Keepers at Home

Keepers at Home
December 18, 2017


Did that title get your attention? As you think about that statement at this time of year, you could probably list a dozen or more things you might want. Hmmm let’s see: how about a pair of boots, a new pair of earrings, or a new chair for your living room…BUT, don’t start your list, because this article is about knowing how to exchange purchased items that have not met your expectations, so that you got what you paid for!

There are protocols that help, when we feel as if we have not gotten “value” when we’ve purchased an item, eaten at a restaurant or any other number of situations. For most people there is a “value” associated with a product/service. It can be something as simple as returning a $5.98 rotten watermelon. It can be requesting a refund or a product exchange because something did not wear as you expected. There is an intrinsic value to all things, and there is no need for frustration, if something doesn’t stand up to your expectations.

I have listed some basic principles that have worked for me when needing to handle such things:

  1. The first thing is to ALWAYS keep your receipts. Most stores want to know for sure that you have purchased the product/service. There are some stores that can generate your receipt, if it has been less than a certain amount of time, but it’s always best to keep your receipts. I keep mine alphabetized in a folder. Obviously, there is a “window of time” inherent in returns or exchanges. The closer to the purchase date, the more likely you will be able to be satisfied with your money back or a new item.
  2. Sometimes on the receipt, there are no descriptive words for the item, instead it might say 45820RS12. When the description on the receipt isn’t clear, I often jot down descriptive words on the receipt to indicate what the product was. Maybe something like, “red skirt” or “husband’s shirt” or “handles and hinges.” I find this makes it easier to find the right receipt if I need to make a return.
  3. If someone helped you at a store, be observant of a person’s name on their name tag. This holds true especially for servers at a restaurant or, perhaps a manager.   It’s always good to know who dealt with you (whether for a compliment or concern).
  4. Stick to the facts- not emotions! It’s so discouraging if you have purchased a product, only to have it disappoint in value or performance. It’s one thing if it’s a couple dollars; it’s another thing if it’s $150, and has not met normal expectations. Always begin your discussion with something pleasant and positive, when you are returning an item. Never vent. Don’t use sarcasm ( Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”). Sandwich your complaint, whether in person, through an e-mail or letter, between two positive statements. Example: “I have always bought this brand and I have really like them. However, this particular shoe has not held up. Is there a way I can exchange it or get my money back? I appreciate your helping me.” Remember your conversation is “negotiation” not confrontation. No one should be berated, hollered at or rudely spoken to. It’s most often not THEIR fault; however, they are instrumental in taking care of the concern. Remember Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
  5. I must say that MOST of the time I have had to return something, I have been pleased with the adjustment, exchange or refund. Sometimes, there’s even a perk included. Often you need to be clear about what would resolve the issue for you. If you say to the clerk, “I need your help; this particular item broke a few days after I bought it. Would you be able to stand behind the product and give me another one”?” Again, most often they are very willing to oblige the customer. Proverbs 16:20 says, He that handleth a matter wisely, shall find good…”

Let me share a couple things that happened recently.

My husband and I ate dinner at a local restaurant on a Sunday after church. Our waitress was pleasant and showed me the salad bar after taking our order. As I approached the salad bar, I noticed all the lettuce options were out and several of the grape tomatoes were covered with mold. Generally, the salad bar was very unkempt. I quickly lost my appetite! Soon the young man came to replenish the lettuce selections and I most certainly thought he would tend to the tomatoes and the disarray of the rest of the salad bar. I went back to get some lettuce and, “Oops,” tomatoes still moldy. I carefully selected enough other items to have a taste of salad.  When the waitress came to “check on us” I mentioned that perhaps she’d like to let the salad bar person know of the tomatoes. BUT—-they were never taken off the salad bar. So, no more salad for this girl. The salad bar at this place is $10. I certainly did not get $10 worth of value and I left the restaurant hungry! We initially vowed to chalk it up to experience and never go back.

In the meantime, I thought, “If I were the manager, I would want to know this!” About 4 days later, I called the local manager. I KEPT to the facts and had the time, date, and server’s name ready to give him. He was appalled and said, “Well, Susan, yours is not the first call I received about the service and condition of the food on Sunday.” He had had several calls from other patrons. He explained he was not on duty that day and “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” He apologized and said, “This is NOT the standard of service or quality of food that we are known for. “ He wanted to know if he could “make it up” by having us as his guest on any night of the week of our choice. We picked a night. As soon as we got to the restaurant, you would have thought we were royalty. We were escorted to a particular table saved “just for us!” The manager came by and apologized again and said, “Please order any items on the menu….appetizers, entree, beverage and dessert! It’s my pleasure.” He also introduced a young lady who was going to be our server and said, “She’s the best!” Well, it certainly was totally different than the last experience. The salad bar looked good- fresh and clean. The meals were delicious and the dessert we shared was over-the-top. Before we left, he came over and again, apologized and thanked us for giving him and his restaurant “another chance.” Certainly I didn’t expect this, but what a blessing it was!

Another experience I recently had was when I used different canning lids other than name brand. I bought them last fall for this season, but found that some of the lids had rubber gaskets that were wrinkled and thin, and would not have provided a seal.   I wrote a quick note to the company just let them know about the product. Since I did not have my receipt and did not know the date I bought, I wasn’t looking for anything but informing them of a quality control issue. I got a sweet note back wondering how many boxes were like that. I told them just a few lids in one box. A few days later, I received a check for $5 to buy two new boxes!

MOST companies and businesses want your business, and want to keep your business. If it is in their power, my experience has been that they generally want to make things right. Don’t hesitate to present your concern and expect a resolution. Be kind. Be factual. Be willing to accept either decision. But feel free to return a product for a solution!  This information might be helpful with the Christmas season coming upon us. SAVE your receipts! Merry Christmas!