I have never been one of those people who is able to complain and get deals because of it. Even if I am completely justified in my complaining, I still often get a semi-sincere apology and nothing else. I guess that one time I found a still-living ladybug in my salad, I got a free salad, but paid for everything else I consumed. I’ve read dozens of articles on how to get something for nothing, how to sweet-talk your way into deals, the best way to deal with retail staff to maximize your rewards. Plus, I’ve worked in customer service almost my entire working life and can recollect the types of people who managed to get me to give them “extras.”
I still cannot pull it off.
Case in point, when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out on DVD, I was still living in Fargo. My brother and I went to the WalMart to pick it up so we could watch it while eating pizza. We went in, saw that there was a huge display, and grabbed one. It wasn’t until I got home and opened it that I realized it was the regular version and not the super deluxe 2-disc variety that I had previously bought and wanted.
I was worried that since I had opened it, the store would hassle me, but one thing I’ve learned over the years, is that WalMart will really take back anything–even stuff that’s not from their store. Plus, I would be content with store credit. I figured that the way I would play this would be contrite, apologetic, and make the person at the returns counter see how easy it would be to make that particular mistake, especially considering there were no other versions of the DVD anywhere to be seen.
My brother and I walked up to the counter, DVD and receipt in hand, “I’m an idiot,” I started, “When I bought this, I didn’t realize that it was the regular version and not the 2-disc version that I really wanted.” Quick flash of the proper DVD, which we had grabbed before approaching the counter to ease the exchange process. “Would it be possible to just exchange the two? I realize that this one is more expensive, but obviously, that’s no problem.”
The woman looked at me blankly, and took the improper DVD. “This is open.”
I was a bit taken aback, “Yeah, I didn’t realize until after I’d opened it, that it wasn’t the 2-disc version.” Then I smiled in a sheepish way.
“You can’t return this if it’s open!” she shrieked at me, “You could have copied this, people copy these and then sell them! You copied this!”
“Ummm, no, I didn’t. I don’t even have a DVD burner,” I assured her.
“No, I can’t take this! If it’s open, I can only exchange it for the exact same item. I don’t know what you did to this!”
Then she practically threw the DVD at me, and my brother and I left in a shell-shocked state.
Things like that are what happen when I try to complain, even if I’m in the right. Even my brother was amazed at how quickly this woman went from customer service to outrage and suspicion. “Man,she hated you. It was like she thought she was busting up an underground DVD piracy ring. Plus, if all you wanted to do was copy it, why would you want another copy?”
Despite my history, I keep trying, hoping that I will get better at this stuff, and that someday, someone, will give me a break. I finally called Sprint to complain about the crap phone I was sold, the fact that I was tricked into renewing my contract, and my general dissatisfaction with them. I’ve been a customer for probably six year now, so I figured that they would want to do right by me. Plus, Jewish Friend’s mother apparently calls Sprint a few times a year, threatens to leave, and then gets all manner of deals.
I called and got an apology. A very nice girl picked up, went through the whole spiel about helping me, and then when I told her my story and asked what the penalty would be for breaking my contract she just said, “I’m sorry that happened, $150.”
I tried to get a bit more indignant, and press upon her how I had been wronged, and she asked how long I’d been using this phone, “A little over a year.” I told her. She took the model number, told me I could switch back to my old, decent phone, if I bought a new battery ($50), and told me to have a nice day.
I clearly need someone to fight my battles for me.