By Jon Langford
"Hello, sir. How may I help you?"
"I'd like to return this alarm clock, please."
"What's wrong with it?"
"The alarm doesn't work."
"How do you mean?"
"The alarm makes no sound."
"Did you troubleshoot using the manual?"
"And it still didn't work?"
"Okay. Do you have the receipt?"
"No. I can't find it anywhere."
"Then I can't give you a refund."
"Oh no, you misunderstand. I don't want a refund. I just want to exchange it for one that works."
"Okay. Do you have the original packaging?"
"No. I threw it away."
"I can't do an exchange without the original packaging."
"It came in a plastic clamshell. I had to hack it open with a knife. I don't understand. Why do you need the packaging?"
"Our policy for all exchanges is that the product be returned in its original packaging."
"It was just a load of ripped up plastic. Why would I keep that?"
"In case you needed to return the item."
"I didn't think an alarm clock would break after a few weeks. So you're telling me you can't do anything to help?"
"To do anything I need some proof of purchase."
"I'm proof! I'm telling you now that I bought it here. In fact, I think you might have even served me."
"Did you register the product warranty number online?"
"Ah well, that's a problem. How did you pay for it? Cash or card?"
"If you'd paid on card you could've got a statement from your bank proving you'd made a purchase here and on what date."
"Well, I paid cash."
"The thing is, other stores sell this brand, too. You could've bought it anywhere."
"I could. But I didn't. I bought it here and it doesn't work and you owe me an alarm clock."
"When did you buy it?"
"A few weeks ago."
"Our exchange policy is twenty-one days so you might be out of warranty anyway."
"I bought it last month sometime. I don't remember the exact date."
"We've been selling this model for a couple of years now."
"Are you saying I'm lying?"
"No, sir. I'm simply saying that you might have bought it twenty-two days ago and in that case, even with a receipt and the original packaging, I wouldn't be able to do anything to help."
"So now I just have a faulty alarm clock forever?"
"Well, you could send it off to the manufacturer with a letter explaining the problem."
"It was made in China. That's more hassle than it's worth."
"Then I would suggest taking it to a repair shop."
"That sort of thing usually costs more than what you paid for something in the first place."
"Can I speak to the manager, please?"
"The manager's off today."
"Then can I speak to whoever's in charge?"
"You already are."
"Is the manager in tomorrow?"
"When's he next in?"
"It's a she."
"Okay. When's she next in?"
"I'll come back Monday then."
"Very good. Can I help you with anything else today, sir?"
"I doubt it."
"Okay. Would you like to open a store card? It's completely free and you get five percent off every purchase."
"No thank you."
"If you open one today you get a free gift."
"What's the free gift?"
"An alarm clock."