Today a woman called me over to help her buy a laptop. I hate selling computers simply because there is so much pressure on us from corporate to get as many add-on sales (preferably services, of course) as we can despite the fact that we make no commission and no amount we sell is ever enough to please them. On top of that, customers who purchase computers seem to think that they're doing us some sort of favor simply by spending $400 in our store. Little do they know that the laptop they purchased for $400 cost us $500 to buy from the manufacturer. It's a sad but true fact of being a computer retailer these days. Every company has cut computer prices to below cost in order to attract consumers. The strategy is to make up that lost $100 and MORE by selling warranty plans, setup services, accessories, software, etc.
Problem is, most people don't want any of that crap. They want to buy just the computer and expect us to kiss their feet for making such an "expensive" purchase even though our bottom line would be better off if they didn't.
To be fair, I am a supporter of store extended service plans in most cases. I got my original Xbox replaced twice and my old Aiwa stereo was repaired three times. Having a plan like that on a laptop is a great idea because a high percentage of laptop repairs come down to replacing the motherboard which is a hassle and can be expensive (not always, but it can be). The only problem is that laptop warranty plans can be upwards of a third of the price of the computer itself. The reason for this is that most of these plans include a one-time screen replacement option which is quite expensive for us to cover. So in the end, it's a hard sell, but to me, it's worth it. People can be as careful as they want with their stuff, but accidents happen. And then they're stuck with either buying a new one, paying expensive repair bills, or being one of those customers that tries to return it 6 months later claiming they were never told about a warranty option and that any other store would return it for them (I've heard that excuse hundreds of times, and I'm quite aware of how untrue it is).
So I go over to the computers to help this lady. As we're walking, she says that we have the lowest price she's found on this laptop so we get major points with her for that. Inside, I'm shrugging and saying "Whatever." But outside, of course, I thanked her for shopping with us. It amazes me how many customers think that retail employees really care about their companies. Most of us work retail because either it was the only thing available, we're working on our education at the same time, or we're working on getting a real career started. Very few of us are cheerleaders for our companies, we just do what we have to do to pay the bills.
So she shows me what she wants and I told her I'd go look to see if it was in stock. When I came back and told her we had it, she goes, "Good. Wrap it up and bring it up front." No smile, very stern voice. Kinda pissed me off a little, but whatever. Now I gotta try and get her to buy a warranty.
I nod with a phony smile. "OK, that's fine, but--"
"Don't ask me anything about warranties. Just wrap it up and bring it up front."
Ok, now I'm annoyed. Still, I have to act polite. "Are you sure? You'd be surprised--" I was going to tell her that she'd be surprised how many people bring laptops in for service and that it costs them $70 just for us to look at it, but she cut me off before I could get that far.
"You know how long I've had my current computer? Fifteen years, and I've never had a problem with it. And you see this?" she asks, pointing at the price of the computer she's buying. "This machine is already outdated for the price you're selling it for."
A hundred nasty comments fill up in my thought bubble above my head, but thankfully, she couldn't see them. The computer was outdated for the price? Two minutes ago she was applauding us for our price! If only she knew that selling it to her at that price did nothing but HURT our store and company! As for having her old computer for 15 years, that may be possible, but I highly doubt she's never had a problem with it.
I'm not faking a smile for her anymore. "Ma'am, they really don't make computers the way they used to." And they don't, that's the truth. Strikes one, two, and three all go to Vista, while cheap hardware and shoddy motherboards supply the rest of the outs for the inning. OK, strange analogy, but you get the idea.
"I'll be fine. Wrap it up and bring it up front."
I said it in my last post, and I'll say it again. Don't ever command a retail employee to do anything. It's insulting, rude, and unnecessary. None of us, from the stockers to the managers, get paid enough to put up with that kind of abuse, nor do we deserve it. Even if you're dealing with someone who honestly doesn't care about their job or servicing you, then simply leave and find a better place to shop. Commands are for dogs and computers, not people.
Without a word, I turned and headed back to our lockup. She clearly knew I was upset with her, as she asked, "Are you all right?" with this sarcastic tone as if to say, "What the hell is your problem?"
I just lifted my hands up and said, "Whatever you'd like to do is fine."
She apologized for being rude. Unfortunately, it sounded similar to the way an eight year old brother apologizes to his sister for calling her a nasty name. Insincere, forced, and uncaring. Whatever, customers will be customers, I guess.
I had one of our salespeople finish up the sale while I jumped on register to help with the lines since the front end is really my responsibility anyway. It wasn't the woman's refusal to buy the warranty that pissed me off, it was the arrogant, snotty, and downright rude attitude that she had. I really wished I could've told her we didn't need her sale.
Because quite frankly, we didn't.
Shopping tip of the day for 8/31/09: If you're going to pull a wrinkled and crumpled check from your pocket and attempt to pay with it, expect it to get jammed in our check scanner. Expect it to get jammed again when we reinsert it for printing. And don't get angry with us in either case. There's no "Eat Check" button that we press in order to make it happen.