RECORD STORE TALES #943: Irate With a Beeper!
There was once a time before we had our infamous “no questions asked” return policy. In 1996, we were able to…shall we say, “express ourselves” more freely as managers of Record Stores.
We learned from the best, and we didn’t take kindly to someone trying to rip us off. Some time in early September 1996, I received a call from T-Rev at his own store. “Mikey,” he said, “Just a warning. There’s a guy coming your way with the new Rush CD, that he wants to return. Now I had a look at it, and it is just hacked. There was no way he opened it like that. I wouldn’t let him return it. You’ll see what I mean when he gets there. He’s this little short guy with glasses and short hair. You’ll know him when you see him.” A prepared myself for the Rush fan with Napoleon complex.
The new Rush album, Test For Echo, was received with mixed reactions. We started seeing used copies early on, traded in by ordinary fans (albeit impatient ones) who simply didn’t like it. T-Rev and I both thought it was a step down from Counterparts, while acknowledging that sometimes a Rush album needs time. We liked a couple tracks, and disliked a few as well. (“Dog Years” and “Virtuality” were on the shit list.) We were not surprised to see people returning it, but Nerdlinger here was unique.
The little guy stormed in, straight up to the counter, and asked to return the Rush CD. “I don’t like it,” he said simply. I dutifully opened the case and, as T-Rev has warned, the disc was mangled. Probably due to a car CD deck, which were common and had a habit of murdering discs.
“I’m sorry,” I began, “but I can’t take this back. It’s seen some pretty serious use and it’s scratched up really bad.” I didn’t know what else to say. “I’m sorry,” I added lamely.
Customers always asked “how” their CDs got scratched. How the fuck am I supposed to know what he did with it?
“I don’t know how it got scratched up this bad, but they don’t come this way out of the shrinkwrap.” I grabbed our store play CD to show him. “See, this is one we just opened a few days ago and we’ve been playing it every day.” He glared through his glasses at our copy.
He insisted he didn’t scratch it, that he bought it that way from T-Rev’s store and he wouldn’t return it.
I didn’t know what else I could say. “Well, I showed you what they look like coming out of the shrinkwrap.” Then, poking the bear just a smidge, I chided, “Did you drop it?”
“NO, I didn’t drop it!” he expressed in a mocking tone. Knowing he was not going to get anywhere with me, he left. And, much like many tenacious customers of his guilt-free mindset, he returned later that day on the night shift. A time he assumed I wouldn’t be working. But he didn’t get anywhere with the night staff. They knew something wasn’t right about it and asked him to return when the manager is in. So, like any douchebag worth his salt, he left a pager number for me to call the next day.
“Oh, joy” I said to myself upon seeing the note waiting for me.
I never called a beeper before. I noted the occasion for its novelty.
A short while later, Nerdlinger stormed back into the store with his Rush CD. He must have been so dejected upon seeing I was the manager.
And so for a second time I refused to return his CD, and he did the usual expected temper tantrum. I’m never shopping here again, I’m telling all my friends, I’m this and you’re that.
And life got incrementally better, knowing I’d never have to see that fucking Nerdlinger again.