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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are they really a good thing?

I stopped at a chain store Saturday for some drygoods. As usual I take a peak at the fish. The girl is helping a guy that looked to be 45-50 and he's returning a bag of 8-10 dead fish. She walks the tanks and writes all the sku numbers down and hands it to him so he can get a refund. He then starts to tell her what fish he wants now. She tells him, "Sir, your fish keep dying and you need to wait a while before you add more".

He kept saying something like, well I only have one of those now and need more. lol

I don't usually stick my nose into this sort of thing but they went back and forth for 5 minutes while she told him no more fish now. I finally stuck my nose in and asked him how long the tank had been set up and he said "2 weeks tomorrow". I just said "you need to wait 3 more weeks before you add another fish to your tank". He looked at me with what was best described as a look of amazement and walked toward the checkout.

For some reason, I guess because I'm older than him and the store worker is almost as old as my grandkids he would listen to me but not her.

After he left she told me he has returned at least 25 fish in less than 2 weeks. Then she told me the tank this guy has set up is a 20g and it's outside on patio. No way you can keep most of those fish outside in a 20g in SoCal this time of year. I tried a tank 3-4 years ago and it would hit 95° even though it never got direct sun.

Truth be told he probably got his refund and went to the other big chain store a few miles away for some new victims. lol
 

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Yea I hear you on that one. Worked at Petsmart for two years and saw it all the time. Some people literally had five or more receipts stapled together because they were always returning and buying more fish. We had to get the manager to step in a couple times to refuse more sales.
 

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I did the same thing once, I must confess. I bought 20 African Cichlids from 1 petsmart and had 3 of them in a bag and they were all dead in less then the 10 minutes it took me to drive home. The next day I had 2 more diie. No problems being refunded for either of those days. The following day 4 more were dead. I had a stack of receipts and the store manager came out because they were refusing to refund my money. My african QT tank has been setup over a year, and my main 150G tank has been setup for almost 6 years. I provided a water sample and was still told it was my fault, after 20 minutes of bickering I was finally refunded for the last 4.
 

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There seem to be two situations that come up when you return fish. 1) The fish were ill or otherwise unfit when you bought them, and couldn't survive the relocation stress. 2) Your tank isn't suitable for the fish.
Situation 1 is really what the return policy is meant for. Situation 2 is what it's most used for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I always freeze the bodies and return them on day 14 so I don't have to keep going back. I don't think I've ever walked out with new fish on the day they issued a refund. Fish have to look really good for me to get my wallet out.

I guess my point is that these big box stores aren't all evil or incompetent fishkeepers. The girl yesterday commented that she felt sorry for any fish this guy bought.

They've never asked me for a water sample but I think that's because I look like a fish geek.
 

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You are supposed to get a test, but it doesn't have to be ok.
what's the point of supposedly requiring a test if you are still going to issue a refund even if their water quality sucks?

I think fish return policies are good idea in theory, I would be upset if I spent a bunch of money on a fish only to have it die within a few days for something I didn't do. They are hard to really enforce apparently and then there is the customer is always right part as well. And like many other things people will abuse the system.

Buying fish is a risk, much like any other pet people spend money on.

Be cautious and carefully observe fish when you buy. If running a centralized system check all the tanks for obvious disease. That's about all you can do.
 

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what's the point of supposedly requiring a test if you are still going to issue a refund even if their water quality sucks?

I think fish return policies are good idea in theory, I would be upset if I spent a bunch of money on a fish only to have it die within a few days for something I didn't do. They are hard to really enforce apparently and then there is the customer is always right part as well. And like many other things people will abuse the system.

Buying fish is a risk, much like any other pet people spend money on.

Be cautious and carefully observe fish when you buy. If running a centralized system check all the tanks for obvious disease. That's about all you can do.
The reason for the tests was to see if something was wrong so you could save your other fish and we can ask you to wait before buying more. If you have high Ammonia for example, I'd ask you to get your refund, go do a PWC and retest. Figure out what's wrong before buying new fish. I worked at a Petsmart. The one I worked at we loved our fish and refused to sell Goldfish into deathtrap tiny bowls. I refused to sell fish many times if I thought they'd just die. People who had set up their tank for 2 days and wanted to buy 20 fish for a 10g. I did my best to educate customers and fellow staff.
 

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I work at Petsmart (only over the summer) and people don't care if there tank is ready or not. They will buy all the fish they want and then end up bringing them all back wondering why they died. I try to educate people and try to push them toward hardy fish for cycling purposes but sometimes they just don't listen. Just today a customer returned a betta and said it died in 2 hours. The very first question that came out of my mouth was, "did you use any kind of tap water conditioner?" Of course the answer was no. Even though it was the customer's fault for not educating them self before buying a fish, we have a 14 day return policy so we had to take it back.
 

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The petsmart near me really care for their fish.. even if their manager doesnt... They do whatever possible to ensure success... However their manager cares more about the money than the fish.. So occasionally you do walk in to the store and hear some guy setting up a timebomb for his tank. When I went in to get a new filter for my nano I heard a guy buying a 20 gallon, a new filter (which was only rated for a 5 gallon, he told the lady "it doesnt matter what size it is, they all filter the same"), a bunch of plants that had no chance of surviving in his tank, and quite possibly the biggest fish disaster ever. I was waiting for her to grab me an anubias for my downstairs betta bowl, so I got to hear everything. He got 4 bala sharks, 3 rainbow sharks, 5 lemon tetra's, 3 peppered cories, a pacu, 4 glasscat fish, 10 oto's, 3 angelfish, a peapuffer, a mystery snail, And one of every cichlid they had in the store. Or rather, "one of every color of those cichlid things" as he put it. On top of that he got 2 fancy goldfish, 4 pleco's, 4 balloon mollies, 5 guppies, and a mickey mouse platy. I was sort of mystified that he even thought they could fit into that tank let alone get along. And its not like petsmart doesnt offer at least a little help when choosing.. Even at the bad ones you can at least read the card and go, oh it reaches 18 inches, or oh it need 40 gallons, or oh its semi-aggressive.
Anyways.. I watched the girl slowly bag everything up, knowing she was sending pretty much everything to their death. Try and explain the cycling process to him, which he ignored, and explain that most likely he would find all the fish dead and in pieces tomorrow...
My petsmart has introduced a policy, where if you order alot fo fish. or obviously have no idea what your doing.. they try and help you. If you refuse help you have to sign a paper stating they warned you and whatnot, and that they aren't liable for any fish deaths that occur. They also at the very least try and direct someone towards the biostarter... Which everyone ignored because of how much it costs.. About a months ago they set up 5 tanks at the bottom and filled them with small sponges. Every time someone buys a tank and is clearly going to try and stock it uncycled they stick one in a bag and tell them to put it in their tank. or if possible their filter. I thought that was pretty cool of them... Sorry to rant... I just felt someone should hear about this guy. Oh the best part, When I went out I saw he had put all the fish in the tank, still in their clear bags, put the tank back in the box, balanced it on his motorcycle and drove away.
They don't have a test policy at this store though.. Maybe they should..


An outside tank in socal? ahaha... My tank is in my ROOM down here and it still stays at about 80. And thats without a heater.
 

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Does Petsmart take fish back that you no longer have a tank for? In cases where you move or something goes wrong with the tank, will they re-home the fish? Not for a refund but just for the sake of not killing them or flushing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Here the big box stores won't take any fish back. But I know a few employees at the stores that might take them home for a tank they have. I've given loads of plants and shrimp to a couple of the young workers around here.

I've never worked directly for a pet store but I did demos for Marineland years ago at about 15 different stores. I'd say 95% of the people I worked side-by-side with really cared about what they were doing and were open to learning more about the hobby.

The managers all liked me since my job was to up-sell to a bigger or more expensive filter. This was back when the Eclipse systems first hit the market.
 

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Does Petsmart take fish back that you no longer have a tank for? In cases where you move or something goes wrong with the tank, will they re-home the fish? Not for a refund but just for the sake of not killing them or flushing.
The official policy is, they can't take fish back after 14 days. Unofficially we always try to help keep the fish alive. Usually we send folks to the LFSs. We have 2 nearby. In some cases we have taken in fish.

Don't tell but we used to run a Pleco underground :) we compiled a list of people who wanted big Plecos ( ours were never over 4" ) and when someone needed to rehome theirs. We'd take it in, call the next person on the list and tell them to bring a bucket. We hid them in the back.
We did not sell them. Adoption only.
But typically the owners and adopters would always buy something. But our store manager caught us n made us stop. One of our adopters has a huge heated pond. Pleco Nirvana.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
^^^^

True but I didn't start this thread to bash the stores that do. It was more to understand the mentality of some customers that shop there. I think by these stores offering to refund on a dead fish it takes away some of the thought process that goes into learning how to care for a tank. Financial incentives go a long way to help people want to succeed.

Also interesting to hear from some of the people here that have worked in that environment. :thumbsup:
 

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Most of the places I know of that have a return policy...
No one is talking about a "return policy" here. This is a livestock health guarantee in the event that the fishes die (mainly due to poor health). It isn't unique to chain petshops. Most reputable LFS I know with healthy fishes have one in place (but not as long as 14 days).
 
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