Working in retail can be tough for many reasons, but most of the boil down to the fact that dealing with the public in any capacity is always a challenge.
I imagine processing returns could be a minefield of complaints some days, but I never really stopped to think about the stories that might come with the products being given back.
And I don’t know. After these 14 stories, I wish I still hadn’t.
14. I just got all-over chills, and not the good kind
I helped a woman 7 month pregnant and her husband pick out a whole baby set for their new baby. Stroller, crib, carseats, clothes and all. The stroller was a high end model that we didn’t sell many of. So it stood out to me.
A month later I saw the same stroller, car seat and crib in the return bin. When I asked about it my manager said that the woman and her husband were hit by a drunk driver and killed. Her mother returned the items.
13. Because human beings are awful
Jared Allen bought like 15 families Christmas at the Target I worked for. I mean like big ticket stuff for everyone like TV, iPad, etc. It was something like 15k total.
The next day, since I was the security manager, I was screamed at by 8 of those families that wanted to do returns for cash saying I was ruining their children’s Christmas.
I made it to my lunch break before I comped out.
12. Sounds like he was a bit clueless
A guy came in to a jewelry store and wanted help to find his wife something nice. Throughout the process he told me that they were having problems and he thought they were going to split up. He was lovely, but slightly weird for whatever reason. Anyhow, he bought her a diamond ring and left. Exactly two days later he returned, sad and asked if he could have a refund as she had split up with him. Turned out their problems were about how much money he was spending and so she wasn’t exactly thrilled he had gone and bought her diamonds.
11. Nothing can replace human empathy
Returned her husband’s replacement razors. I asked her if he was unsatisfied and maybe wanted another kind/style, nope.
He died earlier before his birthday to receive them. She started crying and I just leaned over the counter to console her.
10. Argh, some people can be just awful
A man returned a Christmas tree one year.
He was pretty bummed out and when I asked him about it he told me that he was supposed to have visitation this Christmas but his ex refused to let him see his kids.
9. Talk about taking advantage of someone in emotional distress
Once I was at a pawn shop looking for a new amp when a guy came in wanting to return an engagement ring he’d bought the day before.
He said he’d caught his girl cheating when he went home early to surprise and propose to her. Of course, they wouldn’t just exchange it or give him his money back, but they did offer to buy it back from him for way less than he payed.
He ended up selling it back to them for, from what I could tell from what I could make out of what he was saying, much less than he’d bought it for. Poor guy was extremely distraught over his whole ordeal.
8. I’m about to nope out of these stories
A guy was returning baby formula and he was looking pretty down. I asked him how his day was and he said that he has been having a long day and that he’s been having a long month too. I thought he just had a baby, so maybe he just got the wrong formula.
I asked if he just had a baby and he said he used to have a baby. I told him I was sorry and he said it was ok.
There were a few minutes of silence and he said, “He was a fun, little guy”.
7. At least this one has a happy ending
She had a tan line where her engagement ring was, a black eye, and her neck in a brace.
It turns out the fiancé was abusive, but he didn’t show his true colors until about a month before the wedding when he thought he had her trapped. Luckily she got out alive.
I felt so bad for her.
6. Oh, my heart
I worked at a pet store that offered dog training.
One night, in the middle of a class, one of the dogs started throwing up blood. The owner and trainer were frantic and both literally ran out of the store to just jump in the car and take it to the vet, leaving behind the rest of the class.
Two days later, the owner came in looking like a wreck to get a refund for the class, as well as all her new gear (dog lead, training treats, etc) for training. Turns out, the dog died that night. She offered no explanation and it was clearly very unexpected.
What’s worse is that the system automatically prorated her class since she had attended two sessions already, so we had to painfully wait for the manager to come override it to give her the whole refund.
5. It doesn’t have a happy ending for everyone
Last fall, my Dad decided to FINALLY get his hearing checked and assessed for hearing aides. He really needed them… he wanted to be able to hear his first grandbaby (my daughter) coo and babble when she was born in January.
Unfortunately, the ones that worked the best for him were outside the budget he and my Mom could afford. Husband and I decided “Santa” would gift them to him. He cried. His new “ears” gave him a new lease on life. He was happy, chatty and interactive during family get-togethers because he could actually hear everyone else enough to participate.
Fast forward to January and he is the happiest, most doting of grandpas. He was the first person to hold her, after my husband…
Dad started feeling sick in February… he died on April 12th, 2016. Baby was just 10 weeks old.
My Mom has been largely unable to handle things in the wake of his death. Among all of the other things that I’ve handled for my family (because it’s just too hard on everyone else), Mom asked if I would do something with his “ears”.
I ended up calling the hearing aide shop and asking if they knew of any donation program where someone could benefit from the use of his “ears”. We actually ended up donating them to an elderly woman who was having difficulty communicating with her family and couldn’t afford new “ears” of her own. Dad would have liked that.
I like to think she can hear her grandbabies giggle and laugh, now. I have declined the opportunity to meet her… I don’t think my heart could take it… not yet, anyway.
4. Oh my god I would not be able to deal
I worked at a Subway for a year, and we shared the building with a jewelry store. It was a small business and we always made a salad for the owners, free of charge.
One day a customer at their store is incredibly enthusiastic about buying an engagement ring for their significant other. He told the entire Subway crew how he met her after his mother died, and that they’ve been seeing each other for almost 5 years. He kept saying how he was happy that he found someone who makes him truly happy and that all the challenges in his life were necessary for him to find true love.
He came back a few days later. The light from his eyes was gone. He was returning the ring. I talked to the owners later that day after he left, and apparently she broke it off with him because she fell in love with someone else.
It was really sad to watch.
3. I hope she gets the help she needs
Two middle-aged ladies, apparently sisters, were having the time of their life in my department. One bought a ton of assorted housewares, including some relatively inexpensive but very distinctive colored glass vases. We chatted throughout. They were fun. I kept thinking how much of a real joy it had been to deal with them.
The next week, she came back to return the vases. When I asked the reason for the return, she embarrassedly explained that impulsive purchases were a problem in her manic states.
2. These stories definitely remind you that life can be fleeting
Not a return but I worked in a jewelry store and the saddest sale we ever had was a layaway. Guy had this ring on layaway for 12 months but died in a car accident.
His parents came in and picked up the ring so his girlfriend could keep it, don’t think she had any idea he was going to propose.
1. I cannot with sick kids
Not in retail but this man called to get help contacting the seller because he wanted his order to be cancelled.
While he was explaining the situation I was also checking his completed purchases for the last month which seems to be comprised of expensive dolls, doll clothes and some doll house furnitures. He ordered and paid for a very expensive but beautiful doll as a gift for his sick daughter.
The daughter died the night before.
Well, I’ve got my good cry out for the day, how about you?
If you work in retail and have similar stories, please share them with us in the comments.