New Year Sales

“So you’re absolutely positive it hasn’t been opened, and that there’s nothing damaged or missing?”


“Would you be willing to put that in writing?”

This was an unusual end to a conversation held with a B&Q employee during the January sales.  But it was necessary.  I was in need of a bathroom cabinet, and the last one on the shelf looked as if it had been opened up and then taped back up by an arthritic Parkinson’s sufferer.  I had little confidence all would be fine when I got it home.

“Maybe we should open it, just to be safe then?” suggested the B&Q operative.

And so open it we did.  To find several components missing, and a large scratch on one of the panels.

“I guess you were right to insist we open it then.” they continued, a little sheepishly.

Unfortunately this was the last one in the store, but I was given the item code and a number to call to reserve one after the next delivery.  Which is what I did two days later.  A helpful man said he had put one aside in the warehouse for me, and I could pick it up any time the following day.

I headed to the Bathroom department and explained my situation, and a lady headed out to the warehouse to fetch my cabinet.  She came back and put it on the table in front of us.

“This one has been opened as well.” I pointed out.

“That’s probably because he wanted to make sure it had everything in it after your last experience here, he wouldn’t want the same thing to happen again.”

This made sense, perfect sense, why would they want to upset me any more than they had already?  So, under time pressures, I paid for it and headed home.

If this was Question Of Sport, this next bit would be known as the “What happened next?” round.  Can you guess?

The following morning I opened to box and prepared to mount it on the wall.   Then I noticed the scratch.  And the bits that were missing.  I felt like one of those punters who has been conned by a street entertainer, cheap and used, but with a valid receipt.

I headed back to the store waited in the alarmingly long queue at the Returns desk.  Three months later, I reached the front.

“Look, I bought this cabinet yesterday, but it’s clearly not new.  It was opened, it’s scratched and there’s bits missing.  That’s not the worst bit though, I think you tried to sell it to me once before, only that time I….”

“Do you have your receipt?” he asked, interrupting me mid flow.


“Would you like a replacement?”

“I suppose so.”

“If you’d like to select the one you want, bring it here and we’ll sort that for you.”

I headed off to select a replacement cabinet, and fortunately enough, there were two on the shelves.  Both of which had been taped up.  I picked them both up and took them back to the counter.

“Before we go any further, I want to know.  Do you put returns back on your shelves?” I began.

“Absolutely not.”

“Well twice I’ve been given a pre-opened cabinet, and now both of these look like they’ve been opened before.”

“We don’t sell returns without making clear they are returns.”

“Can we open these then?”

And so open them we did.  The first one had an extremely familiar look about it.  Partially constructed, scratched, and in no way a new item.  It even had a screwed up B&Q receipt in the box.  Still he continued to insist that they do not sell returns.

The other box, thankfully, contained what appeared to be a brand new cabinet.  And so I took it, and I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t wait around for a good enough answer as to why used items were on the shelf.  The old me would have kicked up much more of a fuss, but I could not be arsed to wait an hour until the manager returned.

Maybe I am getting too old for this?


  1. Brennig Jones · January 9, 2009

    Nah, I took the line of least resistance just before Christmas, where I just couldn’t be arsed to make an issue out of an unsatisfactory consumer experience. It’s all such a hassle now. Except, of course, for the times when I really want to make the buggers squirm. 🙂

  2. Sewmouse · January 9, 2009

    If it’s taped – it’s been opened.
    Good on you for making them let you see it.

  3. Lin · January 9, 2009

    It’s a bit like being in a bar and seeing someone you take a fancy to. Always check for the ring (or even the mark). Then you know there has been a previous owner and not everything was working as new!

  4. Manic · January 9, 2009

    You go to B&Q you get what you deserve