Tales From The Shop Floor

The Refund

Or, How To Not Get A Refund.

Jane walks into a store. Like all customers she walks in and expects the sales assistants to be attentive, knowledgable and efficient. She needs to make a return. She is one of the last people to enter the store before it closes and she is in a hurry. So she makes a beeline to the first counter she sees, pops her purchase – a very expensive pair of designer shoes –  on the counter and waits for the sales assistant to materialise.

Not one to be idle, Jane takes out her mobile phone and checks her voicemails. A sales assistant with a ‘Hi I’m… Ted’ name badge approaches her with a greeting. As Jane is still on the phone and intently listening she mouths the word ‘refund,’ nudges the item still in its bag toward the sales assistant, along with her credit card, and continues checking her voicemail. She snaps her fingers and motions to a pen which Ted retrieves for her and she commences scrawling a number on the back of her hand.

Ted removes the contents of Jane’s bag and looks it over. All present and correct. Ted then looks into the bag for the receipt. His priority is to get this done as quickly as possible so he can also leave on time. But we have a problem. No proof of purchase.

Meanwhile, Jane has wandered away from the counter. She had to return a call from her voicemail, and in talking animatedly on the phone has meandered up and down the walkways in the store and is now some distance from the counter. Jane finishes the call and returns to the counter expecting all to be done and to be able to leave with her refund. This however is not the case. She had not noticed Ted waving at her to catch her attention.

Ted tells her that there was no receipt in the bag and unfortunately he won’t be able to process the refund today without proof of purchase as it is against the store policy. Jane is now feeling the pressure of how extremely late she is running and her phone call, mixed with this new hiccough has not improved her mood. After a brief exchange over ‘bending the rules’ she tells Ted, quite bluntly, “Well, Ted, if you can’t help me, I’d like to speak to your manager. And can you make it quick please? I’m in a hurry, but I’m not leaving the store without a refund.”

Ted pages his line manager and then excuses himself in order to brief the manager, Sarah, when she arrives. Ted tells Sarah this could be a potential ‘difficult customer’ situation, no receipt, high value item, the customer is getting aggressive and they will end their day with an ‘in minus’ sales result. Alarm bells are ringing, but, despite all this, Sarah has not yet decided whether she won’t ‘bend’ the rules for Jane, when Jane, now pacing at the counter with impatience, marches up and demands a refund in no uncertain terms.

The decision is made in that instant: No, there will be no refund. They are standing firm – they need the receipt. Please leave as the store is now closed and return another day with proof of purchase.

The biggest influence on our experience as customers is our own behaviour. In an upcoming post we’ll be taking a look at how we, as untrained customers, actively convince stores to not help us.  Yes, bad service still exists, its not all our fault. But its not all their fault either. In defence of Sales Assistants everywhere, if you want professional service when you shop, you need to act professionally as a shopper. Help them to help you.

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