What’s your return policy?

keep calm and travel onI know, the fine print read "You may return product for a refund if it is in unused and in perfect condition."

But, how do you know if a piece of luggage (an expensive piece I might add) is to your liking if you never used it?  I asked this of the store clerk when I brought back a garment bag that just didn't work for me on a recent trip.  He told me that people return their bags after 'walking around the store with it.'  What???

Let me explain.  

Frenchie gave me a very nice top of the line garment bag for Christmas.  It was lovely with all the bells and whistles a garment bag could have.  Then, I took it on a trip.  Let's just say, I wasn't as enthusiastic about this bag when I was walking through the airport with the bag hitting me in the back of my leg as I dragged it through the airport.  I wasn't happy.  This bag cost a lot of money and I knew that if I kept it, I would be frustrated every time I travelled.  (As a motivational speaker, that's a lot!)

So, I took the bag back.  The salesperson that sold it to Frenchie was not there, but the salesmen that were there, told me that the bag was used and I couldn't return it.  I told them I wasn't happy with it. They told me I could have returned it if I hadn't used it.  That's when I said the line about how do you know if you don't like it unless you actually use it?

I left frustrated, but was encouraged that the manager would call me when she got in.

When she called, I repeated how unhappy I was, and she repeated their return policy.  She said if I returned it, they couldn't sell it and would have to eat the $.  I said, "You would lose a customer over that?"


Then, I remembered something my friend and fellow motivational speaker Colette Carlson told me about speaking my truth and keeping calm.  I offered an option for her.  I said, "Well, if you could ask your manager, see what you can do and let me know."  I wasn't going to argue over returning the luggage, or even about their return policy.  I had already made my point about losing a customer over this – and if you look at the lifetime value of a customer, sometimes it really is worth it.  I kept my voice calm, firm, and basically put the ball in her court to see what she could do. I knew one of two things would happen.  

1. She would call me back and tell me that she has to stick with the store policy, I would have said fine. And, never returned again.

2. She would call me back and tell me that she in fact could make an exception to their return policy. I would have been grateful and loyally returned again and again. 

Thankfully, she called me back with option number 2.  She went to bat for me to her manager, telling me this was a one-time only exception and that I could exchange it for another piece of luggage from her store. 

Yay!  I was one happy camper, went back to the store told her how happy and grateful I was that she went to bat for me.  I got the bag that I really wanted and when I had a $100 credit, I didn't just buy a $100 accessory. I found another bag that was not a 'need' purchase (who needs another purse?) but a want…for $300.  

The lesson I learned here is to really know the value of a customer over the lifetime of the relationship.  You may have to eat a short-term profit, but long term it will pay off.  I also learned to stay calm and let others go to bat for you!

From your happy to travel this week and try out my new luggage motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman


Marilyn Sherman, CSP is a Front-Row Leadership Expert helping people get out of the balcony and get a front-row seat in life. For over 20 years she has inspired audiences with topics on Visioning, Goal Achievement and having a No More Excuses attitude! Check out her fun, dynamic style at http://www.MarilynSherman.com

Marilyn Sherman, Owner UpFront Presentations - Helping people get a Front-Row seat in their life!
9030 W. Sahara Ave #444
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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  1. What an incredible story of customer service as a result of speaking your truth! Thanks for the shout out, Marilyn, and for sharing an example we can all learn from. Choose your own gifts! Just kidding…many happy travels.

  2. Great post Marilyn! I am very bad at asking for what I define as good customer service. Today I almost burned to death in the airport shuttle bus because I didn't want to tell the driver it was too hot in there. Finally another guy got up and did it. I think I need to practice speaking my truth more! Right Colette?  :)  

    • Yes, Kelly. :-). You're just too sweet. Just yesterday I was in one of my favorite boutique retail stores, and there were unruly children around 5 and 6 years old screaming. Not crying screaming, but obnoxiously screaming. After doing my best to ignore them for 5 minutes I walked up to them and said, "When I shop an adult store, I need quiet to focus. Would you please stop screaming?" and I bore my eyes into theirs. They didn't stop  for long, and the parent then found me where I camly made the same request. They left the store, and I received a standing ovation. Well, everybody was standing to begin with, but….even the manager thanked me as "they're not allowed to correct children's behavior" which I believe is a policy change that needs to happen! When we're only asking for what is reasonable, we have to get comfortable speaking our truth.

  3. Good for you, Marilyn!  I'm learning to flex my bravery muscle in situations like this and the results are mostly in my favor when handled as gracefully as you handled yours. 

  4. Well done – and congratulations on new luggage – wheeeee!    How wonderful you were able to find exactly the right thing to say to allow that employee to see how valuable customer service can be!  

  5. I used to feel that way about Nordstrom until they made you go through a water-board session to make sure you bought the item there. Even if the item says "Nordstrom" on it, they now won't take it back without a receipt.

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