Sunday, May 9, 2010

Do You Have A Receipt For That?

I've worked retail on an off for just about all of my adult life.  When I first started, it was full time and in management, but I've also had some part time jobs along the way.  Mostly, they were to get the staff discount to supplement my wardrobe, but I've also really loved helping people find things that make them happy.

Being a parent now, I've purchased a whole lot of baby things, and for the most part, everything has worked out just fine and no problems.  However, as of late, I've had a few times where things didn't work out and I've had nothing but problems trying to get them replaced.

The first one was with Toys R Us.  In the past year, I have spent a whole lotta money there.  In January, I purchased 2 baby gates that have retractable screens instead of doors.  They were up and worked great - for about a month or so.  Then we noticed that the locking mechanism on the one wasn't working very well and the other one was just plain busted.

In late March we took them down and tried to exchange them for new gates.  We did not have our receipt and therefore they would not do anything - they couldn't prove how long we had the gates in our possession.  I pointed over to my son and said - he's only 11 months old, how long do you think we've had them?  All we wanted was to exchange them for 2 new gates, but of a different brand, one that we deemed to be safer.

The clerk wouldn't do anything because we didn't have our receipts, but the manager was able to find my purchases on their computer because I had paid by debit.  After all that, she still would not exchange the gates because they were past the 45 day limit.  It was a safety issue, I was not trying to return the gates, I simply wanted to exchange them for a safer brand.  I know they can return the gates back to the manufacturer and get their money back or a credit, so what was their problem?

Then today, I tried to exchange a long sleeved baby bib that I bought at Bo Bebe that ripped in the wash.  I paid $15.99 for it, and once again, all I wanted was to exchange it for another one exactly the same that was sewn properly.  I didn't have my receipt and my transaction stopped there.  I knew exactly where they were in the store, how much I had paid for it and who the clerk was who helped me, and the gal that worked there told me point blank she wouldn't do anything, that those bibs are sold in a lot of places, how did she know that I bought mine there?

Well let me tell you lady, if I'm out to rip a store off, it's not going to be for a bib and not for $15.99.  I know it's a small business, I get that, but if you're not going to stand behind your product, why should I support you?  I know retailers have recourse with their vendors - and it's not like I wanted my money back - I just wanted a new one. 

And it all comes down to one little piece of paper - the receipt.  I guess I'm to keep every receipt for every little thing I buy JUST in case it falls apart on me, and maybe the store will take the product back, maybe not.  I get that return policies are there for a reason (I've had to enforce them, and trust me, it's not always fun), but when the product is defective, I've always taken the product back or exchanged it for something of equal or lesser value.  And guess what?  I've never gotten in trouble for it.  It's called customer service.

Stores like Walmart and Costco take anything back in any condition, because they know that they can just deduct the price off their next invoice from that vendor.  I hate that way of doing business - it just seems so bullyish.  But it also explains why people shop there - they know if they have a problem, they can just take it back no questions asked.

I try to support my local small business where I can - I've bought a lot of things for Vaughn and other babies at Bo Bebe because I thought they sold quality product and stood behind it.  (As a side note, I did purchase a car bottle warmer there that crapped out after a week and the employee at the Shawnessy store gave me a new one without needing a receipt)  I'm going to call the owner or a senior manager tomorrow and see what they have to say - it's not about the money anymore, it's about the principle. 

It's very competitive out there, and retailers are trying to find ways to get new customers and encourage loyalty.  Hey, guess what?  Fix a problem when something goes wrong and chances are you have a customer for life.  And they'll tell people about their wonderful experience which might bring more people through your door.

After all that, I don't have much more to say except - keep your receipts people.