Be nice… but prepare to escalate.
As with any customer service interaction, your best bet is to be nice to the person on the other side of the counter. Not only will this heighten your chances for success, but it’s also not fair to be rude to employees who are only doing as their told.
“When someone says, ‘No, we can’t do that,’ they’re not being unpleasant or rude,’” says Kelly. “[In retail] you’re very controlled – sometimes you’re even given scripts to read.”
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Employees aren’t given leeway to deviate from that script, but managers might be – Pavini says that if you’re past the deadline or you don’t have the receipt, politely ask to speak to the manger (though she adds that in the latter case, it helps to have a credit card statement showing the purchase). And when you do get the manager, make sure to get on their good side.
“I think it’s important to establish loyalty to the store – say, “I’m a loyal shopper here, I really appreciate the customer service I get here, but I realized I can’t afford this,” says Pavini, who adds that pleading poverty is likely to get you a sympathetic audience.
And if the manager won’t listen to reason, you could even go straight to the manufacturer. Pavini recounts a recent incident in which a cashmere sweater purchased from a major retailer quickly unraveled on her, and the store refused to take it back. She took her grievance directly to the manufacturer, and within five minutes they were sending her a prepaid shipping label and starting the refund process.
In retail, there’s always a higher power you can appeal to.