Reading through all of these FUN stories has brought back some wonderful memories of my time in retail. I was often annoyed by customers, but very were memorable enough to bother me for years after. This was one of those customers.
I worked at a now-defunct arts and crafts store during high school. It was a pretty good job considering how much worse my friends in fast food and pizza delivery seemed to have it. I wasn't a slacker, and after about a year they trusted me enough to let me run the customer service register where returns/exchanges could be done. This was also the only register open during slow times, so if I had a return or exchange to do, I'd call up another cashier to open up for regular customers. I was working one Saturday afternoon during our busy period, when all the parents come by after soccer games to pick up supplies for school projects, art classes, etc., and take their kids to our paint-your-own ceramics area. I'm checking out lots of ceramics pieces, t-shirts with paint and iron-on decals, basic art supplies, and so forth, when a woman comes up with a return.
I look down to see that she's placed a wreath on my counter. I instantly recognized this wreath from our Easter display, because it was fucking ugly. Basically a styrofoam base coated in plastic Easter grass and decorated with brightly colored plastic Easter eggs like you'd use for baskets or egg hunts. Since it was a product of our oh-so-creative custom floral department, it had a ridiculously high price tag, around $50 for a bunch of cheap plastic crap. She bought it at 30% off, probably during Easter weekend.
Now, the first thing that went through my brain was "NO RETURNS ON SEASONAL MERCHANDISE". One of the few hard rules for returns at the store, because we only stocked holiday items until about a week after the holiday before taking down the display and putting up the next one. Second thing that went through my brain is "NO RETURNS ON CUSTOM FLORAL", which this happened to be. The tag was hand-written, I even knew the florist who had initialed it. Third thing: it's FUCKING JULY!! Easter was months ago, back in March! We had no Easter clearance left; our seasonal display was all beach and luau themed with a few American flags here and there.
I looked at this woman incredulously, as I had not yet learned to hide my emotions from stupid customers. I told her we couldn't return holiday stuff, especially not custom floral. I pointed out that even if it was possible, we knocked all of our Easter stuff down to 90% off to get rid of it, so I couldn't even give her what she paid for it.
After arguing with me and giving some sob story about driving out of state to give it to her daughter for Easter and her not liking it (in my head I'm thinking "Of course she didn't, it's frickin' ugly"). I stood firm and said it just wasn't going to happen.
She asks to speak to a manager. This is the first time I've had someone go over my head when I refused a return; usually I make my point and people move on.
So I scowl and call up Speed Freak Manager, B, who is the manager on duty for the day. B is always energetic. B is always the friendliest person to customers, in a creepy, saccharine way. B more than likely is on some form of amphetamines, because he never stops moving and occasionally lets all the closers go home early so he can shut down and clean the entire store by himself.
B comes up to the register and greets the customer loudly and asks what he can do for her. They step to the side of the counter and she explains how rude I am not to return her money on a purchase she doesn't like. He looks over at the Easter wreath, and though I can see disbelief in his eyes, he smiles and says "Wellll, we usually don't return seasonal items, it's a bit late for Easter don't you think??"
She repeats her sob story, and continues to argue while I check out another customer. After, B and wreath lady come back to the counter: he says: "OK, go ahead and return it for her. Just this one time. *SMILE.*"
I blink, and remind him that it should be a return of the 90% clearance price.
He tells me to do a full return. I obey, and quietly give this lady her full purchase price back. She leaves, and I look at him while I hold the ugly wreath.
"Umm, where do I even put this for returns?"
He laughs. "Geez, can you believe the nerve of some people? I don't care, put it in that clearance area near the front. Hopefully someone steals it, because it sure as hell isn't going to sell."
That stupid wreath sat in the bin mocking me until Halloween, when we completely re-arranged the front of the store. At that point, it disappeared. I never sold it, and no one else could recall seeing it come through either. I like to think that manager B sent everyone home one night after close, snatched the wreath, and ripped it in to pieces out by the loading dock in a fit of speed-induced rage.