8 Customer Service Tips and How to Get What You Want From a Store
Okay girlfriends, whether you procrastinated after the Christmas holiday or your sweetie's Valentine's Day gift was bought in the after-season sales, you might have a few challenges returning that unwanted or ill-fitting gift.
Is your store's return policy iron-clad, or do you have options? As former retail sales clerks, some of our ChickAdvisor staffers put their heads together to spill a few secrets on how to get the result you want from customer service (and ideally, how avoid such problems in the first place).
Ask Before You Buy
"Ask before you buy" is your first Rule Of Thumb. This becomes especially important when you're purchasing a gift for someone else. Know the return and exchange policies, and if those policies have different terms when using a gift receipt. Ask up front if your store price matches with their website (you might be surprised how many retailers do NOT honour their online prices!), and if out-of-province/state/country returns are acceptable.
Be sure to give your product a once-over before you pay. Are there buttons loose or missing? A fraying seam? Finding these problems right away will save you hassle in the future if you try and return the item. Alternatively, you can often bargain with a store for a discount on damaged goods.
What's Reasonable to Request (and What Isn't)
Some items like intimate wear (bathing suits, lingerie, etc) and certain gift certificates cannot be returned. Ideally, the buyer should be aware of this fact and ask the store in advance under which circumstances items can be returned or exchanged. Also, be smart about the return policy. Bringing something in a year later - even if it is unworn - and asking for a full refund is unreasonable. C'mon, don't be "that person"!
If your store still stocks the item, they may allow you to return or exchange the item for the current selling price. It may not be the value you paid, but it's more than you would be entitled to if they strictly enforced their return policy (i.e. zero).
On the part of the manufacturer or store, a defective merchandise should always be able to be returned. We're talking about defects like bad dyes, misplaced seams, or malfunctioning electronics here, not stains, rips, and scratches that are harder to prove were not your fault when you tried the item on for size. If a product immediately falls apart after washing or one or two wears, you should be able to claim a defect. It is critical to return a suspected defective item as soon as possible. This will make it easier for you to show that the product was not ruined by you.
Take Care when Opening Packaging
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Torn packaging and missing tags may make returns or exchanges a difficult pitch, especially if the item is NOT defective and the retailer would hope to resell it. Remember that when the packaging is damaged (even if the product is mint), most retailers have to discount the item which results in a loss of profit.
If you accidentally tear the box, repair it as carefully as you can and be sure to include all the components. I once bought a train set for my son that had been obviously opened previously (and yes, it was discounted when I bought it). When we opened the box, it contained an entirely different set. The toy store offered to take it back for my full purchase price even though it was well past the return date, but by then my son had decided to keep it anyway.
Have a Good Attitude
There is only so much a cashier or salesperson can do, and he/she will be far more willing to help you if you calmly explain the situation and are reasonable. If they can't do anything for you, ask respectfully to speak to a manager. Remember that the staff is responding to you based on their training and understanding of their store's policy. State your case factually and rationally. Yelling or being argumentative will get you nowhere (even if you are in the right).
When in Doubt, Offer to Accept Store Credit
If there is any issue with your return - whatever the reason - immediately offer to take the balance in store credit. This way, the store recognizes that they will not lose your business. If you are a longtime customer, mention it. If you are new to the store, offer a compliment on the stock and be sure to tell them that you will be back to browse again in the future. A smart retailer will not miss out on a lifetime of purchasing loyalty over a purse that costs $29.99.
Put Your Social Media Skills to Good Use
If you have an issue with a company, reach out to them via social media networks first. A company doesn't want bad PR and so you'd be surprised at how willing they are to deal with you via Facebook or Twitter when they see how easily you can spread a message. Sometimes they'll ask you to call or email a representative but often they'll deal directly with your issue right there and as soon as possible.
On the flip side, posting positive comments and compliments could score you valuable coupons off your next shopping trip. Call the toll free number or email the company using the contact information on the product to pass along your kudos - it helps companies to know which products are successful and may earn you a freebie!
Be Creative With Your Other Options
Can't return or exchange? Try eBay, Craigslist, or a local consignment store. In this economy, new and "like new" products selling for less than full retail price are hot commodities. As long as the item is in excellent condition and a gift someone else will genuinely appreciate, consider regifting it (try our tips on Regifting Dos and Don'ts). And if all of these are not worth the hassle, donate the item to a charity and write the value off on your taxes instead.
What Customer Service tips do you have to share?
(images via weheartit.com)
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I have found that if I approach something calmly and am very nice from the get-go, I pretty much get what I went in there wanting every time! My hubby is often amazed at what I have returned or received after he told me the store would never accept it :)
I think you just have to always remember that it's your money and you have to stand up for what you deserve. Think how hard you worked to buy yourself something. Be polite but firm. That's my mantra.
It's true - a good attitude will get you perks you may not even be entitled to! But come at me with your b*itch all revved up and ready to spew and I won't even try to help you, no matter how legit your concern is.
Great advise and great comments. Great customer service goes a long way.
I always try to contact stores or companies when I have a good experience. I think that's harder, its so easy to spread word when something bad happens. Companies REALLY appreciate the positive feedback. It's a real challenge to ensure you recognize good service.
Great advice! I used to be such a pushover, but after working a few jobs in retail abd customer service, I started to know how to work the ropes! So many people go about getting what they want in all the wrong ways...ie, insulting the employee, etc. blah!!!
wow great tips! :)
great tips! I absolutely LOVE Sephora's return policy. They take anything and everything back. No receipt? No problem! They will accept it as long as they sell it either in store or online. I would wonder how exactly they make any money considering their ridiculously good return policy, but just looking at myself and how I prefer to buy from them over any other store, I guess that's how. Great customer service (like Sephora) really pays!
Great advice! I always try to remember to ask what the return policy is before I buy something! I've also contacted companies about products that I was not happy with. A few years ago I was asked by TYR to send my suit to them as I had mentioned it was wearing thin after only a few months. They sent me TWO new ones in the mail in the same size and similar style! I have had simliar experineces contacting other companies. You won't know unless you ask, and it's so easy to email them!
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