Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Pirate's Motto

During Back to School season, our store runs a special event for teachers where they can get a free bag of assorted school supplies along with some extra discounts on all products. This event is usually scheduled for a Saturday morning, and this year it was on August 22nd - this past Saturday. We had signs near the front door with the date and times written in black marker so that everyone would know when the event was scheduled. The signs were posted for a good while ahead of the date.

Needless to say, we had a lady come in today expecting to get the benefits from the teacher's event that had been held last Saturday.

One of our cashiers called me over to his register to handle the issue. I explained that the discounts were no longer valid as it was a limited time program. She insisted that the event was supposed to be TODAY and that she was entitled to the benefits we advertised. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "I'm sorry, but that event was held last Saturday morning. We had signs up ahead of time notifying our customers of the correct date."

Customer: "Nah, they told me it was gonna be on three dates and one of them was today."

Me: "Who told you that?"

Customer: "Yeah! They said it was gonna be on the 20th, 22nd, and 27th!"

Me: "Ok, who said that to you? One of our people?"

Customer (Getting irritated): "No, they told me- I know they told me it was the 27th!"

Me: "No, it was actually held on the 22nd. I'm sorry, but unfortunately we don't have those discounts available right now."

At this point, I talked with our general manager to see if there was anything that could be done. She told me that she'd speak with the woman, so that's what I told the customer. Then I went to count one of the registers and make change. While I was working on that, the phone beside me rang and the display indicated the call was coming from the managers office. I picked up and our general manager informed me that she'd located a spare bag of the free supplies that had been handed out to teachers on Saturday and that she'd be happy to give that to the customer in an attempt to smooth things over. We were in no way obligated to do this, mind you, but we try to make people happy if we can.

So we give the bag to the lady and she goes back to shopping. I finish counting out the register and take over ringing while waiting for our night shift to arrive. A short while later, the woman comes up with a basket full of school supplies, her son tailing behind. I started scanning her stuff, and she says, "So is there any way I can get the discounts from the teacher's event?"

Now, we'd given her the bag when we really didn't have to. But the discounts were handled through our rewards program, not through the store itself. Teachers were entitled to an increased amount of rewards for the purchases they made during the event. Those numbers went through the rewards center, not us. We had absolutely no way to make those kinds of adjustments ourselves. "I'm sorry," I told her, "but that sale was for Saturday morning only. I have no way of adjusting rewards percentages in our computer."

I'm halfway through scanning the basket of stuff with a line formed behind her and she says, "You know what? I'll just go to Walmart. They're cheaper than you."

And without another word, she walks out.

With her free bag of stuff.

It reminded me of the Pirate motto from Pirate's of the Carribean: "Take all you can. Give nothing back."

1 comment:

  1. I just love your story, it brings back memories of my times in store management. Customers may be our Lord, but some of them are real trailer-trash, aren't they?

    Years ago, when I worked in the photographic industry, we were doing a deal where we gave a free film (that's what used to go in cameras before digital came along) with every developing and printing order. We actually used to get customers coming in asking if they could have the free film in advance, and they would get it developed after their "event" that they wanted to get photographed. On one occasion, this was asked of one of my staff by a male customer, and the staff members reply sticks in my mind to this day: "What? And do you want the keys to my house so you can pop in whenever you feel like it and make love to my wife" as well? I'd overheard this, and it was several minutes before I composed myself enough to show myself on the shop floor. Unfortunately, I had to discipline that guy officially, but I also shook his hand and gave him a hug for making my day!