returned items do cost us money even if they can be resold (handling, reshelving, and in case of mailorders from our webstore, paying for return postage).

Of course, that's not a decision you can do at your level. Your manager probably simply thought '80$ loss isn't worth the time', and I agree it's aggravating to give in to A-hole customers, but with a bit of perspective the thing isn't so bad. I had worse doing airport security (NOT TSA, not american).

The cop dad was, of course, completely out of line. We handle a lot of cops purchasing stuff (we sell tactical nylon and accessories) for use in work as well as camping stuff for recreation. They, along with military customers are always polite to a fault and some of the easiest customers to handle. If one of them pulled a badge on me to force compliance, I do think I'd file a complaint about him.

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