Switters’ Blog

A Tale of Two Returns

Posted by switters on July 7, 2007

Different stores tend to handle returns in very different ways. For example:

Leslie’s Pool Supply

I’ve been a customer there for over ten years. In that time I think I’ve been to other pool stores maybe 3 times, and then only because Leslie’s was out of something.

The other evening I purchased an item, tried to use it when I got home, and realized that I’d stupidly bought the wrong thing. The next morning I brought it back and asked if I could exchange it for the correct item, which was about $10 more, and just pay the difference. The girl went back and asked her manager who said only if I had a receipt, which I didn’t – I’d lost it. I pointed out that that not only did the item have their store name on it, but that the clerk who’d helped me just 12 hours earlier was right their in the store. No dice. Instead he suggested that I purchase an adapter and another part, which would wind up costing me $15 more instead of $10 and not work as well.

You may say that if their policy is no returns without a receipt that I just have to accept it. And I did accept it. I made my point but I didn’t get rude and I didn’t push it. I bought the parts and left the store… for good.

It’s all well and good that stores have policies, but as long as we are human beings dealing with other human beings we should be thinking about the reasons for policies and not just follow them blindly. Stores require receipts for two reasons. The first is to prevent them from being defrauded by people who are not being honest about their returns. But clearly this wasn’t the case since I’d obviously purchased the item there. The second reason is simply to reduce the number of refunds they have to deal with by capitalizing on the fact that people lose receipts. It gives them an excuse to deny refunds/exchanges that they would otherwise accept and is a means of increasing margins completely at the customer’s expense.

As noted, if this is their policy, then he didn’t have to do the exchange. And I don’t have to shop there. Last night I needed a bunch of chemicals and to replace some pool toys for my kids. Had the manager played it diffrently the other night, there is no question that I would have gone to Leslie’s. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me to go anywhere else. But I realized that there is now another pool store (Brothers 3) in the next shopping center so I went there and spent about $125. I don’t know the margins in the pool business, but I’d guess that whatever profit Leslie’s made by sticking it to me was erased by what they lost out on in that one purchase. And anyone who owns a pool knows, there’s no question about how much more I’ll spend at NOT LESLIE’S before the summer is over.

As the saying goes, you reap what you sow.


I purchased a mug at Starbucks about two months ago. After a few uses it developed a hairline crack which quickly grew bigger. I brought it back to ask if I could exchange it for another. I told her how long I’d had it and showed her that it said “Dishwasher Safe” on the bottom but that the crack appeared after I washed it. Again, I did not have a receipt, but she didn’t ask for one (it has the word Starbucks printed on it). Instead she said, “Oh, that shouldn’t have happened,” and with a tone that would have made one think she’d been the one who’d broken it, she apologized. She didn’t consult the manager, who was just a few feet away, she just came around the counter and got me another mug. She put it in a bag, apologized again for my inconvenience, and told me that the coffee I had just ordered was on them.

So now, in addition to the addiction aspect, I have one more reason to get my coffee at Starbucks.


4 Responses to “A Tale of Two Returns”

  1. MOM2GIRLS said

    It sucks to return something in this day and age. I am an educated married mother and I have succummed to twisting the truth in order for things to flow smoothly in my life.

    It is truly a challenge to try and return something to a bunch of dimwits who are running a store…all the while trying to teach your own children to be productive, mindful members of society.

    I have been to Leslie’s a handful of times (although their parking lot is not condusive to a large amount of customers)…I’ve been there for tiny purchases of chlorine and shock treatments for my teeny tiny pool….I’ve always been treated nicely. In the grand scheme of things, I’d rather be treated nicely at Starbucks!

    And so, seeing that Leslie’s is not nice to all comsumers…I can certainly say that we’ll not go there this season.

    I will continue to frequent Sayville Starbucks for my own reasons…I’m glad you~Switters~had a good experience there. I love the comfort that Starbucks exhibits…reminds me of my home and my family.

  2. dakeeper said

    That blows. Brothers 3 is expensive….very expensive. Dunrite is an option but not as close. Island Rec is prolly the worst. Clueless teens and perps work there.

    I like Starbucks, especially that drive-thru up on Sunrise.

  3. SJDF13 said

    That is wrong, for gods sakes you were only doing an in store exchange, not a good way to do business, Customers are the lifeblood of your business, where I work if a client wants or needs something, we find a way to get it done period!

  4. MOM2GIRLS said

    Unfortunately, not all companies stress the fact that the customer is always right.

    I prefer the Sayville Starbucks…although I am in my own world, I do enjoy coffee-talk with the staff at Starbucks…and I enjoy checking out who is hanging there. I love the trumpeteer (is that a word, or will the grammar police seize me?) that plays out front sometimes.

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