In the search for classroom appropriate clothing for this new school year, I went to a store I used to frequent, the GAP. Having such short legs, I am usually able to find pants that fit me at the GAP, and, having only two pairs of pants here in Vermont this week, I thought I might find another pair. So yesterday, Friday, I made a purchase at the GAP on Church Street in Burlington and was very pleased….until I found an even better pair at another store.
So today I went back to Burlington to return the GAP pair and do some other errands for my mom while I was out. However, in the midst of my day yesterday, the debit card I’d used EXPIRED and the replacement card was lost in the mail. (This is a supremely abbreviated story from the several hour long ordeal and three phone calls with three managers at Bank of America yesterday.) So when I went to the GAP today to return my jeans, I told them my card had expired and asked if I could have the return in cash as I’d paid with a debit card. At first it wasn’t going to be possible. But then the fabulous manager, who remained fabulous for only a moment for reasons I will soon explain, found the cash for me and completed the return. Excellent.
Only the return came with a gigantic side of guilt. Because this manager muttered under his breath, and to other employees, and to me out loud in the face, “This is all the cash we have. And now we have no cash. This is totally depleting the cash.” Even as he counted out the money twice and handed it to me, he continued to say he had no cash left. Three or four times I heard this from him and even as I walked out of the store, I heard him complain to another employee that he was all out of cash because MY return had made the store run out of cash.
I don’t know, but it seems to me that as a manager in a store where customers fuel your own job, the last thing you should be doing is complaining to their faces. It’s not good business. I’ve worked in some pretty nice places where customer service is a priority. And the first thing we demonstrate is our ability to go (joyfully) out of the way to make a customer or guest satisfied. That makes sense to me. So today, when I was overcome with a sense of shame and embarrassment and guilt, the last thing I felt was satisfaction. What could the manager have done? I’m thinking of two alternative responses to my return request:
- Explain that because it was a Saturday the store had no extra cash to make this return and could I please return a different day when this return wouldn’t tax the store’s cash supply. I think I would have been fine with not doing the return today if I knew what the problem was and if I knew what I could do to instead.
- Complete the return with no complaints and save any complaints until I left the store entirely. Nothing makes me feel better about patronizing a business than feeling comfortable and accepted the entire time. And nothing makes me want NOT to patronize a business than feeling guilty for somehow inconveniencing the employees.
By the time I’d left the GAP, I’d said a few muffled apologies and hung my head in shame. I don’t ever want to be the cause of someone’s frustration and it appeared I was. But if it was really going to be that much of a problem, then why would the manager agree to do the return? And furthermore, once he agreed to do it, why would he passive-aggressively complain about it to me?
What should I have done? Any thoughts?