Sometimes I’m amazed at some of the stupid things businesses do to drive away customers. Here’s one for you, I’ve been banned for life from Pathmark, which happened back in 1972. Pathmark is a regional grocery store chain, with a few stores in northern Delaware as well as up around the New York City area.
It all began with a gal I had a crush on in third grade named Patty Yearsley.
My family moved to a new house and a new school district in 1968, so I never saw this girl I had a crush on again. A few years later, a friend of mine convinced me to look up her phone number and give her a call. Well, being the uber-introverted kid I was back then, I had him place the call. The good news is, she remembered me and agreed to meet us on Saturday at Pathmark, when her Mom was going to take her grocery shopping.
So I was nervous and rode my bicycle from Pike Creek down to the Kirkwood Highway Pathmark — which still is there today. I went into the Hallmark store a few doors away in the same strip shopping center and purchased a card for her, and a box of Good-n-Plenty.
I went to stand in front of Pathmark and waited, and waited. Thinking I may have missed her, I did a sweep on the store inside while munching on my box of candy. As I was getting ready to leave, the store manager grabbed me and accused me of stealing the candy. I told him I had just purchased it up at the Hallmark and I was sure the cashier there would remember me buying it. He didn’t believe me, and hethen claimed he had observed me breaking open a multi-pack of Good-n-Plenty in the candy aisle and removing one of the boxes.
Well, he was lying because I did no such thing. And really, it’d be stupid of me to steal it and then start eating it right there in the store anyway. I begged with him to just walk up to the Hallmark store and the cashier would certainly remember a 12 year old buying a card and candy for his crush. But he refused. Instead he got another employee to detain me while he went down the candy aisle and to see if there were any multi-packs open. He said if he found one, I’d be going to jail.
Now, being a kid, I was terrified at that point. He went down the aisle and came back with a multi-pack missing a box of Good-n-Plenty. That jerk probably opened it himself.
Again I begged him to come up to the Hallmark store. So he agreed, but as we reached the front door he grabbed me again and said he knew I took the candy but he was going to let me go, but told me I was banned from all Pathmark stores for life and if he ever saw me again, I’d be arrested.
Well by then, I was a mess and forgot all about Patty (so I never know if she eventually showed or not) and went home and told my Mother all about it. She at least believed me and said she’d never go back to Pathmark either.
And so for the next 30 years I never set foot in Pathmark again. Of course when I got older I realized the guy’s threat was not going to be enforced, but a deal is a deal and there’s plenty of other grocery stores around. So I honored the agreement and stayed away for 30 years. Now a few years ago I did realize it was stupid to inconvenience myself, so if the wife and I are in the same shopping center on other business and need a few things, we’ll go in. But I still avoid the place as much as possible. It’s very rare we shop there.
So because some jerk of a store manager decided to lie about a theft, illegally detain a minor against his will, and then knowing full well he was lying and I was probably innocent when he most likely didn’t find an opened pack of candy, decided to save his own face and ban me from Pathmark forever, Pathmark has lost probably lost somewhere around $100,000 or more in revenue over a period of almost 40 years while ole Acme got the business instead.
I was also banned for life when I was a kid from a small store named Wassams near where I lived when I had bought a model car and when I opened it, it had a lot of malformed parts, so I took it back for my money back and the manager accused me of trying to rip him off, didn’t refund my money, threw me out, and banned me for life from there too. (They eventually went out of business.)
What is it about some businesses that don’t realize kids will eventually grow up to be adults? Sure, a lot of kids are misbehaved and many of them steal. I’m not advocating turning a blind eye, but in both of these cases I was in the right and it was assumed I was in the wrong — and I remembered those cases well and decided to honor my lifetime bans for a few decades after they were imposed.