Tric Kearney: I’m not sure why I’m slow to return goods, but sometimes, even when I do, things go badly

YESTERDAY, I sterilised my kitchen, or at least cleaned it magnificently. While doing so, I found a receipt in a jug, put there two weeks ago and instantly forgotten. It was for runners I’d bought for my daughter’s birthday. She seems to have rare feet as once again they were the wrong size.

Delighted with the prospect of getting my money back I broke into song, only to remember shoe shops’ strange policy, no returns without the box. Unfortunately, that box was in the procession of a pupil in my daughter’s class. Tempted as I was, it would have been wrong to rip out their project and reclaim it.

The too-small runners would just have to join: The shirt which doesn’t fit, but I’d pulled off the tags; the shorts I must have been blind buying; the top I imagined would look like it did on the stick model; the expensive jeans I’ve to be poured into but live in hope one day they’ll fit; and numerous other rejected goods never returned.

I’m not sure why I’m slow to return goods, but sometimes, even when I do, things go badly.

Take the present I’d bought for a friend’s new baby. What was he wearing the day I visited, only the very outfit I’d bought? I said nothing and decided to return it, but only after driving it around in my car for weeks. Finally, I handed it over with the receipt. The assistant looked at the outfit.

“I’m sorry, this is not in a saleable condition,” she said.

My red face lit up the queue.

‘Why not?’

‘Look at it,’ she said, in a not very customer friendly way.

I noted it was a little creased.

‘But the tags are still on,’ I said.

‘That’s not good enough. Sorry I won’t be giving you a refund. NEXT.’

I skulked out. Minutes later I was having a full-blown conversation with myself, demanding to see the manager and being suitably outraged. I muttered my way around the shops until a little later who did I spot enjoying a coffee in a café only, Miss Shop Assistant of the Year.

I folded the outfit beautifully and raced back to the shop.

‘I’d like to return this,’ I said, ‘I have the receipt.’

‘No problem,’ said a lovely lady and moments later I left, celebrating my great win.

Unfortunately, I lose more than I win. Even knowing my consumer rights doesn’t work for me.

Last Christmas my children bought me a pair of walking shoes. Less than two months later there was a large tear in both insoles and sticky gel oozing out. Surely I can return them, I thought, they’re faulty after all.

I rocked up to the counter and produced my faulty shoes. In the company of shiny new shoes, they looked considerably older than two months. I pointed out the goo explaining they were a Christmas present and already useless.

‘Have you the receipt?’

‘No. They were a present.’

‘Were they bought by credit card?’

‘No.’

‘Sorry, without proof of purchase you have to send them back yourself to the manufacturer.’

‘But you specialise in these shoes. I am telling you they were bought here.’

‘Sorry.’

‘It sounds like you’re calling me a liar?’

Silence.

Shoving my gammy shoes back in the bag I left, more than a little cross. There was only one thing to do.

Send them back perhaps?

Of course not. Those shoes now sit oozing goo, in the company of my many other non-returned goods. Instead, I took action and boycotted the shop. Incredibly, months later they have yet to notice.


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