Spoiled consumers?

I was reading one of the consumer advocate type columns recently, and a guy wrote in to say that he bought a product, but then noticed that it was on sale for less somewhere else, so he tried to get the store to refund the difference. The store manager said that they don’t do that, and so the guy asked to see a copy of this policy, and the manager said they don’t have an official policy on it, but it’s generally not done. Is it just me, or is it really silly to just assume that a store will match competitor’s prices? And that if they don’t, they’d better have a policy about not doing this? I mean, a written policy on what you don’t do? “Yes, this store has an official policy of not throwing watermelons off the roof, or wearing silly hats every April 21, or giving every millionth customer a thousand dollars, or giving a free toaster to every new customer. Have we forgotten anything?”

 And while I'm on a rant, how about the annoyance that restocking fees caused? You take something back to the store, they give a refund but charge a fee (~15%) to cover the cost of hiring people to sell stuff, then take it back, wrap it up it again, etc. It seems reasonable to me, but people have gotten away with taking stuff back for a full refund any time they want to that they expect to always be able to do it.

" ‘Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter.’ " -Kurt Vonnegut, * Breakfast of Champions *

Yes, it is silly to assume they will match a competitor’s price and refund the difference. Once you buy something they don’t have to give you your money back unless the goods were not as represented when sold. I always check the return, price matching, and repair polices at places I shop, before I purchase.

On the other hand, I see signs all over We will match or beat competitor’s price/honor competitor’s coupons and so forth. So it depends on the store. Assuming the difference is reasonable (a $20.00 difference in price, for example) you’d think they’d do it for the good will value. Of course, maybe they don’t get the wholesale price their competitors do :slight_smile:

I work in a toy store, and you won’t believe how many people think the price on an item is somehow negotiable. One woman tried to get me to give her a discount because the BOX (not the toy itself) was “damaged.” I said I couldn’t do that since there was nothing wrong with the item, and she got all pissy because she was buying the toy as a gift. Huh? Either it’s good enough to give as a gift, or it isn’t. What was she planning to tell the recipient – “Sorry this isn’t perfect, but I got ten percent off, so I figured it would be good enough for you”?

Some people …

If the day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me for a volume discount, it shall mark the end of the world. I work for a landscape company that happens to sell stuff retail as well. Everyday someone is asking me “If I buy four of these shrubs, do I get a discount?” To which I politely reply that there is no volume discount, and if I get flak, I bring up the fact that our commercial crews generally pull out fifty of the same shrub in a day, so if they’re buying more than fifty, I can give them a discount.

My unspoken question is: Do these people go to the grocery store and demand a volume discount on six cans of corn? Why is my store different?

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

When I was in retail management, I had these customers, too, (yes they want a volume discount on six cans of corn), but also these:

“This was only 4.99 last month, and now it’s 5.19. Can’t you just charge me 4.99?”

“This aspirin is going out of date in just a couple months. Can I get a discount on it?”

“Why are you charging me sales tax on vitamins? Vitamins are just something that comes from food, and food is non-taxable, I think you’re ripping me off.”

And my favorite - the older man who told me he thought my pharmacist was taking the drug out of his capsules and filling it with powdered sugar. He said he just didn’t seem to be getting better.

I don’t have a personal tale but I recall reading in Harper’s a report about taking a Caribbean cruise. The one thing that stands out was the author’s amazement that what he experienced as ultimate luxury at the start of the cruise (always having a clean towel handed to him, someone who would tidy up his room if he was gone for more than a half hour, etc.) became his everyday expectation before the end of a week-long cruise! As I said, the author was amazed at his own accommodation to luxury in such a short time.

The moral of story is that we are very quick to expect what has been given to us once. (Are we not the me generation?) If it was the right thing to do at any time (or any place) in the past then it’s the right thing to do here and now! If it was never given to us, we get along fine without it but somehow it’s unfair(!) if someone disappoints us by not being as generous as we have been “taught” to expect.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”

Consumers become trained in dealing with stores. Unfortunately it is management’s fault in most cases. Without clearly defined policies one clerk says “A” one says “B” and the consumers catch on and try to slip one by.

I have worked in hotels and found it to be bad only when management fails to establish a clear policy. Yes I was a manager too.

I’m sorry to keep starting every post with “when I worked at a theater” but I just spent the last 10 years doing that and it’s a big chunk of my frame of reference. So anyway, when I worked at a theater people would ask for discounts for the weirdest things. Fireman’s discount, military discount (are we at war or something?), people flashing all sorts of ID and membership cards like it was supposed to mean something to me. “Oh, my! A member of the Screen Actor’s Guild! That and $8 will get you in this movie!” Some woman complained that she didn’t think it was fair that we had a senior citizen discount but not a discount for handicapped people. I told her it wasn’t my company so I didn’t have any say in the matter, but I agreed with her that it wasn’t fair and said if it WAS my company I wouldn’t have a discount for senior citizens EITHER. She never saw that one coming.

We offer tanning where I work. You get one session for a certain price, and we offer
packages, so the more you buy at that one time, the less it costs per session.
One day someone called and asked us what our tanning prices were. I told her and she said that she could get it cheaper at (a rival salon)and I should let her tan at our place for the prices at the other place. I told her no, that those were our prices and she asked me if the prices were negotiable. I told her no, that is what we charge and boy, she wasn’t happy! Why in the world didn’t she just go to the other place instead of arguing with me?
Has anybody seen any of those newsmagazines on TV that trumpet people getting bad service, and have undercover cameras showing them being ripped off? Yes, I acknowledge that in some of those cases it is a legitimate gripe. But on one story, they bought a shirt at a certain store. The person that bought it wanted a refund, so they went to a DIFFERENT STORE and demanded money back.
The receipt showed that the shirt was bought at a different store (not a different store of the same name, as in a chain but a different store and chain) and that store didn’t even carry that line of clothing.
The customer kept yelling and saying that the customer is always right and the salesperson should get the manager. Well, the manager wouldn’t refund the money because he didn’t buy it at their place and they didn’t even carry that line, and they never have carried it. And the customer kept yelling that he was being cheated blahblahblah. The customer just kept harping about how he should get money just because he was a customer. The manager didn’t give in (keep in mind that the manager never once raised his voice).
When the camera was back on the newsman, he kept saying that was an example of how the customer can be cheated, so beware. The other newsperson kept commenting on how the customer should have gotten his money back and told people in the retail business that they should just give money back because they are a customer. Excuse me? Why in the world should a store give money to someone who obviously didn’t buy the item at their place?

Sometimes life is so great you just gotta muss up your hair and quack like a duck!

I had a phone call from a customer the end of last month (July, of course) who said she had a sale flyer that expired April 30th and wanted to know the current price of an item, so I gave her the price. She said, yeah, that’s the same price her husband had been given when he called that morning, but she wanted to know if she could get the price from the flyer that expired April 30th.

Then she wanted to know why we wouldn’t honor the price in the flyer because they hadn’t known in April that they would want to buy anything.

I’ve seen people bring in merchandise for refund that has a big price tag on it with another stores name.

Someone brought back a pocket calculater because it didn’t work. It was same shape as their butt (round), and the LCD was shattered.

Someone brought back some boots encrusted cow manure. Department manager told them no refund until they cleaned them up. She did have to keep them till she received credit.

Somebody tried to get a new radio for a barn radio that had to be 20 years old. Barn radio–A radio that sits in a barn gets sprayed with whitewash, flies leave black spots on it until it’s almost black again, with the occasional cow splatter on it.

From the returns dept:

Several occasions of people bringing back empty packages of food, usually candy or snacks. “I just didn’t like these that much. Can I get my money back?” Company policy didn’t allow me to respond “I see you liked them enough to eat them all.”

One guy returned a hot water bottle to us. The package said it had a lifetime guarantee, and it just didn’t stay sealed. He had bought it six years previously, and still had the original box, and the receipt. It was in fact purchased at our store six years ago. This guy saved the receipt for his $3 hot water bottle for six years. I gladly refunded his money. Not many customers are like that.

Oooh, I hated customers when I worked retail. These anecdotes make me want to strangle the idiots.