Monday, November 2, 2009

The Strangest Request

I've had a lot of weird questions over the years, but the most strange to me are the ones where the customer tells me straight up that they're not really shopping for anything at all. I've actually come across customers like the one I'm about to tell you about a few times during the course of my career.

It was another day, another shift. I was in the front of the store when a woman and her husband entered the store. I asked if they needed help, and she said she needed help with computers.

I said, "Sure, what type of computer were you interested in?"

She pulls out a blue packet of papers and says, "I'm not buying one. See this? I need to know the names of three different brands of computers you have. And all the information you have on each."

She doesn't exactly show me the papers, but what I see looks like some sort of homework assignment. Maybe some college research. "Well, we actually have more than three brands. We have Dell, Sony, HP, Compaq, Acer--"

She cuts me off. "Dell. I've heard of them. Who else?" She's got the paper on the customer service counter and is writing Dell on the top of the first page. Now I can see below that there is a list of specifications such as processor speed, memory, software, drive speed, etc. And now, I'm annoyed. I'm not here to do people's homework for them. We're trying to run a business here.

Still, I can't be rude. "HP and Compaq," I tell her, even though HP and Compaq are technically the same company.

She writes those down and then points at the specification lists. "Now, can you go ahead and fill that in for me?"

She's kidding.

She's GOT to be kiddng.


Are you mental?



Then it hit me. Windows 7 just released, and the screen saver that we have running on our demo machines lists the specs of each machine. So I took her over to the demos. "The information you need is listed on each of the screens here. You can-"

"Oh, no honey," she interrupts. "You're going to have to write that down for me. I can't see that little print."

Uhm, no.

I told her to hold on a moment and I headed for computer terminal in the back. I chose three random laptops from our website, printed them up, and gave them to her. Whatever specs we had available were on those sheets.

"So this will have the information I need?" she asks.

"Whatever information we have available, yes."

She still seemed determined to get me to do the work for her so she wouldn't have to actually read the paperwork. "So it will show me the processor speed?"

"Yes. This shows you all the available specs we have."

"So it will show me the memory?"

"Ma'am, like I said, all the information is on here."

Finally, I just walked away. I wasted far too much time with that non-customer to begin with.

Shopping tip of the day for 11/02/09: Don't ask us for a catalog. We don't have one anymore. Actually, that's not entirely true. We do have one. It's called our website. Catalogs are obsolete. Sorry.

And for the record, according to, it could be spelled either catalog or catalogue. *shrug* Learn something new everyday, I guess.

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