Back in my corporate days I did a lot of work with sales. As in the sales people were usually calling me about ten times a day begging me for something that they had already promised to a broker before clearing it with the underwriter. And since I was the boss of underwriting, they’d come to me when they were told no. And I’d tell them no again. Or depending on the situation, would begin a delicate negotiation dance. What always amazed me were the reps who would ask for the same thing a million times. And even when I said no, they’d keep asking. And asking. Sometimes demanding. Sometimes pleading. Maybe one out of ten times I’d cave in and throw them a little piece of something to make them stop. And that was enough to keep them coming back. All. The. Time.
Anyway, I was always amazed by the audacity it took to do that. I’m not naturally a people person. And I have a really hard time asking for anything. And if I do ask for something, and am rejected or told no, there’s zero chance that I’m going back in there to ask for it again. But some people apparently stopped developing around age 10 where it’s socially acceptable (though exasperating) to ask for something you want upwards of 500 times without caring about how pathetic or annoying you are.
My point in all of this is, I can take no for an answer, and it pisses me off when others can’t. And I bring it up because David and I went shopping this weekend. Yes, I know that sounds like an unlikely scenario, but he wanted to look for a new baseball bat, because the one he has is perfectly legal for his league in terms of specs, but because it was made before a pesky USSSA label was affixed to it, which is ridiculous, but don’t even get me started on that. Anyway, I made him run a couple of other errands with me at the mall.
Our next stop after we found a bat was Sears. I never go to Sears, but I happened to be in there the day before with Justin and Alex because we were walking past and some dishes caught my eye. I’d bought a set of cheap plastic plates, cups, and bowls for the kids to use, hoping to cut down on the epidemic of broken glass and ceramic when they make their own lunches. When I bought them I didn’t realize they were on sale, and I decided to pick up a few more.
All I wanted to do was pay for the stupid things and be on my way. Instead the transaction went a little something like this.
Cashier: “Our votive candles are half price, would you like to pick up a few today?”
Me: “No thanks.”
Cashier: “Will this be on your Sears card?”
Cashier: “Are you interested in applying? You could get your whole purchase for free!” (My purchase totaled less than $8.00.)
Me: “No, that’s okay.”
Cashier: “It’s really easy, and only takes a few minutes.”
Me: “No. I’m not interested.”
Cashier: “But you can save 15% on all of your purchases for 60 days.”
Me: “Yeah, that’s great, but no, still not interested.”
Cashier: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Uh, yeah.”
Cashier: “Okaaay. Can I have your phone number?”
Me: “No, that’s okay.”
Cashier: “It’s for our rewards program. Are you signed up for our rewards program?”
Cashier: “Do you want to sign up? You’ll get special offers and discounts.”
Cashier: “It’s completely free and I only need your phone number to get started.”
Me: “No, that’s really ok. No.”
Cashier: “Are you sure? You get coupons and points for every purchase.”
Me: “No. I really don’t want it.”
Cashier: “But it’s a really great deal, you could save a lot.”
Cashier: “All right. Sign here. Would you like your receipt with you or in the bag.”
Me: “In the bag is fine.”
Cashier: “You saved $6.60 with us today!”
Cashier: “Be sure and fill out our survey for a chance to win a $100 gift card.”
Me: “Yeah, sure.”
Just kill me now. It’s like I was being held hostage. She pretty much sealed the deal for me not to step into Sears again for the next two years. It’s not worth it. You get the feeling that these poor sales clerks are going to be put into a medieval torture device if they don’t get x number of customers to sign up for their stupid programs.
I find that it’s the business who are under the most economic pressure that pull this kind of stuff. Just today at the post office I experienced the same thing to a lesser degree. I just needed to mail one little package. “Would you like to get that there tomorrow with overnight delivery for $19.95?” Um, no. Even he laughed at that. But it didn’t stop there. “Do you need insurance or a signature?” No. “Would you like to stock up on stamps today?” No.
This is why brick and mortar stores can’t compete with the likes of Amazon. You enter your payment information, click a button, and you’re done, without the relentless sales pitches, chitchat, and bullshit that introverts like me absolutely loathe.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013