Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fries With That

I got a haircut today. I know, that's big news here. Third haircut in the six months since I moved here. My hair cutting person (I refuse to use 'stylist') didn't ask me if I wanted to buy any of their product. When the cut was complete, I thanked her for not asking me if I wanted any gel or conditioner, or whatever else they're selling. She seemed a little surprised by this, told me that I was welcome, and then told me to please not call corporate and tell on her for not making a mid-cut sales pitch. I promised that I wouldn't tell on her, and that I was truly thankful that she didn't follow the script. The script usually starts mid-haircut, when you're most vulnerable with "Do you use any gel or product in your hair?" Regardless to the answer to this question, they are going to follow that up with whatever product they are trying to push this week. As you can tell by today's interaction, I'm not a big fan of the script.

It's not just the haircut place, I also get the script at places like Jiffy Lube. Just like with the haircut script, the Jiffy Lube script starts mid-transaction. Your car is up on the big magic lift, and the guy comes in with your air filter. He then shows you the air filter, and says that it's 'black' or 'pretty dirty.' I think this depends on his perception of the customer, and whether or not you know anything about cars. He then asks if you want him to replace the air filter for $10 or whatever it costs. I've tried out a few responses to this question, but haven't landed on a favorite yet. I've tried:

"No, I'll change it myself, thanks for pointing this out" (clearly a lie)

"Have you guys ever had someone come in and found a clean air filer?" (probably a little too smartass)

"No, but I'd like to speak to a manager, because I bought an air filter here 3,000 miles ago. If it's already bad, then I must have received a defective air filter and I'd like to talk about compensation." (a lie, and probably too dramatic)

I never buy the air filer. At least not from them. Probably because of how they are forced to ask me. I'd probably be more willing to give them an extra $10 if they just said "hey man, business isn't so great, could you spare an extra $10?"

It's not that I am a complete ass. Well, maybe I am...let's try that again. It's not that I don't enjoy speaking to retail or service-based employees. I actually enjoy it quite a bit. I just don't like being asked to buy other things while I'm buying something else. I'm actually pretty loyal to my favorite customer service representatives. There's the ex-con looking checkout guy at Lowes who always looks like he's going to murder someone. I always go to his checkout line and then ask him something like "Your shift almost over?" or "Ready to get out of here?" It doesn't matter if he's only got ten minutes to go until he leaves or if he just started his shift, he always gives the same surly, disgruntled response, and I love him for that. I actually think that he's about one bad shift away from snapping and taking people out with a ban saw. I think that maybe I go for his line every time so I can witness this freak out. That's beside the point. The point is that I do enjoy speaking with my checkout people and other service-oriented employees, as long as they don't try to sell me more stuff. I like crazy Lowes guy because I know he's just going to scan my stuff, put it in my bag, and go on hating life or plotting a crime. There's no chance that he's going to try to get me to sign up for a Lowe's card, or ask if I found everything okay. What kind of a question is that? Did I find everything okay? What the hell...if I didn't find everything, are you going to walk away from your checkout desk and help me find stuff? If I didn't find something, I wouldn't be checking out. I also always go to the same checkout girl at the grocery store. She's really good at scanning items, especially multiple scans if you are buying more than one of the same product. She'll do a double (or even triple) scan while tossing the other similar items into the bag without even looking at them. I frequently complement her on her bagging and scanning technique. I didn't really need to go off on that tangent, I just didn't want y'all to think that the only checkout people that I like are potential murderers like the Lowes guy.

My dislike for this mid-transaction sales pitches sort of goes against what I actually do when I'm working. My job includes coming up with new ways for companies to sell you more stuff while you're already buying something else. I justify this contradiction with the distinction that the cross-sell and up-sell strategies that I come up with at work are all about online transactions. I'm okay with that. If I'm buying something online and during the checkout process there's something about "you might also be interested in this" I'm alright with it. Maybe it's because I'm not required to talk. Or maybe it's because I just want to feel good about what I do for a living. I'm not sure which it is, I'll ask crazy Lowes guy and see what he thinks.

This distinction has actually caused me to move away from human interaction whenever possible. I use the ATM-looking thing at the movie theatre, and use the self-checkout machine at the grocery store if I'm only buying a few items (or if multiple item scanner girl isn't working). 

So that's all I've got for now. No, I don't want to mega-size it for $0.39, I don't want a four week trial subscription to Entertainment Magazine, and I'm not interested in the extended warranty.  And I won't call corporate if you don't even ask.


Holly M said...

I have the same problem at the Jiffy Lube. I always give them the 'helpless girl' smile and decline the air filter saying....
aw shucks luber, that's about the only thing I can do myself on my if I am super proud of that accomplishment and they would be denying me a tremendous pleasure by doing it for me. I keep hoping one of these days they'll note in my account that I am so proficient and look at me glassy eyed in amazed wonderment instead of continually asking, but it hasn't happened yet,

Nate said...

Holly - It'll never happen, but I like this technique.