Rudeness? Boorish behavior? Surliness? Let’s hear about it!
Updated: February 15, 2012 3:51PM
DEAR READERS: Have you ever had a weird experience with an inexplicably rude merchant or service person?
We at Fixer HQ have heard all kinds of stories about rudeness over the years. Most of the time, there’s nothing we can fix — unless a personality transplant would help.
One reader told of a restaurant that would not let her use its bathroom — even after she sat down and bought a muffin and coffee.
Another reader said that when she went to get her coat out of storage this winter, the owner — whose storage business she had patronized for many years — suddenly added a phantom charge of $100 for an alteration. When she inquired, the owner told her to “shut up.”
Maybe the guy’s dog died that morning, but yikes. That reader told us she left that store feeling utterly humiliated and vowing to never return again. The sales staff was no help; they just stood there sheepishly, eyes to the floor.
Some consumers speak up about rudeness, but it’s not like you can take someone to small claims court for being a jerk. We have found some comfort at RudeBusters.com, a website dedicated to resurrecting civility in daily life.
So, dear readers, what’s the most incomprehensibly rude thing that’s ever happened to you as a consumer? Did you speak up or did you quietly decide to never use that business again?
The Fixer would like to hear your stories, so please vent to us by emailing email@example.com (please include “BAD MANNERS” in the subject line). Thanks!
Dear Fixer: With winter finally here, I was reminded of my need for new tires. I searched the Web and was delighted to see a deal that was too good to be true: tires for $12.50 each! It was on Walmart.com, a huge company known for its deep discounts. Maybe, I thought, this is some special deal and I am the lucky one.
I must admit, the thought that this could be a mistake did cross my mind — but I figured either way, they would have to honor the price. So, I made a purchase that day, Jan. 14, for eight tires. The order went though. I was elated and felt that the universe was on my side. Hours later, I checked the site and the price was still $12.50 and even hours more it was still that price. I received an email that day confirming my order.
A day later, the price went up to $135. Then, on Jan. 17, I got an email saying my order had shipped. I figured they would have to honor an order that was paid for and shipped.
Later on Jan. 17, I got emails saying my order was “lost or damaged” and they were processing a refund. It is clearly a lie that the order was “lost or damaged.”
I complained, and they said there is a disclaimer that states they can do whatever they want with an order made on their site. However, there is no box to check at the time of purchase or any clear wording that there is a disclaimer.
Dear Karim: Sometimes a company doing the legal thing and a company doing the right thing aren’t the same. Luckily in your case, Walmart ended up doing right by you (we’ll get to that happy resolution in a moment). But first, a word about pricing errors and what a consumer can expect.
Most websites have language buried in their “terms and conditions” that lets them off the hook in case of a pricing error. And this makes sense. A couple years ago, some hapless soul at Best Buy accidentally posted $9.99 as the price of a 52-inch HDTV. You can imagine the pandemonium as online shoppers bought scores of these TVs — regularly priced at about $1,600 — in hopes of selling them for big bucks elsewhere. Best Buy canceled the purchases and refunded the money, arguing that it was obviously a pricing error.
And we have to say, it’s kind of uncool for consumers to snap up an obvious error like that to try to make a profit.
Your case was a little less clear. For comparison, The Fixer once took a pair of jeans to a store register, expecting to pay the posted price, when the register rang them up as $1.50. Yes, a dollar fifty — they were on some super clearance because they weren’t being stocked anymore.
Tires for $12.50 is definitely more plausible than a $1,600 television for 10 bucks.
Also bothersome was the email claiming your order was “lost or damaged” when that didn’t seem to be the case.
We took your problem to Walmart’s PR people, not really knowing what to expect. They said that when the mistake was discovered and your order canceled, someone accidentally coded the cancellation as “lost in transit.” That’s why you got that puzzling email. The good news is they agreed to honor the $12.50 price by sending you two Walmart gift cards totaling $828, which you can use to purchase the tires at the current price.
Dear Fixer: Do you have any idea when the first shredding event might be held this year?
Dear Karen: You and others wanting to get a jump on spring cleaning and keep your old, unwanted documents safe from the prying eyes of identity thieves are in luck: Glenview State Bank is holding the first of four free events from 9 a.m. to noon April 14 at 800 Waukegan Road in Glenview. More info is at gsb.com.
There’s also the big free shredding event and electronics recycling at the United Center each June. Check chicagoshreds.com and this column for more info as we get closer to summer.
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