Friday, February 22, 2013

The Rants of a Shopgrrrl

I used to work in retail. It's not a fabulous life, and quite frequently there were things that made me despise the realm of consumerism, of which, unfortunately, I was a part. With all of the customers that I came in contact with, eighty percent (and occasionally more, on days that we had a sale, for example) of them are horrible human beings. Sometimes when the customers and the situations were so outrageous, I felt as if I was in an Saturday Night Live sketch, or on a hidden camera show.

In the short amount of time that I worked retail, the more negative adjectives that customers used to describe me include unattractive, dumb, inattentive, weak, dense, and perhaps the best of all, useless. These comments come from a wide variety of people, including those who have more money than they know what to do with and feel the need to dump their inane problems on me, an innocent shopgirl who was (and still is) trying to pay off massive student loan debts. (And yes, I'm well aware that Steve Martin has the rights for both the novella and film with this story.) 

As it may be, these customers will forever be immortalized as completely worthless sacks of shit as I share with you the terrible comments and actions that these people said and did. Believe me folks, I kept track of these things, and not that I would wish for anything bad to happen to any of these customers, but if it did, I would be filled with such glee. Also, I must add that I do not in any way condone violence, but with these types of customers, I found that violence may be the only way to get any information into their thick skulls. A sharp smack to the back of one's head with a hard object like a frying pan, or laptop, could prove very beneficial in these situations. 

This first tale I share with you is from the very first customer that had an issue with me. I had been working on the floor (as opposed to being in training) for three days. Being a newbie, I was still a little nervous when dealing with things such as finding merchandise in our system, or taking merchandise to be returned. This story has to do with the latter. Because our store, and the other department stores in our particular mall cater to a group of people who, as I mentioned previously, have expendable incomes, or like to think that they do, our return policy is extremely lenient. Not quite as lenient as one of our other competitors, but with the way things are going lately, we will soon rival them with our policy and God help us all when that happens. 

In our department, fashion accessories, we have five registers - two in the middle of the floor where the jewelry is located, one in the sunglasses section, one at the watch counter, and one where the seasonal accessories are located (cashmere scarves and leather gloves when it's cold out, and silk scarves when it's not). At that particular time, I was standing at the watch counter. This woman comes up to me wearing a thick sweater, a wool cap, and glasses. Slight in build, she was somewhat even more dwarfed by the layers of clothes that she was wearing. This would not seem out of the ordinary had we been in New England during the fall. But we were in Orange County, California. In July. Wearing that much when it was at least eighty-five out was absurd. I should have known that a customer wearing that much was going to cause problems.

She plops a box down on the counter and states that she has a return. In our store, there are several ways to take a return. The easiest is with a receipt and the price tag with our special ticket showing our store name. With both of these items, it's quick and painless to return merchandise. No muss, no fuss. The second option is to use the price tag and the special ticket. It traces the original transaction, and gives us the form of tender used in the original transaction. A customer always has the option to have the amount given back to them on their proprietary card or credit card if that's how they purchased the item, or for store credit. If they used cash or a gift card, and it's been less than six months since the original purchase, that's an option as well. If it's been more than six months, that's when things start to get tricky. Sometimes we can't trace the original transaction just with our tag, and if it's been more than six months, the customer will get the lowest price that the item has been sold at during that timeframe. We can also use the credit card and the price tag to look up the original transaction, or if the merchandise was purchased online, we can use the order form that came with the item. Needless to say, problems arise all the time with this system, especially when people try to return items with no ticket or no receipt, or they argue that they paid cash for an item when in actuality they did not. 

This customer had a Burberry scarf that she needed to return, and a new one (also Burberry to exchange for the original. The item wasn't damaged, so it was fine for me to take back. She didn't have her receipt, but the price tag and our label were still attached, so I used the label to find the original transaction. Now, for whatever reason, the price that was coming up at the register was more than what she paid for the scarf.  I admit, this part was actually my fault, because she technically could have walked away with more money than what she should have received. But she did point the discrepancy out to me, and because I was new, I wasn't sure how to best proceed. In two seconds, she changed from what I perceived as a fairly decent human being, to a screaming, raging Minotaur that I was certain was going to rip me open from nose to navel. 

After trying to explain to her that I needed to double-check the prices so that she was in fact going to receive the correct amount of money for the exchange, you would have thought that I slapped her and said, "FUCK YOU, BITCH, I'M OUTTA HERE." That was one of things that I hated most about retail - I would try and help the customer, bust my ass for them, and they acted as if I was sitting with my finger up my nose. I should have learned early on from this particular case. Anyway, one of my fellow co-workers saw that I was struggling and came over to help me out. Once things were straightened out, and the exchange was made, the woman looked at me with such glee in her eyes that clearly said, "I bested you. I am better than you. I will now walk out of this store with my $300 scarf and you will still be a lowly shopgirl." 

From that point on, I vowed to keep track of these people, so, like I said previously, if it ever came down to it, and I met them on the street and was no longer associated with the department store that I worked at, I would pound their stupid, lazy faces into the ground in the most tortuous ways possible.

But I'm not bitter. At all.

Come back to read more tales from retail hell. 

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