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July 14, 2008

Can I return this defective product without a receipt, CVS? (And a note on self-criticism.)

July 13. Day 13.

Emboldened by the Target experience, today I decided to help Mr. A with a similar predicament. The return without a receipt predicament.

A few weeks ago he bought a soft shell cooler from Rite Aid, which tore an hour or so after he started using it. He, too, had misplaced the receipt. Runs in the relationship.

The cashier couldn't do anything, so he called the assistant manager, who explained that without a receipt, the policy was to refund only the clearance price. Mr. A was about to hand him his credit card, when I intervened.

"Just a second," I started. "Couldn't he come back with a credit card bill, or you can check his transaction history? We shop here all the time."

"Sorry, that's against our policy. He needs a receipt."

"I understand that. But, just so you know, many other stores have policies that require a receipt, and they're actually more flexible. Target, CVS, all of them."

"That's not our policy."

"Isn't there someone else around? a manager?" I pressed.

"No. Our policy requires a receipt as proof of purchase."

"Do you seriously think it's appropriate to refund half his money, when your product broke half an hour after he started using it? He can bring you proof of purchase."

"I'm sorry, that's just our policy," he stammered.

"Well, that's an unacceptable policy. Where's your manager?" I asked again.

Mr. A's uncomfortable gaze ricocheted between the manager and me. He doesn't know yet about my daily asking experiment or this blog -- no one does! -- so it must have looked pretty weird to him to see me argue with a manager like that over a cheap piece of plastic.

I backed down.

Gained: Nothing.


First, a revelation -- I think I need to shift my strategy.

The main accomplishment of this project so far appears to be transforming me into a pushy be-yatch. What if I add a new guideline: Asking should escalate. Initially, make the request in a way that makes giving a pleasure. If that doesn't work, then up the ante in terms of aggression. Because I promise, I'm not actually a harpie. I don't enjoy harassing assistant managers at Rite Aid. But here's the deal: You need to practice asking for little things, so when the time comes, you're ready for the major leagues.

Hence these lame "return without receipt" asks.

But wait. Addendum five minutes after posting. Do I need to shift my strategy?

What's wrong with being a pushy, under the right circumstances? Why do I dub myself a bitch, when I'm just asking for what I think is fair and reasonable? And why did I apologize three paragraphs above?

I started off amicably as possible with that manager, and it was reasonable to expect a refund for a defective item, especially with proof of purchase (even if it wasn't a receipt). And then, I simply held my ground. That's it.

So maybe I need to hold off on the self-doubt and recriminations. As the authors of Women Don't Ask point out, those are, typically, female attributes.


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