Sunday, September 24, 2006

Digital cameras for dummies

When did ignorance become an all-purpose excuse in our society? I love the various soccer moms, businessmen and bored teenagers who look up at me (or a manger when I refuse to let them have their way) and go "Well, we didn't know!" WELL TOUGH CHEESE!

Surburban soccer mom and bratty teenage daughter roll in Sunday with a digital camera. They want to return it.

Their story is the camera "broke about a month ago." And they bought it in the middle of July.

I ask her. "If it broke a month ago, why are you just now returning it?"

Her response? "This is the first chance we could get down here." There are six Wal-Marts in town and you only visit Wal-Mart once a month?

The return period on digital cameras is 30 days. Not one month, but 30 days. Certainly not the 64 days she had this one.

The vendors have become VERY strict about this - not giving Wal-Mart credit for defective merchandise that has been taken back after the return period. Oh, Samsung will repair the camera, it may even send her a new one, but Samsung WILL NOT reimburse Wal-Mart if Wal-Mart takes the camera back and then sends the camera to Samsung.

So I tell the woman that I'm very sorry, but I can't take the camera back because they've had it for two months now. I offer to print out the warranty information and tell her that she can contact Samsung and they will give her the repair information.

Her response? "Well, I don't want it repaired. I want a new camera right now." (Well, I'd like a new Mercedes, a pair of Dolce & Gabanna jeans and iPod. But I'm stuck here listening to you be a cow. So nobody is happy, right?)

"Ma'am. We're not going to be able to take it back. Unfortunately, today, all we can do is offer you the repair information from the manufacturer."

Her response? "Well, I want to talk to a manager." They all want a manager. So I get one.

Manager: "What's wrong with this camera?" They tell him. Again he reiterates the 30-day policy. "Where is that posted, she demands? He shows her the sign where it says that in 2-inch letters.

Her response? "Well, that's not on my receipt. I didn't know, so I don't understand how I can be held accountable for something I didn't know."

Manager: "Why are you returning it now?" And then the daughter finally blabs "Mom, we need it for TOMORROW. Lying cows. Probably didn't break a month ago. Probably broke last week. (The dirty look Mom gave the bratty daughter after that was priceless!) But the manager was thinking, "Maybe I should return it for these nice people ....

I can see the managerial determination start to waver. Then I notice something on the receipt. "That camera was not purchased at this store."

The manager, who was probably about to roll over, stops and backs up. NOW he gets a backbone. He tells them "You can go talk to that store and see if they will return the camera. But we're not going to take it back." Finally. I should get a cut of that $200 in my check.

Here's my first, last and only rule of thumb when it comes to the "but I didn't know school" and how it interacts with official policy is this: If it won't work with a judge, it ain't gonna work with me. Grow up, learn some personal responsibility and deal.


Red Stapler said...

FYI, and you may want to share this info with customers... or not, depending on how irritating they are:

Samsung and HP cameras have a neat little "reset" function that's not documented in the manuals. Sometimes the OS on these cameras hang up. Typical symptom is that the lens won't extend. You can go online and find the reset procedure in the customer support pages. Most times, this fixes supposedly broken cameras.

Mind you, judging from your stories most walmart customers couldn't successfully pick their noses, much less navigate a website. ;)

whiskey tango foxtrot said...

Just wanted to tell you how much I've been enjoying your blog since linked on Consumerist.

I tried to ration your archives and read one month's worth each Friday but I caved over the weekend and read the rest.

Do you think the quality of your customers will go up after the end of layaway? I wonder about that.