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I threatened a charity shop with Trading Standards

(77 Posts)
rodformyownback Wed 13-Jul-11 20:53:11

DH thinks I was being completely reasonable (if barking), but I feel terrible about it.

This morning I went into a local charity shop that sells lots of toys with ds1, to get him a reward for having kept his pants dry for a certain time. I saw a toy car-park in a flat box and asked the lady at the till the price. She went out the back briefly, came back and said "£4.75". I showed it to my ds, he loved it so we went to the till to pay. I was making a big deal to him about what a big boy he'd been, how we were going to play with the car park when we got home etc, when the lady rang the item through the till and said "£12 please"!
The item did not have a price tag on it, and had I known it was £12 I would not have offered it to ds. We are broke and I had no intention of spending that much. I went very red and said I thought that as she had told me the item was £4.75, she should sell it to me for that price.
The till lady went and got the manager, who said that she could not reduce the price as these car parks were brand new and had been bought by the charity for resale. To my utter, complete mortification I started to cry (BIG disclaimer - I have PND, am not coping well with stressful situations and am NOT MY NORMAL SELF). I was not stroppy, more apologising for myself and trying to speak quietly so ds wouldn't know I was upset. I just couldn't bear the thought of having to tell him that we couldn't buy the car park. I said to the manager that I was very sorry, I understood that it was a charity shop but that I thought they should sell the item at the lower price, and having told me it was £4.75 they may be breaching TS regulations to renege on that (tbh in retrospect I doubt this is the case).
The manager tried to call her area manager but couldn't get through (all the while I'm standing there at the till while a queue mounts, silently weeping and feeling like the biggest twunt that ever lived), she came off the phone and told me that she would sell me the car park for £4.75. I thanked her, paid and left. I feel like such a knob and can't believe I shafted a charity shop.

Was I being unreasonable? (Please be gentle, due to above mentioned PND probably being a bit foolhardy to post in AIBU!)

Also made me think about the role of charity shops in general. I have always seen them as having a dual function, raising money for their own charity but also selling second hand goods cheap to people who can't afford to buy them new. When I was better off I used to pay more for items I thought were worth more than the price tag. Now it seems they are run along much more corporate lines. What should be their goal? would be interested to hear others' opinions!

cookcleanerchaufferetc Wed 13-Jul-11 20:57:08

The charity shops in our area are bloody expensive! You were right to query the price when you had been told it was almost £5 rather than £12. Hope you feel better now.

squeakytoy Wed 13-Jul-11 21:00:15

YANBU, if she had actually said £4.75, then where did the £12 suddenly come from?

I am a bit hmm about the number of new items that charity shops sell these days too. They do seem to be more about a corporate image than actually providing a service.

PumpkinBones Wed 13-Jul-11 21:00:49

Some of the bigger brand charity shops have a combination of donated items and new products, and I have noticed they can often be quite expensive.

As a charity fundraiser, I get quite defensive of charity shops, but I don't think that you were being unreasonable. They told you the wrong price, if they hadn't you would have told your DS that you couldn't buy it. If it makes you feel any better, the worst case scenerio is that they just broke even on the sale of that item. The primary function of charity shops is to generate income for their cause and they are run on commercial lines, PLUS they are ambassadors for their charity, which means they should demonstrate exemplary customer service.

SortingHardHat Wed 13-Jul-11 21:01:05

As with cook the charity shops round here are overpriced and are mainly filled with worthless crap you couldn't shift at a boot sale. Good on you for standing your ground. Have a wine a hot bath and relax.

MummyTigger Wed 13-Jul-11 21:01:47

To be honest, I don't think you were. A charity shop at the end of the day is a retail shop nonetheless. I'd also be very careful of charity shops - I've seen some great bargains in there I'll grant you - but my one were, among other things, selling a Primark babygro for a fiver and deliberately hiding any flaws that the items had until they were sold. So I don't think you were being unreasonable to have challenged them.

Having said that, it's a pretty large drop. Does this charity shop do well? Is it for a cause you have a vested interest in? Because if it's not the biggest and supports a charity you believe in, I'd pop in and next time round slip an extra pound or two as a donation. But that's just me.

Vix1980 Wed 13-Jul-11 21:02:08

You were most certainly right in questioning it, i cant believe that they would just change the price like that. To be honest i work for red cross and head office do push a lot of their own "crap" at us to sell, such as sewing supplies, umbrellas and jewelery. Why would anyone want to spend £18 on a crappy necklace when right next to it is a monsoon treasure for £2. They have no common sense at all in head office, so the more people who question these things the better in my opinion.

Well done you for standing up for yourself, you shouldn't feel bad and you havent shafted anyone at all, they need to get their pricing in order! wine

EggyAllenPoe Wed 13-Jul-11 21:02:17

why the hell didn't they just sell it to you at the price originally quoted?

being a charity shop doesn't mean they don't have to treat customers well.

i had a bad incident in a charity shop in Arundel, i bought some nice cotton trousers for DD, and a book and paid by card. My card has been playing up (they gave me a visa debit instead of maestro - just doesn't seem to work as well) and it didn't accept it. Then DHs card was rejected. then they said their machine was playing up, they called the manager. Manager called the card issuer - at this point feeling a bit embarrassed we offered to just pay so we can get out of there (Dh having found a fiver). But no, Manager plodded on with phoning their card payment service provider ignoring us. Cue us paying for the book (in exact change) and leaving the trousers unbought, and feeling very put out...
Meg, Mog and Og is a good book, but seriosuly not worth hat kind of hassle.

proudfoot Wed 13-Jul-11 21:05:48

They have no obligation to sell it to you for the cheaper price and you are a bit unreasonable to go on about trading standards as you were wrong, but it would have been nice of them to stick to their word! I would have been surprised at 12 pound tbh.

HalfTermHero Wed 13-Jul-11 21:06:01

I think you were being a little unreasonable to have involved trading standards but at the same time I feel every sympathy for a the predicament you were in. At least the shop did the right thing in the end and sold it at the lower price. I hope that your little DS enjoys playing with the toy and that you feel a bit stronger soon. Must have been really upsetting and I can see that if would have been awful if you had had to let DS down at the till. Well done for standing up for yourself. You should feel proud.

Georgimama Wed 13-Jul-11 21:06:30

When I worked in retail many eons ago we were told that if something was incorrectly priced on the shelf and someone attempted to insist on that price we could withdraw it from sale (and get a correct price on the shelf edge PDQ). If someone actually told you it was four quid something I don't think you were unreasonable at all, and I agree with you about the dual function of charity shops. However charity fundraising is a huge business now - to wit the existence of "chuggers" on every high street.

Empusa Wed 13-Jul-11 21:06:55

While they would have been legally entitled to refuse to sell it to you at the lower price, it would have been unprofessional and bad customer service. So I'm very glad that they agreed in the end.

YANBU at all, god knows where the first staff member got the price of £4.75 from!

Sounds like you've got a bargain, and I bet you have a very happy DS smile

AuntiePickleBottom Wed 13-Jul-11 21:07:21

yanbu and well done

spookshowangel Wed 13-Jul-11 21:07:43

they either have to sell it to you at the price it is marked at or withdraw it from sale for 24 hrs (if charity shops work the same way normal retail out lets). they prob dont often have this prob in charity shops but its a massive jump in price so you are not wrong to question it.

moomaa Wed 13-Jul-11 21:07:45

YANBU, don't be too hard on yourself.

jugglingmug Wed 13-Jul-11 21:07:55

YWNBU...well done for standing your ground, getting it for the original price quoted and not legging it as soon as the tears appeared (been there, soo embarassing but not your fault).

And well done to DS for keeping his pants dry grin

Onemorning Wed 13-Jul-11 21:09:15

YANBU to have challenged them, but threatening Trading Standards may have been a little OTT. I hope your PND starts to improve soon, depression is vile and I'd have cried too.

2cats2many Wed 13-Jul-11 21:09:50

Poor you! I actually agree with you about the dual function thing. I also think that a lot of charity shops have forgotten that they are there to help families on low incomes- not just to raise awareness and money.

DragonAlley Wed 13-Jul-11 21:11:07


They were not obliged to sell it to you for £4.75 and have not breached any trading standards rule.

skybluepearl Wed 13-Jul-11 21:11:57

the charity shops near me are very money grabbing. it's all about what they can gain and they don't seem to understand that people actually shop there cos they are skint.

AKMD Wed 13-Jul-11 21:13:07

YANBU and don't worry about crying - I had PND a lotmof time last year and this year in tears in public about really stupid things.

MumblingRagDoll Wed 13-Jul-11 21:13:35

YANBU! And as for the crying....After DD1 was born, I once cried because my salad was limp in a's ok! We've all done it! blush grin

rodformyownback Wed 13-Jul-11 21:13:59

When the lady rang the item through the till it came through at £12. At some point during the whole palaver she told her manager that she had "guessed" £4.75!
Having put the car park together it really is a piece of tat - I would actually take it back if I hadn't already cut out part of the packaging that creates a sign at the back.
They are actually going for £15 on Amazon!

EggyAllenPoe Wed 13-Jul-11 21:15:21

most stores will honour SEL price as trading standards can fine them £5000 for each incorrectly labelled item..

TrinaLuciusMalfoy Wed 13-Jul-11 21:19:35

YW*DEFINITELY*NBU! Where'd the £4.75 come from?! If she'd said £5 I could have though maybe you'd misheard, but £4.75 is such a peculiar figure it's not something you could/would have made up.

If you're still feeling bad about it, perhaps drop the shop a letter (in the post) explaining why you were so adamant and thanking them for going the extra mile to reduce it for you (even if it was their own stupid fault for misquoting you).

Write the letter anyway, even if you don't intend to send it. I often find that helps process my thoughts smile

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