A few days ago, I was at Kmart and I was taught a valuable lesson about honesty.
My daughter found a really cool pair of sunglasses in a three dollar bin. She loved them so much, she wore them all around the store. We bought about $50 worth of stuff, and when we were paying for it, she was still wearing them, so we accidentally forgot to pay for them.
When we got to the car, I noticed she was wearing the sunglasses and I asked if we had paid for them. She said that we hadn't. Obviously, at that point, we had gotten away with it, but I wanted to teach my daughter that it's not okay to steal, even accidentally. I wanted to teach her to be honest. So we went back to the store to pay for the sunglasses.
The lines were long, but we got back in line, so we could pay for the sunglasses. Unfortunately, it turned out the sunglasses didn't have a tag on them. The cashier asked for a price check, and let somebody else go in front of us while we were waiting, because obviously getting a price check is such a long ordeal that we couldn't possibly allow the line not to move. She was right. The person didn't know what the price was and we had to locate another pair of sunglasses in the bin, but those weren't labeled either.
We had to call another person to find out what to do about the situation. This person suggested getting another pair of sunglasses from another place, and then marking those down to three dollars. At this point, we had been dealing with this for at least 10 minutes.
We followed the cashier and she got us another pair of sunglasses and then we had to get in the customer service line, because obviously the cashier couldn't do it herself. That line was very long too. I said to the cashier that I would just hand her three dollars and then asked if we could leave. She said it didn't work like that.
After several minutes of waiting in line, I started to get pretty pissed off because it didn't look like the line was moving at all. I asked to speak to the manager. The manager came over and I told them all we had been through in attempting to pay for the sunglasses, and they said since they were only three dollars and we just spent $50 at their store, I thought he should let us just have them and let us leave.
He said he couldn't do that and then I started fighting with him. I said that this was ridiculous, that it was their fault that they didn't label the item had such terrible customer service that they had no way of dealing with us without it taking practically 30 minutes of my time. I was SO ANGRY. Finally, he agreed to give me the sunglasses for 50% off. I said fine and that I was never going to shop there again.
Maybe it's impossible to get an item for free just because the store sucks, but considering it was only three dollars, I don't think it was worth anyone's time. For me it was just about principle at that point. What sucks the most is that my daughter was so miserable through the whole process and I was just trying to teach her to be honest. I don't think that lesson succeeded.
Maybe not starting a fight would be better. Especially since the child is with you. Then again, I have no kids , so .ReplyDelete
Well, it wasn't a screaming fight or anything. It was just telling them that what they did was unacceptable .Delete
I guess this was similar to my thoughts, as well... I figured this would just be a nice story about how trying to do the right thing ended up costing you time and possibly resulted in some ridiculous behavior on the part of the store (something like suddenly claiming that the sunglasses were actually $30 instead of $3).Delete
Sure, it's a frustrating situation, but why get upset? I'd agree that the sunglasses should have been labeled, but it's unlikely that anyone you spoke to made the decision to have them unlabeled, or was negligent in applying labels. Giving feedback is fine, but when you say that you got "so angry" and "started fighting with him" it sounds like you got pretty heated. For all we know, you dumped on someone who was cleaning up someone else's mess and was doing the best that they could.
But similar to peace, I don't have a child. I treat store workers with respect and don't take it out on them if I have to wait a long time, but I'm sure the situation would feel different if I had an unhappy child of my own who was suffering through the wait with me (or if my own personal time - likely completely sapped by the child - had to be taken up by such a wait). So who knows? Perhaps one day I'll also find myself giving a manager a hard time over having to wait around due to poor performance on their end, too... but I hope not.
I didn't personally attack anyone or yell at them, but I told him that it was unacceptable to have to wait that long just to purchase a pair of three dollar sunglasses and they shouldn't expect to ever get my business again. I also want to teach my daughter that it's important to stand up for yourself if you are mistreated.Delete
Dr. Fizzy went in to the store with the best of intentions. She wasn't looking for a confrontation. On the contrary, she was using the sunglasses as an opportunity to teach her child a lesson in honesty. In addition, Dr. Fizzy is an honest person herself. However, it turned into a cluster. Dr. Fizzy doesn't mistreat people. In fact, as senior resident she went out of her way to make her intern's life more tolerable. This is a very decent person who, once again, found herself being mistreated,Delete
Probably was an effective lesson in not stealing :DReplyDelete
One time, early in the morning, I had a chemistry exam. I had forgotten my calculator at home. Panicked, I ran into an Office Depot, grabbed a calculator, and went to the register. Not a soul in sight. I hunted over the entire store. It was empty. I waved the calculator in front of the anti-theft deal outside of the door. No alarm.
I was going to be late for class and I that calculator was so important so I just ran out of there with the calculator in hand.
I came back and paid for it, obviously. However, customer service should not be that hard to locate.
Munchkin, I'm sorry that the store can't seem to sell us these sunglasses. It's still more important to bring them back than to take them for free. How about we leave these sunglasses with this nice lady and go get a pair from another store?ReplyDelete
And if necessary; We should stop for ice cream too, since you are so honest!
They were kind of unique sunglasses and she loved them so much. If I hadnt bought them, it wouldn't have punished the store, who didn't care. It only would have punished her. When I make a promise to her, I want to try to keep that promise.Delete
but during the process did you ask your daughter again if she still wanted the sunglasses? maybe she changed her mind since as you said she was so miserable?Delete
Ideally, the cashier would have just entered a misc item for $3.00, let you pay (thanking you for your honesty) and it would have been the positive learning experience it should have been. Instead, I'm afraid she learned that no good deed goes unpunished.ReplyDelete
However, despite the cluster that ensued in the store, you didn't let the innocent mistake pass and just drive away with the glasses because it was easier...so I believe you get the win for that.
Now make it stick and don't shop there again... :-)
You were rightfully upset by the way the whole thing was handled. The question then is, what do you do with that upset? Personally, I would have handled it worse than you did. It was a cluster, Dr. Fizzy and sometimes it can't be avoided. As I tell my better half, once my lose my sense of humor about a situation, it's off to the races! Be better than that, Dr. Fizzy because after reading your blog, I know youReplyDelete
are better than that. By the way, that store has a lot to learn about customer service!
By the way, if it's convenient for you to shop there again, do so. I would not punishReplyDelete
yourself to get even with them. The next time you go though, speak to the manager
and explain how you inadvertently left the store with the sunglasses and how it
turned into a cluster. It left you with a "bad taste in your mouth" that still lingers.
Let's see if they're big enough to admit their mistake and offer you some type of
Re: compensation -- When did our society embrace the idea that anyone owes us something for our time or energy? Yes, this situation was an unanticipated waste of time, but that's a fairly standard (tho' often deeply annoying) part of living.Delete
This reminds me of a story of how as children, my stepsisters used to complain that "it's not fair." My stepdad always patiently responded, "Life's not fair." He raised 3 amazing daughters who respect others and take responsibility for themselves & their actions, just as Fizzy showed her daughter to do in this situation.
And even though I wanted her daughter to be rewarded with an easy lesson, too, sometimes being honest means taking a harder road. Maybe this wasn't the ideal time for Fizzy's daughter to grow familiar with that, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men...
I think in this case the compensation isn't so much about being "owed" as them bribing me to keep shopping there after having such an unpleasant experience. A lot of places will definitely do that to keep the customers happy and not go out of business. I doubt Kmart cares.Delete
Maybe change the rule to only items over $10. Like the 3 second rule with dropped food on the floor.ReplyDelete
How many times have you been charged for stuff that never made it into your bag and you had to go back and get it? After already getting home. How many times was it really not worth it?
Regarding pretzel's comment, I understand where you're coming from, but as Dr.ReplyDelete
Fizzy pointed out, it's not about being "owed" as it is acknowledging a mistake
was made. We have erasers on the back of pencils because we're imperfect.
I can't speak for Dr. Fizzy, but if they had acknowledged their error instead of brushing her off, I believe it would have diffused the situation.
If it's a store like mine, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY to just enter a price into the system. You went into a store during back to school, when half the employees have gone back to school themselves, and the only people left are those who are stuck there. The store WANTS your money, but when corporate sticks a hiring freeze and cuts hours right when there's a mass exodus, stores have to make do with what they have. I'm currently the ONLY tech at my store, because the people who want the job tend to half-ass everything, and all my knowledgeable people left. I got in 45 machines to fix over the last week, and I am expected to get each done in 3 days, AND help customers on the floor, AND put away load, AND sell cellphones, AND still have the department looking spotless. I do it by working very long hours and getting to every customer as I can! I doubt they were trying to "brush you off," but merely already busy with several OTHER fires that were a bit more dire.ReplyDelete
You should have nicely asked for a manager in the beginning, and that would have gotten you out of the line. Just keep in mind that the manager may have been dealing with 5 other people at once. It's wonderful that you were trying to be honest, but the moment someone asks for a price reduction BECAUSE of their honesty raises all sorts of red flags for any retail employee. You weren't "owed" anything just because you chose not to steal.
Sorry, Fizzy, you were trying to do the right thing, but I strongly believe you were in the wrong.
Well, look at it this way: do you think a person who has to wait 20 to 30 minutes to buy a simple pair of sunglasses would ever shop at that store again? Especially when there is a perfectly good target about a mile away? It's not about what is "right" as much as what is good business. If they continue to treat customers that way, soon they won't have any. For the price of three dollars sunglasses, they probably cost themselves hundreds of dollars of business from me.Delete
Does this type of thing never happen at Target? I'm sure it does. The customer:staff ratio just wasn't in the favor of of the customers that day. We deal with the same thing in the hospitals and clinics too, don't we? It's always understandable when patients are upset over delays, and maybe we could do better, but there are limits to how much can be done when you are truly swamped. It doesn't sound like anyone was rude to you; in fact, they even recognized that you were inconvenienced and tried to offer something to compensate (50% discount... not that it means much on a $3 pair of sunglasses).Delete
It always seemed to me that the customers who complained and then remarked that they would "never shop here again" over having to wait around, would likely run out of places to shop at.
Usually when I say that at a place, it is a restaurant and it was because the food was terrible. I recently told the waitress I would likely never return at a restaurant I had previously liked because I was so disappointed and I wanted them to know how bad it was in hopes that they would improve. I didn't ask for a free meal or anything else. I just wanted them to know.Delete
On another occasion, I had a subscription to a cheesecake of the month club. One cheesecake arrived spoiled and I asked for an extra cheesecake in compensation. They refused and I canceled my subscription. A week later, a manager called and begged me to reinstate my subscription, offering me pretty much whatever I wanted. Too late.
Target is actually pretty awesome about getting you through the line very quickly. The only reason I don't shop there as much is because they get a lot more business than Kmart, so the parking lot is more crowded. I have a bad feeling that Kmart will be out of business before too long.
I agree in the cases you listed. If a place exists for a certain purpose and they can't even meet that, then they don't deserve the business. Heck, I've said the same thing about a mechanic shop. They made an incredibly basic, careless error that cost me shortly after. At times like that it really doesn't matter how good the customer service is, because you're not there to be treated nicely (even though it helps), you're there to get something done.Delete
If that Kmart were having you wait around for 20-30 minutes for no good reason (such as if you were the only person there, or the staff just seemed to be taking their sweet time) then sure, say you'll never shop there again. But based on your description, it sounds like they were pretty busy. I guess we'll never know for certain if the situation was due to someone messing up on their end, or if it was just circumstances. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and would attribute it to circumstances.
I am sorry, Cygnata for the unfair treatment you are receiving at the hands of your store, and yes I fully appreciate what you're saying. Perhaps Dr. Fizzy misrepresented her side of things by emphasizing the time aspect. I don't believeReplyDelete
it was as much a time issue as it was a courtesy issue. If the manager had simply
stated, I'm sorry for your inconvenience, this shouldn't have happened, I think Dr. Fizzy would have responded differently. A little courtesy goes a long way.
My store isn't the problem. My managers have been busting their butts to help us all in any way they can, ringing out customers, taking tech work orders in, blocking the store, everything. It's just a crazy busy time of year.Delete
Here's a scenario that might have worked.ReplyDelete
Manager: How can I help you?
Dr. Fizzy: I inadvertently left with a pair of sunglasses and wanted to return to pay for them. I waited in line but was told they needed a price check. However, there was no label to check the price against. A second person brought back an identical pair, also without a price. A third person had to be called in who suggested I wait in another line using a different pair of sunglasses since the original pair did not have a label attached. After waiting
more time for what I thought was a simple matter, my patience gave out. Can you please correct this for me?
Manager: (Sardonic smile) All this over a three dollar pair of sunglasses?
Dr. Fizzy: (feeling understood) Yes.
Manager: Just take it and go. My apologies for your inconvenience.
Exactly. And then I probably would have shopped there again.Delete
You will shop there again. You already said that you go there for less trafic. You are trying to punish yourself over trivial matter. You are the one that will hurt. Just think it over and consider fuming less in the future. They forgot about it, and you are still angry.Yes, customer service is not perfect, yes, they do not owe anything if you are not happy. Try to think why you feel so entitled. You were complaining over 2$ box of rice price that restaurant just HAD TO give you for free. Honestly the impression is, you do not get much appreciation/love/positive reinforcement in your life. I will qoute my favorite author Huffington Post co founder, Arianna huffington "The issue is how we deal with the isse". Hugs, Fizzy ! We love you as a witty writer, and we are your huge fans. But please, love and take care of yourself.ReplyDelete
I understand what you're saying, but I think it may be the opposite of that. I am used to being treated well as a customer. There have been multiple times when I have been in a restaurant and not liked the food, and even though I didn't say anything or ask for anything, a manager noticed I hadn't eaten it and came up to me and told me that I wouldn't have to pay for the meal. In a lot of restaurants or stores, if you are not happy, the management is very eager to appease you. If a customer leaves the store fuming mad, it's a guarantee they won't return. For the cost a dollar or two, a good business would probably want to avoid that.Delete
The reason I may not return to that Kmart is not because I want to punish them, but rather because this is not the first time when I have been seriously aggravated when trying to pay for a purchase there. I don't think my blood pressure can stand shopping there anymore.
I don't get it, Dr. Fizzy. You (your kid) took something without paying. At that point, it is your g--damned *moral obligation* to return and make the seller whole. Your convenience stopped being a factor the moment you left the store accompanied by those sunglasses.ReplyDelete
The second surprise, besides your unwillingness to pay up, was haggling over price! First, you take an unpaid pair of sunglasses. Then, you complain because you have to wait in line, like everybody else. Then, you expect a register line to be blocked while someone tries to find a similar pair with the UPC code on it. Then, you have the manager called, because these dastardly people all waste *your* valuable time. And after all then, you haggle him down to half-price ... cnd claim that it was just "the principle" of it. Pull the other one, Dr. Fizzy.
The third surprise are many of the previous commenters who seem to be as absentminded as your kid, as far as paying is concerned, and who apparently share the belief that the store has some kind of obligation to make fixing *this* kind mistake easier than other kinds.
Vygnata -- thanks for being the voice of reason!
I'm pretty sure I have no moral obligation to a giant corporation that treats its customers and employees like crap :-)Delete
My husband explained it all to me last night. Kmart works by treating its customer like crap and having low prices. If it's important enough to you to have low prices that you don't mind being treated like crap, you will shop there. They don't care if they lose customers. There are enough poor people that can't afford to be treated respectfully. Or maybe not, since Kmart is on the verge of bankruptcy.
You did the right thing by going back. If you are like most of us, you wouldn't even think of not paying in this situation, and you want your daughter to behave the same way. That lesson was imparted. Beyond that, all I can say is welcome to customer service in the 21st Century. It is refreshing to hear the comments above, but none of those nice people work at any of the XXXXX-Marts I frequent. Many of those places are staffed by folks who perhaps once wanted to please their customers, but the average customer cannot be pleased by simple good service, so they no longer even try to provide it. Your request was not out of line, given that you were honest and tried to give the store $3 more than they might have had. But you made a fatal error...you exceeded their programming, and you can see the result.ReplyDelete
Next time...heck if I know how to handle it better. Just don't take it personally, and remember that your kid is watching.
Coincidentally I had a similar experience today - I picked up a surge protector at Home Depot that didn't have a price label. Got to the front of the line, and the cashier told me to go back and find one with the price. Not friendly or apologetic about it either. Temptation to dump all my purchases and leave. Kicker was that there is a sign at the cashier saying "If you didn't receive world class customer service blah blah blah" (Note, this Home Depot, along, I suspect, with many, doesn't even come close to having a warm body level of customer service, let alone world class customer service)ReplyDelete