Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Offer it up, or Would the Pope Shop at Wal-Mart?

In his Ash Wednesday message, Pope Benedict said, “We should offer up the small and great trials of our daily existence and insert them into the great compassion of Christ." (He had started a flurry of news reports and blog posts last November when he wrote this in his encyclical, Spe Salvi ):

40. I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practised today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of “offering up” the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating “jabs”, thereby giving them a meaning. Of course, there were some exaggerations and perhaps unhealthy applications of this devotion, but we need to ask ourselves whether there may not after all have been something essential and helpful contained within it. What does it mean to offer something up? Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ's great “com-passion” so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves.

I've heard Grandma Shirley say "offer it up" many times, but didn't really understand what it meant until recently. So Sunday evening, during prayer time at Youth Group, I talked to the kids about offering up the little things that bother them this week.
Then yesterday, I got a chance to do so myself, as it was a day of irritating jabs, little annoyances and small inconveniences. My silly phone won't hold a charge, Staples no longer carries the cartridge for my Lex-mark picture printer and Clay left on a trip. But the biggest annoyance of all was going 3 rounds with Wal-Mart.

Question: How many Wal-Mart employees does it take to tell you that they won't exchange the HP picture printer you bought for Maggie at Christmas?

Answer: Apparently, 6.

Question: If you only have 30 days to return an electronic device to Wal-Mart, why doesn't it say that on the receipt?

Answer: or rather, answers:
1. It should have.
2. "Because you purchased another item besides the camera/printer bundle, it didn't put it on there." When I pointed out that the other item purchased that day was also an electronic item, answer #1 was invoked again, and we were sent to the Customer Service Desk.
3. "It says so right there." This accompanied the customer service rep's sweeping gesture to the sign posted behind her. (Honestly, it was Vanna-like, and although I was offering it up, I really did not appreciate the "you are a dumb ass" tone in her voice.) When I explained to her that I do not make my purchases at the Customer Service Desk, and therefore would not have had occasion to see that sign, she said, "I'm guessin' you'll want to see a manager." But it was not a manager who came when she called. It was two other women, who huddled together over the receipt for a few minutes before they said they would call the electronics manager, who just might have to call his superior, who is a "female person". ? So, we waited for Chris, the electronics manager who said:
4. "We tell all our customers they only have 30 days for a return." I told Chris that my husband had purchased the printer, not me. I also assured him that if Clay had been told he only had 30 days to return an item, he would have remembered. And, I argued that if Clay had fallen down dead after purchasing the printer, I wouldn't have known about the 30 day policy -- it should be printed on the receipt. To which he replied,
5. "Well, we can't print it on every receipt." You can't? Funny, you can use up six inches of register tape to tell me in English and in Spanish to go to walmart.com to take a customer satisfaction survey. You can print the date, time, store number, phone number, manager's name, a detailed description of my purchase, the website address, some kind of bar code and "Have a Nice Day" on my receipt, but you can't always print the return policy?
He took my receipt, looked it over and said, "Oh, this was a day-after-Thanksgiving special," as if that would clear everything up for me. Offering it up before my head exploded, I calmly noted that the date on the receipt was 12/21, clearly not the day after Thanksgiving.
As he tried to explain about this special, (which had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the return policy was not mentioned on the receipt), I realized that my cause was lost.
I was not going to win this argument against people who were just trying to uphold company policy, albeit in a convoluted, condescending, mis-informed, make-it-up-as-you-go-along manner.
Chris said he would call the manager, but Maggie and I had had enough, and knew that talking to one more person who had to toe the company line wouldn't help. We hadn't yelled, cursed or even lost our cool. I took the receipt back, told them I was very disappointed and left.
And the saddest part of all? No one ever said they were sorry. Not sorry for our inconvenience, not sorry that the policy isn't clearer, not sorry that they couldn't be of more help.
Despite all this offering up, my compassion for WM is at an all-time low, and I want to say that I will never shop there again. But between the store and the distribution center, WM has provided many jobs here. WM is generous to the community.
And there's no place else in town to get a spool of thread.
So I've written a letter, and decided I won't be going back until I finally get that "sorry".
This story does have a happy ending. We came home and called HP. After a few minutes of telling them what was wrong with the printer, they are sending us a new one. Just like that.
Offer it up. Peace.

1 comment: