Friday, May 18, 2007

Ethical Dilemma

A women made a purchase at my store the other day. As per usual, the items were put in a bag and dressed up with colored tissue and ribbon, and our customer was on her way. About an hour later, the woman calls to tell us that some of the items that she purchased were not in the bag. We were unable to find the items in our store. What to do?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you give us more details? Like what did she buy or how many items did she buy? Was it expensive? Were you the only one helping her and in the store? Details would help with making a decision on what to do. Oh, and is she a good customer??

Denis Navratil said...

First time customer. She bought three items, a dress and two silver chains. The chains, which we typically put in a small bag inside the larger bag, are the items that she said she did not have in her bag. The retail cost of the two chains was $50. A long time employee helped her. I was in the store but was not involved in the transaction. Re my employee, I can safely rule out ill intent as we have never had an incident of this nature. Re the customer, I did not think that she was trying to scam us. My theory, then and now, is that the items were lost somewhere, whether in our store, at her home, or somewhere in between.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the details. I would replace the items with a smile on my face. I would apologize for the situation without taking blame and thank her for shopping at your store.

Anonymous said...

If she's black, she's probably lying...call the police

If she's hispanic, she's probably illegal AND lying...call the police

If she's white...bend over backwards to help her and eventually give her her money back with no complaints.

just a few helpful suggestions

RacinePawnBroker said...

replace the items for free, then install a cheap radio shack camera system that records 8 hours onto a tv/vcr for your and a customers protection. place it behind the register to see items packed, next time review the tape to see the item packed, it has helped me on several such claims now

Denis Navratil said...

Anon #3. The woman was white and her address would suggest to most people that she has money.

Typically, I will try anything within reason to resolve a matter with a customer. However, this customer was evidently used to having things her way. She called repeatedly insisting that we replace the lost items immediately, while refusing to continue to search further on her end. When I got involved, I listened to her version of events and I explained ours (we looked all over the place and haven't found it yet). I asked her what she thought was fair and she insisted that the only thing that could possibly be fair was if I replaced the items at my cost. The problem that I had with that is that it assumes that the error occurred on our end, while I believe that the error may have occurred on our end, hers, or in between. Furthermore, I was taken aback by her impulsive insistence on an immediate resolution to the problem, and the manner in which she treated my employee and later, me.

She then insisted on getting her husband involved, a turn of events I welcomed, as I found her too worked up to deal with easily. Her husband was a perfect gentlemen. He worked to ratchet down the hysteria, promised to search everywhere around the house when he arrived home from work, and asked us to do the same on our end, which we did.

RacinePawnBroker said...

gotta love those types of customers

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Denis, the customer is always right, sometimes unfortunately.

Racinepawnbroker's suggestion is good. Cut your losses on this one and get the camera.

And to deter future claims such as these that may be fraudulent (not suggesting this woman's claim isn't valid,) have signage made that says something similar to these signs:
http://www.mysecuritysign.com/MSS/Video_Surveillance_Signs.aspx

and hang it right behind the cash registers.

Denis Navratil said...

Gotta disagree with you about the customer is always right thing Calunp. That is true 99.99% of the time, but some customers are more trouble than they are worth. The husband of the customer in question sent me a check which represented a fair compromise for us both. She cancelled the check that she had written in the store, an act that is arguably illegal. He also apologized for his wife. He indicated, in writing, that we acted honorably and responsibly in our dealings. And one more thing, he asked that his wife not be privy to our agreement. In other words, this guy knows his wife is a handful. Who wants a customer that behaves like that woman did?

Anonymous said...

Well, you did leave out a lot of the details...

I would have still replaced the items before it turned into a big stink and if she ever came in the store I would have very nicely made sure she watched and acknowledged everything she purchased go in the bag.

eric said...

Denis, sounds like things worked out well under the circumstances.

How is it no one challenged the sterotyping anonymous post? I've never claimed to be that bright, and perhaps it was bait, but it still needs to be called. If the post was sincere, then it's a reminder that such words belie an ignorance that if acted upon can be dangerous.

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Denis, you need to include little details like...uh...SHE STOPPED PAYMENT ON THE CHECK!!! That takes her from the realm of customer to potential thief.

I'm glad you've worked this out amicably with the husband, but am guessing the wife thinks she got her way - and, unfortunately, the customer was right...at least in her mind. Of course if she happens to read this blog...;^)

And I stand by what I said originally. It's not that you want this woman as a repeat customer...but mitigating a situation like this ASAP (especially considering the small amount) could save you a world of hurt in PR in the long run. Yeah, Yeah, I know...you need to stand up for truth, justice and the American way, and again, the stopped payment changes this situation completely.

Denis Navratil said...

Sorry folks. It is true, I gradually released the details of this episode. I did so intentionally so as not to prejudice the issue. Does it really matter if the customer is a wealthy white woman vs a presumably less wealthy black woman? It shouldn't, in my view. What matters is the behavior of the customer. If she was even the least bit nice, I may well have covered the cost of the lost materials. But being in business doesn't mean you have to take abuse from people. Even if she spends the rest of her days bad-mouthing our business, I believe I a made the right decision, as do our employees.