Disclaimer: The following may be a fairly lengthy explanation of the (somewhat) interesting point I’d like to make, but I’ll bore you with the details anyway to help demonstrate my claim effectively.
A couple of weeks ago I bought a pair of jeans from yd, a division of the Retail Apparel Group. (I’d like to mention straight up that I used to work for Connor [who’s website seems to be currently down]; another division of the RAG, along with Tarocash.) So anyway, I bought these jeans on 20th December 2009 as a Christmas present for myself. For various reasons, I didn’t get around to trying them on until into the New Year, only to realise that they didn’t fit.
Now I’m the kind of guy that wants his clothes to fit perfectly, or I simply won’t wear them. So on 7th January 2010 (a little over 2 weeks later) I attempt to return the jeans in exchange for a refund.
Step 1 – Refund attempt #1:
The problem I faced was that I originally bought the jeans without the tags on them. Having worked within RAG previously, this kind of thing is common practice and not at issue in any way. However, when I tried to return the jeans, the manager at the Forest Hill store of yd was less than helpful, claiming that I could not get a refund for the jeans because I did not have the tags.
To the letter of the law, yd’s refund policy states that for a refund, one must return garments:
- within 30 days (check);
- with proof of purchase (check); and
- with the barcode (which I never recieved).
yd has no other disclaimers on their refund policy leaving a grey area, however whilst I worked at Connor it was fairly common practice to allow returns of items without the barcode, provided it was clear that the garment had not been worn.
Regardless to say, I was unhappy with the outcome. Those who know me will know that I don’t like being ripped off as the customer, and this case was no exception.
Step 2 – I take it to the next level:
Well, I lie. I didn’t quite take it to the next level. I took it many levels higher. A quick phone call to the RAG head office explaining the ridiculous situation to one of yd’s chief of staff resulted in a phone call to Forest Hill’s area manager and then to the Forest Hill store.
Within 5 minutes of wandering the shopping centre I received a phone call back from yd head office with the green light to head back to the store and claim my refund. All in the time it took to get my brother’s birthday present.
Why is this an interesting story?
Well the point that I make is that maybe it’s best to start your complaints at the very top. The big guns in companies don’t have the time or patience to deal with the day-to-day problems which really should be easily fixed by their bottom tier. I honestly believe I spent more time arguing with the store manager at the yd store than I did on the phone getting my issue resolved! All you need is a little bit of heavyweight authority coming down the chain of command to get what you want. I’ve found this same technique to be effective in may different scenarios where the pleb you’re forced to deal with can’t seem to (or simply doesn’t want to) help you.
So next time you find yourself wanting to throttle the person on the other side of the counter (or over the phone), ask for their brochure or look up their website and find their head office phone number. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get some action when the big boss is involved!
Side note: Those who know me will be pleased to know that I enjoyed the power trip of getting what I wanted when I walked back into the store. Needless to say, the store manager was much more helpful second time around.