“The Customer Is Always Right” Is Not True
Entitled and obnoxious customers have always been a thing, but now with the internet, especially social media, there is more and more footage of their horrific public freak outs for the whole world to see. And in no time, the internet has created a name for those types of individuals – the “Karens”. Dun dun dunn.
Unfortunately, the majority of their freak out moments are in stores and restaurants, creating unnecessary mayhem for the employees. With first-hand experience and exposure to media, everyone in the customer service industry is fully aware of them and what they’re capable of. So it’s no wonder why fewer employees are tolerating their nonsense and standing by the motto, “The customer is always right.” Because, as everyone should know, these Karen customers are as far from being right as we are from Pluto. And yes, Earth is incredibly far from this dwarf planet.
Our pal, “Matt” would concur. He had worked an X amount of years at the Customer Service desk for his department store, so he’s had his fair share of Karens. However, there was one he would never forget. Knowing the store had a strong “Yes, we can” policy, this Karen tried to take full advantage of it and get her stuff for free. You see, this policy was where employees were trained to say yes to whatever customers wanted; under no circumstances were employees to say “No, I can’t do that.”
Their default behavior was to do anything possible to accommodate the customer, and she was fully aware, but Matt saw right through her conniving lies. When she realized things weren’t going her way or as she expected, that was when her default behavior was to become a full-on Karen. And let’s just say, that never leads to a good outcome for either party.
A Simple Exchange Of A Bedding Set Or So He Thought
Anyone who has worked in customer service understands that not every day is the same. There are the good days, and then there are the awful days where you despise everyone in sight. However, on this particular day, everything was going smoothly for Matt. His line had a short wait period, and no major issues occurred. Maybe today was going to be a good day for him. Just as the thought crossed his mind, a lady approached his desk.
Her request seemed simple – she was returning a bedding set she had purchased in exchange for a different color. No biggie, this was a daily transaction.
Matt said, “No problem, I can definitely help you with that. Can I see your receipt?”
She said, “Yes, I have it right here.”
This department store, and like many others, had countless use of discounts, coupons, and even store cash. So when it came to a return or an exchange, employees had to thoroughly review the receipt for any possible discounts used on the customer’s original purchase. And taking excellent customer service up a notch, employees had to figure out the best way possible to preserve the same price for the exchange as to the original purchase. You can say it’s a bit tedious, but Matt was an expert in his area.
Matt said, “Ok, so you have two options. You can do an even exchange at any register, but only if both items are exactly the same price. This is the simplest transaction, and it will preserve all of the discounts you got on your original purchase, as well as the store cash you earned that day. But I know that in the bedding department, there aren’t typically very many things with the exact same price point, so more than likely, you’ll need to come back here to do it as a refunded purchase. I’m happy to take care of both parts of that transaction here if you don’t find an item that qualifies for an even exchange. In order to leave both options available to you, I won’t do anything with your return item just yet. Go ahead and find the new item you want to get, and then, if you do find a same-price item, you can go to any checkout. Otherwise, you can come back here and I’ll take care of you.”
It was as simple as that and the lady nodded her head throughout his spiel as if she understood. She nodded one last time before heading to the bedding department with her original bedding set.
After a few minutes, she came back with a different bedding set. And just like earlier, she handed him the receipt of the original purchase in hopes of an exchange, but this time she was missing something. She didn’t have the original bedding set in her hands, only the new one.
Anyone in sales knew, at this point, there was no way he could proceed with the transaction unless he had the original item present. Confused about what happened to it, Matt asked, “Ok, and the item you’re returning?”
Now, this was when things started to go downhill – what seemed to be a simple transaction was actually the quite opposite.
Where Did The Bedding Set Go?
I’m not one who returns a lot back to stores, but I think it’s self-explanatory in order to do an exchange, you must have the receipt and the product. So it was a bit odd for her to return from the bedding department without the original bedding set. What was she thinking?
In response to his question concerning the set, she glanced at the receipt and pointed at it, saying, “It’s on the receipt, right there.”
Matt said, “Ma’am, I still need the original item in order to process this as an exchange.”
She said, “You mean I have to go back out there and haul that thing back up here again? But it’s so heavy! Have one of your associates bring it up.”
He replied, “Well, you would still have to go back there too since you know where you actually put it.”
She said, “I put it on the shelf, where it goes. But the numbers are right there on the receipt.”
Matt said, “Yes, but I would still have to actually take the item you’re returning from you, in order to apply its refund value towards the other item you’ve selected.”
At this point, it was clear she was becoming irritated.
She raised her voice, “But I already put it back! Why can’t you just use the numbers off of the receipt?”
He carefully explained, “Because, if I did that, without actually taking the item back, what’s to stop someone from just saying they put an item back, in order to get a refund for something they didn’t actually return?”
By breaking it down to her, he hoped it would relieve the tension in the air and provide some clarity to the confusion she had. Maybe this was her first exchange at the store and was honestly confused? Maybe she was just lazy and was doing all in her power to not have to walk back to get the item? But, by no means, was he implying anything else. It was just protocol to have the item in hand. However, this lady didn’t see it that way. What was once a confused lady quickly turned into a Karen. And things only escalated from here.
She Went “Karen” Mode
It seemed like the lady only heard what she wanted to hear and took what Matt actually said out of context. She didn’t perceive what he said as him helping her, but instead him accusing her of something.
With her face now red, she snapped, “This is RIDICULOUS! I didn’t come here to be accused of STEALING! How dare you! You know what, I don’t need this or this tacky bedding set. Here, take it!”
She then pulled the ultimate Karen move and proceeded to throw the bedding set across the counter at him before storming out. It happened so fast, Matt didn’t know how to react, but even if he did, it was too late. With a blink of an eye, she was out of the store. Where was that energy at when asked to retrieve her bedding set from the shelves? This had Matt thinking.
Was she really this confused ol’ lady who didn’t know how an exchange worked or only portrayed as one to pull a fast on him? When she realized he was going to make her retrieve her so-called bedding set, she knew she was in hot waters. She resorted to her true self and thought if she raised her voice or twisted his words, she would manipulate him into backing off. But little did she know, he didn’t tolerate nonsense.
As soon as she left, Matt notified his manager, “Carol” of the Karen breakout. Now, Carol had a real talent when it came to shoplifters. She could tell by a mile away if someone was up to no good; it was all about their body language. Each week she would catch up to four to five shoplifters. But since she wasn’t there to witness the fiasco, she honestly didn’t know what the lady’s true intentions were. Matt, on the other hand, after gathering what he saw and his experience with shoplifters, his bet was she was indeed a shoplifting Karen. Little did she know, she picked the wrong place and person to try that with.
Even though Carol and Matt had different views on what Karen’s real intentions were, I wonder what others have to say. Let’s check out some online comments and see if they think she was really shoplifting.
One commenter pointed out, “I don’t think she was pulling a fast one on you [Matt]. I think she just genuinely (whether for laziness or lack of strength) didn’t want to carry both of them back up and figured it’d be okay to leave it. What I don’t understand is when you told her to go pick a new one why you didn’t hold her return at the desk for her so she wouldn’t have to lug back and forth through the store? No judgment just seems like that would have been a better game plan than having her carry it through the store.”
Only a small amount of people thought Karen was innocent and had no ill intentions, however, the majority would say otherwise.
One commented, “In my experience, 99.9% of the people who say some variation of this, are in fact, actually trying to steal. They’re just mad they were caught/not getting away with it. And they try to shift blame/anger because of it.”
Another commented, “She probably found a receipt on the ground and wanted a cash refund or a bedding set that was bought by someone else.”
The majority of the internet would agree with Matt, she was in fact trying to steal. And it was also obvious to them she was a total Karen.
One commented, “That store caters to Karen IMO.” Another commented, “I used to talk to a major, whiny Karen on online that complained to me because the store’s policy changed so she couldn’t pull a Karen until the associates would let her use all of her expired store cash.”
The internet has spoken and they are basically calling this lady a Karen shoplifter.
Was She Actually Trying To Steal?
This is a tough one. On one side I think she was just a confused lady who honestly didn’t want to carry two bedding sets and thought the store had some magic power to know which exact one was hers on the shelf. And when she didn’t like the fact that she had to walk back and get it, that’s when she turned Karen. And then on the other side, I think she knew exactly what she was doing when she placed the bedding set back on the shelf. She knew from the beginning she would have to return the original bedding set so why didn’t she get a cart? In that way, she didn’t have to carry both “heavy” sets. Maybe there was a reason why she left it there? Maybe the original set was damaged goods or wasn’t hers, but didn’t want to pay for another at full price. And when she realized her plan wasn’t working in her favor, she used her Karen tactics on him, in hopes he would ignore the story policy and accept the exchange, ultimately stealing money from the store.
There is a lot to unpack here, so I’m going to have to agree with Carol. I don’t know what the lady’s true intentions were. But I want to hear your thoughts. Do you think she was trying to steal?