So. One lunch hour, S, who is a very busy woman, returned to the store with her useless pants and, after a bit more palaver was handed $175. Money, I mean. Actual folding stuff.
What the ...! When I was given a piece of plastic and a deadline for redeeming it?
Thus did I make my third visit to the Willis Street store, to ask a Counter Person if someone could explain this discrepancy in S's and my treatment when we were returning goods for exactly the same reason. CP couldn't explain it but promised someone would call to do so.
They did. To my astonishment they bypassed my question altogether and said that if I brought the card into the shop I too would be refunded in cash.
In I went. But of course it was never going to be that simple.
Once more "the system" was to make its unreasonable demands on us mere mortals. It wouldn't let CP simply open the till and give me the money. Oh no. It had to be appeased by a ritual offering: I would have to buy something to the value of the card, using the card, then return what I'd bought, at which point I could I have my money.
This had to be explained twice before I dimly perceived that the purchase would be a charade and the return instant.
So this was how I came to be directed to the racks to pretend to choose what I was going to pretend to buy using my pretend card so that I could pretend to return it so that they could pretend to give me my (real) money back on the item I never wanted in the first place.
By now dazed and confused, I browsed in the hope of finding something I vaguely liked in the right size at the right price. I'd slipped into some kind of parallel universe and the chances of getting out in one piece seemed to be diminishing by the second.
But the human brain is a wonderful thing. It was only a matter of minutes before I realised a) that it mattered not a jot what was pushed across the counter, and b) it wasn't my job to search the racks but CP's.
We settled on a striped blazer, on sale at $179. The sort of thing a private-school mother would wear to the school gala. I "returned" it enthusiastically.
Rapidly restoring my grip on the situation, I offered to hand over the extra $4 so that CP could proceed to dump the value of the blazer straight back into my account via EFTPOS. She did so. And with one bound I was free.
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