It's hard not to get choked up by these Reddit stories from retail workers that dealt with some very sad returns. People returning items should make people cry, it's something that happens every day. These are not everyday stories though.
Some are tragedies worthy of a Shakespeare play. These stories fit that bill and more. A mundane event in most people's lives take on whole new significance when tragedy strikes and these sad returns must be made.
Losing His Baby
“A guy was returning baby formula and he was looking pretty down. I asked him how his day was and he said that he has been having a long day and that he’s been having a long month, too.
I thought he just had a baby, so maybe he just got the wrong formula. I asked if he just had a baby and he said he used to have a baby. I told him I was sorry and he said it was ok. There were a few minutes of silence and he said, ‘He was a fun little guy…'”
This Prick Can Just Hang
“I worked at a plus size clothing store.
I helped a woman pick out a wardrobe for a two-week cruise that she was going on with her boyfriend of six months.
A few weeks later, she returned all the clothes unworn. I asked her if the cruise was canceled.
No, it turns out that there never was a cruise. Or a relationship. This guy was ‘dating’ her as a prank, and he and his buddies schemed to see what they could get the girl to believe. She thought he was in love with her and wanted to move in together soon; his parting words to her were: ‘Like anyone would really date a fat woman like you.'”
Memories Of Happier Times Cut Like a Knife
“I used to be a manager at a Disney Store. We had an old man come in with his wife regularly. They were a SUPER cute couple, I mean – matching outfits, holding hands, just cute as could be…
We used to sell these HUGE stuffed animals (like, ginormous). The couple came in about once a week and would just walk around, laugh and smile, buy things here and there.
One night he came in on his own and bought one of these gigantic Mickey’s we had (it was $300 I think). He was SO excited. He told us all about how he was going to take her out to dinner and it would be sitting there on the bed to surprise her when they got home.
Anyway, two days later he walked back in, carrying the gigantic Mickey Mouse plush to return it. He had bought it to surprise her for her 75th birthday. She passed away in her sleep the day before her birthday.
He thanked us and said goodbye, and that he would not be coming back because our store reminded him too much of his wife. We found out he passed away a week later. It was just 7 days from the day his wife passed.”
A Catfished Man Goes All In
“I had a gentleman come into my store one day to buy an iPhone.
After talking with him for less than a minute, he opened up and told me about how he had just been through a divorce where his wife cheated on him and left him with nothing. But somehow he seemed pretty joyous about buying a $950 phone. He then explains to me that the phone isn’t for him but his girlfriend! My spirits lift a bit thinking, ‘Wow, thank goodness he found someone. I hope things are on the up for him!’
After talking about how kind she is and how she travels the world, buying art for different art exhibits at museums, he decides to show me a picture of her. The picture he shows me is probably the same Instagram model type picture we’ve all seen. A girl that could be no older than 16 or 18, with enough makeup to make her look flawless and more like an adult, posing with a bottle of Sugarbear gummies for hair growth. The picture was literally a screenshot of her Instagram account and he had more and embarrassingly said that they’d be inappropriate to show me since I’m at work (thank goodness).
So I tried to turn the conversation away from the clearly fake girlfriend to anything I could think of. Too late. He went on to tell me about how sad it is that they’ve never met in person but he KNOWS that if he can get her the phone she wants, she can finally be able to call him and they can talk and hopefully finally meet. He bought an iPhone 6s Plus in rose gold 64GB with a protection plan, three cases, and a screen protector. It was over $1,000 worth of stuff. Then he proceeded to pay with a check that he told me ‘may not work’ because he hasn’t gotten paid yet but wanted to try anyway. It worked and that’s the moment my heart broke. He left the store, hugging me, and told me that one day I’ll find someone like he did.
I watched another salesperson and a manager handle him when he came back into the store extremely upset and wanting his money back after being scammed. I don’t think they could give him any money back since she kept everything.”
Horrifying Reason For The Car Return
“I work in customer relations for a luxury car dealership. Basically, I get paid to interact with customers and make them feel more at ease during the buying and servicing of their vehicle. That being said, I get to know and like a lot of our customers.
So last year, around Halloween, we had a young family come in looking for an SUV since the wife was pregnant and the husband had just gotten a huge promotion. They had a kid already that was around 4, if I remember correctly, and were just actually cool people. I actually spent a lot of time getting to know them through their buying process and was excited to have this family get their dream car.
Fast forward to this August and I see their SUV out in the parking lot (when you work at a dealership you learn your favorites plates and cars, or I’m a freak, both are possible). I ask around and no one in service is working with them, so I ask our sales manager thinking they’re switching into the redesigned model of the SUV (we’d talked about it when they’d bought their car), he gave me an uneasy look and said it was the wife’s mom and I should talk to the sales guy. Weird, but okay.
I find the sales guy and he’s also uneasy, but after a few minutes he tells me to go to the back office and he’ll fill me in. Apparently, the husband lost it and ended up shooting himself and his wife a few months prior. She had just had the baby and I suppose that stressed him out. Her mom was called when the toddler went to a neighbor and said his parents were ‘messy and still sleeping.’
Basically, the mom was there to see if we could buy the vehicle back after getting everything else taken care of, which we did.”
She Needed Someone To Support Her
“I used to work for one of the largest retail chains in a few different departments. When I was at the Customer Service Desk, I had a lady come up to my counter during the middle of the day with a ton of frilly clothes, hair bands, bracelets, etc. I immediately wrote her off as just her eyes being bigger than her wallet, and started the zombie-mode scanning as soon as the stuff hit the counter when she said, word for word:
‘I need to return these things before my husband beats me.’
Retail workers, you know when you hear what someone says, but you’ve gone full robot and didn’t actually hear them? That happened to me for about five seconds before what she said actually registered. I looked up at her and saw that there wasn’t even a hint of a joke in her eyes. She didn’t even look afraid or anything, just total acceptance. Of course, since I actually looked at her, she could tell I wanted to hear more.
I got the whole story. How he (her husband) had been really nice at the start. How he had changed over the years. When it started getting really bad. How she justified his actions (‘It wasn’t his fault,’ ‘I could’ve done x different,’ ‘He wasn’t always bad,’ etc…). A very typical story. She also told me how she was trying to get out of everything, and her family was going to help her escape the situation.
I told her that she was doing the right thing in getting out and she started crying. I think that’s all she really wanted to hear from anyone, to give her the strength to really go through with it. We finished the return, and she thanked me for listening and telling her she was right. I never did see her again, so I really hope things worked out for her overall.”
The Death Of A Pet
“I used to work at a pet shop. There was a guinea pig we’d had for about a month or two who I was absolutely in love with. Super sweet, super snugly, and he was the color of a cute lil s’more. I ended up selling him to a teenage girl who seemed smart and responsible and who I thought would love him just as much as I did.
Two days later, she’s back to return him, bawling and screaming at us that we did something to the guinea pig. I take the box he’s in and look at him and he’s laying on his side, twitching and writhing and crying like he’s in serious pain.
We drove him to the vet immediately, but he had to be put down. Never figured out what happened to him, but his cries and the girl accusing me of hurting him really messed me up.”
He Didn’t Get To Enjoy His Brand New TV!
“I used to manage the warehouse at an electronics store and occasionally sold stuff and did returns and whatnot. A younger guy came in, about 19 or 20, said he just got his first real job and wanted to buy a big screen TV to celebrate his first paycheck. So I sold him a good TV, did the normal testing for him, gave him a slight discount on warranty and whatnot cause I’m cool like that. He was super happy. I packed everything up for him and put it in his hatchback.
A week later, I saw the TV in my warehouse with a return tag on it. I asked around a bit but nobody really knew, until our usual customer service girl came in to start our shift.
What I was told was that after I sold the TV, he was on his way home when a deer jumped out in front of the car and went through the windshield. The guy was killed instantly. The TV was undamaged because I had laid it down on the floor in the back all wrapped up in bubble wrap and the box.
His dad had come in and returned it.”
The Sad Man At Subway
“I worked at a Subway for a year and we shared the building with a jewelry store. It was a small business and we always made a salad for the owners, free of charge.
One day a customer at their store was incredibly enthusiastic about buying an engagement ring for their significant other. He told the entire Subway crew how he met her after his mother died, and that they’ve been seeing each other for almost 5 years. He kept saying how he was happy that he found someone who makes him truly happy and that all the challenges in his life were necessary for him to find true love.
He came back a few days later. The light from his eyes was gone. He was returning the ring. I talked to the owners later that day after he left, and apparently, she broke it off with him because she fell in love with someone else.
It was really sad to watch.”
The Most Understanding Supervisor Ever!
“My supervisor shared a story with me about an old woman who placed a large order to redecorate her and her husband’s house.
She had selected several thousands dollars worth of merchandise, a lot of it was special order so it was being sold non-returnable. The woman ended up passing away shortly after everything was delivered and the husband couldn’t deal with all the new stuff. He wanted to keep all of their old things exactly the way they were, so my supervisor made an exception to have it all returned/refunded.
Somewhat similarly, someone created a registry for their upcoming baby, they had a ton of baby stuff picked out. Unfortunately, the husband had later called in to say his wife had miscarried and the baby didn’t make it. The wife was okay, but in no condition to talk on the phone. So again, my supervisor allowed everything to be returned, no questions asked.”
He Never Made It To His Birthday…
“I was a leader at a certain store, advertising a wild ‘beyond’ section. An older woman returned her husband’s replacement razors. I asked her if he was unsatisfied and maybe wanted another kind/style, nope. He died earlier before his birthday to receive them. She started crying and I just leaned over the counter to console her.
I told her I had lost my best friend nearly a decade ago and to this day the tiniest memory or smell can bring up moments that make me emotional, so not to feel embarrassed over a pack of razors. Then, abusing my position of trust, I couponed the heck out of her purchase and talked with her a while. It’s rare in retail but there are those moments where despite the din around you and the mounting lines, you have to be a human and just listen to someone’s day.”
The Ignorant Mother And Extremely Rude Daughter…
“I worked at a clothing store that was popular with teens. A spoiled tween came to the register, accompanied by her mom, and laid out easily $500 worth of clothing – probably around 20+ tops, five pairs of jeans, a jacket, shorts, and sandals.
As I’m ringing up this absurd amount of items, another girl (I assume the first girl’s friend) joins the tween and her mom. As she approaches, I realize the friend must have recently undergone chemo. She was probably a tween as well, completely bald, and frail. She approaches the girl and her mom with a single tank top.
Friend: ‘Is it okay if I get this?’
Mom: ‘Sure, but Susan needs to put back one of her items.’
Daughter: ‘No way, Mom!’ (Profanity laden verbal assault on her mother ensues).
Mom decides to purchase about $500 of clothes for the daughter, while the cancer-stricken friend returns the $10 tank top. I continue despondently ringing everything up, hating the world.”
Dangers Of Weight Loss Pills
“I worked at a vitamin store. The most commonly bought item was weight loss/control pills that had ephedra in them. Xenadrine and the store brand equivalent were the most popular of those (next to Hydroxycut).
Our store sent memos that due to recent problems with the products, we would be honoring full refunds even if the product was opened and mostly used.
The people returning them were tweaked to their follicles. Shaking, sputtering saying: ‘I-I-I c-can’t take this stuff an-anymore. It-it’s m-m-making my heart p-pound to f-fast.’
I was just like, ‘Okay…it’s okay.'”
You Can’t Leave Pet Fish Out In The Cold!
“I was working at a large pet store in the tropical fish department. One busy weekend a very well-dressed, rather snobby woman came in and bought six baby angelfish, each about the size of a dime (plus the fins).
The store I worked in was inside a huge high-end shopping mall, so we had a ‘holding’ service where we would bag up fish, cash the customer out, and float the fish, in their bags, in a warm tank until the customer had finished ALL their shopping and ready to leave for home.
So I offered to hold this lady’s baby angelfish. She said she was ‘all good’ and left. We thought nothing of it.
Four or five HOURS later, she stormed back into the store demanding a manager, and a refund. She was shaking the bag in our faces for emphasis, yelling that her gorgeous angels were all dead.
On close inspection, we discovered that the silly bimbo had put the poor fish in her car, presumably so she didn’t need to carry them while she shopped for other things or return to the store to pick them up.
Unfortunately, because it was January and the temperature outside was about -15°C, the tiny babies had frozen to death. She simply couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that tropical fish cannot withstand freezing temperatures, even when we took a tiny fish out of the bag and showed her that not only had ice formed on top of the once 84°F water, but the dime-sized fish was actually frozen stiff.
Some people just shouldn’t have pets.”
Her Dad’s “Ears”
“Last fall, my Dad decided to FINALLY get his hearing checked and was assessed for hearing aids. He really needed them and he wanted to be able to hear his first grandbaby (my daughter) coo and babble when she was born in January.
Unfortunately, the ones that worked the best for him were outside the budget he and my Mom could afford. Husband and I decided ‘Santa’ would gift them to him. He cried. His new ‘ears’ gave him a new lease on life. He was happy, chatty and interactive during family get-togethers because he could actually hear everyone else enough to participate.
Fast forward to January and he is the happiest, most doting of grandpas. He was the first person to hold her, after my husband.
However, Dad started feeling sick in February. He died on April 12th, 2016, when the baby was just 10 weeks old.
My Mom has been largely unable to handle things in the wake of his death. Among all of the other things that I’ve handled for my family (because it’s just too hard on everyone else), Mom asked if I would do something with his ‘ears.’
I ended up calling the hearing aid shop and asking if they knew of any donation program where someone could benefit from the use of his ‘ears.’ We actually ended up donating them to an elderly woman who was having difficulty communicating with her family and couldn’t afford new ‘ears’ of her own. Dad would have liked that.
I like to think she can hear her grandbabies giggle and laugh, now. I have declined the opportunity to meet her. I don’t think my heart could take it, not yet anyway.”
Relating To Her Son’s Battle…
“I worked for a relatively sizable retail chain that operates primarily in the Southeast USA; our primary demographic is women 40-65, but we have a pretty extensive men’s section with some pricey stuff – Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, stuff like that.
I had a woman come in one afternoon and was VERY snippy to both me and the manager working that day. She plopped about 80 bucks worth of men’s clothing on the counter and asked me to return it and give her the cash back. No problem, she had the receipts and everything. She rather rudely asked me where the large men’s shirts and pants were, and when I told her I was unfamiliar with the exact layout of the men’s department (I was a cashier and almost never left the front), she rolled her eyes and muttered something under her breath, and proceeded to accost my manager for their location. When she came back up to the front, I tried to be as jovial as I could and asked her if she was buying for her husband. She responded that no, she was buying for her son.
Apparently, he was almost 30 years old, still lived at home, no job, and had recently outgrown his XXL pants and underwear and she needed to find some 3X. She mentioned that he didn’t really leave the house much and relied on her to do his shopping because he had attempted suicide a few months previously. Since then, he had become even more of a recluse than he had before. She got misty-eyed and stopped talking rather abruptly.
I normally hate being the guy who brings up his mental illnesses in public, it just makes everyone involved uncomfortable, but I felt like she needed to hear some words of reassurance. I told her that two years previously I was in a place just like her son. That I was a shut-in with no ambition, had pretty crippling depression, and struggled a lot with self-harm. I also mentioned that I had attempted suicide a year or two previously. Her hand was on the counter so I lightly touched it and just said: ‘If I could get from where I was then to where I am now, your son is going to be just fine.’ She started to lose it at that. I gave her a 20% discount on all of the stuff she was buying and she left. I never saw her come in the store after that. I still think about her a lot. I really really hope her son’s doing better.”