Customer Service, Just the Facts, Speaking from Experience, Work

The Life-Cycle of Retail Returns

Have you ever wondered what happens to the items that get returned? Does it go back on the shelf? Does it get sent back to the vendor? Does it get donated? Does it get thrown out?

It depends on what the item is and how the vendor wants us to process their merchandise. What I hope to accomplish by sharing this information, is that you the consumer will make better choices in the future because you may be surprised to learn about how many perfectly new in box items get thrown out.

First, let’s start with food items. All food items that leave the store and get returned get thrown out. It’s not just the expired, moldy, stale items or the items that have been opened and you didn’t care for it after one bite. It’s also the food items that you buy in excess of for parties, BBQs, family dinners that are perfectly fine, unopened, or simply bought the wrong kind. That all goes right in the garbage. Do you really need that $3 for the pack of hot dog buns that bad? You know that you can freeze them, right? You could offer them to a friend, a neighbor, or donate it to your local food pantry.

While there is a lot of perfectly good food being wasted, it’s not as bad as all of the infant and baby products. All strollers, car seats, cribs, bassinettes, high chairs, beds, walkers, formula, baby food, diapers, pretty much anything that an infant or toddler would use or consume is an automatic garbage item. Yes, even if it is brand new in the box that has never been opened. Why? Liability.

What if the item I bought was not the right color, the item on the box looked teal, but when I opened it, the color is more of a powder blue. It’s new, never been assembled. It gets thrown out.

What if the item is the wrong size? They grow so fast and are in the next size up in diapers. Diapers, Pull-Ups, Little Swimmers all get thrown out.

What if I ordered the changing table online and I received one at my baby shower before my order arrived? The answer is still the same, it will get thrown out.

We know those baby products aren’t cheap, the store will still give you a refund. We just can’t put that merchandise back on the shelf.

When you’re putting together a Gift Registry for a baby shower, make sure that your friends and family know the importance of clearing any items they purchase off of the list to avoid duplicate items. If you are creating multiple Gift Registries at different locations Babies R’ Us, Target, Wal-mart, Sears make sure that you are not including a crib from each store, unless you do need more than one.

Thanks to social media, many areas have set up Buy/Sell/Trade pages to allow local residents the option to make personal sales with each other. If you find that you have a duplicate item that is brand new in the box and you don’t want it to get thrown out, why not list it for sale to recoup your money. Thus allowing another family the opportunity to make use of a perfectly good item that would have gone right in the garbage.

Food and baby items are the biggest contributors to unnecessary waste. Please consider an alternative before returning these unopened, perfectly good items to the retailer.



Speaking from Experience, Work

No News is Good News…

Welcome back blog readers,

I know it’s been a while since my last post. Life happens, and sometimes not much happens that’s worth sharing.

During the last month, I have been keeping myself busy with work and have been hooked on playing Diablo 3. The game has provided over 100 hours of entertainment thus far. The fact that my brother, his wife, and their oldest son also play makes the experience more enjoyable.

As far as work goes, things have gotten a bit busy/chaotic now that we are in the summer months and the kids are out of school. You might think that we’d be fully staffed since the high school kids are off for the summer. You’d be incorrect. The summer means more people taking their vacations.

Back in the day, there was a limit/restrictions as to how many associates were authorized Time Off within the same department. There was more coordinating involved as to not approve everyone to take their time off at the same time. Seems things have changed and we are left continuously short-handed, this time it’s not just one week, it’s the entire month of July.

Due to my pre-existing health conditions that will never get better (scoliosis), I’m only supposed to work 3 shifts per week, 4 at most as long as those days are split allowing me a chance to rest in between. For the most part, that has been happening and things (my back and the ability to work) has been manageable.

What people may not consider is that working in the Bakery department is physically demanding. Climbing ladders, reaching for the products in the freezer, lots of bending and squatting, loading up carts and pulling them through the store with more bending and squatting as you stock the shelves.

I did expect that I would be put on for an extra shift while our department is short-handed, to be expected. Four shifts over seven days is my maximum as long as they are spread out with a day OFF in between. It took a while for my manager to get it right, even though it’s not that hard to figure out or work with. I can work any 3-4 days, while closing shifts are better for me, I can open. What used to happen is that I’d get scheduled the last 3 days of the week and then the first 3 days into the following week. That doesn’t work for me, 6 shifts in a row, no time off to rest.

Right now I’m in what I call the Calm before the Storm. I’ve already worked Saturday 27th, Sunday 28th, Monday 29th and I’m not scheduled again until Monday, August 5th. Seems like a pretty sweet deal considering that I didn’t request anything special, it’s just how my manager created the schedule.

Here’s my schedule for the following week:

  • Monday 5th, 3:30 – 10pm
  • Tuesday 6th, 3:30 – 10pm
  • Wednesday 7th, 3:30 – 10pm
  • Thursday OFF I have my Chiropractor Appointment in the afternoon. Good thing, I’ll be needing it.
  • Friday 9th, 3:30 – 10pm
  • Saturday 10th, 3:30 – 10pm
  • Sunday 11th, 3:30 – 10pm
  • Monday 12th, 3:30 – 10pm

I was asked to cover Tuesday 13th, I only agreed if the person asking could take/switch any shift of mine from the 9th-12th, adding another day would kill me. She opted for the Monday 12th for her Tuesday the 13th. Still, a very grueling schedule for me considering my limitations and restrictions.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if we were looking to hire more people for Bakery/Deli as we need help. Nope, no job posting for either department. We have one associate out recovering from surgery, one high schooler going back in September and two attending college when the next semester begins in less than 35 days. That leaves me (part-time evenings) and one full-time opener to bake, stock, clean both Bakery/Deli. It’s just too much to keep up with.

While looking through the job postings, I noticed there was one for the Cash Office (part-time). I decided to apply for the position as an Internal Transfer. I’ve been in the Bakery department long enough to know that for whatever reason, the Fresh departments are always short-handed, if not Bakery, it’s Meats, Dairy, or Produce. I also have to be realistic about my situation (health-wise).

As much as I love what I do and take pride in what I put out, I know that I can’t do it much longer. I’ve been told to take it easy (by my manager) and not lift/move things I shouldn’t, in which case I wouldn’t be as productive. I move in ways that I shouldn’t and I will continue to do so because things have to get done and I’m a team player. Knowing this about myself, I have to do things differently and not put myself in a position of risking further injury or early disability.

From what I’ve been told from an associate that did work in the Cash Office the schedule seems to be set with rotation weekends 7am-11am and Monday/Tuesday 7am-3pm. So I’d either get two shifts or four, and they would rotate. That would work well for me, especially since I can’t imagine that there would be much heavy lifting and I’d have the chance to sit. While I do need at least 18 hours/week, I could always pick up one shift for Bakery on Thursday.

The associate I talked to said that chances are good that I would get that position since it’s hard to keep filled. The only reason why I would not, my manager doesn’t allow me to transfer because he’s already short-staffed and doesn’t want to lose me. I haven’t talked to my manager about this as it was very last minute and I rarely see him. The Store manager knows, and he accepted my request, so we’ll see how it plays out. Hopefully, I can cover both departments, make a little more money while ensuring that I don’t cut my workable years short.

Other than that, there is nothing new going on with me.

Thank you for your time and reading and your interest if you are following me.

Happy Wednesday ~ Hannah


*** Update***

Shortly after posting this, I noticed a missed text on my phone. My presence is being requested to close tonight. The high schooler that was scheduled, called in and seems to be making a habit of that at least once a week.  We are prepping for Inventory tomorrow and someone is needed to work in the freezer to count our products. Awesome!

Guess what I’m doing this evening? Working beyond my limitations and taking one for the team. I’m going to leave a note that lets my fellow co-workers know that they should consider me UNAVAILABLE until my next scheduled shift. I expect that I’ll be getting another text for me to cover for someone in the next few days.

Too Bad, I’m not coming in anymore until Monday. It’s great that I’m considered reliable, dependable but I will not allow this workplace to be the death of me. Hire a few more associates that want to work because I can’t cover for everbody all of the time while nobody covers for me.




scoliosis/subluxation, Speaking from Experience, Venting, Work

Workplace Woes


Welcome back blog readers,

I’m feeling the need to vent about workplace frustration this morning before I go in for my scheduled shift in a few hours.

Why do I seem to end up with a manager that doesn’t take my physical limitations seriously? I have a doctor’s note that was requested by him within the first week of my employment in June 2018. This note explains my medical condition, Scoliosis, and Subluxation as well as what my physical limitations are and the fact that I should not be scheduled more than a 6-hour shift. I have also explained that due to my condition, I can’t work more than 3 shifts in a row without a couple of days in between off to give my back a rest.

How my manager arranges the schedule, is up to him. While I prefer the later closing shifts (3:30pm-10pm), I do have open availability. I can be scheduled 3 shifts on, 3 shifts off or 2 shifts on, 2 shifts off, 2 shifts on in that rotation it doesn’t matter to me. What does bother me is when I’m scheduled the last 3 shifts of one week and then schedule the first 3 shifts into the next week. Like I am now, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. While my manager did mention to me before he left yesterday, he would allow me to leave 2 hours early tonight and tomorrow because he scheduled me for an 8-hour shift both days. While that helps a bit and I appreciate that he has made a small effort to relieve me, I’m still on for 6 days in a row.

Honestly, by the end of day 3, my back has had enough, and I really do need a day or two just to get off of my feet and relax. It would be one thing if I had a sit-down job, but as it is, this position is physically demanding even if I’m taking my time. There are aspects that I do but shouldn’t, just as there are aspects that I avoid because it’s just not worth the risk. Things like climbing an 8ft ladder in the freezer and pulling heavy frozen food from the top shelf, that’s a hard pass from me. The same thing with using a pallet jack/pump truck to move skids/pallets, I won’t do it. If I need products and skids are blocking that area, too bad. It’s not because I’m lazy, I just know my limitations and pulling a load with that kind of weight is well beyond what I should be doing. Yes, I could ask another associate for help, depending on who’s on with me, I will.

We have another associate that has a doctor’s note for working shorter shifts (4 hours) for the next six weeks, she has been accommodated. My note is for life or until my back gets worse, yet it often goes ignored, and I find that incredibly frustrating.

It feels like the first time I worked for this company ( May 2016) and was bullied into performing tasks that I could not do. I was asked to a note to explain my limitations, I got one, and it went ignored. I blew my back out a few days later and needed a few days to rest, spent a few hundred dollars on x-rays and treatment that lasted 6 months. During that time no accommodations were made to my duties or my hours as the doctor’s note suggested. I went back to work only to be bullied by my manager and a co-worker who got in my face, screamed at me and told me to stop being lazy.

I felt this way in October 2017 when I reentered the workforce after taking time off. I was happy to be back to work, doing something I loved. I quickly realized that most of the movements and duties were putting me at risk again. During my 3rd week, my back was really giving me issues, my mandatory 15 minute breaks made matters worse. Once I sat down and got back up, it’s like my back was worse for resting and trying to move again. Toward the end of a shift I needed to get off of my feet, so I pulled the stool over to sit while decorating a cake. Another (older) associate has been allowed to sit while she worked, I didn’t think much of it. My manager let me know that I wasn’t allowed to sit, if the owners saw me, we’d both get in trouble.

I explained my situation, to which she understood and when I asked about the other associate, seemed she was “grandfathered in” and management has made an exception for her. This associate walks with a bit of a limp and uses a cane, where my medical condition is not seen by others, only felt by me. Clearly, that still bothers me as I’m getting emotional just writing this.

It’s tough when you’re 5ft tall, and most work areas are built with the height of the average person in mind. An average person that can use the 3-compartment sink and not have to stand on their tiptoes and stretch to reach the On/Off knobs or lean into the actual basin to get the decorating tips and other utensils out. The average person that can easily load the top oven without balancing a baking tray wearing oven mitts on their tiptoes because you have limited space and you have something baking in the lower oven. Sure you can use a ladder in the walk-in freezer to reach items on the top shelf. For the average person, that’s not a problem, for me, I am continually overreaching, which is a no-no.

Anyway, I do need to wrap this up so I can grab a bite to eat before heading out to work my day 4 of 6.

Just because you can’t see my S-Curve (unless I bend over, then the hump at the right shoulder is noticeable) doesn’t mean I’m not in pain. Just because I have performed specific tasks unassisted, doesn’t mean I should.

Please hear me when I raise my concern about needing time to rest between shifts. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s because I don’t want to end up paralyzed.


Customer Service, Venting, Work

When a Code Adam is reversed.

Welcome back blog readers,

I know that it’s been a few days since the last post was published; there hasn’t been much to report until a spark of inspiration hit me last night.

During the last five months of working part-time at a big box retail store, I have encountered 3 calls for CODE ADAM (lost child) to all of which were reunited in under 2 minutes, as that is what tends to happen most often. Last night I experienced my second encounter of a child that lost their parent.

My first encounter was last month when two young girls (sisters) approached me to ask if I have seen a lady with black long hair walk by. I ask if this lady with long black hair was their mom, it was and I brought them to Customer Service as we are trained to do so, figuring that is the most likely meeting place for a parent to start searching for their kid(s) in this situation.

The girls follow me and I tell them not to worry, this sort of thing happens all of the time and we’ll make an announcement to have their mom come to customer service to meet them. The announcement is made and the mom arrives with in a few minutes. As an associate, this situation is common and we don’t judge as we have probably been on either side of this ourselves.

What bothers me is how the parents respond when they are the ones being paged to meet their kid(s). This mother scolded her girls in front of us and made them apologize to us for basically doing our job and reuniting them.

Last night a little boy, maybe 7 years old approached me, he had 2 toys in hand and he looked scared almost ready to cry. I notice him and his behavior and ask him if he’s okay. He said he lost his mom and wanted help to find her. I told him the same thing I told the girls, not to worry, this happens a lot and we’re going to walk to customer service where they will make an announcement to find her.

I arrive at customer service and the associate immediately recognizes the situation and asks the boy, “Did you lose your mom?” he replies, “yes I was in the toy area, went looking for her and couldn’t find her.” We get mom’s first name and she is paged to meet her party at Customer Service. Mom arrives in under 2 minutes and comments how embarrased she was to have been paged as a missing mom. Her son is still clearly shaken up and mom doesn’t offer a hug or words of comfort. His effort to seek help went unnoticed. At this point, mom and kid are reunited, so I go back to my department to resume where I left off. Mom and son walk by me and he thanks me for helping him which felt pretty good.

Here’s what bothers me….

There is no need to feel embarrassed if you lose sight of your kid(s) in a large retail store. Trust me it happens at least once a week, we’re not judging your parenting skills. Parents please make sure your kid(s) know your first name, not just mom or dad. Please give your kids credit when they seek help from associates to reunite with you. I know kids are warned about “Stranger Danger” and please realize that most kids are scared and they don’t have a great sense of direction. You might have told them to meet you in a specific department, they might acknowledge what you’ve said, but getting there once they panic is a different story.

Showing that you’re upset about being paged gives your child the wrong impression about whether or not seeking help to find you is what they should do if there is a next time. Instead, acknowledge that they used good judgment/common sense to ask for help instead of wandering around the large store and putting the entire store on lockdown for a Code Adam. The fear/anxiety you as a parent feel when you have to resort to that call, is what your kid feels when they have to call for you.

We are there to help, while in most cases there is no real threat taking place, just thank the associate(s) that helped to reunite you and offer your kid(s) a hug. There is no need to apologize to us, or any need to make your kid feel worse than they already do. This is a HAPPY ending 🙂

Rant over, as I have to get ready for my next shift…

Happy Tuesday!

Speaking from Experience, Venting, Work

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Welcome back blog readers,

Those of you that follow me know that I’ve been working part-time in a bakery department in a big chain retail store. I have been working there 90 days at this point and I’m still not not able to gain access to direct deposit for my payroll checks.

Before getting officially hired on in June I was instructed to bring a void bank check and submit that to the human resources manager for the purposes of setting me up with direct deposit. I did just that and the same void check still sits inside of my cell phone case with my work ID card.

There have been many changes to how things are done since my employment two years ago. Back then I was able to hand it the void check and fill out a form for Direct Deposit into my bank account and be done with it. Now everything is done online which is convenient when everything works as it should.

This time around the HR manager tried to set me up for paperless pay and was unable to set me up. She said she’d try again later as she knew there would be a phone call involved and I would have to be present to provide information. The HR manager took time off for her honeymoon, so I approached another manager to assist me in this matter. This manager went through the process, asked the questions to verify my identity and the system was unable to verify who I was based on the questions and information I provided. The manager gave me a phone number and suggested that I needed to call and talk to them myself and that should sort things out.

I called earlier and the questions being asked were the exact same as what I had been asked before. After providing my social insurance number, loan information, address, and phone number the lady on the other end still could not verify my information and claims that whatever “Big Retail” corporate office has on file is not the same as what I’m providing and I’ll have to talk to corporate to fix it.

I mentioned that I was a former employee two years ago, I was living at a different location then, and that might be what corporate has on file, my old address and phone number. That is the only thing I can think that is causing this hiccup as my old employee number was reissued. That didn’t seem to matter to who I was speaking with, it was no longer in their control to set me up with log in information for paperless pay.

Why do corporations insist on making things more complicated than they need to be? I’ve tried handing in my void check to the HR manager last month and asked for a direct deposit form to sort this out, it was suggested that I call and talk to the third party company directly. GRRRRRRRRRRRR….

I have shifts scheduled over the next three days; hopefully I’ll be able to catch the HR manager and I’ll hand her my void check that I’ve been carrying around for the last three months and tell her to sort it out. My paychecks come with the phone number attached for me to sort it out (passive aggressive) and we see how well that ended up. I should be grateful that I am getting paid, sure it’s a slight inconvenience, but it doesn’t have to be if managers took a little initiative. The lady I spoke with eariler said I could try calling this phone number and maybe somebody there can help me. She proceeds to give me the phone number and I let her know that’s the phone number that I did call and it lead me to her.

On a similar note, I seem to be cursed with not being able to login to certain programs. I’ve talked to three managers to let them know I can’t log in to record temperatures and I can’t complete the cleaning log for out department. They were all going to talk to whoever is in charge of giving me access, so far nothing more has come from that. I have to rely on produce associates to complete those tasks for me. I can tell that they are getting frustrated, I understand that as it is equally frustrating for me. Their advice is for me to keep hounding managers to give me access otherwise it will not get done.

There has to be a better way, is my thought. When my manager knows, the HR manager knows, two other assistant managers know to which one said she’s sort it out personally and nobody gets back to me, what am I suppose to do? Maybe I should ask the guys in produce to not record the bakery temps/cleaning log during my shifts as that will get attention. Right now the managers probably think things are sorted out when they are not because the notification isn’t alerting them. I know those tasks are important, just as the guys in produce know as one in particular likes to remind me when he has to login on my behalf. The assoiciates care more about things than the managers do, we are the ones making them look good and the managers are completely oblivious.

I did have my 90 day evaluation during my last shift. That process has changed from a few pages being filled out with comments from the manager and the associate getting scored in various areas to a simple form online with a place for comments. My manager surprised me with Exceeds Expectations as I was sure he was hoping I’d quit or he was going to let me go before my 90 days was up. He acknowledged that I keep the department cleaner than how I found it and that I recognize the importance of making sure the tables/shelves are full.

There was a place on the form to fill in my current hourly wage and a place to fill in if a raise was given as well as a place for me to initial as a sign of acknowledgment and none of those sections were filled in. I am not expecting a raise as the minimum wage is expected to go up to $15.00/hour in Ontario.

Anyway, this concludes my venting session for today. Hopefully I can get things sorted out with my direct deposit situation. I’ve never been the squeeky wheel, maybe it’s time that I am.

Happy Monday ~ Hannah