but it’s the principle… (a.k.a., I have become a tightwad)

Last weekend, I returned a pair of shoes to DSW. I bought them several weeks ago but haven’t found the opportunity to wear them, and after trying them on again at home after seeing them sit in their box for weeks, I realized they weren’t really comfortable nor worth my money. (I have gotten much better at evaluating my purchases lately and figuring out if I will really wear something enough to justify the purchase.) While said shoes (sandals) were only $34.95, it was still $34.95 that I didn’t need to be without.

Let me just say, I love DSW, and I buy most of my shoes there. They always have what I’m looking for, great prices, and I like that all of their stock is out on the floor for the customers to see — I loathe shoe stores where I have to ask for my size and wait for someone to bring them for me and then proceed to watch me like a hawk as I make my decision. I also wear a very common size (7.5 or 8) that is often sold out, but DSW always has a plethora of shoes in my size.

So anywho… I ventured to my local DSW to return my shoes. I presented my receipt like a good little customer and told the sales clerk that I would like to return the shoes — one of three pairs on the receipt. I am a DSW Premier Rewards member, and I had used a $10 off rewards certificate for my purchase. The clerk proceeded to tell me that since the rewards certificate amount had been split up amongst the three pairs of shoes ($3.27 was deducted from the cost of the pair I was returning), I would be getting back $31.68, instead of $34.95, the full amount that the shoes cost. I said okay, but then had a second to think about it and realized something was off.

I said to her, “Wait — I would have received $10 off my total purchase whether I got one pair of shoes or three pairs of shoes. Why wouldn’t I get the full amount of those shoes back when it wasn’t a percentage discount, but a dollar discount off of my full purchase?”

She took a second and then said, “Well, I could do that, but I’d just have to adjust the pricing of the other shoes.” I don’t really know what she meant, but I figured if it was possible, then yes, I’d like that option. I didn’t really understand why she didn’t do this in the first place, seeing as it is sort of her job… but whatevs. It probably took an extra 10 seconds of her time but I left there with the full refund for $34.95 credited to my debit card. It felt like a small victory.

The old me would not have cared about a $3.27 difference, but I’ve gotten a lot stingier smarter with my cash these days and I really value every dollar. I’ve also gotten a lot pickier with how retail stores run their businesses; although I love DSW, I was a little annoyed that it wasn’t clear to the sales clerk right away that I should receive the full amount of those shoes back. (And no, she wasn’t new — I recognized her and she has probably worked there for at least a year or so.) The old me would have felt like I was inconveniencing the clerk and I would have just let her do whatever she wanted to do, but now I don’t let little things like that slip by me.

Mostly, it was the principle of it that made me adamant about receiving the full refund. Because if they pull one over on me, how many other people are they doing the same thing to? How much money are retailers making off of the ignorance of their customers? And if customers are, indeed, ignorant, does that give reason for them to be cheated out of money that is rightfully theirs?

Have you ever had a similar experience? Did you feel like it was a small victory even though it was only a few bucks saved?


  1. I would have done the same thing for sure! My favorite is when you have a purchase under $100 and have a $10 reward card (say at Banana Republic, where I usually do) and they are running a 10% off promotion. They always ask if you want to use the $10 card or get 10% off. Do customers really not know what is the better deal in that situation?

  2. I feel the same way as you do – not that I've got stingier, just a little smarter (hopefully!) with where my dollar goes. Having worked in retail for a considerable percentage of my life, I used to always dread having to bring something back or ask for a refund, as I felt I was inconveniencing the assistant and would then over-compensate by going with whatever they told me they could do, rather than what I thought would be right.

    Nowadays I just speak up and let them know if it makes better sense to do something a different way, and try to keep the kind/firm balance rather than trying too hard to make the shop assistant's life easier, after all, it's their job! Good on you for being on the ball.

  3. Linda, I thought of the exact same post. It seems like I have to work hard at making sure that I'm not getting the short end of the stick in terms of customer service. You would think that people would be working harder these days to keep business, especially on things that aren't really essentials (sorry, DSW — I love you, but I don't consider new shoes as essential as I once did). I don't know. It's frustrating.

  4. The same thing happens if you use a $10 or $20 coupon at Banana Republic or Gap. Since I have a Gap card, I get rewards that I can use at either store (or Old Navy.) Rewards are given based on accumulated points, and I almost spend enough to get a rewards card in each monthly statement! I actually found out that if you are using your Gap/Banana card and are returning something that was purchased with rewards, it knows how many rewards dollars were used on that item and it gets credited back to your points balance on your statement. So, if I used a $10 rewards card to buy a $25 item and then returned it, I would only get $15 back that day (since that's how much I paid for it) but I would get sent a new $10 rewards card with my next statement to make up for the one that was used and then "un-used" by the return. I don't know if DSW works the same way, but I was comforted to know that I wasn't missing out on my free cash!

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