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$700 Worth of Arsenic

Today was a ridiculously rough day at work.  We opened at 10am, and our first customer walked in at 11.  Carrying two large bags.  With our store’s logo on it.


There is nothing that we despise more than seeing someone walk into our store carrying one of our bags, because 9 times out of 10 it means that they’re here to make a return.  And nothing kills us like returns.  We call it ‘arsenic.’  Now, I understand the need for returns.  I’ve gotten terrible Christmas/wedding gifts (yours) and had second thoughts (the fuzzy hat with the ear flaps seemed like a good idea at the time.)  We totally understand that people often need to return things.  But that doesn’t mean that we like it.

Here’s the thing.  As sales associates, we of course see the day to day of the store.  But those above us and those above them and those above them care about only one thing: our numbers, specifically the total money taken in for each day.  So while technically a purchase and return should cancel each other out to be as if it never happened, it doesn’t work that way.  All the higher ups see is that on Day 1 we were successful at making a big sale and on Day 2 we were not.  Every return, no matter how small, hurts us.

So to see someone walk into the store with a huge bag is enough to make us break into a cold sweat.  Especially when the contents of the bag equal somewhere in the ballpark of $700!  SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!  Of the $900 that she spent last Thursday, she returned $700 of it.  When the store’s sales goal for the day is $1,000, we’ve just had our work doubled in a mere 5 minutes.  You don’t come back from that.  My manager was literally almost in tears and I was sick to my stomach.  Because when our district manager looks at our day, he isn’t going to give a rat’s ass that someone essentially smiled and broke both our legs with a hammer; all he’ll care about is that we didn’t make $1,000.

But what was really infuriating is the fact that this sale was not made at our store; the clothing was bought at another Atlanta store and returned at our store.  This is maddening for two reasons.  For one, it means that we couldn’t have prevented it.  Not that we go around trying to prevent sales; we generally stand for the opposite.  But nothing about this sale seemed right.  None of the items that were bought seemed to go together; none of the shoes matched the dress, the jewelry was random, and there were no complete outfits, which doesn’t follow the MO of our sales associates.  For another, not only had she never shopped with us before, but she wasn’t entered into our system.  We enter EVERYONE into our system; it’s one of the magic numbers that our bosses care about.  And it took her 3 credit cards to pay for the whole thing.  Three!  If you need three credit cards to pay your total, maybe you shouldn’t be shopping!  Everything about this sale seems sketchy, and in our store it never would have happened.

Which leads to the other reason I’m visibly angry.  We are paid a small commission in addition to our hourly sales.  It’s not much; most of our sales only get us $2-5 and the most I’ve ever the been able to make is $135 in a month.  But it is an incentive .  And a sale of $900 will get you a $50 commission.  Of course, if you return the sale, your commission gets taken back.  Unless you tell the person to return them to a different store; personal sales are only tracked within the store, so anything returned to a different store goes unrecorded.  You get to keep your steller numbers and your big, fat commission.  At best, some sales associate got a great, big, undeserved pat on the back from the higher ups and a nice chunk of change, while we had to reap the rewards of their fuck up.  At worse…fraud.  I mean, think about it.  Tell your cousin to go buy a shit-load of stuff from you and return it at another store; it doesn’t cost them any, and you get $50.

Either way, someone fucked our store in the ass and was rewarded for it.  Either way, it’s enough to make me choke a baby.  A big, fat baby.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Jason February 18, 2009, 11:12 am

    wow…and i thought i had a bad day. jeeesh. i’m sorry. that sux. i hope today is better…

    • admin February 18, 2009, 4:08 pm

      It was, much so. Thanks for the wishes!

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