Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rude Store Owners, and my tips for constructive arguments

I try to support my local economy
but sometimes it makes it hard.
For a long time I didn't want to post about this
But today a friend had a similar experience at this store
I don't think its fair to take advantage of people based on the way that they are dressed, or based on thier age. Just because we are young moms doesn't mean that we are stupid
It doesn't mean that we don't care for our kids
It doesn't mean that we are trying to rip you off when we ask for a refund

I'm a young mom, and I don't have very much money.
So when I buy a toy for my daughter, I try to make sure that its ones that are nice, ones that are free of chemicals, ones that will last a long time and ones that will teach her something, and of course ones that she can actually USE!

The first time I shopped at a Toystore in Sebastopol I LOVED all the products that they had! Lots were wooden, most were safe for my daughter, the store was colorful and it was just two blocks away. I bought my daughter's first Christmas presents entirely at the store in Santa Rosa; they were all wonderful! Great quality, made from good materials and she loved and could play with all of them.

One of the toys that she had received was a duplicate the my mother had sent her, so I went to the store in Sebastopol to return it thinking that it wouldn't matter if I had bought it at the Santa Rosa or the Sebastopol Store. Apparently it did, she told me that since they didn't carry that particular toy at that certain store she couldnt' take it back (all the time in a rude and condecending tone)  Feeling defeated I took it back to the store in Santa Rosa when I asked the lady about this, she told me she had never heard of such a policy. I had lost my recipt, and the woman told me that was no problem that she could just look up the price in the computer. I honestly just figured that it was because I had been wearing sweatpants the last time I went to the store in Sebastopol, I know this is a horrible thing to assume, however I had never been treated so poorly by the employees in Sebastopol before. As unacceptable it is to treat someone poorly because of thier clothes, I have grandmothers and I know how apperance can affect how someone treats you, especially if they are older.  So I brushed it off  to that.
Hmm, well anyway

For Annabella's birthday this year we had moved from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol so we decided to do the majority of her shoppign at the store in Sebastopol, but as soon as I stepped in the store I felt the same  "we don't want you here" vibe from the woman behind the counter. I ignored it but after getting followed around the store and hearing her tell me that my daughter had gotten into something (well obviously lady this is a toy store) I bought a toy so that she wouldn't scream and left.

I brushed off the experience as just that one lady in Sebastopol so I decided not to shop there anymore. I went to finish my shopping at the store in Santa Rosa and even though we spent $150 and nobody bothered to tell us about their points program (mind you I heard them tell everyone else i saw check out about the program except us). I brushed it off because honestly I forgot to ask while we checked out and only rememberd when they offered it to the lady in line after me, but I didn't want to make a fuss, I would sign up next time I was in the store.

Most of the toys that we bought we LOVED, two expensive (but worth it) sets of blocks one with letters and some colored ones for stacking. We also got her a stuffed animal and some other knick nacks that I don't remember. The problem came to the one plastic toy that I bought, I should have went with my instict when it was only about $15 in the store, but It was a hammer and ball set and my baby loves to hit things so I thought it would be perfect. 

That was till her birthday a week later, we opened presents and it was a great time. However, when we tried to open the block set, we realized that she couldn't play with it. The ball was too big to get through the holes! Even Daddy tried and couldn't do it unless he pushed them through with force. Not a toy for a 12 month old as it stated on the box

So I brought it back to the store to return it for a different gift. I should have went to the Santa Rosa first knowing that the lady in Sebastopol already had a bit of a chip on her shoulder towards me, but I figured what were the chances she would be there again? Chances were good.... because there she was eyes locked onto me when I walked into the store. I timidly tried to return it because of the problem and she showed me a tiny rip in the side of the box where I had taken the tape off to open it. She said because of this she couldn't return it for store credit because they couldn't resell it.  Never bothering to ask about the recipt (which I didn't have but based on my previous experience with the company I didn't think it would matter) She then asked me if I could give it as a gift to someone

I explained to her that I'm not in the practice of giving gifts to people that are pieces of junk. She said sorry but she couldn't return it. I asked her to speak with a manager and she told me she was the manager. I left the store with the toy. I called thier location in Santa Rosa asking what the return policy was, and the lady on the phone had obviously already recieved an angry call about me trying to return the toy. I asked her how I could speak to the owner and she told me that the owner was working in Santa Rosa

I thought I would speak to someone who was reasonable, someone who cared about all of thier customers. So I drove over to the Santa Rosa store hoping that I would be working with someone a bit more reasonable as well as someone who I would have a fresh start. As soon as I walked in I knew I was in for trouble, after standing at the counter and being ignored, I finally was able to ask the man behind the counter if he was the owner.

"Yes I'm the owner and I see what you're trying to do" was his first words to me "If the packaged is damaged  then there is nothing I can do"

I showed him the rip and told him that I didn't think that it should matter because the toy didn't work for my daughter which was why I was returning it in the first place. To this he replied

"I'm not going to return that toy for you"

I insisted that he let me show him that the toy was too difficult for a child to work, I took it out of the box on the counter and put the balls in the holes and asked him to try it.

"I won't and I'm not taking it back, your child is too young for that toy"

I explained that the toy said it was for 12months+ on the box, and that my daughter should be able to do it, but that since neither me or her father could get the balls through easily that it must be a defective toy because nobody would make a toy like that.

At this he started snickering and again said "I'm not returning the toy, contact the manufacturer"

I replied "So does this mean that you don't stand behind the products that you sell"

He told me "Ma'am I think you are making this into more then it has to be so I think that you should leave my store"

"Sir I think you are being a little unreasonable"

I guess I could  be making more out of this then it should be, but its quite clear to me that the woman at the store in Sebastopol called the man and complained about me. I'm not exactly sure why that woman hated me so much.

I ended the argument at that, Annabella's father wanted to go back to the store and talk to the guy again, but that never ends productively and since its a kids store and usually filled with children I decided that sending him in there when I knew he would be yelling in front of the kids, wouldn't be the best idea

But to be honest, I was embarrassed at that moment in the  store there, his complete lack of caring about my issue, the fact that he laughed at my complains and totally didn't care. Even though there were other customers in the store is crazy to me. I was proud that I kept my composure, because normally I would have been screaming vulgarities at the guy because the way he treated me was so disrespectful. But I was trying to be the bigger person in the situation and stay calm.

I understand that the  $500 a year I probably spend at this store probably doesn't come close to the thousands that other people spend there a year on their children and grandchildren. But I feel that just because he is blessed with a business that does well doesn't give him the right to treat customers who don't spend that much like they don't matter.

Be warned ladies, be fancy or go home

I think its so important to not get out of hand in a situation like this it gives the other person the power. In the past my way to deal with problems was to scream them out. I would get so frustrated that I wouldn't even know what was happening. And I would do things that I still regret

But what happened to the toy-store kind of changed me; It was great to come out of there feeling like I was the mature one, glad that I didn't say anything that I regretted.  Since then I have been trying some new methods when I get into arguments. These are great for different situations that I get into with people in my life

  • I  breath and remember that by saying negative comments it only brings more negative comments.          
  • I also try to never yell, because once the yelling starts its hard to stop. I'll admit that once the argument goes past a certain point, my voice gets louder and louder but I'm working on it
  • The baby is here: I really don't want Annabella growing up watching me fight with people and thinking that its a productive way to have a discussion when two people disagree.  I have always struggled with this, when I get angry about something I just want to fight and fight and fight. I guess its an internal thing where I think if I fight enough it will change..... I've finally learned that it doesn't, I take a break from the situation and come back to it later. I've also started to realize that how my daughter watches me solve problems is how she will try to solve her problems with me and I really don't want to her to scream at me. I know that words can hurt and that especially in a relationship like  a mother daughter its easy to say awful things in the heat of the moment.  
  • I breath... in and out, loudly a few times or I go outside empty all the air out of my lungs with a huge breath out till I feel like I don't have anymore air, while doing that I imagine that all the unproductive comments and negativity is going too then I  take a DEEEEEEP breath and get fresh clean new air in my lungs, it feels very refreshing
  • If I've taken a break from the argument, I come up with positive solutions to the situation instead of just steaming about how mad I am and thinking of awful things to say and ways to place blame on the other person. 
  • I try to take personal responsibility for my side of the argument. I'll write them down so that I can come back them if I feel myself start to get out of control. It helps me to realize what I'm trying to accomplish rather then fall back to why I'm angry at the person
  • End it, when all else fails and the situation obviously isn't going to get better I stop the argument, I consider myself and my daughter and the safe and smart choices we need to make for today and the future and figure out a sensible, step-by-step path to do what we need to
Needless to say these aren't just things that I've gained from an argument at a toy store, they are just ways that I've recently tried to control my temper with people, and situations that can be hard. 

Dealing with Depression, Anger and Anxiety can be really hard, especially as a new mom who does most of it alone. It seems that once I became one, all my issues had to be dealt with to avoid treating the people I love like crap just because I feel that way.  And trying to do it without taking medications can be even harder,  because I know that while there may be a pill that can make me feel better. I don't feel like being a science experiment until they figure out the one thats right for me!

Well I hope this rambling post was interesting for some of you because I certainly feel much better after writing it!

I apologize about this began about something totally different then what it started as. I'm not going to say the name of the toy-store because I don't want to make it a practice of bashing business on my blog. But I was feeling particularly angry at this store after hearing my friend's story today, and hey thats what a blog is for right??

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