Monday, December 10, 2007

Retail Nightmares

Have you ever had a bad retail experience? It's unfortunate, but I'll bet that most everyone has, albeit some worse than others. Just look back to any old copy of Marketnews magazine, when the Secret Shopper was a regular column, and you'll see that the occasional bad retail experience is nothing new.

I had my own retail nightmare this weekend while holiday shopping, and thought I'd share it with you.

I proceeded to the checkout at a retailer (who shall remain un-named) with a few items that I was ready to purchase. There were two young teenage guys working the counter, and although the experience was a tad odd, I didn't really think much of it...until I got home and noticed that one item was missing. Coincidentally, an item that a young, teenage boy might covet. In hindsight, I realized what I believe to have happened:

When I arrived at check-out, one guy asked the other if he could ring this purchase in. That sounded a bit odd: why would you ask your co-worker to let you ring in a transaction? Especially when they both looked like they really weren't keen on working . In fact, one said something in small talk to the effect that it was "one of those days". I smirked, and told him I knew what he meant.

After I had paid, I heard something drop to the floor behind the counter. He looked down, then looked in my bag and said "let me make sure everything's in here", then said "yep", and handed it over with the obligatory "have a nice day". When I analyze the less than two-minute experience, I realize that I should have been more suspicious and re-checked my bags. Needless to say, it was very upsetting to find out, once I arrived home, that one particular item was missing.

Normally, although frustrated, I would have understood that accidents happen, especially during the busy holiday season. But given the circumstances and my suspicisions, I was livid. This was very likely no accident. I called the store and spoke with the manager, reciting to him what I believe went down. He was very nice about it, and said if I returned to the store, they'd gladly give me a fresh, new copy of the item in question. There was one problem: the mall I went to was very much out of my way: I had made the trek because I needed to visit a specific store, and wasn't prepared to trek back there for an item that I already paid for. He said there was no way I could pick it up at another location. After some discussion, he finally agreed to courier the product to me. I commend the way my complaint was handled; but I won't be writing any letters of thanks until the courier package actually arrives.

Meanwhile, I told the manager that, aside from the retrieval of my item, I thought it was also important to notify him of my suspicisions. After all, I'd want it to be brought to my attention if I could have thieves on my team! Innocent until proven guilty, as they say; but you won't know for sure unless you do something about it.

The moral of the story: if you ever have a feeling that something just isn't right, like you've been over-charged, or might be missing an item, don't hesitate to investigate before leaving the store. It isn't necessary to hold up a line while going over your receipt with a fine-tooth comb; but at least step to the side and run a quick check. This way, you can pop back in line if you spot a discrepancy and have it dealt with immediately.

As for me, I'm awaiting my courier package, and have faith that the manager will not go back on his word. If he doesn't, I'll certainly be giving him a call to thank him; and to find out whether he was able to track down the missing item in question. If he does go back on his word, well, I might just find myself on this particular retailer's customer nightmare story list!


michaelo said...

Yikes! That's just evil. Really good advice to always double-check your bags and receipts. Hope your courier package shows up.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi michaelo

Thanks for the comment. And yes, the courier package did indeed arrive yesterday! As promised, I called to thank the manager. He wasn't in, but the manager on duty said she was aware of the package having gone out, and said that she's pretty sure it was an honest mistake. Of course would she really have told me if it wasn't? Probably not, and I wouldn't blame her. It's also possible that the guy figured he'd keep it behind the counter and if someone came saying a customer called looking for it, he'd pass it over and say "oh, yes, we noticed she forgot this at the check-out". If no one called in, he likely figured he could take the item home and call it a good day. I don't mean to be skeptical, but I had a really bad feeling about the transaction.

Nevertheless, the issue has been resolved, and I am very pleased with how the retailer handled it.