For those of you not familiar with the chain store, “Dollar Tree”, every item in the store is ONE DOLLAR. It is the place to buy disposable party goods and as a party planner extraordinaire, I am often in DT for paper plates and plastic cups.
Years ago when they first started, they didn’t even have a bar code system. If you had 10 items, they punched 10 X $1 into the register and lo and behold, you owed them $10 plus tax.
Then they got all modern and fancy with this new thing called “bar codes.” Now, every item is actually scanned and in theory this allows them to have better control of their inventory.
Dollar Tree has a no-return, exchanges-only policy, which is fine by me, ‘cause I can always find something else that I can’t live without at Dollar Tree. So for YEARS, I would walk in with say, three items, lay them up by the register and go off into the stacks to find three different items.
I’ve never needed a receipt. Why would you? Everything costs the same. And you are taking $3 worth of items and returning $3 worth of items. Everybody wins!
So, after being overly ambitious in planning my New Year’s Eve party, I realized that I had six packages of un-used, un-opened party hats, horns and balloons. And these weren’t seasonal items, but regular birthday stuff that they carry year-round.
So I take the stuff up to the cow at the register and say, “I’d like to exchange these six items, please.” While continuing to scan the customer’s items in front of her, never looking up or making eye contact, she growled, “gotta receipt?” “No,” I said. “Gotta have a receipt,” Heifer (not her real name) said.
“You can’t exchange these without a receipt?” I said. Heifer shook her wide burly head, “no.”
So I shamble out of the store, head down, clutching my multi-colored party favors, that don’t seem so festive now, only to spin on my heel and go back up to Heifer and say, “Can I see a copy of your return policy, please?” I glanced around as I asked and did not see it posted anywhere.
Without speaking, or making eye contact, Heifer handed me a discarded receipt flipped over to show me the back, where I carefully read that exchanges were allowed only with a receipt. Which is funny that the only place this information is listed is on the receipt, which if you don’t have, then you can’t know the policy, now can you?
So off I go again, defeated. I pull out of their parking lot, do a U-turn, and go back in for the third time. Heifer sighs loudly as I ask to speak to a manager. Never looking up or making eye contact, she screams over her shoulder, “Lurlene!” I nearly jump out of my skin.
So, when I explain to Lurlene (not her real name) that I have exchanged items without a receipt for years at Dollar Tree stores all over the country, I’m told that they “just had a conference call about this yesterday.” That they are “cracking down on the policy” but in this one instance she will let me slide. So when I point at that a receipt shouldn’t really be necessary because they know how much I paid for each item (since everything is a dollar, get it?), I’m told, “it’s for inventory.”
Which is a stupid answer, from a stupid woman, but then what would you expect from someone named “Lurlene.”
They can scan each returned and exchanged item, without a receipt, and their precious inventory is still intact. The only way a receipt helps with inventory in this instance is to prove that I actually paid for the items. So basically, you’re now saying, you have to make sure I’m not a thief.
Far be it from me to be the voice of reason here, but riddle me this – if I were going to steal six things from Dollar Tree, wouldn’t I steal six things that I NEED? And if I over-stole more than necessary in my ambitious party-planning, and needed some additional items for my daughter’s birthday party, well, Good Lord, why wouldn’t I just come in and steal those too? I mean, for Pete’s Sake, if I am going to steal from Dollar Tree as a general rule, why would I bother with all this “exchange” nonsense in the first place? Oh, I’m sorry. Did I just make sense?
So I go get my exchanges for the birthday party and triumphantly make Heifer ring them up. As she scanned the items, I noticed I had picked up two packages of disposable sauce cups, but they were two different sizes. I told Heifer to go ahead and ring up two of the one that I needed and I would go back and get it.
When I go back into the aisle, I discover they do not have a second package of sauce cups in the right size, so I settle on another item. I dutifully stand in their hellish check-out line for five minutes, since I know with their new attentiveness to inventory; they are going to want to scan the exact item I am taking. When I explain to Heifer that I am getting something other than what I just paid for – and here’s the funny part – I can’t find the receipt that she had just given me! – she grumbles, “Go on, you already paid for it. It don’t matter.” And then she looks at me, for the first time, like I am the one who is dense.
So all that drama, and now their inventory says they have one more package of Dixie cups on the shelf than they actually do.