Retail is not an easy job to work. While I’ve never done it myself, I can empathize with the long hours on your feet and having to deal with all manner of people day in and day out for a fairly low paying job. I recently observed the HUGE contrast in how 2 retailers valued me as a customer.
Story 1 – Home Depot
We recently had some items stolen out of our garage. We had unfortunately left it open overnight and a burglar entered our garage and stole some brand new tools out of our garage. We had purchased a saw and an air compressor at Home Depot during the Black Friday weekend. My husband got a great price on their Home Depot Rigid brand of tools. He bought them in order to do some projects around the house, but as it was late November when he bought them, he did not get a chance to start using them (or even take them out of the box!) over the winter.
The day we discovered them missing, I went to our nearest Home Depot to inquire if anyone had attempted to return our items without a receipt. They said they didn’t think so, but it would be impossible to tell us since the same people don’t work the returns desk day in and out. I asked if they might be willing to sell us the same tools at the same discount. I still had the receipt and the manager took a look and agreed to do it. It was only $50 off the in store price for the saw, and $30 off the compressor. We ended up spending around $400 right then and there to replace our tools. They weren’t obligated to give us an extra discount, but if they hadn’t, we weren’t sure if we were going to spend the money to replace the tools. Instead, with great customer service, Home Depot made a sale and gained 2 loyal customers.
Story 2 – The Gap
We had received a gift for my son’s birthday that wasn’t the right size, so we took it to the Gap to exchange it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that same item and I couldn’t find anything else for him, so I ended up just picking out 2 t-shirts for my daughter. Well, after taking them home, she decided she didn’t like 1 of the t-shirts… so I had to go back to the Gap again.
On my second trip, I brought back the 1 shirt she didn’t like, and the associate started the return. Because I had made the original purchase with the returned gift and my credit card, only part of the shirt’s refund would go back to my credit card, and part would go back to a PAPER merchandise credit. (I don’t want to derail this, but it’s 2017… why are they still bothering to use paper and not just refund to a gift card?!)
Here is where this story gets a little silly. The total refund amount was $20.48. The amount going back to my card was $20.29. The amount they wanted to put on the paper merchandise certificate was 19 cents.
I’ve gotten these merchandise certificates before from the Gap and it is just a pain to use. They can only be used in store (not online) and they put my name on the certificate so that only I can use it. Well, for 19 cents, I thought “Surely, they will just cash it out”. Unfortunately, I WAS WRONG!
First, the associate was very condescending and told me that “the system won’t let me do it” and she at first, refused to ask her manager. I didn’t want to make a huge fuss over 19 cents, but I was really annoyed with her treatment of me, so I asked for her manager to come talk to me. When the manager finally arrived, I explained that our state law was that gift certificates under $5 had to be cashed out. The manager said that there was no way for her to cash it out (Hello… you can open the register?) and that because it was a merchandise certificate and not a gift card, she “couldn’t” do it.
This has basically told me 1 thing: Gap values me as a customer, at less than 19 cents.
I was already thinking how I hardly shop at the Gap anymore, and poor customer service is a big reason why. Blaming the computer system is a poor excuse by the Gap employees. To boot, I re-read the relevant state statutes and while I am not a lawyer, my read is that merchandise certificates/store credits should be covered under this statute and I should have been entitled to having it redeemed for cash.