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Thread: Karma and The Problematic Customer [DP Store]

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    Lightbulb Karma and The Problematic Customer [DP Store]

    Ah, the dark side of retail. I'm about to present you with three scenarios. I'd like to hear your impressions, how you might have handled them, what you'd do differently, or just your personal experie...

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    Regarding the third situation, I've been in comic shops where the owner yelled at and banned customers trying to buy trade-ins. It's a form of solicitation and you have the right to keep it out of your store. It might even be illegal but don't hold me to that. Sure was ugly of that woman to do it in front of you.

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    For the first one, giving out the $12 was too generous. I would have given her the what the game sells for at the very most, and that would have been if she was acting respectfully.

    The third one is really tough. You want the games, but you don't want to be a "bad guy," so maybe telling both parties just that is the way to go. "I don't mean to be rude, but I could really use the games for the store. You could try coming to NAVA where I encourage people to make deals like this." If I was one of them and you had said that, I would have respected your wishes. I'm a nice guy though, and someone who could get $3 more might not be.


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    Those are some tough ones Joe. I feel for ya, because I have worked "Game retail hell" before, and those types of people will always try to kill honest businesses. I have had all three scanarios happen, here is what I have done.

    #1 On the "I was told this on the phone" scanario, I would just stand behind that you sell the game for $7 and that the trade in is $3. I had a person tell me that "I was told this much", I just replied, "I sell the game for this much and I cant give you that because I would loose money" "I am sorry if you heard a differnt number of trade in on the phone." It is ok to be realistic. If the customer cant be reasonable, then they are no good to your store anyways.

    #2 Reguarding the lost money, I would wait to give the money back to the person and say "you know, I think that I gave you the right amount back." I would then count the till down right then and there. This is going to do two things. 1. It will limit scammers, and most of the time if a person is scamming, they will walk out the store at this momment. 2. This will satisfy the need to be honest with yourself. By counting down the till you can rest assured that you DID give the money back to the person.

    #3 Once the trasaction was beginning, I would politely tell the people that soliciting in the store is not permitted and ban the customers from doing business in your store reguarding them doing a transaction. Even explain to them how it is rude and how it takes business away from your store. Again, if people cannot be reasonable, then they are not worth having business with. This is tough one for people pleasers such as myself, but in the end...you are just doing what you need to do to protect your ass against fraud. I would also put up a sign reguarding "no side deals or solicitation allowed"

    I hope these things help, again, I feel for ya.
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    I was reading Acts of Gord last night, so most of my answers might involve throwing people into walls...

    Scenario 1: I wouldn't ever give trade-in values over the phone. Prices for items on sale, yes, but not trade-in values. Concerning this particular customer, I might have quickly lied and said that the values change depending on stock and someone had just brought two copies in, therefore you didn't need it at all or would only pay $xx.

    Scenario 2: I'm with everyone who said to get the customer's info and wait til the end of the day - if the till was off, send the money to the customer. I've been shorted/overchanged so many times that I always count while standing at the register.

    Scenario 3: Tough call, but I would side with Gord and throw the lady into the wall. Er, I'd quickly intervene and explain that she wasn't at a flea market and couldn't haggle my business away. Sounds like she wasn't a customer and you wouldn't lose business from her not coming back.

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    #1- I think you should not have given the $12. First, whatever your employee said over the phone is not even close to binding. Hell, if an employee says a game costs something, but she was mistaken and the label says different, that's not binding either. Second, if the lady can't understand that obviously a mistake was made, that's not the kind of customer you want.

    #2- You did the right thing. Although counting the till isn't a bad idea, but it would depend on how long that would take, how busy the store was, etc.

    #3- Tough call. You're within your rights to allow it or disallow it as you please. It does hurt business in the short term, but might help it in the long term. If you do forbid the transaction in your store, there's nothing stopping the seller from keeping those few games back and walking outside to sell them to the buyer, or getting the buyer's phone number for later. Personally, I would probably allow it, but point out to the people involved that it is actually against store policy but you are making an exception for them and expect not to see it happen again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 8Ways2Tuesday View Post
    Scenario 1: I wouldn't ever give trade-in values over the phone. Prices for items on sale, yes, but not trade-in values. Concerning this particular customer, I might have quickly lied and said that the values change depending on stock and someone had just brought two copies in, therefore you didn't need it at all or would only pay $xx.
    Wow, so your solution is to lie to the lady and tell her that, based on supply, you're at times willing to lose $5 on the sale of a game? What would Joe have done if she went looking for these two phantom copies of Space Invaders and found that they didn't exist?

    Joe, assuming the $50 lady was a past customer who did not appear to be scamming you (and as it turns out, she wasn't!), the Space Invaders lady was the only action you took that I don't agree with. At the very worst I would have given her $7 trade-in value. If she's not willing to accept that giving her $12 means spending money out of your pocket for no reason, she is not a repeat customer that you want to have. Even IF she was somehow quoted $12 on the phone, it would have been a mistake and, given the numbers, one that this lady should have accepted. She has the right to be upset, but she doesn't have the right to demand $5 out of your pocket.

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    For scenario 3, YOU are the one paying the rent on the store, YOU are the one having customers come to you for games. Not for some woman browsing games and seeing someone else selling causing you to lose money from her, or whoever else would have purchased those games.

    If anyone does business like that, I would just have a sign up stating that is not allowed on store property. We had a store called Game Dude in Los Angeles that would ban you for life in a heartbeat if customers did that.

    Problem is, with this type of business, you have to be nice, so everything you do can have a direct reaction, but I know there is no way I would given the woman $12 for Space Invaders for SNES. I would have apologized and clearly stated that was an error, but then again, as Joe stated, she might tell someone her experience and that would prevent another set of customers from coming in because of it. Tough calls on all three.

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    Without reading the previous responses, here are mine. I'll keep it short.

    Scenario 1: Give her the $12 but do it in store credit. Then establish a policy, like Flack said in your blog, about not giving price quotes over the phone.

    Scenario 2: Any business I've ever thought short changed me made me wait until the end of the day when the final tally was counted up. Counting up the money when making change for customers in the future should help prevent that type of thing.

    Scenario 3: Tell them to take it outside. What is the worst that could happen if it takes place in your store? If the deal between those two somehow goes sour and they ended up in small claims court, sooner or later it would come back to your store. Say if some of the merchandise was non-working or later found to be stolen and the buyer wanted a refund. Well if you allowed the sale to take place in your place of business and something like that takes place down the road, it may not be the last you hear of it.

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    1. I believe most game stores refuse to quote over the phone. There are many reasons for this and this situation is just one of them.

    2. Tough call, but I would already make sure that my employees counted the money in front of the customer for change. I'd prolly done as you had done.

    3. It depends on the one who was trying the buy out. If they weren't a regular, I would have said something right away. If they were, I would talk to them privately after the transaction and tell them not to do it again or they will be banned. You're not running a charity.
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    #1. We almost never give prices over the phone. As someone else mentioned (in the blog)... 99% of the deal is getting them into the store, once they're there, they will generally accept whatever you offer them so they don't have to carry it home and look elsewhere. Our official policy is to not give any reasonable quote without seeing the items.

    #2. Maybe it's just that I'm in an area with a larger than average number of "shady" individuals... but I would never give someone money that I knew was given to them unless they were REALLY insistant... even after looking through the till, calling my employee on her cell, etc. Unless it was a regular or someone who seemed VERY trustworthy... like she didn't need my $10, but genuinely thought she was wronged. In which case, I would hesitantly offer it to her, on her promise that if the $10 does show up, she'll come back with it (in a joking way).

    #3. Always a tough situation... usually if a customer & I are working out a deal on trade-in's, and another customer wanders over to take a look and starts asking questions, I'll "shoo" them away in a joking manner and say "just a minute"... then try to finish the deal ASAP (even if it costs a bit more than expected). Then I'll give the "vulture" customer first dibs on it once the trade-in person leaves. If they get into negotiations in the store before you can prevent it... I just tell them politely that it's not cool. Give them the "I'm trying to run a business and feed my family..." speech... use guilt if you have to, they need to know that they can't do it without pissing them off. The ONLY exception to this is if they want WAY too much for their stuff, and the "vulture" customer is a good regular... if you were going to pass on it anyway, then you have nothing to lose by letting your customer get a good score once you've offered it to them via the seller... but be sure to tell them afterword that generally it's not cool and jokingly offer a "where's my cut?"
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    1: I would've told the lady too bad, people will try anything to get a few bucks. It's always "Well I called and the girl/guy told me!", they never bother asking for a name and can never remember what time they called. It's the same thing when they're in the store and say "The guy/girl that was here before!", yet they can never remember what they look like. You could've simply told her next time she should get a name and then you'll know who to talk to if a problem arises again.

    2: If the lady was a regular customer, I would've given her the benefit of the doubt as well. At least now you know she's an honest person, which is always a good thing to know in retail.

    3: When the people finished, you could've told them not to do that in the store for future reference. You could say that it doesn't make it's bad for business and doesn't make your store look good.

    With every situation you learn something new, so at least now you'll know how to handle them better. These would be good pointers for people who are new to the job, that way it'll prevent a potentially bad situation from turning worse.

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    Many years of retail experience thrown behind my opinions:

    #1. Never ever ever ever give quotes over the phone. My expereince was with auto repair. <call comes in> How much for a brake job? - We charge $300 for rotors, pads, lines, labor. - <car arrives and it's beyond hope> - You need $500 in work. - But I was told $300! - Ergo, tell future calls that they must bring in their games for assessment so you can gauge condition, completeness, etc. No quotes over the phone and only face to face. Ever.

    #2. I would've gave the $10 just to be safe too. Even if I KNOW the clerk didn't make a mistake, it's only $10 and wouldn't really harm the day's bottom line. Now if it had been $100 or even $50, then we have a problem. But it all worked out, so no harm, no foul.

    #3. That's pretty shabby to do it there in front of you, and I would have been pretty terse. If the lady was a regular, explain that this is pretty crass and that you don't appreciate the interference. If she's not a regular, she gets the boot. You likely wouldn't see her again anyway. But the way you handled it was fine, but it cost you obviously. I would maybe post something that explains that trade-in buyout/interference ends your part of the trade-in; all parties must leave immediately; and future trade-ins will not be taken in from that person.
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    #1: When a customer comes up with a ridiculous price that is obviously misquoted or made up, my sense of pride in my fellow co-workers kicks in and I just call them on their shit. If they get indignant because they just made a mad dash to your store to get a price they know is more than its worth, then you can use the expressions, "I'm sorry, you misunderstood" or "Piss off!" at your discretion.

    #2: If a customer thinks you shortchanged him and "Nuh-uh" isn't working; immediately bet him twice the amount in dispute that you didn't. If you're right...score, cash in hand. If you're wrong call the police and say he tried to rob you.

    #3: This is one of my favorites. Since I work in a small store whos business goes directly to feeding the owners children, when people try to wheel and deal or snake stuff from us I get a bit incensed. If it's an honest enough guy, and its something he's been looking for I'll tell them to take it outside...'specially if its not something I really want for the store. Occassionally we get some lurkers that like to hang out and undercut us...these people are easily spotted by their green skin and dollar-sign shaped irises. These greedy bastards deserve every horrible epithet I can fling at them because they know better. They know we don't like them and their stupid PDA catalog of every game ever made so they can sit in their goddamn computer store and masturbate over how much money they've made off of the uninformed children at the flea market. You know who you are, Mike.

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    1. When you give her $12 you don't end up looking like the good guy. You are the guy who tried to rip her off and you got caught so you backed down and gave her what she rightfully deserved. "We do not give prices over the phone" is the policy that works best for me or just say $3 take it or leave it.

    2. Having the employee loudly count out the cash just as a bank teller would is a must. If this is done every time I mean every time then there is nothing you can do after the customer walks away. I've had problems where I found it best to pay out BUT knew I wasn't in the wrong. I took that back in the following trades from this customer till it was repaid.

    3. All trades get swept away as quick as possible from customer view and I've found it helps to have trades take longer than you really need as they are "being tested". The trader looks around and sometimes buys stuff. Anyone trying what you just described gets a warning that both the buyer and seller are no longer welcome if they make a side deal on your property. One of them will always back out in my experience. Sorry pal I pay the rent,lights and gas around here.

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    After reading what other people say I must add this.

    Its not always about $10 or one nintendo game. Habits like this are a cancer to a small business. If I see someone buy games infront of Joe and he doesn't say anything then he must not care ohh look here comes a guy with some sealed NES games....

    In each of these cases what about everyone else in the store who is a witness? Need $10 easy cash hell I know what to say. You can also bet the lady buying games will try that again and each time with new witnesses. You aren't there this time but the employees know you let it slide so they let it slide. Now your employees want to buy stuff before you do and what do you say to that!

    Its a cancer man. Cut it out asap.

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    Default hmmmm...

    Depends how profitable your store is.

    If you are doing well then you must consider the 'cost of customer service'.

    In scenario 1 it sounds like the customer new nothing about games and sincerely believed she was quoted $12. Your going to sell it for $7 so your only out $5, you should do it. if she's a regular or not believeable, than stick to your guns; I doubt you are legal obligated to a quote over the phone.

    In scenario 2 it's the same thing. You either choose to give them the nefit of the doubt or not. It should be on a customer to customer basis, and only 'the boss' should be allowed to handle events taht remove money from the register uncoventionally. Word of mouth is a big deal for independent stores like yours, don't underestimate these little things.

    Scenario 3. I've been tempted to do this in stores before because i believe Gamestop and others do not give fair trade-in values very often. I have not done it though. You can take a hard-line and ask them to go outside, but a sign won't matter much, most people won't read it. There is a good chance that they indivisual who bought the games may sell them to you later on as well; the fact that this person was in your store is relevant. They were there to buy, they will come back, you lost nothing just failed to benefit. The customer essentially outbid you, sniper.

    If money is tight I would would take a harder-line until things are better. Since I have heard talk about another store in the future I am assuming things are well...

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRedEye View Post
    Wow, so your solution is to lie to the lady and tell her that, based on supply, you're at times willing to lose $5 on the sale of a game? What would Joe have done if she went looking for these two phantom copies of Space Invaders and found that they didn't exist?
    Perhaps I assumed the lady was being more offensive than she actually was. I read it as if she was purposely trying to get more money than the game was worth - I've had it happen before where I work.

    And again, just finished reading Gord, so generally in a mean state of mind, too.

    I like the idea about offering credit for the error - that sounds like a really good solution.

    I also think it would be okay to just not buy it from the lady, for any reason.

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    Here are my takes:

    Scenario 1 -
    In the case of buy backs - I would not have took the game. I would say "You can take the $3 that we offer, or take your game back home."

    Scenario 2 -
    I think you handled this situation the best. Worse case is that it is a $10 lesson learned to prevent a similar incident from happen again.

    Scenario 3 -
    When this happens, explain to both that your business is not a middle ground for people to conduct trades and sales at your expense. Ask them both to leave if they are to conduct a transaction and also inform the fellow with the NES games offered for buy back that the price you quoted him are for the whole lot and any changes, whether he sells one on his own or even decides to keep a game will drastically impact the original quote. I am sure your employees also know that if they see something they like your business is to buy back from the customer and then sell at mark up to the employee - other wise it is considered stealing.


    I worked in video game retail from 1992-1995.
    In the end Joe, you are running a business and you learn the good customers, the regulars, the ones who just happen to see the place and are just "checking it out" and the ones who are trying to exploit your business whether it be buying your stock and selling it on line for their profit or bringing in games for cash and not putting anything back in the business.

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    Pretty much the same replies from me as well.

    #1 - Offer her the $3, nothing more. If she feels like arguing, offer her $2. I gather that she isn't in the store that often and losing her business wouldn't be a big deal. It may even be better to not have her ever come back.

    #2 - Have a video camera set up right over all the cash registers. Also, make sure all your employees count out the money. Then if there is a dispute, you can go right to the video.

    #3 - Kick the person out somehow. Whether you want to do it nicely and allow the person to return to your store or ban the person forever, that's up to you. The sign suggestion is also good.
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