hahaha NO
Patrick F rainbowxgeek wrote in customers_suck
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Tis the season
for hinky returns (aka "returns") begin.

I work in a department store. I was in the kid's department on Thursday. Woman comes in with some items to return. I don't ask why she's returning them (We rarely do, though I do ask if there's anything wrong with the item unless the customer volunteers the reason before I ask).

She volunteers that the reason she's returning them is that "People didn't know [she] had a boy, so they were giving [her] girl clothes."

Okay, really? The kid looks about 5 months old, and people don't seem to know what she had? Uh huh...

She then hands me a coat (with no tags) and two PJs. For 18-24 months.

I understand that in other countries it may be more common to give clothes that far ahead. But not in the US--maybe (MAYBE) a year ahead, not 2. (apparently this isn't as uncommon in the US as I had thought; still curious to me esp with the other things)

I call my manager to get an okay to do an unreceipted return. I don't have to get the okay, with a few exceptions, but this situation was weird to me.

She okays it and I process the return. With no-receipt returns we have to input ID info. She hands me a Connecticut DL. No biggie--we get out of state IDs regularly (I'm in NYS). I ask if it's the correct address (because I know that not everyone changes their ID over when they move--since I usually fail to). She gives me a local address. I then ask for her phone #. She gives me a downstate number.

So, she has a 5 mo old boy, but some folks don't know this and bought clothes for an 18-24 month old GIRL. She has a CT ID, an Albany NY address, and a Long Island NY phone (there's several hours between Albany and LI). Add to it that the whole thing has a general "off" feel to it.

One thing that occurred to me as I was writing this is, the coat she "brought back" is a relatively recent addition to our stock. So if someone had bought it for her kid, they had to have known the gender, and even if they DIDNT if you're buying a winter coat as a gift for a newborn-ish kid, you're not going to buy a 18-24 mo old coat, since (presumably) you'd want it to be worn THIS winter.

She also already had an EZ exchange card, which is what we give when we do store-credit returns. None of this is proof in and of itself, but all of it together is just too damned off

LP suspects that she just grabbed things off the rack that day and "returned" them.

Two days later, I was working in handbags/accessories and a woman came up with a Fossil wallet (read: $64). Claims she had no receipt, that there was no tag when she bought it and they scanned another similar wallet when she bought it. This may be half-true. But she'd have been given a re-ticket label at the time of purchase. When I point this out, she says she "threw it away". Which I could believe if she hadn't JUST claimed that they'd simply scanned a diferent item when she bought it.

I refuse to do the return without a manager approval (shades of the return 2 days prior). The seasonal manager is a friend of mine, who'd heard all about the kids' dept return. SHE refused to okay the return. She finally sought out the department manager who okayed it. I put the return through, but when HER address was different from her ID (though at least in-state this time) I call security again. They have me complete it, though I'm sure they'll flag that customer's name too (or however they handle it on their end).


2012-11-14 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)

It does sound odd, although my mum did buy me clothes for toddlers when I had a newborn so that part isn't necessarily dodgy. (I already had plenty of gifts of clothing for an infant so she bought 'in advance'. I didn't care if they were boys or girls clothes if they were just the basics for around the house (singlets, pjs, shirts, pants, etc) so she would just grab whatever she found at sales, figuring I'd use them eventually.)

Edited at 2012-11-14 09:09 am (UTC)


2012-11-14 09:12 am (UTC) (Link)

By itself, it may not be dodgy. And a friend from France told me it's more common over there. But it, coupled with everything ELSE, just too weird, to me.

(no subject) - roseofjuly, 2012-11-18 08:14 pm (UTC)(Expand)


2012-11-14 09:44 am (UTC) (Link)

I understand that in other countries it may be more common to give clothes that far ahead. But not in the US--maybe (MAYBE) a year ahead, not 2.

lol, what the fuck is this sentence?


2012-11-14 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Your rudeness is excused. What part of the sentence confuses you?

(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-14 09:48 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - lutine, 2012-11-14 09:53 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-14 09:57 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - lutine, 2012-11-14 10:00 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-14 10:07 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - spamwarrior, 2012-11-15 07:16 pm (UTC)(Expand)


2012-11-14 10:58 am (UTC) (Link)

When my daughter was 5 months, we were already putting her in 12-18 month clothes. Some babies grow faster than others. Now she is 20 months and wearing 3t


2012-11-14 11:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Fair point. Though tbh, if people "didn't know the baby's gender" they probably would't know if this was the case (and in this case it wasn't--there's no way the kid in question was in 18-24 mo clothes--he'd be swimming in them).

(no subject) - blue_moon_ice, 2012-11-14 11:08 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - brigittefires, 2012-11-18 07:13 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - roseofjuly, 2012-11-18 08:17 pm (UTC)(Expand)


2012-11-14 11:30 am (UTC) (Link)

I got some 18-24 mo. clothes at my babyshower. I figured it was common knowledge in the US that when buying for a babyshower you don't just buy newborn stuff - kids outgrow it fast, and there's only so many cute onesies they'll puke on before they're on to the next size.


2012-11-14 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)

The consensus I got from friends/family was up to 9-12 mo. No one I know gives/got 18-24 mo at that stage.

Either way, i've since edited my original post to indicate that that's more common that I'd thought. It's also only ONE FACTOR in the entiretransaction, and not even the main one.

(no subject) - mankusu, 2012-11-15 05:56 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 08:12 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - roseofjuly, 2012-11-18 08:19 pm (UTC)(Expand)


2012-11-14 12:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Although I updated my State ID when I moved, I don't think it's odd the customer had an out-of-state phone number and lived locally. I still have my original cell number and I'm halfway across the country from my home state. I'll never change it if I don't have to!

I have also purchased clothes far in advanced not just because I know some babies grow fast (or start off in older sizes) but mainly because I saw something cute on the clearance racks.

Maybe I just had to be there to think something was off but everything combined still seems like a normal customer to me. I don't think "suspicious" counts as being a sucky customer when they weren't rude or mean to you.


2012-11-14 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Given that security and my manager were also suspicious, it's not just me.

It was also more that they had a CT ID, a local address, and a phone # from a third location.

And again, the size of the clothes is only a SMALL PART of the whole thing.

There's that fact that people supposedly had no idea what gender the kid was (AFTER he was born)? I'm sorry, I fail to find how anyone can class that as "normal"

It wasn't worded in a way that leads one to believe they didn't find the gender ahead of time. She LITERALLY said "People didn't know I HAD (emphasis mine) a boy...)

Edited at 2012-11-14 12:06 pm (UTC)

(no subject) - holyjesusboner, 2012-11-14 12:37 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-14 12:39 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - clair_brodie, 2012-11-19 10:29 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - fluteaphrael, 2012-11-14 03:15 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 12:18 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - surrey_sucks, 2012-11-15 02:44 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - roseofjuly, 2012-11-18 08:21 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - nightshade1972, 2012-11-15 01:21 am (UTC)(Expand)


2012-11-14 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

I still have my old cell phone number from when I lived in State A. Now I am living in State B, and I've just never gotten around to changing my cell phone number, even though the two area codes are completely different.


2012-11-14 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

"None of this is proof in and of itself, but all of it together is just too damned off"

ID from location A. Address in location B. Phone from location C.

People did not know WHAT GENDER the kd was AFTER he'd been born.

Alone, no, none of it is damning. All together, it's pretty damn sketchy.

But I give up. So far eveyone has picked ONE PART of the post, or another, to comment on, when I've said, several times, that by themselves, they're not suspicious.

(no subject) - pallanistj, 2012-11-14 10:15 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - lutine, 2012-11-15 12:17 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - zaulankris, 2012-11-15 12:41 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 12:51 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - zaulankris, 2012-11-15 12:56 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 01:01 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - nightshade1972, 2012-11-15 01:23 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 01:26 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - corusca, 2012-11-15 01:06 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 01:12 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - zaulankris, 2012-11-15 01:21 am (UTC)(Expand)


2012-11-14 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

I wouldn't of been as suspicious-until I got to the part of the coat being a relatively new item in stock. I mean it could of been she decided to keep it a surprise/ultrasound was wrong, got them at a baby shower and then recently found them tucked away, and returned them-but even then, I think I'd keep tags on just in case? But having a newer stocked coat in that mix kind of does set off alarm bells. I mean hey, could be a lot of reasons someone got her it, but mixed with the other returns/the ID and phone number and address thing(which I mean, yeah, she could of moved around, don't get me wrong) I probably would of done the same thing, honestly.


2012-11-14 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

My mom is in Pa, her phone number is from North Carolina, my brother is in NC, his phone number is from Florida...

cell phones...always fun.
I live in central NJ in B-town, my phone number, if you looked it up is from P-town.

the phone thing I don't find funky - the address stuff I do cause when customers return stuff to us they tell us here's my driver's lic, but I live xxxxx xxxxxxx without prompting

on anything over $25 we do a receipt look up now. It's amazing how many customers suddenly don't want something returned


2012-11-14 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

It's all pretty odd, to be honest.

I don't now anyone with babies, so I have no idea what the etiquette is regarding clothes sizes so I, like you, would have been bemused by it and even suspicious. This goes double when keeping in mind the fact that the stock was too recent for the kid to have been bought them prior to birth, which would be the only reason for clothing of the 'wrong' gender to have been bought.

I can't speak for the location/phone numbers/etc, because my country doesn't work like that, but ... Yeah, I think it's all pretty dodgy. No tags, no receipt and a lot of conflicting information, or information that otherwise makes no logical sense? Totally weird and you were right to think it sketchy.


2012-11-14 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

She probably visited NYC at some point while she was living in Connecticut and bought her phone there. From what I understand, people who live in CT often make trips down to NYC for shopping and the like. Maybe she couldn't find the phone she wanted while she was in CT, could find it in NYC, and didn't bother getting a phone number that would have been local to her CT address because honestly these days having a local area code really isn't that necessary anymore.

(Deleted comment)


2012-11-14 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Manager didn't know all of the above when I first asked. Had she, she'd have had me NOT do it (given that she's the same one that told me to call LP afterward). And I DO give a shit when people steal from the store. This curious little thing called integrity was instilled in me long ago.


2012-11-14 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah the five finger discount return. We get those often. Its so sad really.


2012-11-14 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Just echoing the general sentiment about children's clothing sizing: I got clothing from 0-3 months right up to 2 years at my baby shower. It's partly because people found cute clothes and are making sure that you don't just suddenly run out of clothing after a certain size, and also because you have no way of knowing how big a baby is going to be when it's born, and as other posters have said, if they grow fast they can be in those outfits sooner than you think. Not to mention that some companies' clothes run big or small; my kid right now is a year old and wears six month stuff and twelve month stuff, and some of it's from the same company.

And I'm in Canada.


2012-11-14 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, no receipt, no tags, no return. I wouldn't care how much of a stink she raised, I'd have refused. As management, I can do that. I can also smile and point to that little sticker on our cashier counters that says we reserve the right to refuse any return at any time for any reason. :D

This reminds me of a group of girls who were stealing these framed decorations from our Home Dec department and returning them for gift cards, then cashing in the gift cards a day later. We finally caught onto them, performed a return for almost a hundred dollars, hit the "flag" button on the return screen, called LP once they'd left... and then gave them the big-eyed clueless look when they couldn't cash it in later. "Oh, I'm so sorry, here's our corporate number. They can help you there." Mwahahahaha... They were so pissed, and I was so amused. :)

I am also another who has a strange phone number. I live in southwest Michigan, but my cell number is northeast Arkansas. I have yet to achieve the trifecta of an address separate from both. *lol* But never mind me; I hang on to receipts with the anal retentiveness of Antioch.


2012-11-14 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

people often buy older sized clothes for babies before they are born, because babies grow so fast and often aren't even born fitting into newborn clothes (my sister's 2mo old is already in 6mo old clothing because she was born big.)

also people often do not give receipts with gifts (even if a gift receipt is given, i know i for one lose them constantly) and will take off tags so the price isn't visible. half the stuff i got for my infants was tagless and receiptless. this is why some stores let you return baby items w/o a receipt or tags, because you are usually given that as a gift.

i also know a lot of people living in my area (sf) with out of state addrs and phone numbers. this happens a lot in geographic areas with a relatively low native population and a lot of state to state immigration.

it sounds like you are just being judgmental honestly. i am failing to see the customer suck here, and am seeing a lot more bad_service, at least on the part of your attitude. i would hate to be a customer returning some wrong gendered stuff i don't want that i got from a shower and deal with a clerk like you. maybe you need to concentrate more on processing returns and not acting like you are some kind of store private detective. if a dept manager oked it, then maybe you should realize that you have been overruled, and some people will have out of state license addrs because it's none of your fucking business.


2012-11-14 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

LOL, and I'M being judgmental? My attitude toward her was fine, because I didn't process til AFTER the fact that it was questionable. As for "not acting like [I am] some kind of store private detective", sorry, my employer not only encourages, but EXPECTS us to contact security with questionable things. Also, the dept manager okayed a no-receipt return without knowing ANYTHING else I'd posted here. SHE is the one that told me to call security when I followed up with her after the fact.

I've also said, MULTIPLE times now, that any one (or even a couple) of the things in and of themselves I could see. But all of them together is suspicious, whether YOU agree or not, my manager and LP staff DO.

You have no idea what my background is with my employer, nor what we get told at store meetings (like the multiple theft rings we've dealt with).

You disagree with my assessment of the situation, that's fine. But if you're going to get preachy and scold me for being "judgmental" make sure you're not being a fucking hypocrite.


2012-11-14 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

I really don't see the sucky customer in the first one...

That is really common with baby/toddler stuff. Tags are removed from gifts so the recipient doesn't know how much was spent. I received toddler stuff from my aunt well before my son was even born. (She'd go shopping at an outlet up north and buy whatever she could find on sale that she thought I'd need.)

And the phone number/address thing...I work at a community I see students with phone numbers and IDs that aren't from our area, but they live here. People don't always change their IDs, and changing phone numbers is a huge pain in the ass. My grandma has lived in Florida for over a year but she still has her Illinois phone number.

Edited at 2012-11-14 05:51 pm (UTC)


2012-11-14 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

When I worked in Gift Registry, we strongly recommended people clothing on it for up to three year olds for many reasons: babies grow like weeds, babies - like grown ups - are all different sizes (one five month old may be a size 5 mos and another may be a size 8 mos), you're not always going to have time to go shopping with a baby when they're size X, sales, better to have it than not to, and so on. There's more reasons to buy well in advance than to buy it in the moment. Most people take off the tags when giving a gift and don't often give a gift receipt.

As for not knowing the gender of a baby at 5 months, it's entirely possible. A gender neutral name is a good place to start. When looking at a baby unless it's in "traditional" gender colours/clothing, it's not always easy to tell their gender. In baby retail, we were given the hint to look for eyelashes - in general, baby boys have long, lush, full eyelashes from a very early age.

So, having these experiences, I wouldn't have made as many assumptions. The ID/phone number, in addition to the above, would have raised some flags, but not to the extent they did for you. It's not always easy to find time to change your ID, and especially so when you've got a new baby. (I lived in a totally different province for 5 years without changing my ID over.)

If it was theft, it was theft and that's a suck. If it wasn't, it was a wild and damaging assumption.


2012-11-15 02:47 am (UTC) (Link)

If it was theft, it was theft and that's a suck. If it wasn't, it was a wild and damaging assumption.

Exactly how I feel about this situation.

in general, baby boys have long, lush, full eyelashes from a very early age.


(no subject) - roseofjuly, 2012-11-18 08:25 pm (UTC)(Expand)


2012-11-14 10:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I was reading all the comments. I understand that you may have made an assumption, but people are jumping like crazy all over it! (I didnt think it was very common either, although I am no expert.)

While I have never worked with baby clothes, I have worked retail at a store where steal & return was VERY common, and people did it contsnatly. We were taught to be on guard of EVERY return w/o receipt where the clothes were new. If something were suspicious, (i.e. one more thing, the out of state address or number, or both, and the GIRL clothes) I am 100% with you- doesnt add up. Also, I feel like when you work somewhere you often get to know the type, and sometimes it is a gut feeling. I would say that the fact that you made this post means it was likely fraud- you know your job best. Any one of those things may not be suspicious but all of them definitely are. Good for you for calling your manager!


2012-11-14 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

TY. I think the thing that puts me off most is that LP found it suspicious, and when I followed up with the LP detective I originally dealt with, his reaction was that they didn't have enough to stop her card now, but they'd be looking for her because "She'll be back and do it again and will eventually get caught."

I know I didn't say all of that in here, but I DID essentially say that LP was in agreement with me.

But of course everyone here knows FAR better than our LP staff and me, who was there. *shrugs*

(no subject) - ancara_iiii, 2012-11-15 12:45 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 12:53 am (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 01:32 am (UTC)(Expand)
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(no subject) - rainbowxgeek, 2012-11-15 08:54 pm (UTC)(Expand)


2012-11-15 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)

(There were too many individual comments I wanted to post this to.)


2012-11-15 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)

I know nothing about US phone numbers, but this comic came to mind!


2012-11-15 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Both returns would have flagged the whole grab and return scenerio for me too - there are just too many things in the process that are wrong. You could expect a few of those things to happen,but for all of them in one transaction?


2012-11-15 08:27 am (UTC) (Link)

I probably would've been suspicious as well! I work customer service at a grocery version of a big department store and people try that crap with us all the time. For a while a guy would come in and return toothpaste all the time, just enough to be under the $10 limit of tracking his ID number, until we got okay to block all his returns. He still tries it occasionally when he sees someone new at the counter.

We've also had to start blocking returns for anything from the pharmacy side without a receipt. We had a couple coming in all the time returning boxes of condoms for $8 each time, so now we only allow exchanges of similar items.

Of course if you go to the super version of our store, they'll return anything without a second thought as long as you allow them to log your ID.

That said, I could see someone giving someone an item for a 2 year old at a baby shower. But the kid was already 5 months old, and your store only recently started carrying the coat. And as was said by many people who were against you, babies grow quickly and you never know what size a baby will be at what time... so why would you get them a COAT that's too big when it could easily be SUMMER at the time the baby might wear it?
My daughter was a winter baby, but wore 18 months at 12 months, and 24 months at 18 months. So if someone had gotten her a 24 months coat, assuming she'd wear it when she's 24 months old, it would've fit her in the Summer of 2005. Granted, not everyone might think like that, or that far ahead and just think it was cute, but it just doesn't make sense to me.
It probably wouldn't have been enough for me to block the return though, unless I knew her to be a repeat offender. Might still call a manager, like you did, so if it did turn up bad I could say "He said to do it.".


2012-11-15 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

I wouldn't blame you for being suspicious of this return. I found when people just offered up these elaborate stories about why they don't need those items anymore when I didn't ask, they were usually stolen items.


2012-11-17 12:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Not surprising. Generally, when people are lying, they talk too much/give 'too many details'. The theory being it doesn't sound credible to THEM (because they know it's a lie) so they offer more info than is needed.


2012-11-16 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, at least LP has her info now, so if she swipes another coat to return, then they'll catch her.

I feel sorry for the poor kid. We had a shoplifter caught some months back who had a diapered girl toddler. Poor girl's diaper was sopping. The worker who baby-sat the kid, said that the kid went right up to her and let her pick her up and carry her around. I bet the baby doesn't get any attention from mom, so having someone talk to her and hold her was a new novel experience.

Oh, have you ever heard the term 'pinching the baby'? When someone's kid is crying, one jokes that they must be pinching the baby. A co-worker introduced me to this idea.

Well, there was a bit on the news about a 'ring' of shoplifters. One usually has a baby and will pinch the poor kid to make it cry (and thus distract the workers) while the other steals. (The local news had a clip of this from a security camera.) I told the co-worker about this. She had no idea people really would pinch a baby to make it cry.


2012-11-17 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)

We apparently (I didn't see it, but heard through the grapevine) has someone with a toddler who was doing a grab and run. Problem is, they decided to "run" after we'd locked the exterior doors. Needless to say, she got caught.

And jfc, PINCHING A BABY??? people are fucking sick.