Saturday, July 24, 2010

Truth Challenged

We had one of those incidents that you're not supposed to talk about in polite company. The kind involving kids, body waste, and finger painting.

Uh, yeah, let's just chalk it up to a "tactile phase" and leave it at that. Suffice it to say we needed to get one of the drapes dry cleaned.

I took it to the new Zips that opened up near the house and they said they don't do draperies. So I took it where I get my shirts and pants done and dropped it off. The drapes are linen of some sort, but I've had a linen shirt dry cleaned there before with no problems.

When I got them back, Mrs. Nod hung them up and said, "We have a problem." If you look at the picture here, it's fairly obvious: the right drapes are now 4 inches shorter than they started. The lining is pulled away from the drapes and hangs exposed. The drapes aren't even creased, they've been ironed flat - and not well, because they're still wrinkled in places.

So I took this picture and confronted the dry cleaning lady. I told her these drapes have obviously been washed instead of dry cleaned, and now they're ruined. How would you react? If you're this lady, you start acting like you're at the bazaar haggling for goods.

She immediately insisted they had been dry cleaned because she saw it done herself. (She wasn't even there that morning.) I said it didn't matter since they were ruined. Then she tries to say that dry cleaning sometimes shrinks stuff. (Nope. Not buying it.)

Well, there was a big coffee stain on it, and it had to be pre-treated. Big coffee spills sometimes shrink stuff. (Are you serious? And I suppose coffee shrinks things a nice even 4" across? Besides - that's not coffee.) Well, we can maybe let them out from the top if you have a valence. (Um. No. These are ruined and I'm going to want some money to help replace them.)

Well, we have a policy that limits our liability to 10x the cost of cleaning. (Yes, I'm aware of the policy. Pay up.) Of course, we have to factor in depreciation and wear and tear and stuff. (It's not a car, they're drapes. They just hang there until you take them down. Years even.) Oh, well, since you're my good customer, I'll write you a check. (Make sure you spell my name right.)

What is it about some people that they are so truth challenged even in the face of overwhelming evidence? It truly is incomprehensible to me. I had a receipt and photographic evidence. I don't have the bargaining skills that some of my siblings have, but I do bring a couple of things to the table: deep-seated distrust of people who are trying to take my money, and a willingness to stand there embarrassing you in front of other customers for as long as it takes. My negotiating tactics include: bald faced factual statements and staring at you when you say something stupid until your ears burn with shame.

I'm more inclined to yell and gesture, but since I'm not physically imposing, I've found that a quiet menace is much more unnerving to strangers. I actually lower my voice and deliver it deadpan so that you have to lean forward to hear what I'm saying. This is good, since I don't lose my temper and don't have to go to Confession afterward.

I just want what's equitable. I got some money to replace my drapes -- not nearly enough, but some. And nobody had to get hurt - this time.


evanscove said...

Alas, I know all too well what you mean about "truth-challenged" people. Sounds like you handled the situation very effectively, though. In fact, a lot of folks could stand to learn from your example, as many think that being angry and aggressive is best way to get what you want, or they just haven't learned to be properly assertive. But your approach demonstrated that calm, but firm, assertiveness will win the day.

And hearing about what your child did makes me kind of glad I don't have any little ones to care for... I don't think I have the stomach for them! ;-)


Barb Schoeneberger said...

Interesting how problems can lead to other problems when it comes to kids. I've run into these truth challenged people, too. If it were my business, you'd have gotten a phone call from me before you picked up the drapes because I'd have inspected the work before it went out, a profuse apology, and a new set of drapes pronto. It's the only way to do business and live with yourself. I don't see how people can keep getting caught in lies and excuses and expect anybody to take them seriously, but you see it every day on the judge shows.

Lindsay said...

My favorite teaching technique was what I called "scary quiet." I would intentionally speak just loud enough (but not even at my regular teacher projection volume), go very slowly, and choose my words carefully. It was much more effective than blowing up at my students, and it helped keep my blood pressure down!


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