Reader Taylor had purchased wedding rings from Zales with a payment plan that allows him to make payments over the course of a year. One day, Taylor went to the store to make a payment of $160 and received his receipt for the cash transaction. A few days later, he received a call from the store manager who said that she believed that Taylor had only paid $60 and cited a surveillance video which, according to the manager, shows their sales representative counting only 3 bills. Even though Taylor was certain that he paid $160 and has a receipt to prove it, he asked to see this intriguing video, but the store manager has been giving him the run-around ever since. Taylor’s letter and our advice, inside…
Long-time reader, first-time writer. Here we go:
Hello. I’m writing to let you and others know about my experience with the jewelry company Zales. I bought both mine and my wife’s wedding rings at the store located inside Town Center Mall in Kennesaw, GA. I purchased them from an old acquaintance of mine from middle school; let’s call her Jen. Jen and I had not seen each other for at least ten years and it was great having her help us pick out rings that we wanted. She was extremely helpful in the account setup process, enrolling us in the credit program with no interest for twelve months. The total for our rings was $978.36, and allowing us to pay it over a year was very helpful. I could either pay online, or just drop by the store in the mall that I both live close to and frequent, so it was no problem. The only gripe I have is, you cannot pay by debit card in the store, with is my preferred method of payment since I rarely carry much cash on my person; you can only pay in-store by cash or personal checks. I had made three cash payments in the store without any problems.
I went to the mall on June 18th because I was close by to make my payment. I stopped by the Bank of America ATM that you have to pass on the way to Zales to withdraw the cash. I tried to withdraw $150.00 from the ATM and it gave me a message saying that I needed to enter in an amount in multiples of $20.00, so I entered $160.00 and withdrew my money in the form of eight $20 bills, declining a receipt because I am always keeping track of my bank accounts online and I always end up just throwing away the receipts anyway. I walked about twenty steps to the Zales store and paid a woman behind the counter the cash that I had never seen before. I counted the money on the counter and then set it in a pile on her side of the counter while she was pulling up my account information (I didn’t have my bill on me). She verified the information and then took the money and placed it in the register and gave me my receipt for $160. Everything seemed fine at the time…
“Jen,” my middle school peer, called my house the next day, on June 19th. I was at work at the time, so my mother called me to let me know that she called and gave me the number to call her back on. I got in touch with Jen about an hour after she called and she asked me how much I had paid on the previous day. I pulled out and checked my receipt, just to be sure, and told her $160.00. I asked her why she was wondering because I thought maybe it didn’t get put into my account because I didn’t have my bill on me. She said that there was just a monetary discrepancy in the store and that everything would be fine. Ok…
I just received a call on June 20th from the store manager, Jari (real name). She said that her and the “loss prevention people” had been reviewing the tape and that I had only paid the cashier $60. WHAT!? I told her how I had just gone to the ATM to withdraw the money, and I was 100% sure that I had paid $160 towards my ring payment. She said that while viewing the tape, the cashier only counted three bills and placed them in the same place in the register. She said that she went through all of the scenarios and that if I had paid her with a $100 bill in the mix, it would have gotten put in a different place than the $20 bills, but that the three bills still didn’t add up. I told her that I would check my Bank of America account online, just to make sure that I had withdrawn the correct amount and call her back.
I checked my account online, and of course, there was the $160 withdrawal that I had made. I also checked my Zales account online, and the $160 had been subtracted from my balance, like it should have. Infuriated, but completely under control, I headed up to the Zales to talk to her personally and take care of this, showing her my receipt for the $160 payment I had made just a few days ago. I walked her over to the place I was standing when I made the payment, showed her exactly how I had fanned the cash out on the counter, counted it, put it all together, and set it on the far side of the counter closer to the cashier, for her to take after she was finished pulling up my account.
After listening to me, she said matter-of-factly, “What happened was this. The code to tell our system that you are paying in cash is . You paid her $60 and then she made a mistake by pressing the  button twice, which made your total $160.” When I brought up again how I had counted the money out on the counter, she said that she never saw me do it in the videos. I was with my wife at the time and she remembers me counting the money on the counter. Jari kept bringing up the fact that her cashier had only counted three bills and I showed her how I could easily count “three” bills by counting out two and then taking the rest of the stack as the last “bill.” She said that this wasn’t the case. I asked to see the video myself and she said that her loss prevention people had to be present to let me view the tape. I asked her what the next step was. She said “Well, either you will pay us the $100 or we will just add it to your account balance.” I told her that nether one of those was going to happen and demanded that I see the tape with my wife. She said that she would call me “later” to set up an appointment.
I called Jari on June 24th, to see the status of the meeting we were supposed to have, and she said, “I have contacted loss prevention, but they didn’t give me a response yet. I will call you when I hear from them.”
I am so confused by the whole situation! I’m guessing that the cashier could have pocketed the money either after closing the store or sometime during her shift. I am 100% sure that I gave her the correct amount of money because I keep a strict budget for myself and everything adds up. I had no other money in my wallet at the time of the ATM withdrawal, nor did I buy anything with “extra cash” I had in my wallet in the few days in between, and I still have no cash in my wallet. Now, the question is, WHAT CAN I DO!?
A store can’t just issue you a receipt and then days later say, “Woops! Do-over!” Hang on to that receipt, it is irrefutable evidence that you paid $160 no matter what the manager’s mysterious video may reveal. It is time to escalate this matter over the head of Jari since she doesn’t seem to realize the purpose and importance of receipts. If that doesn’t work, the next steps would be filing complaints with your state’s Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau. If all else fails, take it small-claims court, we can’t see how Zales would have a legal leg on which to stand.