Ladies, I’m sure you're no stranger to the scenario; after a crazy day of shopping with your besties, you arrive home to find that some of the clothes you've bought are unsuitable for any occasion, and bring about questions of "just what was I thinking?" After brands such as H&M probably make a tasty profit from their 'Buy now, try later' policy, many of us too lazy to return items that may seem relatively inconsequential.

Gentlemen, don’t gloat – you do exactly the same. So seriously, what should we do when we find that an item is no longer to our liking or is damaged? Accept the fact and just put it down to bad luck? No, as an informed and proactive reader of the Beijinger, you should ask for a refund, as you would do at home.

So, let’s say hypothetically that you've just eaten a donut and in the throes of a sugar high, you've gone and bought a pair of shoes at Marks & Spencer, but once you've burnt through the calories have you come to your senses and want to return them (no offence, nothing related with Brexit). And let’s just say hypothetically that the Marks & Spencer staff treat you like shit. In such an entirely possible sequence of events here are some handy phrases that may come in useful when battling your way through what should be a simple exchange.

Walk to the cashier, find a member of staff and say politely, “Hello, I would like to ask for a refund.” (你好,我想要退货。Nǐhǎo, wǒ xiǎng yào tuìhuò.)

In my hypothetical case, I could see the lady behind the counter had something akin to a minor aneurysm, causing her smile to disappear, before simply saying, “Wait a second,” and shouting for another member of staff’ and turning around to continue to fold clothes in silence. After a while, the second female member of staff showed up, and asked me, “What do you want to refund? (你想要退什么?Nǐ xiǎngyào tuì shénme?)”

I showed her the shoes, and said, “I just bought them last night. I haven’t worn them, and they still have all the price tags and labels.” (我昨晚刚刚买的,我还没有穿过,所有的价签和标签都在上面。Wǒ zuówǎn  gānggāng mǎide,wǒ hái méiyǒu chuān guò. suǒyǒ de jiàqiān hé biāoqiān dōuzài shàngmiàn.)

She frowned, and said indifferently, “No shoes can be refunded or exchanged.” (鞋子一律不能退换。Xiézǐ yīlǜ bù’néng tuìhuàn.)

I was surprised and asked why, saying in disbelief, “But I just bought them yesterday and haven’t worn them, as you can see, all the labels are on.” (但是我昨天刚买的,还没穿过,所有标签还在。Dànshì wǒ zuótiān gāng mǎi de,hái méi chuānguò,suǒyǒu biāoqiān háizài.) I wasn’t going to leave in vain and sometimes people are just slow, so some hope remained.

“No, we just cannot refund them, even you haven’t worn them,” she said. Then I showed her the back of the receipt, “But the items that can’t be refunded don’t include shoes, besides when I bought them no one warned me about this,” I insisted. (但是收据上面写的不能退换的商品中不包含鞋子,而且在我买的时候,没有人提醒过我。Dànshì shō jù shàngmiàn xiěde bù’nén tuìhuàn de shāngpǐn zhōng bù bāohán xiézǐ, érqiě zài wǒ mǎide shíhòu, méiyǒu rén tíxǐng guò wǒ.) Nice try, but sorry, I'm not illiterate.

“Do you want to exchange them for another size?” she tried to convince me instead, but I insisted to return them. “Fine, let me ask my manager,” she compromised. After a couple minutes, she returned and said she was in fact able to refund them. She asked for my receipt, bank card, as well as bank slip (银行收据, Yínháng shōujù). “You don’t have the bank receipt? I can’t give you a refund,” she refused again. “But I gave you the receipt and my card,” I asked. “I can't refund you without the bank slip, but you can come back with it tomorrow,” she suggested.

And with that, I had to go all the way back home with the shoes and pick up the bank receipt, thanking Beer God that I didn’t toss it in the rubbish. I then ran back to Marks & Spencer, met with the same staff, and eventually got my refund.

In the end they also took my original receipt, which means that if I had wanted to also return the shirt I bought along with the shoes, I wouldn’t be able to. Sneaky.

It just so happened that when I was walking out of the mall, they were playing "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel, “Oh let me be your sledgehammer!” Yeah, Marks & Spencer, you made it, and you wielded it so hard that I don’t ever want to come back (minus for the scones, shortbread, single malt chocolate bonbons and coffee ... Fine, I’ll still come back for the food). 

What I found strange about the whole experience is that Marks & Spencer is famous in the UK for the no-questions-asked refund policy – obviously things are different here. Anyways, remember to be insistent, be cool, and take all the necessary paperwork with you. Now, I'll be heading to Max Brenner's chocolate heaven next door for some much needed comfort food. 

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @flyingfigure
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Photos: Tracy Wang


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