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Is this really acceptable in the U.S.?

While my sister and her kids were up here (Canada) from Seattle, we went to the Science Centre; her 2 year-old insisted she wanted a carton of white milk then, after it was opened, changed her mind. My sister wanted to exchange it for chocolate saying that it wouldn't be a problem at all at home (she couldn't because they were out of chocolate). Is this really true? I can see it if it was unopened or spoiled but not if my child simply changed her mind.

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  1. 1) i've never seen that done here in the US.
    2) i never would have complied with my child's desire to change her mind on the issue.

    7 Replies
          1. re: westsidegal

            Yes, what westsidegal said. Also in agreement with GH1618 downthread. When your sister said "it wouldn't be a problem at home", she clearly meant her own home, right?--the place where she can parent oddly without affecting others' health?

            Out of curiosity....did you intervene and say in a stage whisper "Stop it you're embarrassing me"?

              1. re: westsidegal

                Is the child otherwise spoiled rotten and overly entitled? I'd be mortified if somebody at my table tried that nonsense.
                <common practice in Seattle>- Riiiiight- as in "kindly do not question the strange ways of my people".

                1. re: EWSflash

                  No, she's the sweetest thing ever! She wouldn't have even raised a peep if she'd been told that she couldn't have anything else.

              2. No, an exchange would not be expected. I think the parent is wrong on two scores: first in asking for such an unreasonable thing; second for indulging her child.

                2 Replies
                1. re: GH1618

                  I'll add a third wrong: giving chocolate milk to a small child under any circumstances.

                  1. Sorry, but I must have been dozing, when I read the post.

                    Are you saying that you opened a container of milk, and then wanted to exchange that for something else?

                    Obviously, I mis-read, or just missed something.

                    When a package of food has been opened, regardless of who changes what, I cannot imagine anyone taking that back (exception might be corked, or spoiled wine), and replacing it with anything else.

                    Please help me to wake up, and understand that how far off I have gotten.


                    28 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      No, wasn't me but my sister who wanted to do so. I thought she was out of her mind but she said it was common practise in Seattle—that customer service was so much better that they would do anything to make sure that you were happy.

                      I was just relieved that they were out of chocolate so we didn't have the inevitable scene when they wouldn't let her exchange it.

                      1. re: Jasz

                        <common practice in Seattle>

                        Perhaps it's a common practice in Seattle in *her* home, *her* universe.
                        Seattle's overall business customer service is no different than anywhere else in the country.

                        1. re: Jasz

                          I have lived in the Seattle area my entire life. Never, under any circumstances, have I seen or experienced what your sister represents as normal practice in the greater Seattle area. Bizarre indeed, and something I could never imagine doing. Or even thinking about doing.

                          1. re: jlhinwa

                            Sounds like the sister has a distorted sense of entitlement and yes there will be merchants that will indulge her with the customer is always right mentality. That's just a business decision they make.

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              This was my thought exactly. Most people will not take advantage of merchants in this inappropriate way, but there is a small segment whose sense of entitlement is so overdeveloped that they don't even question taking advantage of others in this way.

                              1. re: Cachetes

                                Yes! Entitlement was the word I was looking for in my earlier post. The sister is teaching her child entitlement.

                          2. re: Jasz

                            <so we didn't have the inevitable scene when they wouldn't let her exchange it.>

                            What type of 'scene' is it? I'm curious how far she'll go to enable her child.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              yes, this is the point, even with a 2 year old, that you say, "you picked this, drink it or not, but this is what you are having. Next time you can choose chocolate" (assuming that's generally allowed).

                              1. re: DGresh


                                I've watched parents of 2 year olds actually become nervous & horribly anxious when they think, for a second, they're not doing everything possible to make their child happy.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  While there are certainly ALL types of parents, I also just like to try not to judge parents too harshly, especially if you don't know them. At some point in time you might have been talking about me.
                                  We're lovingly firm with our son and have lots of clearly defined boundaries which we stick to, and knock on everything, we also have a pretty great kid. But he's still a kid, not yet 2 years old, and for instance, this past week he was getting over a cold that had him not sleeping, started a new daycare, and his adored grandparents who he was used to seeing every other day, left town for 3 weeks. Our awesome kid turned into a volatile sleep-deprived time bomb and if anyone observed me in the grocery store, or at the drycleaners last week, they might have said exactly what you just wrote about me. Because sometimes, yeah, you're just trying to keep them happy and get through your errands without being the parent of the screaming, screeching demon-spawn that everyone is desperately trying to avoid and get back home to a safe environment where you can turn up the radio, pour yourself a glass of wine and get back to ignoring the previously scheduled melt-down already in progress.

                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                    Granted, hyacinthgirl, my situation was different than parents who worked. I didn't have the added responsibility of a job,
                                    I understand what you're saying and there are billions of times, when raising my children, that the nearest plane to Jamaica, alone, sounded like the perfect remedy for the exhaustion nobody told me I'd be facing.
                                    All I'm saying is that the sister with the milk situation is, undoubtedly, creating a situation with her child that can possibly, come back to bite her in the ass and hurt her child in the long run. Your situation, with a child who feels not up-to-par (I was there too) and you're trying to get things done quickly isn't going to hurt anything or anyone. It's the mother who, day in and day out, enables their child and lets them scream their bloody guts out in front of everyone because they don't get their way, without doing anything about it, is the one I'm referring to.

                                2. re: DGresh

                                  Absolutely correct, DGresh! This is a perfect learning experience for a child...even 2 year olds can think about simple choices, and having to accept the consequences!

                                  1. re: josephnl

                                    "...even 2 year olds can think about simple choices, and having to accept the consequences".

                                    You're not around a lot of 2 year olds, are you?

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      Yeah, I looked twice at that one, too. But MOST 2 year olds CAN accept the word "No" gracefully if they have been taught to.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        really? I raised two that are no longer 2 years old, but yeah I can remember. And if they yell, we get outa town so to speak. But mine didn't.

                                  2. re: latindancer

                                    As a current parent of an almost 2 year old, and someone who has now observed a fair amount of kids at that age, I do know that different kids go through different stages right around the 2year mark and some of those can include extreme tantrums. There are lots of parents who are very firm with their kids, and do all the advised sticking to what they say and ignoring the tantrum, but it can take a kid a few months to really get the message that this throwing themselves on the floor tactic isn't really working out the way they'd hoped.
                                    Being that they were out in public, I can understand how a parent might choose in a special circumstance to avoid a meltdown before it occurred by exchanging the milk (esepcially if the other option would include having to cut a rare vacation/family day short or if there were no easy way to get back to a safe place in time), so I wouldn't judge the mother's choosing to give in to the child's fickle-milk-mind in this instance.
                                    Now, I'm also not saying she shouldn't have PAID for a new milk.

                                    1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                      Fair enough. But I agree. She should just pay for it.

                                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                        <different kids go through different stages right around 2 year mark>

                                        Of course, and as you say, every child is different.
                                        I've raised two children, now adults. Both of them are well adjusted, successful, mannerly, kind and generous. All I have to offer to this is that if either one of them began the 'meltdown' in a store where other customers deserved an environment that *wasn't* where a two year old screaming their head off, they were promptly removed from the situation. Immediately with a casual, "if you don't stop now we're leaving and we're not going to the park". The crying stopped when they realized they weren't getting anywhere with the attention and we (their choice) weren't going to the park. A few times with that lesson and it didn't happen anymore. Too many parents, as I see it, try and reason with the child and talk to them like they're an adult friend. The child learns to have the upper hand and off to the races they go. In my opinion, with this sister, the moment she recognized the problem she should have *not* given in to the child. If the child began the meltdown she should have left, immediately with child in hand, quietly and calmly like an adult.
                                        Just my two cents.

                                        1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                          I don't think the OP posted about the child's behavior so much as the sister's, who seems to have a history of self indulgence and maybe making stuff up, from OP's dubiousn asides.

                                          I don't think firm parents ignore tantrums, I think they try to help their children regain control in the situtation, and if that doesn't work, pick them up and remove them so they can quiet themselves with help, free of an audience and feeling out of control in a public place.

                                          Sometimes, you just have to get up from the table or out of the store, not with anger, with calm, to help a child, even a 2 y.o., regain composure. Sometimes it's impossible and you have to do what's best for the child (and the public!) and just go home.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            From what I know of my niece, she wouldn't have thrown a tantrum. She would just have refused to drink the milk (she actually loves plain milk but wants it in her bottle—I won't ask if that's suitable for a 2 year old as this isn't a parenting forum). She would have been fine with not getting anything else either—it was my sister who wanted to exchange it, not the wee one insisting on something else to drink.

                                            1. re: Jasz

                                              That makes your sister's behavior even more baffling to me! When you said you were glad you were able to avoid the "inevitable scene"- does your sister generally demand to get her way and have an inflated sense of entitlement?

                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                Not in other matters but both my sisters think that if they buy something and aren't completely happy with it that they are entitled to return it no matter what. My other sister once returned a more-than-half eaten fast-food burrito when here saying it wasn't as fresh as those she gets in San Antonio. I try to steer clear in these circumstances.

                                                1. re: Jasz

                                                  I think that's where I'd just go wait in the car so no one thought I might possibly be related to or friends with someone like this.

                                                  Then I'd call my parents and ask them what they did to the sisters to make them like this.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    My theory: Our parents had a restaurant that we all worked at for various times and I think that they saw what "those" customers would get away with and decided to emulate it. I just went the opposite.
                                                    Interesting note: Both sisters often complain about "poor" customer service while I'd be hard-pressed to think of more than a half-dozen examples in my life—and funny enough, all those places have since closed down.

                                              2. re: Jasz

                                                yes, I think it's clear in all your posts that your sister's the issue here, not her child.

                                              3. re: mcf

                                                yes, this isn't about the kid, if anyone has ever tried to rationalize the behavior of a toddler (or for that matter an adult with a severe mental illness) you'll know the futility of that approach. it's not about the chocolate milk, it's about the expected return policy and the painful lesson in not indulged whims.

                                          2. re: Jasz

                                            I live in Seattle, and NO, places wouldn't let you do that.

                                            1. re: Jasz

                                              It sounds as if the translation might be "they'll do anything to get you to leave their shops."

                                            1. re: wyogal

                                              And why does the OP even care if they live up there in Canada?

                                                  1. re: wyogal

                                                    'Cause you seem really really smart....?

                                              1. You open it, you bought it. Unless it was spoiled, which doesn't seem the case, then she should be charged for whatever other beverage she ordered.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: MonMauler

                                                  Now, I have never lived in Seattle, or Canada, but that has been what I have encountered, just like the antique shop - you broke it - you own it.

                                                  Maybe I have led a sheltered life, where retailers just "eat" an opened container, and replace it with whatever the patron decides they really want?

                                                  "Hey, nothing wrong with this Beef Wellington for Four, but I really want the salmon, so replace it."


                                                2. I think your sis might be delusional.Once you pay for it and open it no one is going to "exchange" it unless it is spoiled.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Lillipop

                                                    I've always thought so (that she was delusional). Thanks for confirming it!

                                                    1. re: Jasz

                                                      I think the issue isn't so much whether a restaurant would exchange the item without additional expense.

                                                      The issue is more that a person would expect that a restaurant would do this. Somebody has to pay for it in the end.

                                                  2. I could see a situation where your sister has had situations like that occur for her once or twice in the States. In a way, I see it as no difference as comping a customer a dessert. If it's a regular customer and not a frequent request, then I could see it happen. If I'm at a restaurant in the US and it's my birthday, I don't expect to receive a free dessert - but I'm also not shocked if I get one.

                                                    That being said the assumption that it'd be no problem (and wouldn't result in an extra fee), that's definitely not the norm.

                                                    1. all that ^

                                                      No way, for lots and lots of reasons.

                                                      1. "you break it (open), you bought it"

                                                        I don't want to cast aspersions on your sister, but...

                                                        when it comes to our stereotype, don't believe the hype.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                          Although when I was at Home Depot and the employees and I were looking at light bulbs, I broke two packages dropping them while thu stood there not helping with my arms full. They did not charge me. I think if she requested it free there would be an issue but if She went up and said oh my daughter didn't like the regular milk I'd like to buy a carton of chocolate they might have just give it to you.

                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                            I dont think Ive ever actually seen people get charged for breaking things like that in big box stores/grocery stores. Im pretty sure they just all chalk it up to the cost of doing business.

                                                            1. re: melpy

                                                              Variations of this (though not this specific example) do happen all the time in restaurants. After serving a dish, servers will often ask if the diner likes the dish - and if the answer is "no" - restaurants will often offer a replacement dish but only charge the diner for one of the dishes.

                                                              A museum cafe I would consider to be unlikely - but still in a more generalized sense, this kind of stuff does happen.

                                                              1. re: cresyd

                                                                I don't think that's really analogous. In restaurants, the typical question is "is everything all right?" If the answer is "no" and it's something wrong or unpleasant about the dish, they might offer to replace it.

                                                                In this case, the sister chose a product that she was completely familiar with, not a prepared dish. Much more consistent expectation of a product you can predict the qualities of.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  I said it was a variation and not completely analagous.

                                                                  I think ultimately such a question comes down to "can it be done" vs "should it be done". In the can it be done - I believe the answer is 100% yes. It may not always result in a free replacement, but it can always be done. And for people on this board saying that nothing like this ever happens - I think that's a fairly narrow view of what's being discussed.

                                                                  Should it be done goes into a discussion on manners and child rearing.

                                                          2. This is sort of an offshoot of the "returning food to the market" thread. That is, stores like Trader Joe's will take a return of an opened item just because.

                                                            But, we seem to be talking about a museum cafe, yes? So, a restaurant. I could see it happening on a case-by-case basis, maybe places that are super kid friendly or something. But commonplace? No way. If I order a bottled lemonade, take two sips and decide I want a bottled Coke, I'll be paying for both.

                                                            I specify bottled in case there was something off about a fountain or housemade item. But just a change of heart? Not likely.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Violatp

                                                              I was reading through quickly, to see if anyone referenced that "returning food to the market" thread, 'cause I don't see much difference.

                                                              If I buy a food product <anywhere> and don't like it, my bad. Cannot imagine taking it back or asking for a free replacement. Don't know why I find food products vs. a pair of slacks different ('cause I might take back pants I didn't like), but I do. Irrational? Maybe just because the slacks can be re-sold, but not so an opened carton of milk that was in fine condition, just not my cup of tea (or milk).

                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                When you return that pair of slacks, the store can sell it to someone else who loves them. Grocery stores cannot resell opened food. That's the difference, so not irrational at all.

                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                  I think the difference is that the pants can be re-sold.

                                                                  I've returned foods to the grocery store on occasion, either because it was bad or defective in a way I couldn't tell til opening or just awful, like inedible. Other than those two things, my dime.

                                                              2. Supermarkets will take back food and give you your money back under almost any circumstance. It's just part of their customer service.

                                                                Other placers, no.

                                                                17 Replies
                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                  Maybe it's just me, but unless I find a fault, like a broken seal under the cap, or spoiled product, I would never take back a product, that had been opened.

                                                                  "This Trout was horrible. Take it back. Replace it with the Sea Bass. OK, I know that the plate is empty, but there WAS trout on it. Yes, I did eat it all, but decided on the Sea Bass, so replace it."

                                                                  Gotta' work for some folk.


                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    For the record. I was stating a fact (not my opinion) about supermarket groceries. All the supermarkets near me will take back a single item and refund money no matter why.

                                                                    My guess is that the same protocol would not apply if you bought 3,000 eggs and tried to return them a year later or other hypothetical situations.

                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                      Even when the package has been opened?

                                                                      If so, then they must be absorbing the cost of those returned, opened containers, and passing the cost along to the patrons.


                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        Oh yeah, especially when the package has been opened. How would you know if something's gone bad if you didn't open it?

                                                                        Supermarkets generally have a guaranteed customer satisfaction policy. You don't like it, they'll refund your money. It could be because something's wrong or you just don't like it.

                                                                        They sell more products that way. Builds consumer confidence.

                                                                        It's the same for mail order. Any company will take something back no matter what. Books, curios, clothing.... This policy increases sales, and relatively few people return, so its a big win for everyone..

                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                          Steve: as I wrote elsewhere on this thread, I, too, regularly return re-sellable items that just don't suit for whatever reason it didn't measure up (like the books, curios, clothing that you mentioned--however, I'd never read the book, then return it, or wear the shirt to a special event, then return it). The difference with the food products, natch, is that they cannot be resold. I can't see any way for the store to recoup such costs other than to pass this cost on to the customers.

                                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                                            I am neither condoning or condemning returning things, I am just saying that it is the way business is done at supermarkets and many national brands, and there's nothing to be done about it.

                                                                            As far as the the cost of such a policy, my guess is that the store has already made a cold calculation that this is better for business in pure dollars and cents.

                                                                            I can easily imagine the scenario in which a very strict return policy would result in fewer sales, which means the cost per item would probably rise. So I am not positive the liberal return policy is ultimately worse for the consumer who doesn't return items.

                                                                          2. re: Steve

                                                                            >>>It's the same for mail order. Any company will take something back no matter what. <<<

                                                                            Oh they may "take something back", but in some cases they are not going to give you a refund. You cannot order a CD, listen to it, decide you do not like it and return it for a refund. The same is true with PC software and DVD's among other things.

                                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                                              You're right. Music, software, and other digital content are the only exceptions, however.

                                                                              Everything else gets refunded.

                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                So an opened container of milk can be returned for a replacement with chocolate, though there is nothing wrong with the milk?

                                                                                Something is just not making sense here.


                                                                            2. re: Steve


                                                                              Unless I missed something in the OP's comments, the milk was NOT bad, just that the child changed their mind, after the carton had been opened.

                                                                              Do you not see the difference there?


                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                A supermarket will take it back and refund the money regardless. It is part of their satisfaction guarantee. I do not condone nor condemn the practice, that's just the way it is.

                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                  We are not talking about a supermarket in this thread, though there might be some parallels. We are talking about a "lunch counter."


                                                                            3. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              Yes, they do absorb it, unless it's defective and they can send it back to the distributor.

                                                                        2. re: Steve

                                                                          In those markets, it's not just part of their customer service, it's also part of their prices.

                                                                          1. re: DagingKuda

                                                                            Yep, same for advertising and a hundred other things that goes with the territory.

                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                              Yes. It's why, at those particular markets with the liberal return policies, I would only buy stuff I think I might want to return. Why pay their higher prices on something I know I'm not going to return just so someone else can return stuff ?

                                                                              1. re: DagingKuda

                                                                                "those particular markets"

                                                                                You make it sound like it's just a few markets. I doubt there is a major supermarket chain in the country that would refuse to take back an item.

                                                                                Like it or not, you have no choice in the matter if you want to shop at a supermarket.

                                                                        3. There is another thread running about returning stuff simply because the purchaser "didnt like it", which implies that the "something" had been opened/tasted/etc. Most, if not all, American posters said this would be perfectly acceptable in the US.

                                                                          Such a thing seems as odd to this Briton as it does to the Canadian OP.

                                                                          17 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                            truthfully? Sounds odd to this American, too.

                                                                            I've returned things when they were bad (spoiled, rancid, etc) -- but if I just didn't care for it, I'd just deal with it for this package, toss it or give it away, and not buy it again.

                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                Oh -- truthfully as in "to be really honest with you" -- I remembered the other thread, too.

                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                              <Most, of not all, American posters said this would be perfectly acceptable in the US.>

                                                                              'Acceptable' is one thing, actually doing it is another. As I've stated, on the other thread you're referring to, it would never cross my mind of returning a food item just because I 'didn't like it", for a variety of reasons. I'd give it away or throw it away.

                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                Not acceptable to me, I do not condone it. Yes, i thought of that other thread, too. And I thought "Wow, some nerve, Returning something just because a person doesn't like it. What world do they live in?"
                                                                                Not perfectly acceptable.

                                                                                1. re: Harters


                                                                                  That has not been my experiences, unless something had gone bad (gone "off"), but maybe my life has just been sheltered.


                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                    I don't know if it's a case of being sheltered or not - but I see this as falling more into the category of "if you don't ask, you won't receive". Essentially - perhaps you can't return that box of glueten free cookies that taste yucky or exchange an open carton of milk - but if you ask, maybe you can.

                                                                                    I'm sure part of this mentality has to do with the environment you're living in whether or not it's accepted or not.

                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                      No. It's probably me being naïve, in that when I have opened a perishable, I would never think of returning it, unless it was bad. To return same, just because I changed my mind, would never occur to me.


                                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                                        That kind of translates into "getting away with what you can."

                                                                                        Not a virtue, IMO, but I know folks who think not to do so is foolish.

                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                          Yes, it does seem all too common, at least for me.

                                                                                          When I return something, it is because there is something wrong with it - not because I made a bad decision, but that must just be me?


                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                            No, it's not just you, Bill Hunt.
                                                                                            There are many of us out there who feel the same as you.

                                                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        I agree with you, but with some exception. There are stores (Trader Joe's, for example) that via posted signs and statements in their flyers, encourage shoppers to try new products with the clear proviso that I you do not like the item, you should feel free to return I for refund or exchange. In these instances, I see nothing wrong with returning an opened item simply because you don't like it.

                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                          Yeah. And having recently bought frozen "Argentinian wild-caught shrimp" at TJ's, hoping they'd be a nice treat in a seafood curry.... well, they were a horrible texture and I took them back. At $8.99, you bet I'm gonna take shitty shrimp back. And of course, it was no problem with the store.

                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                            My current boss will ask restaurants to change their prices to what she feels they should be (not to mention far more galling questions to actual professional contacts). And she has no problem continuing to ask the question of the same restaurant every time she goes there if she doesn't get an answer she likes.

                                                                                            It doesn't always work, it usually makes me uncomfortable when I'm with her - but she asks! Going back to the OP, whether or not it's "acceptable" - I would say in my regional context, it's not common but it's also not a practice that's ever gotten my boss barred from a place.

                                                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                                                              And I would bet ANYTHING that your boss would be furious and offended if someone asked her if she or your company would charge less or give something away.

                                                                                              I had a boss like that. Wanted vendors to practically give away their goods and services, but our company's own services were very expensive and he was personally offended if someone tried to negotiate.

                                                                                              1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                Exactly. Not to mention if a vendor is selling something "below market rate" - she's not going to inform them that they should charge more.

                                                                                                She's a particularly unique case, and not one that I'd hold up as a representation for standard behavior from anywhere (she's isn't American if that makes anything better or worse). But, there are many "Not about food" questions that clearly show in the responses that what is considered acceptable behavior and what isn't can include a pretty wide range.

                                                                                      3. I would be tempted to reply: "Welcome to Planet Maturia! We have much to teach you."

                                                                                        1. I've never done that. I would buy another one, how much could it be, a buck? I have seen people try all sorts of maneuvers here, however, such as a woman polishing off an entire plate of food in a nice restaurant and then complaining loudly and continuously that it was not properly cooked, demanding a refund and getting it. So, who knows, maybe it does happen if you ask.

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Kat

                                                                                            LOL I was just reading a thread here on CH about *Costco* finds. A lady posted that she had purchased a deep dish pizza and that after it did not bake up the way she expected..... her family *picked* at it but did not consume the entire thing.She returned the remainder to Costco for a refund. I find that very crude.

                                                                                              1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                Costco has gotten a ton of great press for the latitude of their return policy. I'm sure they think a take home pizza here and there is a small price to pay for the tons of free publicity they get from both word of mouth from happy customers as well as articles in the media (try googling "Costco return policy" to see the articles gushing about it.)

                                                                                                If a business, ANY business (such as Costco or Trader Joe's) touts a liberal return policy, they encourage people to take a chance and try their house-branded items that customers might otherwise shy away from, increasing sales on items that probably have pretty high profit margins. I don't personally see how it's crude for customers to avail themselves of that policy. She tried the Costco-branded item, her family didn't like it. If they take it back, she'll probably be wiling to try (and pay for) more store-branded items... why not, when there's no risk? At the very least, she'll be willing to offer a testimonial to friends about trying house-branded products. Costco wins in this situation, no question about it.

                                                                                                But really that's got no correlation to the situation posed here, and the OP's sister is a clod. Milk is milk and if your kid can't make up their mind, you're not teaching any good lessons by letting them do this.

                                                                                                1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                  I would never return the remaining uneaten pizza that I had opened...baked and served to my family and expect a full refund for a product I had partially consumed.To walk into Costco with a half eaten deep dish pizza expecting a refund? Sorry...not happening in my reality.In fact I don't think I am acquainted with anyone who has done that or who would think of doing that. But I also have a comfortable income and tossing a pizza I did not like into the compost bin is not a BFD to me and will not bankrupt me morally or otherwise:)

                                                                                                  1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                    Well, that's certainly your choice and prerogative not to do that, but it doesn't mean other people are crude if they do, when the policy is that they can.

                                                                                                    Is it the actual return of the item that bothers you, or the concept of a customer asking for a refund of something they partly consumed? Would you find it crude if she just brought her receipt in, said she was unhappy with it and wanted a refund? Would a store credit be more acceptable than a refund?

                                                                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                      I realize that Costco disposes of the half eaten food that people*return*.I just find it crude.Maybe if there had been one or two bites taken out of a slice but serving your family the pizza...and returning the 1/2 that is left over:) Whatever.The only time I have returned an item is when the pork steaks I had purchased locally were opened by me so I could cook dinner for my kids....they were green and spoiled on the underside.Money back no questions asked...and I bought about 12 plant pacs @ Longs Drugs (both of these incidents were in the 90's) of flowers to plant in my planter boxes. When I got them home and set them on the deck they were full of some type of insect. I returned them for a refund. Both products were blatantly unfit for sale or consumption.

                                                                                                2. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                  I have no problem with people who return products because 'they didn't like it'.
                                                                                                  As long as there's a separate line for them, like there is at Costco, then it doesn't phase me.
                                                                                                  When I have to stand and wait and listen to the exchange, and the reasons why blah blah, then I *do* have a problem with it.

                                                                                              2. No, not normal in my area of the states. You don't just "change your mind" after eating something.

                                                                                                I have seen servers offer something else to a child when the child clearly didn't like it. Not unlike a server noticing an adult didn't care for their meal and offering to get them something else.

                                                                                                If fact when I took my son (at his insistence, LOL) to GF's place in time square the server offered to replace to his mac and cheese when it was obvious he wouldn't be eating another bite.

                                                                                                1. I'm sorry, but you sister needs to wake up on two fronts. First, why should the retailer suffer a loss because of her bad judgment and two, if this is typical of her parenting, she is not doing that child any favors, to put it mildly. At 2 yo, it's changing your mind with no consequence; at 16 yo, well I shudder to think....

                                                                                                  1. No, it isn't reasonable to want to exchange the milk. The white milk is no longer any good to the retailer. The customer is expecting the retailer to take a loss on a perfectly good product.

                                                                                                    That said, I'm in the grocery business and this crap happens all of the time.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                                      "The customer is expecting the retailer to take a loss on a perfectly good product."

                                                                                                      Certainly not new or limited to the food industry. Customers have been groomed that way by retailers with liberal return policies. So who's fault is it? The customer or the retailers?

                                                                                                      I put the blame squarely with certain retailers who factor in the loss as a business expense to drive sales. In return we have a customer base that has an expectation that they are always right.

                                                                                                    2. Maybe your sister gets a retailer to do this for her in Seatle, but it is a totally unreasonable thing to request.

                                                                                                      1. I was in a restaurant with our friend, a mom, and her 13 yr old boy. The son didn't like the dish he ordered for dinner. She requested it to be swapped out and they did. This was in Seattle.

                                                                                                        There was nothing wrong with the dish. "He just didn't like it."

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                          If you eat in a nice place and you find the dinner not acceptable, it is OK to ask for something else. I admit I have not ever done this, but I've been tempted a few times.

                                                                                                          Opening a carton of milk in a fast food place and deciding it isn't what your little darling wants, is not the same IMO. Mom should have paid for a new carton, or said to her child, "you can drink this or water."

                                                                                                        2. Is your sister exceptionally good-looking? Good-looking people tend to get whatever they want.

                                                                                                          1. Just wondering if entitled wives and picky children were also so easily exchanged in Seattle. Wouldn't that be interesting?

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. Two separate issues here.
                                                                                                                1) is this common practice in the US? I'd say yes, in hat most restaurants, stores, etc., tend to be extremely forgiving in their return / exchange policies.
                                                                                                                2) is this something to be taken advantage? Clearly no... There are a lot of things you can get in life. Doesn't mean you always would tough.

                                                                                                                So, yes, I think many businesses would simply give her the chocolate milk given the situation, but I don't really think its right to even make that request, and as the responses here indicate, most people would agree.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                  I agree with FD. I think many places in the US would exchange the milk because they have a liberal return policy, to inspire a repeat customer, or just to avoid a scene that might create a negative experience for other diners.

                                                                                                                  However, just because it's possible you CAN get away with it, doesn't mean that the majority of people think it's RIGHT.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                    Your last sentence is the crux of the matter. Just because a store *will* accept the unliked chocolate nut muffin doesn't mean it's the *right* thing to ask. My 2 cents.

                                                                                                                2. As a customer, and one who happens to live in the Seattle area, I agree with almost all the posts so far, in that it would never occur to me to request something else if I simply "changed my mind," and I'd never expect it to be offered.


                                                                                                                  As a fairly new entrant into the world of restaurant ownership, I have to say that I do this all the time for our guests. A family comes in, and you can see in their eyes that they've been dealing with this kid all day. Maybe he's always this way, or maybe he's having a bad day, but there are times when he decides he just isn't going to eat the Mac N' Cheese (just as Foodie notes, above) or a carton of milk or whatever, and I have to decide if it's worth it to eat the eighty cents or so for this family that just dropped thirty or forty bucks on dinner to keep them happy. Sometimes someone opens a bottle of sparkling cider and declares it's "gone bad" because it's all fizzy and I just smile and bring them the regular apple juice. Yes, that actually happens.

                                                                                                                  So while I agree it's not acceptable, I'm sure it happens all the time.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                    As one who's lived most of my life in Seattle, now living in LA, I can honestly say all you've described is not exclusive to Seattle.
                                                                                                                    All businesses, in the best interest of catering to potential repeat customers and attempting to make the customer happy, will occasionally, or more often than not, go out of their way to do so.
                                                                                                                    It's not uncommon, although your hospitality is admirable.
                                                                                                                    The OP's sister, in order to make an argument for enabling her child's behavior, is using Seattle's 'great customer service' as a scapegoat. Anyone, anywhere, could use the same geographical example in order to reinforce his/her argument.
                                                                                                                    Enjoy your new restaurant...all the very best.

                                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                      You are a fine person and a wonderful host. Far more than I would be...but then, I would be in the wrong profession. Part of the question is whether you are selling food or providing hospitality.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                                                                        Well, we are trying to do the latter by doing the former. My hunch has always been that if the latter isn't your goal then you won't do much of the former. But I could be very wrong about that.

                                                                                                                    2. Why would you conclude that your Sister's actions are representative of what is acceptable in the U.S.?

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                        Because she said so. I'm trying to find out if it is really true.

                                                                                                                      2. I've returned products to stores that I deemed unfit for one reason or another, and I suppose it could be said that I simply didn't like it; the fact that I found these items inedible in their natural, unspoiled state could just be my fault for expecting them to taste good. The stores did in fact take back the items and give me credit.

                                                                                                                        However, this is very different from a child's (or anyone's) changing her mind about what kind of milk she wanted. The white milk was not of unsatisfactory quality, it was merely deemed, after the fact, as being of the wrong flavor. I can't imagine indulging any customer to that extent, especially not a child who needs to be taught to make up her mind up front.

                                                                                                                        1. There are some businesses that will do exchanges or refunds for any reason, in the name of customer service - it went bad, you didn't like it, you wanted something else more, it clashed with the colour of the rest of your meal, etc. But I think it's very much a business by business practice, rather than a standard.

                                                                                                                          Of course, if a business does this, it can be convenient for the consumer, but the business is going to have to cover the cost of those returns in their prices. So it's one of those things that's great, as long as people don't take advantage of it too much.

                                                                                                                          1. I grew up in the Seattle area and I have two thoughts:

                                                                                                                            1) I know of no vendor who would willingly take back the milk simply because someone changed their mind after it had been opened.

                                                                                                                            2) I know of no reasonable person who would even try to return it after it had been opened.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                              yeah, it's not a geographic or even a national issue. it's about behavior. (sorry Jasz - gotta call 'em as I see 'em, wish we didn't know it was your sister's behavior, knowing that, I for one, have been far more restrained in my response.)

                                                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                Totally agree on both points. I can't believe that anyone would try to exchange an opened product unless it was spoiled. Truly ridiculous to expect any vendor to take it back!!

                                                                                                                              2. Typical American mother with "my perfect child" syndrome. Even worse that she did it in a foreign country ... no wonder they hate us.

                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: emu48

                                                                                                                                  oh, this is not a strictly American syndrome -- I see it in Europe all the time.

                                                                                                                                  But European mothers would not ask for a replacement just because their perfect little darling didn't like it -- it would just get thrown out.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                    Not just European and American......

                                                                                                                                    1. re: emu48

                                                                                                                                      Just to note: she's a transplanted Canadian, having moved to Seattle about 15 years ago.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                        maybe we have more in common with dogs than we think, if you move a 'good' dog in with an ill-trained one, usually the 'good' one adopts the habits of the 'bad' one.

                                                                                                                                        I love my country (USA), but we do have our share of jerks running around.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                          As do ALL countries, from what I can observe. (Color me tired of US-bashing.)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                            sandy - I'm enough of a misanthrope to extend a general disdain equally upon all humanity. but I tend towards self-deprecation before denigrating others (but give me the opportunity off the record and...).

                                                                                                                                      2. No, that's crazy talk. Your sister is delusional.

                                                                                                                                        1. Not normal, no. Aside from all the parenting issues, a restaurant would be highly unlikely to make such an exchange. Assuming the carton was open and the restaurant employee knew it was open.

                                                                                                                                          If the carton was unopened and just sold very recently (or the customer was deceiving the restaurant), then an exchange would be common.

                                                                                                                                          If the restaurant knew the carton was open, it would be rare for them to exchange it. However, I can see some places having a hardline "customer is always right" philosophy and exchanging it. They would then have to throw out the white milk - they couldn't sell it after it was opened.

                                                                                                                                          1. My proposal for a really cool move on the part of the Science Centre cafeteria worker who was confronted with this problem:

                                                                                                                                            1. Cheerfully take back the (opened) container of plain milk;
                                                                                                                                            2. Out of sight of your sister, open a container of chocolate milk;
                                                                                                                                            3. Hand the open container of chocolate milk to your sister.

                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                              Absolutely brilliant! Wish you'd been there. I would have paid good money to see the sister's face.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                                  Now, that would have been even better if that chocolate milk container had been returned earlier for "plain milk," but still a great idea.


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                                    that would have been classic! but one of those things that occur far too after the fact.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                      Yes. Reflection can sharpen perception to 20/20, or maybe even better.

                                                                                                                                                      "I should have said ____ ... "


                                                                                                                                                  2. Yesterday I stopped for a cappuccino "to go" at a coffee shop. The young woman who waited on me was very friendly. I proceeded to get into my car and spilled the entire cup on the ground. I went back in to purchase another one. The young woman asked me why I was there again. I explained & she insisted this one was free. I absolutely told her 'no' it wasn't their fault. She insisted *and* handed me a sweet roll on top of it. I could have easily called my relatives in another state 'this is what they do in my home state'. It was a combination of the lovely woman and *her* customer service and being in the right place at the right time. It had nothing to do with where I live.

                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                      The obvious difference being, you didn't expect or demand a free replacement, much less a bonus sweet roll. You were prepared to do the right thing, which was to pay for a replacement. It was a wonderfully kind thing that the young woman did in return, and I think that is awesome. But wayyyy different than the attitude of entitlement displayed in the OP's situation.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                                                                        You're right and I agree.

                                                                                                                                                        I will only say that the OP's sister is not unlike many Seattleites who happen to feel the same way she does.
                                                                                                                                                        She's not alone in her thinking...it's a complete utopia for many who live there.
                                                                                                                                                        I only mentioned my story, and I know it's much different, to show that every city has all types of people and at any given time some are more charitable than others. Her situation had nothing to do with the city. Perhaps her intention was to try and prove to her brother that her city was 'better than his'.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                          Not picking on Seattle here, but many folk feel totally entitled, and have become to view themselves, and their children, as the center of the universe, as we know it.

                                                                                                                                                          Do not know many from Seattle, and they do not strike me as such, but let's just say that there are many, from **elsewhere** who do.


                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                            There are those of us who were raised much differently than the child of the OP's sister.
                                                                                                                                                            When a parent has the chance to teach their child a very important object lesson and not only misses the opportunity but advocates the entitlement, it's a shame. We end up with a population who feels it's their right to exchange an opened milk carton for a chocolate milk because "oops I've changed my mind and now I want the chocolate milk".
                                                                                                                                                            That attitude carries over into every other area of their life.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                              As I noted above, it wasn't my niece who insisted on getting chocolate milk, but her mother. She would have been happy without anything to drink after she decided that she didn't want the milk because it wasn't in her bottle (which we didn't have with us unfortunately).

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                Well, have fun with that one :).

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                  Ha. My kid was very attached to his bottle. One day we told him that we had promised the garbage men that they could have his bottles. We put them in the bin on the curb, all but one, and waited for the truck to come. When it did, we carried him out and let him throw the last one into the truck. We never heard about it from him again.

                                                                                                                                                                  EDIT: I know, not a parenting thread - just a cute story -

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                    So interesting. Must work better when you are young. I remember my parents buying me a new mattress when I was 10 or 11 and then being so upset that when they put it in the yard to take to the dump, I threw my self on it and laid there with tears in my eyes. You would have thought they wanted to save the money.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                          And, you probably told many people about the excellent service you received. Excellent customer service is, ultimately, good for the bottom line. (However, I do see significant differences between your situation and what the OP described. jlhinwa is right - you were not demanding or expecting something)

                                                                                                                                                        3. Frankly if I were running a restaurant and someone wants to exchange an opened carton of milk for another one, I would just do it. The cost is minimal and it makes my customer happy. Whether this is appropriate from the customer's stand point is another issue.

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PeterL

                                                                                                                                                            It's one thing for a customer to offer to buy another milk to please her child and for a kind and understanding merchant replace it gratis...very classy! It's a totally different situation when a customer wishes to exchange an opened container of milk simply to please a child and expects the merchant to do this!

                                                                                                                                                          2. So many seem to equate this with a restaurant, grocery store, mail order, etc.
                                                                                                                                                            I am assuming that the Science Centre is a museum, with possibly a "restaurant" style cafeteria, or a glorified food counter. Also, they probably get lots of kiddos in there. That, if given the chance to 'trade" opened food products for a different one, based purely on the "I don't like it," excuse... I would foresee them losing a bit of revenue.
                                                                                                                                                            It's like when I am in a kindergarten classroom, and one child has to go to the bathroom, they all have to go. Same with getting a drink of water. (no, not depriving them, just scheduling it so they don't start in on that in the middle of a presentation.)
                                                                                                                                                            and, is that what we want to teach our kids... it wasn't about trying something new that they really didn't like, or a product that was bad. It was a child's whim. On someone else's dime.

                                                                                                                                                            1. That would never fly... liability concerns and it's unsellable... sounds like your dear sister and child may be just a tad high maintenance?

                                                                                                                                                              I agree with wsg's points 1 and 2.

                                                                                                                                                              1. There seems to be a ton of restaurant behaviors that I used to think were unacceptable that are becoming commonplace in our society. How we dress. How we treat service staff. How we demand comps on food we didn't like (I didn't know the tartare would be served raw!). How about some gregarious conversation laced with f bombs in a crowded place. Exchange some milk? Why not:-)

                                                                                                                                                                1. This is a parenting issue, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Jasz,

                                                                                                                                                                    After all of these replies, has your question been conclusively answered in your mind as to if that behavior is really acceptable in the U.S.?

                                                                                                                                                                    That was your question afterall.

                                                                                                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                      What I'm getting is that some places will bend over backwards to keep their customers happy and as my sister pushes the issue she may have indeed been indulged. Also that reasonable people wouldn't think of asking for such an exchange—but would be thrilled if the establishment offered (as would I). That about cover it?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                        But Jasz, your question was, and I will quote you..."Is this really acceptable in the U.S.?"

                                                                                                                                                                        Has your question been conclusively answered in your mind as to if that behavior is really acceptable in the U.S.?

                                                                                                                                                                        That was your question if you do not recall.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                          Not conclusively answered, no, because some people here say that businesses WILL accommodate that sort of behaviour, so it may well be that the places my sister goes to in Seattle would have exchanged the opened milk for her without argument.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                            Apparently, based on the feedback on this thread, most businesses *will* accommodate that sort of behaviour.
                                                                                                                                                                            Also, based on the description you've given about your sister, the businesses she's having accommodate her will do so just to keep her calm and quiet.
                                                                                                                                                                            It's, most likely, based on my experience and the conversations I've had with the employees where I market, she's one of *those* who they'll appease for various reasons....not all good ones. In other words, it's not her flowery personality that keeps her accommodated.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                              Latindancer, I am sure you are right. There are battles just not worth it in the big scheme of things and it is probably easier to just quietly deal with the problem than risk a scene over a couple of bucks. Not cool on the part of the unreasonable person and not fair to the rest of the reasonable public who end up eating the cost.

                                                                                                                                                                              I have a job in which customer service to the same group of clients is a key component. I have "those" customers, for whom I regularly have to make a judgement call as to if it is worth fighting a battle over something small. And then I have the customers who are incredibly considerate and gracious. You'd better believe I know who they are and go out of my way to anticipate their requests and exceed their expectations. Not only is it good for business, but it makes me happy to make nice people happy. I will never go over and above for the jerks. Good thing I am not in the food business....I would have been tempted to spit in the milk, lol!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                                                                                                So do "those" customers end up with the better customer service or is it the ones that are "considerate and gracious"?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                                  ultimately, the ones who are considerate and gracious get the better treatment.

                                                                                                                                                                                  For me, if there were two orders on my desk, and I could only get one through production that day, the one who treated me like a human being and a valued business partner is the one who got their shipment that day.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                                    I am one of those 'considerate and gracious' customers. I would not dream of bringing anything back to this store because 'I didn't like it'.
                                                                                                                                                                                    On the rare occasion that I bring home a piece of fish (I'm rather nuts when it comes to freshness with fish) I've simply called them and told them about what they'd sold me (nicely) and they tell me to come in at my convenience and they'll reimburse me. This is followed with 'just throw it out and forget about bringing it in'. They trust me, I'm a loyal customer and my husband I have a very good relationship with everyone in the store. Every single one of them have stories about *those* customers. They laugh at them and mock them but they're also willing to take care of their ridiculous needs (with a smile). In the mind of *that* person they're, most likely, thinking they're getting the better customer service. However, in this store, I can assure you it's out of necessity they're doing what they have to do to keep even the slightest demand taken care of quickly, with least amount of customer service.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                                      Jasz, "those" customers may get what they want at the moment if it is a quick and easy transaction, but in the long run, no they don't. I will do what I have to do for them and no more. The ones that are considerate and gracious get extra service--I go out of my way to look out for them, to identify things to help them that they may not have thought of, etc. And they are always at the top of my "take care of first" list.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                                                                                                        Sometimes a customer has an issue, and if they treat you well, you'll do anything you can to solve it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Sometimes a customer has an issue, and if they *don't* treat you well, you give them the absolute minimum that it takes to shut them up.

                                                                                                                                                                                        These are not the same thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                          this reminds me once, a customer in line in front of me was apoplectic over an issue that the clerk/agent simply couldn't change, I think it was the boarding pass counter at the airport in really bad weather - lots of cancelled flights (and yes before self-ticketing) when it was my turn I said something smart-alecky like, "I suppose some days one is required to muster all the self-control one can" she flashed me a quick look and smirked, "we ALWAYS strive to maintain a professional demeanor with every passenger" smiled, and slipped me a few vouchers for on-board drinks!

                                                                                                                                                                                          I think I managed to be a bright spot in a difficult day.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                                                                                                      ohh, yes.

                                                                                                                                                                                      One of the most profound lessons I learned in business from one of my mentors was over an issue like this....by the time we finally resolved the issue, I was fit to be tied.

                                                                                                                                                                                      He came over to my desk and set down a fresh cup of coffee he'd brought for me (I needed rum at that point, but the coffee was appreciated) He'd been involved in the whole conversation, and we pretty much knew we were being taken for a ride by the customer, but it was a really big customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                      He looked at me, and quietly said "The customer is NOT always right. But the customer is always the customer" and went back to his office.

                                                                                                                                                                                      It's something to remember when you're ready to tell a customer to go buy somewhere else.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                        Yep, the customer is always the customer. Sometimes, the customer isn't worth it and we have had to cut loose a few over the past years (maybe out of 1,000+). With an explanation that "this isn't a good fit--you aren't getting what you want and it isn't working for us either." Because those clients will bad mouth you even if you do handstands and cartwheels for them, so ultimately if it is a total lose/lose proposition, it is better to try and gracefully part ways than to continue in a bad situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                                  A supermarket will take back the opened carton of milk regardless of the reason. At a small shop or market, that would be highly unusual behavior and (judging from the responses here) probably frowned upon by an American companion.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. I think most posters agree that what we've got going on here is a two-fold definition of "wouldn't be a problem."

                                                                                                                                                                              Would a cafe take back an opened container of milk to exchange for another because a patron changed their mind, without giving said patron a whole lot of grief? Most likely. My husband manages a coffee shop and they do this more often than they would like. They complain about it behind the customer's back, more times than not, and eat the cost, but they do it with a smile to keep good customer service standards.

                                                                                                                                                                              Is it a problem that said mother thinks it's acceptable to continue this sort of behavior and teach it to her child as "not a problem?" Absolutely, IMHO. It's not fair to the cafe owner and teaches skewed values to the child. Buy another one if you changed your mind, and save the plain for later (we have a 2 year old, and we've done this to prevent meltdowns - but more often than not, we use it as a chance to teach good decision-making, or accepting your lumps, depending on the circumstances. You made a choice, you stick with it, or you go without.) But that's, as everyone else said, a parenting issue, or at least a choice in parenting styles.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. It happens, but it isn't acceptable.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I don't think that would be acceptable here in US, either. Once it's open, it can't be returned unless it's spoiled.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                    numerous posts above indicate otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I have never heard of a restaurant or grocery store in the US "exchanging" food that had been opened. The liability issue would be huge---there are enough looney-tunes around to spit in the milk to spite the establishment, or even put rat poison in it etc. The world isn't as nice as it used to be, and businesses need to protect themselves. Anyway, would your sister accept a carton of milk that had been opened? I certainly wouldn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't understand your point. Are you saying that the store might want to re-sell the opened, returned product?????

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                        sadly I've lived in dodgy areas and seen it tried... I wouldn't buy it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                        there are numerous mentions and examples upthread.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It's usually discarded, always if it's been opened.