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Chris, a reader from Columbus, Ohio, knows a good deal
when he finds one. The challenge is that he needs his reading glasses to be
able to spot a good deal close up when shopping.
That's no problem, since he's managed to find a great
deal on reading glasses at the dollar discount store he frequents. There, he
regularly purchases a pair when he needs one. They generally range in price
from $4 to $6.
"I keep the package and receipt in case I need to
return them," writes Chris. "Sometimes the pin will fall out.
Sometimes the lens will fall out or the lens will get scratched."
He maintains he is not a "skinflint" nor does
he want to make waves, but he has regularly returned a pair of glasses for an
exchange if something goes wrong with them.
Over the past several months, Chris says he returned
about six pairs with no problem in making the exchange.
A few weeks ago, however, the dollar store manager told
him enough was enough. The returns are entered onto the cash register, so after
his sixth return, the manager decided to step in and put a stop to it.
Chris explained to the manager that it said right on the
package that the reading glasses are good for one year. Given the inexpensive
nature of the product, Chris wonders whether he was in the wrong for trying to
return glasses for a new pair when something went wrong with them.
Granted, the dollar store may be banking on the fact that
by charging such a low price for its reading glasses that readers will be more
likely to purchase a new pair if something goes wrong than to ask the store to
make good on its returns policy. (I suspect that I'm not alone in purchasing
several pairs at my local discount store so that at any given time I have a
half dozen or so lying around in case one is lost or broken.)
But as long as whatever goes wrong with his reading
glasses is based on regular wear and tear, Chris is doing nothing wrong by
seeking a replacement. If there are no stipulations on the package about how
often the reading glasses can be returned, or anything about the returns being
based on a store manager's discretion, then the right thing is for the store to
honor its return policy and give Chris a replacement without moaning about how
often he has made such a return in the past.
The challenge for the consumer when purchasing such
low-cost glasses is that the quality is likely not to be great and regular
breakage may not be all that uncommon. It can be a hassle and a waste of
resources to continue to have to replace the reading glasses. The challenge for
the store is that if it is going to sell things that are cheaply made and offer
a money-back guarantee on those products, then the store's management needs to
honor that commitment regardless of how few customers take advantage of it.
It takes a shortsighted manager to try to make a customer
feel guilty for taking advantage of the store's own policy.