Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Did you buy that here?

How many times have you heard the phrase "Wal-Mart will take anything back" - even an empty box!

There is even a half-page in our official Customer Service Training Guide that, when it boils down to it, states that if merchandise from other stores rings up at Wal-Mart, we have to take it back. Seriously.

I have taken back merchandise (a blender and toaster) that actually came with tape and pieces of the Dillards wrapping paper still on it. Same for JC Penney. Wal-Mart sells some of the same consumer goods, such as small appliances as these stores, so if you don't have the receipt, we don't know where you bought it. Of course, you only get the Wal-Mart price in the form of store credit. But that's better than a Dillard's store credit.

Anyway. This woman came up this week with a toothbrush holder. It was broken. Her story was that "The girl wrapped it in two plastic bags and still broke it."

Convenienly, the woman had lost the receipt from just three days ago - and managed to rip off the sticker from the bottom. (she was also accompanied by four boisterous little howler monkeys, one of whom kept hammering my debit reader with her doll, so I figure I know what happened with the toothbrush holder)

Said toothbrush holder didn't look like our merchandise, but I told the woman that without a receipt and without a UPC number, I couldn't return it unless she brought me up one exactly like it. She goes "Well, there weren't any more when I bought it."

Umm, and that is relevant to the discussion how? You think we don't restock? Especially if mint green toothbrush holders are such a hot commodity?

I tell her to bring me up another toothbrush holder, perhaps one right next to it on the shelf, so I can look up the vendor and figure out how much credit to give her. She sighs and rolls off, hellcats and howler monkeys in tow.

About 90 minutes later, she comes back. The buggy is nearly empty, so either she's been trying on clothes or has been waiting for me to leave. I ask for the other toothbrush holder.

"They didn't have one." Okay. Did you bring me any other toothbrush holder?

She says that there were no toothbrush holders at all back there. None. Okay. You're lying like a bad toupee woman, but I'll play this game if you want.

I turn the thing over to look again for any vendor marks or anything that might help me look it up in the computer. Then I see it. A tiny gold sticker on the bottom of the stopper that says "Manufactured for Kirklands." So yeah. She didn't buy that at Wal-Mart.

I unsheath my claws.

ME: "Ma'am, where did you buy this?"
HER: "At Wal-Mart."
ME: "At this store?"
HER: "Yes."
ME: "And there are no more back there?"
HER: "No."
ME: "And there aren't any more toothbrush holders of any kind back there? Nothing that could help us look up how much you paid for this or identify the vendor?"
HER "There aren't any more."
ME: "I'm sorry ma'am, but without your receipt and without the price sticker, we can't return this item for you."
HER: "Well I paid $6.99 for it. You better type that in and give me my money."
ME: "Ma'am, you're going to have to find your receit from Wal-Mart to return this item."

She knows I know. And she leaves.

She'd have done better off leaving the price sticker on. It's a 50-50 shot that way. At least we MIGHT have carried the item. Without a price sticker (of course, I'm sure the sticker said KIRKLANDS on it) we have to have the exact item from stock.

Are you really that desperate for $7?


Elizabeth said...

Hi there! I found you through the Consumerist and I've been reading all your archives. I find it all so fascinating! And I love the way you write. Nice work!

I have a question about something you wrote a long-ass time ago. Here's the quote:

"One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. That many cashier called off yesterday. Another couple were sent home for coming in on their days off. At one point, we only had 13 of the 23 registers open, plus just two of four up at Customer Service. No one showed up for Layaway. That crashing sound was the walls of Wal-Mart coming down around our ears."

People get sent home for coming in on their days off? So, if you aren't working on a Wednesday but you come in to go shopping - that's a no no? Is it because people are rotten theives or am I just getting it all wrong?

Thanks again for a top notch blog. I'm alternately entertained and horrified!

bbcamerican said...

The thing is, cashiers are supposed to work their schedule, unless changed by a manager. If they are scheduled to work Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, they can't just decide to skip work on Tuesday and then show up uninvited on Wednesday instead.

There is an insanely complex computer system that does the schedule based on customer traffic and amount of merchandise sold. It predicts staffing levels and schedules accordingly. So you are supposed to work when you're scheduled.

To reference the above, we needed that person on Tuesday. Now, we may be over-staffed on Wednesday, and have people standing around doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

I can totally see why from your side of the counter a liberal return policy would drive you crazy but there's retail chains out there who have built a solid legacy of customer loyalty using *exactly* this method (Nordstrom’s and Costco, to name two).

Your shopper should have just taken her toothbrush holder back to Costco where it came from as they have the most liberal return policy ever. They replaced a FoodSaver that died nine months after I bought it (although I'll sound just like one of your service desk customers, I truly had only used it a handful of times before it lost the ability to form a vacuum). I didn't have the receipt but they just looked it up on my customer purchase record and the entire transaction was handled in no time at all without any hassle, aspersions upon my character, stonewalling, or assuming my guilt without proof.

I've got to say: I love your site, I love your snark and I hope you keep writing. The message that you are trapped between Walmart says and what Walmart expects you do to comes through loud and clear. But as a consumer, on my side of the counter, it's exactly these kinds of irritating and pointless standoffs with store personnel that keep me and my money far far away from Walmart.

The dykes next door said...

No one has caught what elizabeth was asking. No, elizabeth, you can come in shopping any day you want to come. What BBC meant was that you couldn't come in to WORK if you weren't scheduled to work that day. (which he explained in his comment). I'm sure that Wal-Mart does not mind when their employees come in to shop.

Beverly said...

(i know i'm late - i'm going in reading old ones)

but a note on the dillards wrapping paper. Keep in mind - Dillard's will wrap ANYTHING for you and you can pay to have it done. So it's possible for someone to buy appliances for someone cheaper at walmart and then take them to dillards to have them wrapped - thereby making the person they bought it for think they spent more on them than they really did ;)

another reason why dillards started putting those yellow barcode stickers on ALL of their merchandise was to keep people from doing the opposite and buying things at walmart/penneys/sears and then returning them for credit at dillards (because as most of us in the south know - dillards is insanely expensive).