August 19, 2009
Caught on Tape
If I were a Neanderthal, I would be a hunter-gatherer. My heart races whenever I step foot into a store like Marshalls, where inventory changes daily, half the stuff doesn't have a price tag, and nothing is where it is supposed to be.
Last week, I found what is perhaps my greatest treasure yet: a pair of navy wedge heels for $10. I found the shoes in the shoe department of all places...and they were even in a box!!!
After purchasing the shoes and taking them home, I realized that there was a good reason why they were so cheap.
"Those shoes are really ugly," my husband observed.
A few days later, I tried to take the shoes back. After scanning the shoes and my receipt, the woman at the return counter informed me that she couldn't refund my money. The product code on the receipt didn't match the shoes I had in the bag.
After a considerable amount of head scratching, we noticed that the price tag was missing half of its bar code. Rather than hunt down the correct bar code, the cashier who rang me up probably typed in a generic code.
The manager was super understanding. "People bring in bogus receipts all the time," he told me. To give credence to his theory that I was trying to swindle $10 from the corporation, he called the supervisor of the shoe department, who confirmed that she had never seen the shoes before in her life.
The manager smiled smugly as he hung up the phone.
"There's nothing you can do?" I asked.
"The only way to verify that you bought the shoes when you did and for what you said you did," the man told me, "Is to look at the security tape at your time of purchase."
Searching 8,000 hours of security tape to verify a $10 purchase seemed like a reasonable request and a productive use of everyone's time, so I agreed.
"This is going to take at least an hour," the man warned, clearly annoyed.
I told him to page me when he found the evidence. I would be digging through the clearance section of the housewares section.
As I made my way to the shelf of unfolded towels, chipped serving platters, and ceramic Easter eggs, I began to have a change of heart. The shoes weren't that ugly. The more I looked at them, in fact, the more I started to actually like them.
Fifteen minutes later, I stopped by the return counter.
"Tell the manager that I've changed my mind," I told the woman. "I've decided to keep the shoes."