Bad customer service is all too common, unfortunately. You may recall my terrible shopping experience at Babies R Us, which spurred Jeannie to write in with her own story:
Fraudulent store returns cost retailers an estimated $14 billion annually. On the flip side, the return policies of LL Bean and Nordstrom have earned legendary shopper loyalty. My recent experience at Rite Aid left me feeling like some return policies cost the retailer and the customer alike.My mother asked me to buy Maalox antacid for her. Unbeknownst to me, Maalox was pulled from shelves earlier this year due to a factory shut-down. After attempting to find Maalox at CVS, Wal-Mart and Market Basket (a local grocery chain), I bought a generic equivalent at the last store I visited, Rite Aid.
Running late to Mom’s house, I gave the cashier a $5 bill for a 12-ounce bottle of Rite Aid cherry antacid priced at $4.99, but didn’t wait to get my receipt. My bad.Later, Mom asked if I could return the cherry flavor and get mint instead. Returning to Rite Aid, I was relieved to find the same cashier still on duty. Better yet, she remembered me and my receipt-less exit! Unfortunately, they were sold out of mint, so I asked for a refund.Cashier: “You don’t have a receipt.”Me: “But you can identify me as the person who bought this a few hours ago.”Cashier: “You don’t have a receipt.”Me: “But you know that I bought it. It’s not Maalox from another store that I’m trying to return. It’s your own store brand.”Cashier (holding up a wastebasket): “When you left, I tore your receipt in half. I would have to look through this wastebasket to find it.”So we’ve established that I bought the antacid, paid for it and generated a receipt.What was a 3×4″ slip of paper going to tell her that she didn’t already know?I asked what options were available.“I can issue a store credit for $4.49.”“But I paid $4.99!”“Store policy. Without a receipt, I can only give you the sale price.”Let’s sum up: I was being charged 50 cents to return an item because I didn’t have a receipt, even though the cashier could verify that I purchased the item.Really, Rite Aid? In an age of the empowered consumer and social media? At a time when there are brick-and-mortar drug stores on every corner and a world wide web of shopping choices? In a world where Bargain Babe rules?!“Store policy,” the Rite Aid manager said when he called me the next day. He offered to reimburse the 50 cents on my next trip to the store, but I explained that I, too, had a “store policy” of not shopping with retailers who are so rigid about returns.I also called the managers of the CVS, Wal-Mart and Market Basket stores I had visited prior to Rite Aid to ask how they would handle my receipt-less return.“Making a customer angry over 50 cents is not worth the long-term cost of losing a customer,” said one. “Happy customers tell 5 people. Unhappy ones tell dozens.”“I empower my cashiers to bend store policy in cases like yours,” said another. “I would have refunded you $4.99 based on my cashier’s memory rather than corporate policy.”“What bothers me most is that the manager felt saving 50 cents was worth losing your future business,” the third manager said.In the end, I found a 24-ounce bottle of Equate mint antacid for $3.24 at Wal-Mart, a 300% savings”¦ but Rite Aid lost me as a customer forever.
Sorry to hear you had such a terrible experience, much like the one I had at Babies R Us. I’m surprised you couldn’t do the transaction as an exchange, seeing how you only wanted a different flavor. Stores have policies like this for good reason, but given your circumstances it is very disappointing that the cashier and manager could not work with you.
I’ve had plenty of good customer service experiences at Rite Aid, including with a pharmacist who went out of her way to find me a $25 coupon for transferring a prescription.
Whatever the store, what surprises me is how many stores are willing to lose a customer over a very small amount of money. They fail to appreciate that our loyalty has a price!