Amblin' Alameda: Return policy

Amblin' Alameda: Return policy

Morton Chalfy

Yesterday we were shopping in a store we occasionally shop at and often make purchases. We bought a pair of fuzzy slippers for my grandchild because she had hurt her foot and couldn't get into any other footwear. Alas, they turned out to be too small, so I had to return them.

We had paid cash and specifically asked about the return policy since she wasn't there to try them on, and were informed that if we returned the slippers within 30 days with no wear and with all the tags and the receipt there would be no problem.

Last week I tried to return them and was given a form to fill out asking for my name, address and telephone number. I had filled it out except for the phone number and asked why they needed that information.

"Are you going to call and ask me for a date?" I facetiously asked the clerk.

"No, but I can't give you a refund without it," the clerk responded.

"Then get the manager," I said - slightly belligerently I confess, but I was growing angry.

"No phone number, no refund," was the manager's reply boiled down to its essence. To my repeated questions of why it was necessary the first clerk finally said "So they know we did it right."

"Let me have your manager's name and number and address," I asked of the store manager.

He gave me a first name and phone number.

"No last name? No address?"

"I don't have it."

"Then give me the corporate address," I said, and received it.

Before I left the store I called the, I suppose, divisional manager, but only got a message machine which promised to call back promptly but so far hasn't. I left the store steaming with the slippers in the bag they came in and proceeded to think about what had caused me to flare up like that. As an old retailer it's something I don't like to do to the clerks because usually they are just following orders, but something about this really bothered me.

And here's what I've concluded: Asking for my phone number is an unwarranted intrusion on my privacy, but coercing me to give it by withholding the refund is tantamount to blackmail, and I won't stand for it. Had they been able to give me a coherent reason I might have complied, but the coercion made it impossible to do so.

In our modern world we are constantly being forced into taking actions we'd rather not take in order to access our own data, often, or just to transact business. I paid for the slippers in cash, I had the slippers in their original condition with their original tag and the receipt I got for the purchase. We were promised a refund if these conditions were fulfilled and the return was within 30 hours, not 30 days.

Is this store trying to tell me that cash is no longer legal tender? For a retail store to coerce its customers is evidence of policy making that will eventually lead to its death by competition from stores that treat customers with respect.

ADDENDUM: One day after sending a note to the store's corporate offices, I received a nice apology and directions on how to easily obtain the refund. I'm thankful to have it handled this way and I hope this might make a difference in corporate policy, or at least in the application of it.


Submitted by luczai (not verified) on Tue, May 5, 2015

Radio Shack always used to insist you give them a phone number, even when you were just making a purchase. I got tired of arguing with them and just started making one up. I doubt they ever used it anyway.

Submitted by Tracey (not verified) on Wed, May 6, 2015

I worked in Retail as a manager awhile back. It's possible they ask for that information in order to cut down on employee theft. It is very easy for a cashier to 'accidentally' forget to give someone their receipt. Then they could fake a return and pocket the cash. By asking for a phone number, they add another layer of difficulty to this sort of petty theft.

Submitted by Jaye (not verified) on Thu, May 7, 2015

Just give a fake number.

Submitted by bette (not verified) on Sat, May 9, 2015

what store? it's nice to be forewarned.