This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

What do The Children's Place, Office Max, and Pier 1 Imports all have in common?

Their return policies are ridiculous, restrictive, and misleading.  That's right, I'm naming names.  In the past month I have had 4 really bad customer service experiences.  Now 4 bad experiences is a bit much in any economy, but aren't we supposed to be in a recession?  Aren't companies supposed to be desperate to receive my spending dollar?  Well, that's just the problem, once they have received your dollar they will do anything, including misleading the customer, to keep it.  I'll break this down by company and you'll see what I mean.

First the Children's Place.  Ahhhh  The Children's Place.  I went round and round with them and still came out the loser.  It all started back in December when my dad sent my daughter some beautiful Christmas gifts purchased from the Children's Place.  At 11 my daughter can be a nightmare to fit: very tall, very slender, but with a hint of puberty...basically she can no longer buy clothes at The Children's Place which is a store geared to, well, children, not teens.  My dad graciously sent me the original cash register receipt since he hadn't included a gift receipt.  The Children's Place refused to let me return the clothes.  Oh they were more than willing to let me have an in-store credit, but they wouldn't give me money back they would only credit my dad's credit card.  OOOkay...Fast forward to my daughter's birthday.  My dad, not realizing that my daughter will never again fit into The Children's Place clothing once again outfits her beautifully and includes a gift receipt.  Once again the company refuses to take back the clothes.  This is a size limited store.  This isn't Macy's where one could reasonably argue that we could find something in the store that would fit.  This is a store that carries pants that are too short for my daughter.  What am I supposed to do with an in-store credit?  I only have one child!  It wasn't my father's intention for my daughter to provide birthday gifts for her cousins, it was his intention to patron what he thought was a reputable store that would easily return for cash any items he purchased because he included a receipt.  Nope, they would not give back one cent.  The receipt you get from Children's Place does state that they will basically never ever give you money if the item is a gift so please read it carefully and my suggestion?  Never ever buy a gift at Children's Place.  Not only will the recipient never be able to return it, but if the recipient lives far away (my dad lives in Florida and Ohio) they couldn't possibly return the merchandise to you in a timely enough manner foryou to get your money back either.

Now for you Office Max: what is with your policy of not taking back software?  How could one possibly know for sure that software is going to work on your computer without loading it on the computer first?  Sure the box said it was compatible with Windows 7, but apparently the box lied.  Now you won't take it back?  It's a Read-Only CD!  I can't possibly have altered the disk!  We both know that you, as a company, can write off that software, return it to the manufacturer, or re-sell it as "opened."  Office Max won't take a financial hit, but they sure don't mind passing one on to their customers.

And finally, Pier 1 Imports, I am maddest at you!  I have been such a long, faithful customer!  I was there when the first Pier 1 opened in my little town in Ohio.  My first apartment was a veritable feast of papasan chairs, director's chairs, and colorful "ethnic" linens.  So when I wanted to freshen up my bedroom a bit with new throw pillows, to whom did I look first?  That's right, Pier 1.  First I bought some neutral camel colored pillows.  They just looked too boring so I went back the next day and picked out some gorgeous sage green pillows.  This is where the problem began: when I went to return the camel pillows the clerk asked if I would be doing anymore shopping that day at Pier 1.  I said yes.  She then said she'd hold my return until I was ready to checkout and then do everything at once.  Great!  Off I go to find more colorful pillows.  I get the sage pillows.  The clerk does whatever it is that she does and tells me I owe a few dollars, I pay, I go home.  I'm still happy.  I put the sage pillows on my bed - they look gorgeous with my bedding.  Unfortunately they look awful with my bedroom walls which are sage too, but a different sage.  Oh well, I guess I'll put the throw pillows on hold until I decide if I want to paint my walls.  Back I go to Pier 1 to return the pillows.  "I'm sorry," says the clerk, "but I can only give you in-store credit for these pillows."  "Why?" I ask, "I have the receipt right here.  I just bought them yesterday!  I am the original purchaser!"  Do you know what she says???  "Well, you obviously returned some other merchandise and the clerk did an exchange so you only have an exchange receipt and we can only give you in-store credit on an exchange receipt."  Are you kidding me???  You mean to tell me that because the clerk made a decision to do an exchange (I never said I wanted to exchange anything) that now I am screwed out of $35???  What if I had done this with a dining set?  What if hundreds to thousands of dollars were at stake?  So you know what Pier 1?  I found exactly the throw pillows I wanted at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I don't care if take that in-store credit to my grave, I'm not shopping at your store because I can't be sure that I'll ever get my money back.  I feel sad too, because I loved Pier 1.  But that was just sneaky.

Now for a special mention.  Remember I said that I'd had 4 bad experiences so one store will be getting special mention because even though things turned out okay for me, they only turned out that way because I learned my lesson from the Pier 1 experience and knew what to say: I bought Steve a Nook from Barnes & Noble for our anniversary.  The Nook didn't work properly, it wouldn't hold a charge.  I went to return said Nook and buy a new one.  I made it clear to the clerk that I wanted to return the Nook and then buy a new one, not do an exchange.  She said she couldn't do that, she had to do an exchange.  I asked for the manager.  The manager wanted to know why I was adamant that they not do an exchange so I asked her "if I do an exchange and this Nook doesn't work then I am stuck with $300 of in-store credit, right?  You won't credit my credit card, you'll give me in-store credit, right?"  The manager agreed that is what would happen.  "Fine," I said, "then just return this Nook and I don't want to buy a new one unless you will not do an exchange."  Finally the manager agreed, the new Nook was fine, Steve loves it, and all is well.  But had I not learned from the Pier 1 fiasco about the sneaky exchange policy, I would never have been able to return that Nook and get my money back if the second one didn't work.

All of these companies should feel ashamed of themselves.  The basic transaction between customer and store is one of risk.  I buy from you.  I may find it cheaper somewhere else in a few months.  I may decide I don't like it well after the return time has expired.  It may break in a few months.  Risk.  You sell it to me, I may change my mind, not like it, it doesn't work, it doesn't fit, whatever, then it is your responsibility to take it back and give me back my money as long as I have the receipt, I'm within 30 days,  and the merchandise is in the same condition as when it left the store.  Training your employees to quietly exchange things so people can never get their money back is dirty business.


Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

It seems like stores are getting less customer-friendly these days. I returned a few Christmas gifts and the woman put them pack on the purchasers card. When I told her they were gifts my daughter received, she acted all put out like I'd just say, "okay, you don't have to give me the money owed to me." Seriously, with the economy like it is you'd think stores would be bending over backwards to retain customers.

Anonymous said...

In thier defense...Beth yours are valid but boy I have seen some really tricky customers also. When trying to return stuff and give that clerk a rough way to go. Thanks for the returning tips.

Beth said...

Karen I too am shocked that many companies seem more interested in getting new customers than retaining their existing ones. Have you noticed how many offers are good only to new customers? Cell phone companies are famous for this. Thanks for commenting!

Beth said...

Anonymous you do bring up a good point. I'm sure many of the current return policies have been created to try to combat fraud. I too have witnessed people behaving rudely to a clerk who clearly doesn't have the power to change store policy.

And? The current policies still bust my buttons!

Thank you for stopping by!

Pier 1 Customer Relations said...

Beth- We'd really like an opportunity to speak with you personally about your concern. Please call us at 1-800-245-4595, prompt 5 and ask for our Customer Relations Team Lead, Cindy. We would be more than happy to help!

Pissed off in Louisville, Ky said...

How about talking to me, too, Pier 1? I made a purchase at a location across town, got home, realized it was the wrong size, took it back WITH receipt to my normal, closest Pier 1 and they wouldn't let me return it for a credit because I got it at another store. Considering that other store is 35 minutes away, you'll never see me in either store again.

Customer service has gotten HORRIBLE lately. I used to work retail, so I know what's reasonable to ask of a store and what's not. I had a Pottery Barn representative tell me today that the customer is not always right. I had a Continental Airlines rep tell me last month that it didn't matter if I'd been a loyal customer & frequent flier for 5 years or not.

I think this shows how uncaring and disrespectful people are. The people working in these stores are lazy, because they'd obviously like to lose their jobs and not work than actually work to please a customer.

I actually own a store of my own so I know what's right and what's not. Common decency. Common sense. Working to build customer loyalty and trust. Value.

I am going back to the mom and pop's, staying away from the chains. Pier 1 can get their customer service person on here and say, hey contact me, but not because they want to fix the problem--just because they want you to take down your blog! If you want to fix the problem, fix it in your stores. Stop hiring lazy college kids who would rather be playing video games than helping people. Stop developing policies that are anti-customer. Start remembering you work for the customer and put the customer FIRST!

Pier 1 Customer Relations said...

Louisville, KY- We're really sorry to hear about your recent visit. Our customers are welcome to return any purchase at any one of our Pier 1 Imports locations. We'd like to take some time to address your concern if you have a few minutes. Please give us a call at 1-800-245-4595 M-F 8am-7pm or email us at

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Anonymous said...

I also just had a horrible experience at pier one in glen mills Pa. My boyfriend and I bought a 500$ chair and a 200$ dollar stand. The price dramatically dropped in two days, we returned to spend another 500$ on a table we loved and wanted to get the adjusted money back from our chair, receipt said 14 days, it had only been two. The clerk was very nice and agreed. Once she had the manager come over we were shut down so fast because we only had our receipt for the stand. We were not offered any help, pretty much oh well. We called corrperate asap they sent the original reciept to our e mail In under 1 min. They couldn't do that in the store???? So not helpful! That was my favorite store and I will never return! I will tell friends and my clients to never go there either. I worked in retail and now work at a salon, we would never let a client go so easy... Its a shame.

Anonymous said...

(In reference to The Children's Place complaint) Anywhere you go, returns are refunded according to the original method of payment. You can't expect cash if the items were purchased with a cc. If stores pass out cash for every gift that wasn't suitable for the recipient, how would they expect to make a profit? It is a business, and as much as you want your DAD'S money back, it just not feasible. You have 45 days to return/exchange, and within that time, you can send the items back to Dad and let him get his money back. How tall was your 11 year old that she couldn't fit clothes from TCP. They go up to size 14....she should have at least been able to fit the tops. Sorry, but your complaint seems unrealistic and asinine.