Sunday, July 31, 2016

savings, spendings, and customer disservice

I would like the hidden camera men who have lately been filming the staged (for THIS CANNOT ACTUALLY BE HAPPENING) customer-service-related meltdowns in my life to step forward, because I owe them a heartfelt punch in the schnozz.

Now, let us discuss mathematics and secondhand clothing. I promise this ties together.

We took a little shopping jaunt to my favorite consignment shop. $72 worth of clothing was laid upon the counter. I walked out after paying $9 cash. Here's the break down:

Original tag prices: $72
After tag sale discount: $32
My in-store credit applied to the sale: $23
Remaining balance: $9

Now, my dears, what was the value of the clothing we purchased? $72? $32? $9? And did I spend $9 or did I save $81?

Value apparently is in the eye of the beholder. Which is why I want to viciously attack the hidden cameramen. It's not funny anymore. I've spent the last ten weeks of my life in a battle, apparently to the death of my sanity, with customer service. My mother-in-law could place her hand on a Bible and testify that she saw me become a venom-spewing demon. BLESS HER for still loving me. And for not walking out the door with all my children promising that she was taking them to a better place. She just kept reading books to them. What a woman.

I've remarked on customer service here, and my outlook hasn't changed.  If companies would hire me to teach a day seminar on appropriate customer service, it would change the world and I would be rolling in wads of cash.

Sidenote: Just in case you're the head of a company who wishes to do just that, this is my bullet point seminar:
-How to listen and pretend you care
-How to apologize for things that aren't your fault
-When to argue with a customer; quick answer: never
-Speaking the language/dialect of the people calling in: a quick guide to winning friends and influencing people
-How to love and adore the angry people you'll be talking to all day

-Automated systems: how to make fussy people even fussier in 5 quick keypad pushes

My most recent come-apart was when we landed in a local Verizon store. The external speaker on Lumberjack's phone recently bit the dust. Not a problem, and we could totally live with it in an alternate universe, but he keeps on-call hours and having a phone that you can hear ringing is a necessity. Especially in the middle of the night. We hoped for a repair; no dice. We faced the reality of buying a new phone. At this point it might've been in everybody's best interest for me to shout JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL and leave the store with my hands dramatically flying. I didn't.

Instead, with us now in her clutches, the salesgirl rattled off a stream of numbers that sent my head spinning.  Apparently there was A New Phone That Was Just Released Yesterday. And if you buy it today, you'll get a $300 bill credit. And then you'll get this premium offer of only paying $27/month for the next 24 months (this might as well be the rest of my life). And because he's a hospital employee Serving The Community, there's this additional discount. Oh, man. Thank you for your service, Sir. You are a real hero. Please Look Away While I Magically Apply the $300 Bill Credit Twice and make it look like you're making money off this dumb thing. OH WAIT. That sounds like a great sales tactic! I'll actually tell you that if you buy this phone, you'll make money off it!

Oh, can I, now? Can I, please?! BECAUSE THAT IS EXCITING MAGIC.

I pointed out the holes in her application of the bill credit. I pointed out how there's no way a customer is making money off a phone when they've paid every penny of $648 for it. (And plus also it is A PHONE. To replace a DEAD SPEAKER. A piece of hardware that probably cost all of FORTY CENTS in the first place. And I am not opting to pay $648 FOR THAT.) I held my own. I insisted the value was not what she thought it was. She insisted we were making money. Real cute, Princess of 8% Commission-on-this-sale.  Your attitude makes me want to throw things. And it's not my money.

I stood firmly rooted to my position. I wouldn't budge. She took the Boy you are really an idiot for not believing me tone. Madam, I'm about to dial 1-800-LOSE MY JESUS. There is no way you can keep your job as a salesgirl and Verizon stay in business if you are actively selling all of your products at a loss. Quit pretending this is what you are doing. At this point it was totally sweet timing that my little cherubs were apparently emaciating away from Total And Actual Starvation. It was super helpful that apparently in that same moment they completely forgot how to behave like human beings. It made for the optimal excuse for leaving the store.

"I will think about our options," I said, hoping the hashtag #nothingthatyouveshownmeisanoptionandplusyouareawful wasn't blinking too brightly above my head.

Regardless of how you view savings, I see it as spendings. I didn't actively save $81 at the consignment shop; I simply spent $9. And no matter how many times a sales clerk magically deducts a one-time $300 credit and insists that I am turning a profit by spending $648, I refuse to believe that money works like magic. The flip side is tantalizing, I must confess: if what she says is true, and that valuable discount can be achieved by the average customer, think of the discount if I worked there! The apparent solution is to put my application in straight away so that I can work alongside her because we obviously have the makings of an epic friendship. I can't wait!


  1. I agree with this so much. In multiple levels.
    First, for example, I love to shop at Kohls. Specifically, I love the clearance section at Kohls. A recent reciept told me I "saved" 30-something dollars on a new favorite tank. That is so inaccurate, though. I would never have walked into the store and have been willing to pay their full price for a TANK,no matter how I credibly comfortable the fabric is. However, I will do a happy dance when that tank is clearanced the following season and I can walk out the door with its soft loveliness having spent only $4. I didn't save 30-something if I was never going to spend it in the first place.

    Second, I did that same math with Verizon when we had to buy our latest phones. It was just after the phone companies started this new trick (not a cool thing trick, an actual I'm-trying-to-pull-a-fast-one-on-you-so-you-will-give-me-all-your-money trick aka SCAM) of "lowering" your monthly phone call and data service prices and "getting rid of" the two year contract, but replacing it with a monthly payment on the phone with is "only" $25... Per Month. For two years. That's still a contract if I ever saw one. Like you said, you're still going to end up paying over $600 for that phone. That's not free, that's not saving money, that's a whole lot of money they are still going to get whether it is disguised as a service contract or as a monthly payment.


  2. Also, the gif's of Hillary and especially Bill Clinton being as excited as a little kid because of the balloons was probably the best gift they have given to us. I can't stop laughing.

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  4. I agree with both of you 100%. I didn't save, I spent. It's only saving if I was intending/needing to buy the item at full price and it happened to be discounted when I made the purchase. Even then, though, I've still spent money. saving would really be not buying it at all. Imagine the money you could save by not buying things!

    I admit, I kind of try to do just that all the time. Just yesterday I finally bought groceries for the first time this month, it had kind of become a game of what-can-I-possibly-stand-to-eat-from-this-cabinet and i finally decided: nothing.