Other than extremely simple concepts like YES and NO, it is my general experience that one other word transcends language barriers - CASH. I do not speak the perfect Spanish, but I have the concept, the verbiage and most of the vocabulary down in order to do returns. I know it's not great, but it gets the job done.
Let me also preface this by saying that I personally don't care what language you speak. If I'm a business, I do not care if you speak Tagalog if you spend dollars. You are only denying yourself the rich culture of the land around you by not speaking that language. Remember that when you travel abroad. Thank you, please discuss, but do not be a hater. Thievery, however, means you are consigned to the eighth circle of hell - doomed to suffer vipers for all existence.
Cue Sunday afternoon and a couple allegedly doing some "home improvement" and wanting to return two saw blades priced at $13.44 each. No receipt. Of course not! They acted as if they spoke little English.
I explain "Sin recibo, puede recibe solamente una tarjeta de credito de Wal-Mart." And I show them a gift card. I've found it helps with people who may be unfamiliar with the whole "no-receipt, get a gift card thing." Also, visual aids help my rather mangled Spanish.
The response? "No. Cash." Suddenly, they speak better English!
My response? "No. No tiene usted su recibo. No puede recibe effectivo. Solamente un credito."
"Cash. We want cash." And they repeatedly jab their finger on top of the saw blades on the counter. "We pay cash, we get cash." PROVE IT THEN! The burden of proof is on you. We the retailer are doing you the courtesy of accepting this "return" without a receipt.
Once again, I go through the "No. No tiene usted su recibo. No puede recibe effectivo. Solamente un credito."
More finger jabbing and counter thumping. Umm, no. Well this is just ridiculous. I'm not going to repeat myself at you just because you are returning stuff that you never bought in the first place.
I go and find someone who knows the return policies and can speak Spanish to argue with them. My vocabulary just is not up to argument. What develops is akin to a verbal Ping-Pong match with me the spectator. I can follow enough of the conversation to puzzle out what's going on.
The claim is that they bought these saw blades this morning and the blades magically didn't fit their saw. So they want to return them. But they magically lost the receipt. This morning? And you already lost it? Did you ever have it?
But they feel that Wal-Mart should also pay them for driving back and forth from their house to the store and back and as a consequence give them cash for this merchandise - which was never opened. I doubt it ever left the store. It was CERTAINLY never taken out and fitted onto any saw.
My guy doesn't break a sweat. He basically tells them they are crazy, that no one gets cash for anything without a receipt and that they can take it or leave it.
Then they ask him to "make an exception for them" because they are poor and need the money to fix up their house. **sigh**
At the end of all this, they took the store credit and left - probably to go buy Coronas and couple of limes. I know I needed a drink.