Thursday, March 12, 2009


It seems I can't go anywhere without having some sort of adventure. Some adventures are better than others. The ones I experience too often entail one altercation or another with a store clerk. Such was the case when I went to JoAnn Fabrics on Tuesday.

I went with a happy heart, as I was going to have a fabric "fix". I truly didn't need anything for myself, but my mother had asked me to buy her some flannel and thread, which I did. As those of you who sew know, JoAnn Fabric stores offer discount coupons. That's a good thing, but so many times I'm struck by how limited the discounts actually are. Such was the case on Tuesday.

For once, I was in luck and the plain color flannel Mom wanted was on sale for half the regular price, which had jumped $2.00/yard in December, so it wasn't truly as much of a sale as I would have wished for, but it was discounted, nevertheless. I had a clerk cut the yardage and then looked for thread to match. That's where my luck ran out, since some thread was on sale, but the cotton thread I needed for my mom's projects was not. Then I remembered having coupons for 40% off notions. I asked the person who cut the flannel if thread was considered a notion. I knew full well it should be, but sometimes stores seem to enjoy being picky with customers. I was assured it was indeed a notion and I thought, "I'm in luck afterall!".

I chose the spools of thread I needed and stood at the side of one aisle cutting out eight little 40% off coupons so I'd be "legal" and have one discount coupon per each spool of thread. When it was my turn at the checkout, I had all the flannel and thread lined up and a coupon placed on top of each spool - my attempt at organization. Right away the clerk said, "I can only take one of those coupons". I assured her I had cut out one coupon for each item, as the writing on each coupon instructed. She would not budge, so I asked her to please show me where it was written that she could not honor all the coupons, as long as I had one for each item. Of course she could not produce any such thing. She sputtered for a bit, then said, "It's just our store policy". Well, that could cover a lot of ground, couldn't it?

Even though I was being as patient and polite as I could be, my patience was wearing thin and it was evident I needed some leverage. I decided to simply tell her my story and see if that pursuaded her to allow me to use the coupons and avoid making eight separate trips in and out of the store, which would have been ridiculous. So I began:

"Look, here's my situation...", and I started to explain that Mom is nearly housebound, struggles with dementia, and makes lap robes to donate to nursing homes. I told the clerk that sewing was one of the few activities Mom remembered how to do and it was one that she enjoyed. I added, "Mom told me just this morning how useless she felt and that no one needed her anymore. I thought I should make an effort to help her. All she's asked for is some flannel and matching spools of thread. Can't you please cut me a little slack here?". I continued, "You know I'm in here a lot and I'm trying to keep my mom safe and off the streets". I laughed a little after making such a statement, hoping a tiny bit of levity would go a long way toward melting the woman's heart.

The clerk said, "You know, my dad recently died at the age of 84 and he had Alzheimer's. I had to make sure his car keys were taken away and I know what you're talking about. Sure, you can use all those coupons, but I'll have to ring them up one at a time". Well, I figured that wasn't such a big deal, so I was able to get the flannel for half-price and eight spools of thread for 40% off each one. I sincerely thanked the clerk, but I truly don't think a person should have to pour out her life's story in order to obtain a few ounces of empathy and be able to use the coupons a store offers.

In the end, I was glad I'd kept my wits about me and hadn't embarrassed myself too much. Mom will have what she needs to continue her little mission in life and I felt as if I'd won a battle - for once.


Shellmo said...

Even though that clerk ended up giving you the discount - her actions still bothered me. First off - how does it HURT her to let you use all those coupons? She should have a "customer service" attitude and should've come up with the solution right away to ring them up one at a time instead of thinking of ways to put a customer in their place and just plain being difficult. Also - I know there had to be a manager on duty - I would've asked her to get the manager. Anyways - I'm glad you got your items but I'm upset at the way you were treated.

Kady said...

Shelley, I know you're correct. Customers should not be treated poorly at any time, but I'm afraid this is the case more often than not - or is it just me? I often wonder if I'm being unreasonable or if store employee attitudes have simply changed that much? All in the world I want is to use the discounts offered. I appreciate that you understand......Kady