What do you do when you have been treated unfairly?
When you are the victim of unfair treatment, are you the kind of person who doesn’t like to make “waves”? Is it uncomfortable to ask for what you want – nay, what you deserve – because you’ll likely experience pushback from the opposing side? Am I describing myself here? The answer is YES!
Throughout most of my life, I thought I was taking the easy way out by accepting what was handed to me and making every effort to avoid stirring up trouble. But did I walk away from those situations feeling just a little bit worse because I hadn’t stood up for myself. The answer, again, is YES!
Now, you can’t always be fighting because that’s exhausting. You have to thoughtfully pick your battles because it’s not worth the aggravation or the discomfort just to get a “win.” Becoming attuned to what really matters to you, and what you can ignore, can help you decided whether to take action or walk away.
What typically informs my decision to fight or leave is whether or not I think that someone is taking advantage of me. That feeling has been with me as far back as sixth grade when some of my classmates asked me to write poems and make drawings for their “Artist Notebooks.” I did that for them because I wanted their friendship, but it didn’t feel right to me. To this day, when it seems as if I’m receiving unfair treatment, it makes my skin prickle. Because I’m now in reinvention mode, I want to correct the ways I react to situations that leave me feeling ripped off and demoralized.
Something Old, Something New. Something Broke And Made Me Blue.
We moved to a new house last Fall, at the tail end of yard work season. At the former house, we used a lawn service for a number of years, but we did have a lawnmower that was gathering dust in the garage. I brought it along with me when I moved, thinking that once Spring arrived, I’d get my kid to do the work and pay him a (small) fee.
Well, it turned out that mower was defunct, and since I was still firmly in the camp of paying my son rather than a lawn service, I decided to buy a new mower using some gift cards from Lowe’s. Why I had so many gift cards is a long story, and maybe one I can tell you in a different post.
I picked up my shiny, new Troy-Bilt (owned by MTD Products) lawn mower from the Lowe’s closest to my house – 15 miles away. It was easy to put together and easy to use… initially.
I thought it was odd that the mower was extremely low on oil after the second mowing, but not knowing very much about how these things work at the time, I refilled the oil compartment. Turns out, it’s very unlikely that you would need to replace the oil in a mower after only a couple of uses. I learned that later.
My boyfriend, who has been an enormous help regarding all things house-and-lawn-related was at my house one Sunday afternoon and wanted to mow down some tall weeds in my front yard since I didn’t yet have a trimmer. But when he pulled the mower cord, there was a terrible metallic scraping sound. And that was that. The motor had seized.
I was terribly disappointed, but since I had purchased the mower six weeks earlier, I assumed I’d be able to return it for a replacement.
Bad Policy + Poor Service = Lost Customer
So, the boyfriend and I packed the mower in my Subaru and we drove 40 minutes in Monday afternoon traffic to the Lowe’s where I had made the purchase.
We dragged the broken mower over to the customer service desk and told an employee what had happened. She indicated that we could exchange the defunct mower for a new one. But hold up! The store manager approached and, with a cold, unemotional tone, told us that unless we had purchased an extended warranty, mowers bought at Lowe’s are refundable for only thirty days. THIRTY DAYS! I’ll admit that I had not researched the warranty period for the mower because who would ever believe that a big purchase like that would be protected for only thirty days?
So, yes, the onus was on me because I hadn’t scanned the fine print on Lowe’s website. But the way the manager just swatted me away like a pesky fly left me with a bad feeling about Lowe’s. I’ll say this to anybody who sells a product or service – one bad experience can make you lose a customer for life.
Will An Outdoor Power Equipment Manufacturer Have Power Over Me
This story is getting long, so I’ll keep the next part brief. Boyfriend and I drove 35 minutes in the rain to one of Troy-Bilt’s authorized dealers. The owner of the shop – who probably gets a raw deal from the manufacturer – very plainly told me that he was pretty certain MTD wouldn’t cover the expense to fix the mower because the oil was low. Now, I’ve already explained here why the oil was low, and I told the shop owner the same thing. He confessed that the manufacturer typically blames the consumer for the low-oil situation. And that is exactly what they did. My (now) seven-week-old mower was a dud and I was blamed for it.
How Will I Respond To Unfair Treatment?
It all comes down this: I was blamed for a manufacturer defect, and I think that’s grossly unfair.
So, I’m taking action. I don’t know if I’ll score a refund of any kind, but I will act on principle. I will write a letter explaining what happened. I will call the company. I will post on social media. I will do all of these things because it’s important that I reverse my policy of backing down when I feel I’ve been treated unfairly.
Once I begin to fight back, it will make me feel empowered, and empowerment will help boost my self-esteem. With greater self-esteem, I’ll feel less fearful of making waves in the future, and I’ll know that I have it in me to defend my rights.
I never thought that a broken lawnmower would be my launching point for rejecting a victim mentality. What’s the silver lining in this story? It’s that the potential for reinvention is all around us!
If you have a story about fighting back against unfair treatment, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.