General Question

squirbel's avatar

As a customer, is it your right to always get what you want?

Asked by squirbel (4292points) March 8th, 2008

Here are a few instances:

• I stopped by my favorite Chinese restaurant for some takeout during lunch. I know everyone there personally, as I have gone there for years. I’ve seen them through the ups and downs of managing a restaurant. So when I got there, a lady (who I also happen to know), came to the register to pay for her meal. She wanted to have the veggie egg roll removed from her bill because it only had cabbage – and didn’t have any peas or carrots. I was embarrassed both for her and the owner, and looked at a spot on a wall to avoid being brought in for opinion… but I was anyway. The egg roll had been 75% eaten.

• I had an ex-boyfriend who used to take things back to the store….all the time. He’d actually purchase things before thinking about it or making sure it was he wanted, and return them after opening. Not only this, but he would buy things and return them when he needed money.

• Some people buy dresses or suits and return them the day after.

• As a server, you experience many people who demand so many changes to the recipe that it loses the chef’s touch… perhaps they should have stayed at home and cooked it themselves.

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17 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Re: #2 & 3, it’s referred to as “wardrobing” (or “retail renting”)

A poll seems to indicate that most people don’t have a problem with it.

More about wardrobing and what companies are doing about it

Scroll down for Consumerist reader comments

Regarding the egg roll lady, I probably would have written it off the bill, so long as I didn’t suspect her of being a bad customer. It’s a $1 egg roll. To me it’s worth it to keep the customer.

Your last one reminds me of Danny DeVito in Get Shorty. That’s a tough call if they have dietary restrictions and are with a group. I suppose some people get a side of power trip with their entree.

Sounds like your ex-bf was a cheapo.

I frequently buy things and return them later, but unopened. It’s more convenient in some cases to buy something as a hedge and return it later (or to buy two sizes and see which fits better, if I’m shopping where there’s no changing room).

kevbo's avatar

Sorry… DO have a problem with it.

kevbo's avatar

Also, for the ladies who love new purses:

squirbel's avatar

I come from a business oriented family, so my view is a bit skewed. I can see the cost that goes into an eggroll rolled inhouse, especially with the cost of veggies today. When I buy, I am cautious. If it breaks or is short of my expectation, I don’t harass customer service. I consider these things to be a risk, and if I take it, I accept responsibility for a bad decision and don’t buy from them again.

Again, I understand this is a business/cultural point of view.

nayeight's avatar

I work at pier 1, I can tell u all about customer service/relations. Just this week I had an old guy come in my store (about 50–60 yrs) and he was looking for a set of chairs. He knew what he wanted and apparently had been in the store earlier. So he told me that he wanted 2 of the chairs he was looking at in a very loud voice. So I thought maybe he was just old & going deaf or something & I told him that I had to check to see how many we had first because he may have to order them. So I looked in our inventory search to see how many we had & if he could order them (we had 4 on the sales floor that were not boxed). So i told him how many we had and asked him if he wanted to take 2 from the sales floor or order 2 from our warehouse (which had plenty). All of a sudden his voice got louder and he was yelling at me telling me that he spoke to someone else who said that we had 80 boxed chairs available in our store. I told him that I was very sorry but that he was mistaken & we never keep more than 8 or 10 chairs in the store and whomever he spokevto probably said that 80 chairs were available in our warehouse to order. And he screamed at me and said that he drove 30mins to get here & that we have 80 chairs in the back in our warehouse & if I didn’t get them out he would call customer service and have me fired. WTF?!?! Okay now I know that some old people are just crazy but really? I informed him once again that our warehouse is 2 hours away and not attached to the store andvthat he could either buy the 2 on the sales floor or order 2 boxed chairs that would arrive in a week or so. Then he said well since that woman lied to me, I want 50% off the two chairs for the inconvienence. Once again, WTF?!?!?! I told him no, he yelled at me again and finally bought them at full price and asked for the customer service number so he could complain about how useless I was. Now in this case, the customer was rude and extremely mean to me and barley deserved what he got. I should have told him that those chairs were on hold for someone until tomorrow and that he would have to order them. Old fart…...

osksav's avatar

IT is not a right, its people like that boyfriend and the people who complain just to get a discount.

Jonsonite's avatar

The boardgame shop I worked at had a set policy. Generally if the game was still in Shrinkwrap and you had a receipt we’d give a full refund. If the game was in shinkwrap but there was no receipt, we’d give full in-store credit. If it wasn’t in shrinkwrap, we wouldn’t take it back at all (because we could only sell unshrinkwrapped games for 30% off).

People didn’t seem to have a problem with it—if they got upset we just explained the (well thought-out) reasoning behind the policy, and they recognized the necessity.

srmorgan's avatar

I agree with Kevbo about #1 – the lady ordered a vegetable egg roll, she got a vegetable egg roll and that should be it, but considering the negligible amount of money involved, it’s easier for the cashier to comp the item than to fight about it at the register when there are other customers waiting to pay or coming in for lunch.

Wardrobing to my mind is theft. It’s probably not an indictable offense and no one would prosecute it, but morally it is theft. If I was a retailer and I had the least suspicion that the garment had been worn I would refuse to accept the return. Used goods should not be re-sold as new goods and if put on the shelf, then the next buyer has in fact been defrauded.

But many places have laws in place to protect the consumer from the retailer and oft times the retailer just is not going to fight the customer over a return.


DeezerQueue's avatar

What a perfect world it would be if we all got everything we wanted and just the way we wanted it given to us, wouldn’t it?

It seems as though a lot of people have lost their sense of fair play in these matters, having come to possess a sense of entitlement to perfection. It’s one thing to return a defective product, that’s a matter of contract, the seller offers to you a working product, guaranteeing that it will perform a, b and c, and you agree to it at the offered price. If the terms of a, b or c are not met, the contract has in effect been broken.

Cabbage is a vegetable, and when people who offer goods are reduced to include disclaimers to the effect that “a certain ratio of cabbage to peas and carrots has been met, however, because our meals are prepared by humans there is an inherent risk of error and the ratio may not be met in all eggrolls” then it’s become a sad day in the world of human behavior. If a person can consistently go to the restaurant and dissect a certain number of eggrolls and find that all contain cabbage then the offerer is at best misleading the consumer and at worst, committing fraud and should be held accountable in some fashion. A gentle reminder that accountability comes in different shapes and sizes and does not always have to include judicial means.

Buying a product with the express intent of using it and returning it for a full refund is fraud. The intent of the consumer is to rent something, while the offer is to purchase it. Most companies factor this morally bankrupt behavior into fiscal budgeting, but it is unfortunately the honest consumer that picks up the tab.

squirbel's avatar

The main thing is that this restaurant always makes “just cabbage” veggie rolls and I like it that way. They’ve been that way for years. My acquaintance however, brought expectations from having eaten at another restaurant.

I agree about the entitlement, personally. People ought to understand that the businessman depends on you being a good customer as much as you depend on him selling you what you need.

scamp's avatar

Here’s my scenario. I needed a more comfortable mattress for my bed while I recover from surgery, so I bought an air mattress at Wal mart. It deflated after only using it for one week. I returned it to the store, intending to exchange it for another one. When I got to customer service, I was told, sorry we can only exchange air beds, no refunds. That’s fine with me, because I wanted a new one anyway. Now, the second one has deflated also, after only two weeks. Should they replace that one as well?

squirbel's avatar

Air beds suck >.>

It’s a bad invention. Buying one from walmart guarantees the deflation is working as expected.

scamp's avatar

You said it sista!! But they are pretty comfy when they hold air. I haven’t taken the second one back yet. I bought a memory foam topper instead. But I figure since their product is defective, they should continue to replace it. I am going to try and return the second one just to see what they do. After all 40 bucks is 40 bucks, and I think I should have gotten more than 3 weeks total for my money, ya know?

squirbel's avatar

Hehe, yeah. My next question is a bit leading so try to be immune:

WalMart is so big three returns almost don’t matter, but what if it was a small business? Would you return it, or make it work?

scamp's avatar

Well I am not a big returner type person, but I do expect a certain amount of quality when I buy something. So yes, I think I would return it no matter what the size of the business. They could get credit from the manufacturer. Or they could give me a refund. I really don’t understand Walmart’s exchange only policy. Does that mean I can get a new air bed every month? If I wanted to take advantage of that policy, I could make out like a bandit!!

srmorgan's avatar

If the air mattress is defective, it’s defective and needs to be replaced by the merchant.

If the purchaser has to return or exchange a defective product repeatedly, i.e. more than once, then the merchant “should” waive his no-return policy in view of the circumstances.
That may not be “easy’ with Wal-mart but this is the time to get pushy.

I had a professor in college who told his classes, almost every day as he was past retirement age and visibly confused at times, “demand to see the manager”,

Sometimes it works.


scamp's avatar

Thanks SRM. I will probably do just that!

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