The worst refund policy any store/company can have is a “No Refund Policy”. I do not mean no refunds for things like underwear, and other hygienic items, but no refunds period. No 7-14 days in which a customer can change their mind about a product, no hope of getting money back, and no hope for the store of seeing your face again. You got it, you paid for it, and you have to keep it and that settles it.
That is the trouble I have been happening with a company called Trade Secrets. Trade Secrets is a company that sells hair, make up, and other beauty products in Canada. They have both stores and salons to sell their wide variety of products. According to their “About Us” page on their website:
Since 1990, Trade Secrets | Glamour Secrets have been at the forefront of offering cutting-edge beauty trends to consumers at competitive prices. Whether you’re looking for Salon Professional flat irons or blow dryers, hair care products suited to your individual needs, or the latest shades of nail polish and cosmetics, you’ll find them all at http://www.tradesecrets.ca and our Retail Locations. Every salon is unique and offers a variety of services for your beauty needs.
Unfortunately for me, every salon and retail store does not allow for refunds. Furthermore, some of the people who work there are not as familiar with what customers are actually looking for as the about us page implies. Hence why I am going to tell my story with the help from my Twitter account. Note: I am about to complain about a company. If you’re sick of blog articles like this, I suggest scrolling to another blog article now.
On May 22, 2016 I was shopping at an outlet in Toronto for a hairdryer brush. These brushes allow me to dry and straighten my hair faster than if I had to use a round brush in one hand, and the hair dryer in the other. Furthermore, because I travel a lot, I was hoping to find a hair dryer brush that was dual voltage. Visiting my brother in Australia is no easy feat, especially when I need to have appliances that can be plugged into different outlets all over the world.
Thinking I had what I was looking for, I took it up to the cash because it had no price. I asked for the price and said to the cashier explicitly was looking for a dual voltage blow dryer brush for 3 years to travel with. The cashier gave the price, which was $80 before taxes, and did not hint that I might be looking for a different product so I decided to process the purchase. The first blunder was she did not tell me that I had the wrong item, even though I explicitly told her what I was looking for. Her second blunder was she didn’t tell me I can’t get a refund on it.
Happily thinking I had the right brush, and could give my mom my old one, I brought it home, plugged it in, and turned it on and no air came out. A bit frustrated after numerous times trying to get it to work, I realized it either wasn’t working or wasn’t what I wanted
Figuring if I brought with me the receipt I could take it back, I went to the outlet store that is actually closest to me: a city in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) called Burlington, as I live in Mississauga, to return my purchase with the original packaging and the receipt. The lady at the cashier at the store in Mississauga store said I couldn’t return it because of their no refund policy. Furthermore, I could not exchange it for a store credit, never mind the item I actually wanted, because I did not purchase it there.
Frustrated, I went to my favourite place to complain: Twitter. Not only can I directly contact the company, but I can do so publicly so customers are alerted to the fact that Trade Secrets doesn’t have a refund policy. To their credit, their social media personnel did reply to my complaint right away and they have been the only representative of the company that actually wants to see me again.
I agreed to their request to continue the conversation in a PM, and explained to the representative what was troubling me. Because my shopping trip coincided with the long weekend I had to wait until Tuesday to get a reply from the management. I gave them the product information, store information, and agreed to be patient for an answer. Since I did have positions in customer service prior to this, I chose to remain patient since I know those jobs can be the most unforgiving in the world.
My patience did not really pay off, though. Instead of hearing back on Tuesday, I did not get a call back from the management until Thursday. In between, I poked the Twitter representative on Wednesday alerting them to the fact my patience was beginning to wane. Naturally, I was a little upset as to the fact I was kept waiting for at least an answer. However, I tried to remain as calm as I could, especially after the rep told me, “We do not offer refunds, as it states at the cash.”
Person, I do not appreciate you implying that I am stupid. If it was clearly stated at the cash area, I would not have brought it up. It was not clearly marked, and the cashier did not inform me of it. Worst of all, as I said above, she didn’t even caution me this might not be the hair dryer I’m looking for. If she did and if the signage clearly said “no refunds,” I would not have bought the product. Instead I would have kept looking.
Poking and prodding the twitter beast resulted in getting a call on Thursday from the management. The woman I spoke with said the Burlington Store should have allowed me to exchange the product for a different one. However, their no refund policy is clearly stated all over the cashier area. She also promised she would look into it for me and see about finding the product I was actually waiting for. Along with the phone call back, their social media representative on Twitter promised to get in touch with me by the Friday of that week to see if the issue was resolved.
If you are thinking if they did get it resolved, and followed up in a timely manner, I would not be writing this blog article you are correct. Instead I didn’t get a reply back from their twitter rep until May 30. They asked if it got resolved, I told them no. There was no reply from them until I poked their public Twitter page again telling their customers to not buy products from Trade Secrets, and stating their customer service leaves much to be desired.
The above paragraph happened yesterday. They replied to me today through Twitter and via a direct message. This direct message I will post here:
From our understanding, when you spoke to customer service they have explained about our no refund policy. We also have this stated at the registers. As I understand this isn’t a product that you wanted in the first place and x amount of days have gone past I will contact the store personally and speak to the manager myself and let them know about this situation and see what can be done in that matter.
As for the customer service manager saying she will look into the product you’re looking for, unfortunately, we don’t have the computer systems that tell us which store specifically have something in their stores. We are both corporate and franchised, so each store either carries different items depending on their store volume and customer base. We are currently updating our systems within the next few months to hopefully resolve this issue.
But as I mentioned previously, as nothing has been resolved, I would like to resolve this issue as best as I can…can you tell me what you bought specifically (if there is a code on your receipt, product name and price), please let me know what it says. And you did explain you were looking for a dual voltage blow dry brush, I want to make sure this is something we carry, so if you could explain a little further, what results, type, etc. you’re looking for I will look into this for you and get back to you before the end of the day today to see what we could do for you.
We are sorry about all the inconvenience this has caused you, truly!
Hmmm… Not the version they told me over the phone. Their understanding is incorrect, and as a result it is not so easy for me to exchange it now because it has been over 14 days. Now the rep is going to try and find the right appliance, and if it cannot be found then they will talk to management about a means to get around their no refund policy that would in theory satisfy me.
Know what would satisfy me? Getting my $80 back at least for the run around this has pulled me through, and the higher ups seriously consider their no refund policy. I can understand them not wanting to refund things like shampoos, but this is a hair appliance I didn’t even have for a couple of hours. Not only should it be able to be refunded, but I should not have to chase them down in order to get some answers. It makes me wonder has things are communicated through the company, and how it is their understanding of a situation being resolved never actually gets to the customer who brings the situation to them.
What is most ironic about this story is we live in a communication saturated culture: Phones, text messages, email, social media, direct messages, and more make it so easy for us to communicate with one another. Yet, here I am writing about a story where clearly behind the scenes communication broke down. As a result I am short $80, and the Twitter representative looks like a fool (I say look like a fool, because they are the only diligent Trade Secrets rep in this tale).
All I can say in closing is hopefully my next blog article will be me telling you all how the situation got resolved. Instead of you know me ranting about how I will not be getting my money back and I am stuck with a brush that is useless to me.