Friday, October 30, 2009

Cranky Pants

Man, I'm not sure if it is the crappy weather, or if everyone is not getting enough sleep worrying about H1N1 or what but boy have people put on their cranky pants today. The worst part of this is that 'innocent bystanders' have to suffer for that most insufferable of qualities: entitlement. Both of the incidents I'm about to narrate could have been avoided if people just didn't assume the world revolves around them, or that the rules don't apply to them, or that everyone is out to ruin their day.

About an hour ago a gentleman came into the store and wanted to make a return. Here is, to the best of my memory, the transcript of his conversation with (unbeknownst to him, the worst person he could have possibly pulled this stunt on, let's call them Beth):

Customer: "I purchased this book yesterday because I couldn't find my other copy in my room. I found it now, and I'd like to return this. I'm returning this book."
Beth: "I'm sorry, but we can't do that. That is textbook; it's being used for a class. All books used for classes had to be returned by October 9th."
Customer: "But I just bought it yesterday."
Beth: "That... doesn't really matter, sir. The returns information is on that bright pink slip of paper stapled to your receipt..."
Customer: "I didn't read that. I didn't know. I'm returning this book."
Beth: "But you got in from the textbook aisle, right? And you didn't know it was a textbook?"
Customer: "Right."

long pause.

Beth: "OK, I'm going to make an exception, this one time..."
Customer: "Good, 'cause I make an exception to shop here. I've bought thousands of dollars of books here."
Beth: "An exception from what?"
Customer: "From shopping at other bookstores. From buying books on-line for a fraction of the price."
Beth: "OK, look, you've already won here. We're allowing the return. You don't have to yell anymore."
Customer: "Good, so let's just drop this, OK?"

long pause. transaction completed.

Beth: "Have a nice day." (said, amazingly, sans sarcasm).

There is lots to say here but firstly, even though I work here and have our best interests at heart, at the outset I hadn't taken sides. Our returns policy for textbooks is harsh, but it was enacted to prevent people from treating us like a lending library. Students would actually walk in, buy the book for class, and then return it an hour later after class was over. Most times the book would be damaged enough by handling, that the publishers we order from would deny us returns. In short, we're stuck with lots of books that don't look new and won't sell. Add that up every semester and in an unforgiving economy and yikes. No wonder bookstores are closing all over the place.

So yeah, the returns policy is harsh. And in this situation, I actually would have been inclined to cave. But it became very clear early on, perhaps the second "I'm returning this book" that this guy could give a care about us. He was used to getting his way, and in this case, being denied a return was the equivalent of telling him he failed at life. We were a tool at his disposal which when functioning correctly, always left him feeling better. Now I'm not sure if the whole "I already had the book" was true, or if he just did as he implies he goes out of his way to avoid, and his Amazon order just took longer than he thought to arrive. But the guy sure was a piece of work. We're not going out of our way to disservice you as an individual.

The second incident involved a woman who was asked to check her bag up front. She then proceeded to rattle on about how she "always hated this policy" and "been coming here for 20 years..." Well here's the thing. New people work the register every few months. To them it makes no difference if this was your first time in the store. And they aren't profiling. They are not judging you. You have to check your bag because everyone does. Everyone does because a few folks would like to fill their bags full of books and walk out with them. That, and its tiny and cramped in here. If everyone was walking around with a University sized book-bag stuffed with laptops and everything there would be no room to do anything. Don't be so entitled; it is unfair to give you preferential treatment.

rant over. sorry. weekend? ohsweetjesusyes.

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