Prior to the career I have now, I worked in retail for many, many years so I know that return policies are really a pain in the behind for most employees because customers always want to do something, like get their money back, even if it means not following the return policy. Because of my retail experience, I really do feel for retail employees. They go through a lot of bad apples in a day and for very little pay!

I am also very mindful of return policies. I don’t try to go around them. If I lost my receipt, I lost it. My problem, nothing I can do. If it is past the 30 day mark, well then I am out of luck. Target’s return policy is one of the strictest so I know I need to watch what I purchase there and if I even think I might return something I keep my receipt.

For Christmas I bought Betsy a 7″ Sylvania Netbook from CVS. It was the worst piece of technology I have used in a long time. See my review here. So, yesterday, it was decided that I would return it, but I had lost the receipt. Because I am not familiar with CVS’ return policy I called the store in which I purchased the Sylvania Netbook. I spoke with Stephanie, the Assistant Manager. She told me that without a receipt, they could only give me store credit. Ok, I understood…completely…and would have been fine with that.

But then she suggested I call Customer Service because since I used my CVS CareCard (a card to keep track of purchases, get discounts, extracare bucks, etc) they could possibly look up my purchase and I could get my cash back. SCORE! I was stoked! So, I called Customer Service and spoke with a man (forgot his name) and he looked up my purchase and told me he found it and it showed I paid by debit card. Now, I am super happy! He asked if I wanted a copy of it and I said yes!!! Then he said, “Oh, but this is only for your records. You cannot use it to return anything.” Huh?

So I said, “You mean to tell me, that you can see that I purchased with a debit card, you know I did, and if I take that to the store I can’t get my cash back?” He said “No, you need the original receipt.”

So I am thinking, wow, that is kind of shady. They can see how I purchased it, have proof how I purchased it, but won’t give me my money back? That is ridiculous. Then why would they keep those records if the customer could not use them? Finally I essentially said the same thing to him. And I also said that if he could not do anything I would like to speak with his manager.

He told me he would call the store and see what he could do. When he came back on the line he told me that he also spoke with Stephanie and they agreed that I could return the Netbook to CVS and get partial cash back and partial store credit. I was fine with that because I used some ECB Bucks in addition to my debit card in order to make the purchase. I was so happy. I thanked him up and down. Then, Betsy and I proceeded to CVS.

When we got there, Stephanie was behind the counter and when I walked up and told her who I was she immediately brought over the store manager Jeff. Jeff then told me, sorry without a receipt we can only give you store credit.

WHAT??? Customer Service had called and spoke to Stephanie. But more than that, they had PROOF I paid with my Debit Card. It is not like I was trying to pull one over on someone. They had a copy of the receipt in the corporate office!

Essentially, Jeff and I went back and forth for 10 minutes on this. He did not want to give me my cash back. And I respect his need for following the return policy, I really do. But I was told by Customer Service it would be done and like I said previously, they had PROOF of how I paid. If they did not have proof, this would not have been an issue. I would have had to suck it up and been out of luck. I repeated what the customer service rep said to me then Jeff said, no, the customer rep said he did not say that to you. Hmmm…so now, I kind of felt like I was being called a liar.

It was a stand off. I finally said, then have Customer Service fax you my receipt because I paid cash for it. I am not lying, your rep is. Jeff was flustered because he was trying to follow the return policy and I was flustered for having to go through this. And we had a big, big audience…they had to call additional cashiers to the front because my return was causing a huge line to form.

Jeff finally said he would call Customer Service back. After waiting another 10 minutes Jeff came back and refunded my purchase the exact same way the Customer Service rep indicated – part cash, part store credit. Jeff apologized and said he had never done this in 20 years. We were not rude to each other. But that Customer Service Rep left both of us in a bad situation. He told me one thing and lied to the Jeff, the Store Manager. I left with a semi bad taste in my mouth.

I love CVS and do a lot of shopping there. 99.9% of the time I have no need to return items. The one time I need to, it is a fiasco from start to finish.

This is what I think.

Number one, I should have had my receipt. But, because CVS has the ability to look up receipts, they should be able to acknowledge the correct form of payment if a return is ever needed. If they did not have that ability none of this would have been an issue. If they are not going to be able to use the purchase information at all to help a customer, then they should not give that information to their Customer Service Reps.

Number two, the Customer Service Rep should not tell a customer something that is not true. I am not 100% sure of who was not telling the truth, but someone wasn’t.

Finally, I think CVS should really evaluate their return policy. If the corporate offices/customer service have the ability to look up a receipt, then the customer should be able to use it. Do you remember waaaay up above where I said Target had a strict return policy? Well, they do. Very strict. But, they also have the ability to look up a purchase if the purchase was made by debit/credit card. The same as CVS. The difference is, Target acknowledges it, CVS doesn’t.

From now on I will definitely watch what I buy from CVS. The whole situation was definitely disheartening. Yes, I should have kept my receipt. Absolutely. But when I was told by the Asst. Store Manager to call Customer Service and then Customer Service had a copy of my receipt and that he confirmed it would be OK to return, then to have to argue with the Store Manager really left a bad taste in my mouth. It also took two hours of my day. It also put the Store Manager and myself in a bad situation. I just think CVS should take another look at their return policy when receipts can be looked up and printed.

That is my .02 Cents.