I get these people at least once a day when I work. They guilt-trip me and make me feel horrible when the register won’t allow a cash refund for them. Most of the time, I can tell that they are simply returning their items because they need the money, not because they’re just not satisfied with their purchase. In some cases, these people made the original purchase with a gift card or a credit card. When this is the case, the register will only allow the refund to go back exactly the way it was paid for. So, if they paid with a credit card, it can go back to the credit card or in a store gift card, and credit card refunds can take a week in some cases to be credited back to the account. So, for those people who are looking for quick money, it’s a bad deal. When a store gift card or “disposable” gift card (visa, mastercard, or amex) was used in the purchase it must go back that way (or in the case of a disposable card, it can go to a store gift card, too).
Neither of these options help the guest who is returning to get gas money. Or the guest who is returning to get money to buy food to feed their kids for a night.
This is where I want to cry. I had a woman one time come crying to the desk one day about how her store credit card was denied. She had called the card service number and they told her it was because her card was maxed out. The lady told me how her and her husband were getting a divorce, and to get back at her, he had essentially stolen all of her credit cards and maxed them all out and left her with no money in their account. She had two kids under the age of 6 with her. All she had been trying to do was buy them a personal size pizza at our cafe to feed them. She was so, so, so upset. I told her anything she could do she’d have to do with the people she was already on the phone with.
After about half an hour, she finally yells into the phone and comes stomping back up to me. She throws her credit card at me, tears streaming down her face and says “throw it away! It’s useless to me!” and left the store with her kids in tow. I felt so horrible. I wanted to run and grab money out of my wallet to give to her so bad, but she was already gone.
In other cases, I’ve had adult children come to return things for their elderly parents who had told them to take the money and use it for gas as a payment of returning the items for them. Most times, the parent paid in a credit card. Which I can only return to the credit card or a store gift card. Neither of which does the adult kid any good with getting gas as our store doesn’t have a gas station. Part of me gets angry that these people get mad at me for it, but the other part feels bad because I know how it feels to be out of money and wondering how you will fill your tank or get food until your next paycheck. You get this glimmer of hope of being able to have gas money only to have it taken away because our system doesn’t allow cash returns on credit card purchases.
Partly it doesn’t make sense because it’s money, so it should go back however, right? But you have to think about it like this, a credit card purchase isn’t exactly “real” money until real money is paid toward that bill. And I think that’s how our system recognizes it. No, that doesn’t mean that once the person pays their own bill that it becomes real money, it will always be a credit card return.
I watch these guests’ faces go from mad to sad to mad again. Some of them totally take it out on me and others will call their parents and yell at them. It’s heart-breaking, really, but there’s nothing I can do. Nothing at all. I can attempt to call our refund authorization number, but those people are mean and are very, very, very set into the rule book and almost never let anything slide. So, that usually ends up being a big waste of time for me and the guest. And sometimes it leads to further anger in the guest. Though, some guests feel better after I call the number because they realize that if these people say no, then that’s the definitive answer.
Some stores will do cash returns on credit card purchases, but our store isn’t one of them. The rules and ideas behind it aren’t my decision to make, I just carry them out and do what I’m told. It doesn’t mean I like it, but it doesn’t mean that a guest has to get rude with me about it. I realize that a lot of you are just trying to get by and I stand in the way of that. Because believe me, if I could help, I would.
Just thinking about people crying to me about their woes makes me want to cry sometimes. I understand in the pit of my stomach, but man, I just can’t help. As much as I’d like to.