Tuesday, September 11, 2007

She Who Returns

The front door swings open and it's her again, She Who Returns. She gives me a sweet smile. She has her usual prop, her grandson (if that's who he really is) and that's all he seems to be to her, a prop and a bit of a bother but cute enough to divert attention from her, She Who Returns. And of course She Who Returns (henceforth known as SWR which also serves as a fine acronym for Single White Refundee) doesn't simply flash her card and get ding donged in. Nope, she plops a bag onto the counter. "I have a return and an exchange."

Hmm, the exchange part piques my interest. "Okay." I get out the refund slips, trying not to grit my teeth. "What have we got?"

SWR removes the items, and along with them comes a receipt, but that's just her schtick. Naturally it's not a receipt from our store. It's from Safeway. "Oh, she said she put the receipt in there, but this is for the Starbucks."

It's never for our store. SWR is nothing if not a creature of habit. She's always nice, always smiles, always has this child who she places strategically so that he can grab at things, and always brings a receipt that oops, is not the right receipt. I want to go all tired, bored cop on her but I'm trapped by my sworn oath to deliver excellent customer service at all times. Now if I were so foolish as to manuever myself into a supervisory position I could ask a few questions and maybe even deny her this return. But no, I wear the chains of a servant.

Two items pour out of the bag. I grab an RF (secret decoder laser gun, zap zap, take that evil SWR!) and scan. And of course, one of the items comes up worth more than $20. Otherwise this game wouldn't be worth her while. Meanwhile, my initial interest has waned. These are both returns. She doesn't want to exchange a faulty product for one that works. Nope, she hasn't even opened either of the packages, as usual.

I'm not entirely certain what the game is. Maybe it's small potatoes, something she does for pop money, purchasing things in Oregon and then getting the return along with sales tax in Washington. Or maybe they're stolen outright and she gets the whole shebang. As always, the seals are untouched. Both packages are sparkling clean straight off the shelf. Last time it was an ear thermometer. This time it's a wart removal kit and blister bandages.

Helplessly I get the requisite initial because my super is on the way out the door and there's no subtle way to tackle her, wrestle her to the CSM and whisper surreptitiously the whole story of SWR. But I have a backup plan. Besides, SWR might be an actual paying customer (ha! But I must allow for this possibility) and no single super will take her on without The Mighty One's approval, except maybe for our musical second in command, who is not at the store at this time, and this super who wants nothing more than to go home and not get chewed out for unnecessary overtime.

Once SWR is safely away with her return slip I summon The New One. The New One is wise and clever, but new and therefore must certainly consult The Mighty One. However, The New One will be in the store in the morning, as will The Mighty One, and he can collect data from me and spew it on The Mighty One right after coffee. I tell him that I've personally written three or four returns and the routine is always the same. The last time I wrote a note and stuck it in the CSM. And aha! There is SWR in line. I point her out. She notices us, and although The New One turns his back it's not in time, she's made eye contact and her expression is guarded. She may have realized that we're onto her.

But never mind that, for if she is a thief we don't want her to come back anyway. The New One takes the returned items into his lonely citadel and analyzes them. He asks questions, I answer. At last, we have begun to collect real evidence that might prevent yet another round of 'oh gee, I thought I had the right receipt with me.'

So should SWR ever return, then mwa ha ha, she may be met with a gracious smile and-- "I'm sorry, I can't accept this return without a receipt. Could you bring it in with you the next time you come in?"

Take that, SWR!


Ris said...

Gack, how annoying!

I liked having a 'no receipt, no cash' policy in the last couple places I worked. It helped stop abuses like that, at least a little. Only exchanges or store credit, and only with manager approval, so repeat offenders usually didn't get too far. They don't like giving all their contact information, either, or having to show i.d.

Maybe having that little confab in sight of her will scare her from coming back.

Carole said...

Hmm, my sister, a notorious con artist, used to use that trick.

If SWR is the same, she won't be too scared from coming back. She's got lots of tricks in her bag and simply uses the easiest one she can get away with. I'd be willing to bet she does this wherever she goes and she makes sure she hits at least one store a day on her 'route.' My thought is she'll get wiser and hope your store doesn't.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Just how much profit can someone expect to make off a scam like this, anyway? It doesn't seem like there'd be much of a return if you're only getting a few cents or so off each returned item.

Or is it just for the thrill of it?