Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chains >
Dec 19, 2008 04:52 PM

Got an attitude for a return at Trader Joe's

So I asked for a refund on the $1.79 milk that went sour before the sell by date, and the $7 salmon in chimichuri sauce that I just didn't like at all. The cashier first asked me where the items were (I had the receipt) and I just gave him a blank stare. Did you really want me to bring in sour milk and half eaten left over salmon? I told him the reason for wanting a refund and he seemed miffed that I wanted my money back for not liking the salmon. I asked if money back for not liking something was still their policy and he begrudgingly said yes and got the manager. I was just surprised by his attitude. Anyone else experience something similar?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Their policy is on their website:

    "Our Product Guarantee: We tried it! We liked it! If you don’t, bring it back for a full refund, no questions asked."

    Maybe they were puzzled that you were just pointing to a receipt rather than bringing in at least the packaging. Maybe they need to back up their returns at corporate with something more than "the customer showed me the receipt."

    1. I don't ask at the register because the manager has to always approve it. I to the front desk - when I walk in- and tell the manager. Then he asks if I want money right then or if I am also shopping. Then somehow whatever checkout line I go to already knows I am getting a refund. One time the person didn't know but called over to the manager and some sort of hand signal happened and all was fine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cathy

        That's what I always do. You get the best and fastest results that way.

      2. Could be the cashier was simply "off" and not thinking... I've always had the simple, non-action of "Okay" when I've asked. It hasn't happened too often so my sampling might not be accurate. :)

        1. Someone was less than amazingly upbeat. He asked a question and then got the manager and you got your money back and it sounds like it took, maybe, 8 seconds longer than it might have. But you feel like the cashier had a grudge? I appreciate the cautionary tale.

          9 Replies
          1. re: ccbweb

            OP evidently didn't read the website, or thought it didn't apply to him/her:

            "Our Product Guarantee: We tried it! We liked it! If you don’t, BRING IT BACK for a full refund, no questions asked."

            1. re: Muskrat

              Do you really think I should lug around three week old salmon to return? I make it to the store maybe once a month and certainly wasn't going to make a special trip to return two items.

              1. re: Rick

                "Do you really think I should lug around three week old salmon to return? I make it to the store maybe once a month and certainly wasn't going to make a special trip to return two items."

                Yes, no question about it, you should lug around the three-week-old salmon. Why? Because that is what is required under the clearly stated and unambiguous terms of the Trader Joe's return policy. As for your not being willing to make the trip to the store more than once a month, how is that their problem?

                I shop at Trader Joe's all the time, have returned a number of items, and am very aware and appreciative of how phenomenally generous the chain's refund policy is. I also know that it is fairly common for many (if not most) of its managers and cashiers to be even more liberal with refunds than they are required to be under that policy. But I personally would never dream of walking into any Trader Joe's and requesting a refund with nothing in hand but a receipt. And even if I did, I hope I would not feel the need to then dash off some damaging potshots here if a single cashier processed my special request with an entirely reasonable degree of caution and, yes, skepticism.

                Your headline above is "Got an attitude for a return at Trader Joe's". All due respect, but from everything you've posted here you might want to consider whether you were the one with the most questionable attitude, i.e., one of entitlement.

                1. re: Arthur

                  Yep, and I'd love to see the post from the Trader Joe's employee about the guy that brought in rotten 3 week old salmon and a carton of sour milk and plopped them on the counter. Give me a break.

                  And let's see, 25 miles each way, equals about $8 in gas for a $8.79 fefund, yeah, makes sense.

                  1. re: Rick

                    In my car, it would have been about $2.50 in gas to return it, but if I were picking something else up and not just making a special trip, the cost of the drive would be negligible.

                  2. re: Arthur

                    Got an attitude for a return at Trader Joe's

                    Sorry, but I have to agree with (Arthur) on this. Even your responses to comments here are a bit condescending. I believe it was Rick who gave the attitude and it is evident he does not believe the the rules apply to him due to his own circumstances and why should he be inconvenienced.

                    Like (ferret) mentions, you could at least bring in the packaging for the products....but here's my suggestion should you ever have to deal with a return issue again. Why don't you take five minutes out of your day to call the store and record your concerns with the manager. Then when you do get to the store, all you need to do is announce yourself and you will receive your refund without question.

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Wow, hard to believe all of the trouble everyone would go through to return rotten milk and bad tasting salmon. Phone calls, storing and transporting said now putrid product, I must admit I'm surprised.

                      1. re: Rick

                        Rick, why don't you try it sometime. I bet you will find it requires a lot less effort than you think and much less time than you have already spent on this thread.

                        1. re: Rick

                          "Wow, hard to believe all of the trouble everyone would go through to return rotten milk and bad tasting salmon...I must admit I'm surprised."

                          I have no doubt at this point that that surprises you, Rick. What is astonishing to others here, though, is how someone can consume perishable items, ask for a full refund several weeks after they were purchased, fail to return so much as the packaging of said items, offer as his only proof of purchase a receipt he could have picked up off the ground in the parking lot, still get 100 percent of his money back promptly and with virtually no resistance, then have the audacity to protest before this large audience about how he believes he was mistreated.

              2. I would have gotten a refund for the bad milk and called it a day. Even if the store's policy is generous, why take advantage? I would feel like a total jerk if I tried to get money back simply because I didn't like the taste of something that I thought I might like. It's not spoiled. Not badly cooked. Just doesn't please you. Don't buy it again. Why should the store pay for your experimentation? How is this different than ordering a dish at a restaurant that you don't like. Would you send it back? Just because of the two parties involved, you think someone else ought to pick up the slack?

                11 Replies
                1. re: sasha1

                  I agree with you - something spoiled definitely deserves a refund but just because you don't like something that YOU chose - well, I don't think any store would really be obligated to give you a refund but TJ's is being generous. Just think if you worked in the store and had customers coming up to you asking for refunds because they didn't like something - pretty soon you'd get sick and tired of it. Yes they are employees who are supposed to smile and issue a cheerful refund but they're human as well. I've had stuff from TJ's I didn't like but I never have asked for a refund just because I didn't like it. That's my own problem not theirs.

                  1. re: monkuboy

                    The reason that it is reasonable to request a refund for an item one simply doesn't like from Trader Joe's is that they employ the policy to get people to try unfamiliar or new products. They are hoping to increase initial sales and promote future sales by publicizing their liberal return policy.

                    As to bringing back the item (or at least its packaging) vs. just the receipt, let's use common sense as our guide. Some of the variables would be the size, weight, price, and nastiness of the items. I would not want to save or lug back a half-gallon of soured milk, it would be inconvenient, heavy, difficult to store, and heavy to transport, not to mention the possibility of leaks or spills from the opened carton. And spoiled milk is common -- it would be more reasonable to bring back the emptied and rinsed container or at least write down the codes and date. The salmon is lighter, smaller, and more expensive, making it more reasonable to actually return and more attractive to fraudulently claim a refund. But old salmon would definitely get stinky, so returning the packaging would be reasonable. As Bulavinaka points out below, if one is going to claim that a bottle or case of expensive wine is corked, one better bring in the wine.

                    I have had only positive experiences with the personnel at Trader Joe's. My biggest complaints are when favorite items get discontinued (oh, I miss the full-size quiches that used to be sold in the cooler section) and the selfish shoppers who park their SUVs in the compact parking slots.

                    1. re: nosh

                      I've been told to bring back moldy grapes (noticed right after I brought them home) after I called. I told them I didn't live nearby and hadn't planned to return for a few weeks and they told me to save them and bring them back when I returned. They obviously went in the trash because I'm not keeping them in my refrigerator for 2-3 weeks, even if they were overpriced organic grapes.

                      OTOH, I had a similar experience at WF, called and the person told me to save the receipt, put her name on it and they'd refund the money next time I returned.

                    2. re: monkuboy

                      i so agree with you monk and others who think it is unbelievable for someone to return food to a store just because they didn't like it. Just don't buy it again. And to fuss about milk that went off before the use by date. Jeez just put it down to bad luck. maybe the OP left the milk out the fridge or someone in his house did.

                      Some things are not worth getting your knickers in a twist for.

                      1. re: smartie

                        It is Trader Joe's explicit policy to refund your money if you buy a product you don't like. I wouldn't do it anywhere else, but it's not "unbelievable" to do it at Trader Joe's. Their return policy is part of their marketing strategy to encourage you to buy new and unfamiliar products.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          whether it is store policy or not I wouldn't do it.

                          1. re: smartie

                            I probably wouldn't, either. But if it's store policy, I'd expect the staff to act as though it were store policy.

                            1. re: smartie

                              That's your choice, but since that is the policy, other people aren't in the wrong or unreasonable if they make a different choice.

                              I've returned a couple of things there that were spoiled; like one of the posters above, I once got a refund when I just mentioned that the last time I'd bought the product it was bad; I've returned one product because I thought it was awful. No attitude any time.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I agree with you, Ruth.

                                I wouldn't do it anywhere but TJ's (the returning of something I didn't like), but happily enough the only thing I absolutely hated at TJ's and returned was their awful, awful Thai simmer sauce. (The tagine one that they discontinued was fantastic, but the Thai one of the same range was terrible!)

                                That said, if milk goes off before the return date, I return it for an exchange. Return dates are normally so conservative that you can keep things at least 50% longer than you expect -- but TJ's has a real problem with dairy expiration dates.

                                Now, if you went today (6 January) and bought milk without looking at it and found out the expiry was 8 January and you complain about it, it's my view that you owe the $2.99 stupidity tax (i.e., no refund for you) for not looking.

                          2. re: smartie

                            Yeah, I felt pretty strongly that regardless of store policy, a person's experimentation is their experimentation, regardless of whether it is a happy or unhappy result.

                            On the other hand, TJs is fairly well known for not storing/transporting their dairy products as they should, and so many many of them go bad well before the sell by date. So I would have not the slightest problem in bringing back the milk.

                            1. re: sasha1

                              I;ve read many mentions of spoiled milk at Trader Joe's but my experience north of Boston is the opposite. Market Basket's creams and milks, in various brands, seldom keep for long in my fridge. I've switched to getting them at TJ because they last well past the use-by date.

                              I've returned rancid mayo and sesame crackers to TJ's, but would not be likely to return something that just wasn't my cup of tea. Since their policy says "bring it back" I would call the store first if there were some reason why I couldn't or didn't want to.