I don't know if some of you know this, but I work part-time at a local home improvement store. It gets me in front of people after communicating through ticket systems all day, and I love doing tangible things, which the entire "knowledge worker" industry just doesn't fulfill for me. Oh - and when you're constantly doing some project around the house like I do, the employee discount doesn't hurt either!
The other thing it does is give me perspective. It's interesting to see the parallels and differences in the types of customers you get at a web host... and a home improvement store.
For example: One of my coworkers told me about a grumpy old man that came in over noon today. It seems he had purchased the wrong door the night before. (There's hardly a standard door size, so people usually walk-in knowing the exact dimensions of the door they want... but I digress.) Hardly the most unusual exchange today. We of course exchanged the door no-questions-asked. She scanned the codes, and his receipt, and there was a $3.19 difference. But he refused to pay it! Said he was never coming here again - which I've heard many, many times - sometimes more than once from the same person (Go figure.) She had no clue what to do, and grabbed a manager since we can't override prices anyway. (I am definitely not a manager; I have my own business to worry about! I just like shredding cardboard sometimes.)
Obviously, we didn't let him walk out with a more-expensive door... we're just not set up to "negotiate" prices. What about hammers? One's $7.99 and a nicer one is $10.99. If somebody buys a cheap one and decides they want the other one later, we don't just "trade" and call it good!
Was that unreasonable? Remember; this isn't a service, it's a tangible item.
SoftwareReview just sent out a WHT newsletter on this. Was he the "grumpy old man"?
Who? I swear I have never seen him in my life.
Seriously though I did intend this to be more playful than not. But, re-reading my post, an interesting discussion probably could be had... "Customer is always right" vs. "Preventing abuse of policies." Obviously his anecdote is not in either of the extremes. Perhaps that is what he intended to spark.
Your move sounds like the best ie give him his money back, but gone are the old days when the employee can do much to smooth things out.
I think I would love short my register for a customer who has spent over one thousand dollers. Too many business these days don't care about customer service do to the volume being made by human traffic and that can for a customer be very frustrating. You score high on this one cause you would be kept within store policy and most likely helping the customer.