“You want to return how many towels?” the displeased clerk at Sears asked. I uttered, “27,” without moving my lips, hoping this would lessen the impact.
Apparently this had no effect. She gave me a triple ‘I can’t believe it eye-roll’ before she even looked at the paperwork. I looked around for a chair. I knew I was going to be there awhile; she, however, had not a clue what lay ahead. Now I had to tell her:
• I had already washed them. All of them.
• I purchased them through a sister source: Lands End
• No, I didn’t want another color or a credit. I wanted my money back.
I knew when the chirpy Lands End consultant told me I needed to return my defective batch of RED RUNNING towels to the closest Sears that I was in for trouble.
Thus, the Johnson towel saga begins. A small crowd of onlookers began forming as I described in detail the pink hue everything in my home had taken on since the towels arrived. She suggested I wash them separately the first time. I looked at her as if she just landed from the moon.
I gripped the counter as I explained, “Something is wrong with these towels. After six washings, a river of red continues to stream out of my washing machine. Although I recognize I look like I’m eighteen years old attempting my first batch of laundry, I assure you, I’m quite familiar with the ins and outs of laundry separation.”
I caught the eye of a woman in the crowd- she gave me a thumbs up of encouragement. With a renewed sense of purpose, I placed my ‘ace in the hole’ on the counter: my packing slip from Land’s End stating across the bottom:
Customer Service Satisfaction Guaranteed. Period.
As my cheerleaders looked on, she scanned the first item from the packing slip. Nothing. She rescanned. Again. And again. As she is carrying this out, I thought maybe I should get Lands End on my cell phone, you know so they could walk her through this process.
As if she could read my mind, she looked straight at me and said, “This is not going to work.” I looked at her. She looked at me. The crowd shifted. Hey I lived with a cop. I knew to keep quiet; I was not leaving the store with 12 red bath towels, 12 wash cloths and 3 hand towels. I had a vested interest in this chess match.
She caved. With agitation clear in her tone, she called for a supervisor to her kiosk. Out of nowhere she startled me exclaiming, “You know what they’re going to do with these towels, don’t you? They’re going to put them on the clearance table for sale.” I asked simply, “ Are you going to warn customers that they run?” She laughed and looked at me without answering.
Murmurs moved through the crowd in anticipation of my next move. I told myself, if the manager wasn’t there in 5 minutes, I was leaving. I planned to take my red bundle to the post office and ship it to Lands End directly. Damn the cost. I am in “the good years” of my life (isn’t that what they say in the commercials?) I don’t need to spend my day with this woman.
Suddenly, the crowd opened up; the manager walked up to the counter. She did not look happy about the ‘sit-in’ at the kiosk. Her body language screamed this as she tersely asked what the problem was. In less than two minutes, the first towel was scanned and my account was credited. I smiled.
The clerk said, “You mean I have to ring these individually? That’s like 30 items.” The look on the manager’s face sent a chilling wave over the crowd. “Yes, that’s right.” She turned to me, “Mrs. Johnson, I’m so sorry you had so much trouble with these towels. Your account will be credited for the full amount. Please know we always want our customers satisfied.”
To say Miss Priss was seething was well, lower than an understatement. Thirty minutes later, I walked away, with the credit without the red towels.
I do admit I look for the red towels on the clearance table when I go into Sears with LT.
So far, nothing.