Guilt at the GAP.

12 07 2008

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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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?




9 responses

12 07 2008

I think you did nothing wrong and you shouldn’t feel guilty! He was being rude to you, I think you’d be a million times better than him, since both your answers to your own question seemed to be really well-made and polite, unlike what he did to you.

Don’t feel bad, if he’s a bad manager, he deserved what he got. (I hope I’m not making it worse) Maybe you were sparing him of evil cash because of his bad attitude towards such an awesome client, and you did him a favor to clean his evil-radiating money! ^_^

12 07 2008

I guess I’m just amazed they don’t keep more cash on hand than what could buy one pair of pants.

You were way more polite than you had to be, but don’t feel guilty for feeling guilty. I think we’re all more apologetic than we should be.

12 07 2008

How much were your pants that you depleted GAP of all its cash? =) You did nothing wrong – unfurtunately, you are going to have to find something else to feel guilty about.

13 07 2008

I, too, was surprised that they had so little money on hand. You’d think a major chain like the GAP would have a little more on the weekends. I don’t know, maybe they’d made a return before mine or something. I have no idea. In any case, I guess the guilt’s worn off now.

13 07 2008

I wouldn’t have changed one thing in the way you handled things. You were innocently asking them for a return. It’s up to them to live with the decisions they make. And quite honestly, I don’t think any properly organized Gap store would only have enough cash for one pair of pants. Pluuheez. That means either they do very little cash business (in which case, why should they care whether they have any cash on hand) or they’re improperly prepared for the day (clearly not your fault). Hang your head high knowing there are a million other stores that would be happy to have your business.

13 07 2008

I would be inclined to never shop at the GAP again. The GAP in customer service is obviously so GAPacious as to warrant you taking your business elsewhere. I am curious – where did you find the better fitting pants? I am short, too.

14 07 2008

I certainly wouldn’t apologize. Its not your fault they don’t keep enough money on hand and they could definitely go to the bank with a GAP check and get more money. I think we are all too nice and I wish I could have told him to “SHUT UP!” for you.

14 07 2008

Thank him so profusely for his gracious handling of the transaction? Kill ’em with kindness!

15 07 2008

Having worked in retail, I am fairly certain they probably had a way to get more cash, if not be able to simply walk to the safe in the back and get more.

I say boycott the GAP! Their clothes are terrible nowadays anyway…I can’t ever find anything in there that’s well-made and well-designed.

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