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Death? Sorry NO RETURNS

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Death? Sorry NO RETURNS

Old 04-26-02, 11:43 AM
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Death? Sorry NO RETURNS

Well, I have to admit that the clerks probably didn't believe the little girl actually died, so I don't blame them:

http://www.dallasnews.com/localnews/...low.58828.html

Here is the followup
http://www.dallasnews.com/localnews/...blow.6021.html

The last one is interesting, has some interesting feedback.
Old 04-26-02, 11:58 AM
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I can't view the articles. It looks like I have to register at that site and since I could careless about becoming a member there, I won't join anytime soon. Could you cut and past the article here?
Old 04-26-02, 12:01 PM
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Death, a prom dress, but sorry, no returns
04/05/2002

By STEVE BLOW / The Dallas Morning News

Regina Vanstone's first thought was that her 13-year-old daughter could be buried in the prom dress.

But the funeral director gently informed her that the dress probably wouldn't cover the autopsy incisions.

So Ms. Vanstone's second thought was of returning the dress. After all, the last thing she needed was one more heartbreaking reminder of Catherine's unbelievable death.

You probably saw the news story a few weeks back. The eighth-grade Dallas girl died on a spring-break trip from eating hemlock, of all things.

Catherine and a friend spotted a plant that looked like celery. On a lark, they ate some. Both fell ill, and Catherine died.

And so, right after she had made funeral arrangements for her daughter, Ms. Vanstone stopped by Special Occasion Dresses to get her money back.

"I began explaining the situation. I said, 'My daughter had an accident and died two days ago.' As soon as I mentioned getting a refund, one of the women said, 'That's not our policy. We don't do refunds.' "

She said another clerk chimed in, "You can see our sign right here," pointing to a no-refund sign.

Ms. Vanstone said she was too shocked and sad to offer anything more than mild protest. "I just said, 'I can't believe this' and turned around and left."

What Ms. Vanstone had just encountered was Special Occasion Dresses' famously rigid no-returns policy.

The Dallas-based chain of nine formal-wear stores has an unsatisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau because of unanswered customer complaints.

But even when it does answer, the answer's always the same: "There are no refunds," vice president Bob Weeks told me this week. "It's not something we hide. There are at least 10 signs in every store."

Lynette McKee of Orlando, Fla., also learned how firm the policy is. She regularly travels to Dallas on business. While here, she spent $734.45 on a dress and accessories for a formal event last month.

She paid $25 extra, she said, to have the dress shipped to her home in two days. It arrived instead in 12 days after the formal event.

But the store refused to take back the dress. She spoke to Mr. Weeks. "He told me: 'Lady, we don't give refunds. The dress is yours. I don't care if you sleep in it. We never take anything back.' "

Mr. Weeks denied being rude to Ms. McKee or promising two-day delivery. "We don't do that. She was just told it would be shipped as soon as possible. And we're finding that mail is taking a lot longer."

Ms. McKee said she has a witness to the two-day-delivery promise and plans to fight this all the way to court if necessary. "It's an ethical thing with me now," she said. "I just don't want him to get away with this. If he did it to me, he's doing it to others."

Unfortunately, one must admit there is some need for a no-refund policy. "It's a big game with ladies," Mr. Weeks said. "They will wear a dress to a party and then take it back to get their money back."

Indeed, it's not hard to imagine a store full of returns on the Monday after proms.

But with any policy, there's also common sense to consider. Not to mention compassion.

Amazingly, Mr. Weeks said he was proud of his sales clerks for refusing a refund to Ms. Vanstone. "That's our policy, and they don't have any leeway. I have to admire them for sticking to their guns," he said.

But then he said that in the case of a verified death, a refund could be arranged.

Another prom season is upon us, and maybe the lesson here is simply "buyer beware."

More important "Buyers be careful."

You don't want to qualify for Special Occasion Dresses' refund policy:

Postmortem only.
Old 04-26-02, 12:05 PM
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Dress shop lets out its heart in the end
04/10/2002

By STEVE BLOW / The Dallas Morning News

A little of this, a little of that. Another serving of slumgullion ...

First, I'm happy to say that Regina Vanstone did indeed receive a refund on her deceased daughter's prom dress.

Thirteen-year-old Catherine Vanstone had purchased the dress for her eighth-grade prom just days before she accidentally ate hemlock and died while on a spring break trip.

Special Occasion Dresses had stuck to its ironclad no-return policy when Catherine's mother tried to get a refund. Only after my call did company officials decide a little compassion was in order.

That column prompted a lot of reaction mostly ire at the store. But a few readers let me have it.

"How dare you use your soapbox to blast the policies of a 'free enterprise' retailer who stands up to their policies?" one man wrote.

"One reason there is so much 'gritching' in this country is because everyone believes that policies, procedures and every other rule and restriction do NOT pertain to them, their children, their pets or whatever," he went on.

"Spokespersons such as yourself are the reason that we have people in the line at the grocery store with 25 items in the express line, using their cellphones in the theater, smoking in the no-smoking section, breaking lines at the game, etc., etc., etc."

I'm responsible for all that?! Oh, I hope not.

But his point is well taken. Rules are rules. And you can ask my kids, I'm actually a goody-two-shoes, rule-following fool.

They get irritated with me. But I say the difference between civilized society and chaos is our willingness to wait in line, park in designated spaces and observe the carry-on luggage limit.

As I said in the column last week, we often end up with rotten customer service because there are so many rotten customers. And for that reason, some were slow to criticize Special Occasion Dresses.

As the owner of another clothing store wrote, "Of course they were too rigid, but if you had been subjected to as many return scams as we have, you would probably have considered the 'dead daughter' excuse as just another great big whopper."

Boy, isn't that sad?

Cheaters infuriate me. When my son was working as a waiter, my blood boiled every time he came home with tales of customers eating almost an entire meal and then concocting some excuse why they shouldn't have to pay.

So while I condemn any store that hides its mistakes and its heart behind a no-return policy, let's also condemn the shenanigans of the shady customers that got us here.
Old 04-26-02, 01:03 PM
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Why was an 8th grade girl going on spring break, and why was an 8th grade girl going to the prom?
Old 04-26-02, 01:41 PM
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Originally posted by Heat
Why was an 8th grade girl going on spring break, and why was an 8th grade girl going to the prom?
Probably junior high prom or Grad dance. And the spring break was probably a school sponsored camping trip or something - we had those starting at about grade 8 or so.

M
Old 04-26-02, 03:54 PM
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Ah, I see. From a different article:
Catherine Vanstone, 13, was among a group of Dallas-area girls spending spring break at Perennial Vacation Club just outside Bandera, about 40 miles west of San Antonio.

She found the hemlock along a riverbed during a nature hike.
So basically, her parents signed her up for this camp instead of leaving her home alone for the week (or going on vacation with her to somewhere). While there, they were on a nature hike and she and another girl decided to eat this plant.

As for the Prom, it probably was a junior high school prom or something, but $730 for a dress and accessories for a junior high prom? To each his own, I suppose.
Old 04-26-02, 04:08 PM
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Originally posted by chanster
"One reason there is so much 'gritching' in this country is because everyone believes that policies, procedures and every other rule and restriction do NOT pertain to them, their children, their pets or whatever," he went on.
That's pretty much my reaction.

It's certainly sad that their daughter is dead, but how exactly is that the store's fault? They have a clear (and posted) no refund policy. Why should they be expected to ignore their policy for something that the store had no control over?

If these people had just donated the damn dress to Goodwill or something, they would have avoided quite a bit of stress (at a time when they clearly didn't need additional hassles).
Old 04-26-02, 05:48 PM
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Originally posted by Heat
As for the Prom, it probably was a junior high school prom or something, but $730 for a dress and accessories for a junior high prom? To each his own, I suppose.
Ms. Vanstone didn't buy a $730 dress and accessories for her daughter. Another customer, Ms. Lynette McKee, had purchased those for a formal event.
Old 04-27-02, 12:46 PM
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Unfortunately, I can see BOTH SIDES of this story.

The store has a no refund policy because of a past history of people buying a fancy dress, wearing it one night, and then returning it for a refund (and the store being burned on the deal). Their policy was entirely justified, and they made sure that the customers knew of the no refund policy.

But, then, there are extenuating circumstances. Ever hear of a death certificate? I would have brought back the dress, the receipt, and the death certificate. It would have required manager's approval.

And, as for the lady whose $730 dress arrived in 12 days instead of 2.... why did she even bother accepting shipment?
Old 05-03-02, 08:40 AM
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To me, here's the really weird part:

The eighth-grade Dallas girl died on a spring-break trip from eating hemlock, of all things. Catherine and a friend spotted a plant that looked like celery. On a lark, they ate some. Both fell ill, and Catherine died.
Hemlock? HEMLOCK?!?
Old 05-03-02, 11:19 AM
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Originally posted by Groucho
To me, here's the really weird part:



Hemlock? HEMLOCK?!?

Talk about your classic tragedy.....
Old 05-03-02, 11:30 AM
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Originally posted by Groucho
To me, here's the really weird part:



Hemlock? HEMLOCK?!?
and the reporter's name is Steve Blow

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