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I’m in Awe of the Shit People Try to Return for a Refund

I’m an anxious guy, and I don’t like bothering people. I get particularly nervous if I have to bother someone working a service industry job. Telling a waiter they’ve given me the wrong food makes me feel like I’m collapsing into a black singularity of embarrassment.

Other people don’t feel this discomfort. If anything, they’ve got the opposite tic: loudly and constantly demanding refunds. Sometimes, I wish I could learn from them, but I don’t know if this shamelessness can be taught. Here’s a perfect example for you:

The gall of this woman! How does she do it? How could she walk into Costco and, in full public view, feign total ignorance of how Christmas trees work and what they’re for? And not on December 26th, but in January?

Oh, don’t worry, she got the refund. Apparently Costco has an extremely elastic return policy that covers old plants and worse. Over on Reddit, employees have recounted the legends: the woman who “returned a bottle an empty bottle of wine cause it gave her a headache” and the cakes that “came back half-eaten because [the customer] didn’t like the taste.” One weary soul said: “I’ve definitely seen old-ass peed-on mattresses come back in.” This is giving me hives.

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But that’s nothing compared to a store regular who, whenever a woman was working in customer service, would “try to return an opened box of condoms with the excuse ‘they were too small and he needed to exchange them for the Magnums instead.’” (That only worked the first time, FYI, and not as a pickup routine.) Even worse would be the guy who apparently jerked off onto his delivery pizza, hoping for a discount due to the added topping.

Restaurants seem to get more existential complaints as well: “I had a customer demand her meal comped because her pancakes were ‘too round,’” one server claims, while another recalls a diner not eating their food, then asking for their money back because they weren’t hungry. My favorite, though, is the woman who believed she was owed a cheaper lunch because she’d been promoted to manager at Best Buy. “It took 5 minutes of reassuring her that manager discounts only apply at places where you work.”

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Going a step further, a few geniuses have called the cops to get a refund from a sex worker or drug dealer — only to find themselves arrested. These folks are the true heroes of refund culture, convinced not only that law enforcement are the ultimate arbiters of transactional capitalism but that they will overlook flagrant illegal activity to settle a billing dispute. It doesn’t stop there, either. People return old turkey bones, they return “crunchy pickled beets” for being “too crunchy,” and, in perhaps the most flabbergasting case of buyer’s remorse, they freak out when they get wet at the pool.

It’s clear to me now that America will never be satisfied. As long as we keep charging (and overcharging) people for food, comfort, and entertainment, we’ll keep up the scams to get our money back. Hell, the thing could be free and this would still happen. The pool story reminds me of my own worst return, when I took out a library copy of The Grapes of Wrath and accidentally soaked the pages through by tossing it in a backpack with my bathing suit. When I brought it back, the girl working the desk went, “Ew, why’s it wet?” Brilliant and very prepared for this, I answered, “It was wet when I got it!”

And ran.