I was overcharged at The Body Shop the other day.
A few years back, I fell in love with their White Musk Libertine scent and they discontinued it before Christmas, so I was excited when I saw a couple of baskets FULL of the stuff on the sale table at The Body Shop for $5 each. I grabbed a half dozen bottles of lotion and body spray and headed to checkout.
I was chatting with my daughter during the checkout process, but I noticed that a body spray rang up at $7. I asked about it and the employee let me know that was the correct price. I stepped back to the table to take a look and, sure enough, the basket the body sprays were in was marked $7.
“Eh – what’s an extra $4 for the two bottles?” I thought to myself. Before I went back to the register, I double-checked the price of the lotion and the basket was clearly marked $5, so I didn’t think any further about it – until I got home and took a look at my receipt.
I had been charged $7 for each item.
Overcharging and pricing mistakes happens – I get that. I don’t let it bother me too much – usually I catch the error as I’m checking out and the retailer is happy to correct it or honor the mismarked price. However, in this case, I had just assumed that the lotion had rung up at the marked $5 price. But now, instead of paying just $4 more than I had anticipated at first (due to buying the $7 body sprays), I was paying another $8.
An extra $8 may not seem like a big deal, but I worry about money these days. As I pondered my impulse buy, it occurred to me that I probably didn’t need the body spray after all, since I still had a full bottle of the perfume. So, I decided I would just return that to The Body Shop and then ask for the $8 I had been overcharged for the lotion to be refunded to me at that time.
Seems simple enough, no?
I made my visit to The Body Shop after work a few days later. As I walked in, I took a circuitous route to the register that took me past the baskets on the sale table so that I could check the price of the lotion. Maybe I had been mistaken about the price. But no, there were all of the lotions, lying serenely in the $5 basket. When I got to the register, the employee looked at me, but didn’t smile or greet me. I smiled and began to explain what happened, but before I could even finish, she interrupted me.
“The lotion is $7.”
I paused, and then attempted again to explain, “The basket with the lotion is clearly marked at $5.”
“No, it’s not – they are $7.”
By this time, I was no longer smiling. “Why don’t you come to the table with me and I’ll show you?” We stepped to the table and I pointed out the basket, “As you can see, it’s clearly marked $5.”
“Then someone put the lotion in the wrong basket! They are $7!”
I took a breath. “So, you’re telling me that these have been in the wrong basket since at least Sunday, when I made my purchase? That even though there are no lotions in any other basket and even though this basket is over half full of lotions, that they are in the wrong basket and no one noticed the error?”
“Yes! The lotion must be in the wrong basket, because they are $7!” She looked like a petulant child at this point, ready to stamp her foot in frustration. Quite frankly, I felt the same way – and I’d had enough of the shenanigans.
I said, “You know, I’m not going to argue with you about this. I’m just going to return everything.” We returned to the register where she began to scan the bottles into the register. I figured that perhaps this very young lady could use a lesson in customer service skills. I know, I know – I should have left well enough alone, but she was just so…well, bitchy! I explained to her that I worked with the public myself and that I knew it could be difficult to deal with an unhappy customer, but that I had learned that taking a few moments to really listen to them and then attempting to resolve the problem went a long way to defusing the situation.
She did not look up at me, but I could see that she rolled her eyes as she smirked. She then said, in a high, sarcastic voice, “Sorrreeeeeee.”
I was immediately furious. It was all I could do to restrain myself from reaching across the counter and giving her a good smack up the side of her head. I could feel the blood rushing to my chest and face and my hands actually started to shake.
I took a deep breath and asked her for the name of her manager.
“I’m the manager.” She smirked again.
“YOU are the manager? Really?” She nodded smugly. “Well, then, who is your boss?”
“I don’t have a boss – there are three managers here and we are all on the same level.”
“Then I’d like you to give me your name and the number to your corporate office.”
She shoved a form across the counter for me to fill out for my refund and then said…
“I don’t know the number for the corporate office. And you know, if you had just asked the person who checked you out about the price, this whole thing could have been avoided in the first place. Maybe you should pay closer attention.”
You know those cartoons where the character gets so mad that steam shoots out of his ears and the top of his head blows off? Yeah – I felt just like that.
“You really think the best way to handle this, especially at this stage, is to blame the customer for not catching your pricing error?” I was stunned – my voice may have been a wee bit raised at this point. I noticed that other customers in the store had stopped what they were doing and were very interested in our conversation. I guess she did too – because she then put on her contrite face and said, “I really am very sorry.”
But she wasn’t – she knew it and I knew it.
When did friendly customer service go out of style? When did businesses start hiring little girls, complete with a pre-teen attitude, to be managers? When did it become more important to – I don’t know – sit at the register and stare into space instead of doing things like tidying up the store or making sure product is in the correct place and has the correct price when you are being paid to work?
I’ve never been one to subscribe to the motto, “The customer is always right,” because, let’s face it – sometimes they aren’t – but even then, the answer is not to antagonize the customer further! I deal with patients all day in the clinic where I work. Believe me, I know that there are some irrational, angry people out there who seem to love to be as rude as fuck to anyone they deal with. But you know what? My job is to treat them with courtesy and respect, attempting to listen to their situation and help them with their issue – unless they start throwing around profanities or threats. Then I calmly let them know I am unable to continue the call and encourage them to call back when they are more composed (or if they are in my office, I have a handy little hidden button that calls security for me). But it rarely comes to that – because I treat people like fellow human beings – and people ordinarily respond to common decency.
I also feel that the customer has a responsibility to be rational instead of a raging psychopath. It’s never cool to start a conversation by screaming or threatening that you are going to get someone fired – especially if that person isn’t the one who caused your consternation in the first place. In fact, I wrote a post on this very thing! However, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a customer calmly and coherently stating their dissatisfaction and asking for the matter to be corrected.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been on both sides of the fence – and I think I have a pretty good idea of how the whole customer service thing should work and what is unacceptable behavior from both the employee and the customer. And Ms. Manager from The Body Shop? Your behavior was unacceptable.
By the way, I did send an email through The Body Shop through their website, letting them know the whole story. I got a response today:
“We hope that you are well and thank you for your email. We appreciate and value your interest in The Body Shop. We will ensure that your feedback is forwarded to the appropriate manager at the shop. We look forward to seeing you in one of our shops in the future. Thank you once again for contacting The Body Shop.”
The appropriate manager? Do you mean Ms. Manager? Do you really think she will give a shit about my “feedback?”
Have you had an…well, let’s call it an “unpleasant” experience when dealing with an employee at a place of business? Or, on the flip side, did you ever have a customer flip out on you when you were trying to assist them? Is the customer always right?