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Ink stains in shirt pockets


Affiliate Vendor
Nov 1, 2004
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First of all, how far (low) will customers go to get service. Would you return any product that you damaged yourself and expect satisfaction from the provider to accept the return. I have to feel that the big box retailers have created a new breed of consumer.
Yesterday, a customers wife returned a shirt with blue staining on the bottom of the breast pocket and stated that she and he believed the shirt dye was running. She also brought in another shirt which they did not buy from me, which was also a blue shirt with the same stains on the pocket in the same place and said they thought it could be the nature of blue shirts. She said that he never carried a pen in his pocket but the inside stain was unmistakingly an ink stain.
If you were me, what would you do?

If you were them, were you surprised when I said there was nothing I could do except try to remove the stains.


Distinguished Member
Mar 3, 2004
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Good strategy. You don't want someone like that as a customer. And you certainly don't want to set a precedent. You took the right middle ground. I'm sure the customer wasn't surprised, but was embarrassed.

LA Guy

Opposite Santa
Mar 8, 2002
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Hi Gary,

Sorry, but I can't agree with JN3 here. I don't think that you would have set a bad precedence by accepting the return, no questions asked, and promised to see what you could have done about the other shirt. It would have further entrenched your reputation as a service oriented store; and because I don't think that your clientele (Older, conservative, middle to upper middle class, generally) is inclined to petty larceny for the most part, I don't think that you would have had to deal with an increased number of this type of incidence.

As it stands, you don't know how your actions will affect the word of mouth reputation of your store. And the woman's actions and arguments seem to be indicative of extreme stupidity rather than outright dishonesty. There is nothing more dangerous than a stupid person who has been accused of dishonesty.


Distinguished Member
Oct 20, 2004
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Talk about a no-win situation. It's hard to believe that anyone would try returning an obviously ink-stained shirt, but retail certainly is a laboratory for observing human behavior. It sounds like you were exceedinly polite to a very obnoxious customer.

Perhaps there is some middle ground between the suggestions of JN3 and LAG. Could you offer the customer some small (symbolic?) discount toward the purchase of a new shirt? (I doubt that the ink stains will come out completely, but you never know.) As JN3 notes, you don't want to encourage dishonest customers. But as LAG observes, the customer's combination of stupidity and cupidity could be bad for your business.


Senior Member
Dec 27, 2004
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I see the opposite with dry cleaners. A dry cleaner (KM Tops - upper west) ruined a custom shirt of mine by putting a dark blue/green spot the size of a quarter underneath the left arm. When confronted on it, the owner claimed that there was no way he put it there.

Two things -

1) I check my clothes before dropping them off. It wasnt there. Im 100% sure of it.

2) He said the spot was ink from a pen that I was holding. When I informed him that I write with my left hand, I asked him to explain how I could get this under my LEFT arm, he didnt have a good answer.

In the end, it wasnt worth taking off a day of work to take him to court for it, so I just switched cleaners. Given the amount of dry cleaning I do in a month, he's lost way way more so far than the cost of my shirt.


Current Events Moderator
Mar 19, 2002
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YES. -

There are many members of the public who will go pretty low. This whole concept of "The customer is always right" is believed by too many people, and taken advantage of by many others.

I suppose the choice of whether to accept the shirt is up to you. You might consider offering some sort of store credit for the shirt you did sell if they don't have the receipt - and refusing to take back the other one - perhaps you could try to remove the stain and not charge them for that effort.

I quite agree with you that some of the big boxes have set a bad precedent. The aprocryphal story I recall is of the person who returned a set of tires to Nordstrom.

I've never seen anything like that, but we do have the Nordstrom's Last Chance store here in Phoenix were they sell all the returned items and I've seen plenty of shoes from Costco (Kirkland brand), shirts from J.C. Penney's and other items that were clearly not purchased at Nordstrom's, but returned there due to their no-questions-asked policy.


Distinguished Member
Aug 22, 2003
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That's nothing drink - wait til you get back a $2000 suit that 'did not fit' but does have some ticket stubs in the pocket and some scuffs where the temporary pants hem got walked on during the interview the guy wore it too :)

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