I used to have a really good friend named John. (And yes, this one time, I’m using a real name.) I often wonder what happened to John. Please do not recommend that I use the internet to find him. Do you understand the futility of googling someone named John? Maybe I should hire Dawg the Bounty Hunter. Just don’t rough him up, okay? I want our reunion to be joyous.
Something happened yesterday that make me think of him. Then I felt sad that he still isn’t in my life. Big time. Cry.
The memory trigger was a tweet by one of the supremely important people I follow. (They are all important. Why else would I be following them?) It was a bit of humor about the classic “everything” sale where some items are excluded. See? That’s not “everything.” It’s just the kind of thing that would set John off.
The “everything” sale has feasted my soul for years. It must have been decades ago when I first became aware of this phenomenon. A department store (that used to exist at the time) had an “everything” sale. The fine print, of course, excluded things like: linens, housewares, electronics, automotive and jewelry.
I remember thinking: What the hell else is even left in that store? Certainly nothing I ever wanted.
My mind grappled with the illogic of it all. How, in the greatest country the world has ever known, can an advertiser come out and issue baldfaced lies in the name of profit? I assumed some government agency would swoop in like Inigo Montoya and say, “You keep using that word. I dunna think it means what you think it means. Prepare to die!”
But that never happened. A little naive innocence in your guru died that day. There is no truth fairy.
In that vein, I now present three short stories involving my friend John. Enjoy.
90 Days Same As Cash
A local furniture store had been running an ad campaign offering 90-day financing that was the “same as cash.” John decided to take them up on the offer.
Later, he was in the store and making a payment. He was going to pay that thing off in time. He wasn’t the sort to get sucked in by something that sounds too good to be true only to find 49% APR after the original deal expired. That’s what they were counting on. Vultures.
As he made his payment, he noticed something. A minor fee had been added.
The idiot employee told him it was standard procedure, part of their 90-day financing, and there was nothing that could be done about it.
“Take it off,” said John. “Or that furniture will be sitting on your desk within 30 minutes and I’ll see you in court.” The employee did the deer in the headlights routine. “I am a robot. I am a robot.”
Then John spied the man himself, the owner of the store, strolling around and basking in his “celebrity.” The same guy who was on TV all the time. John jumped him.
The owner initially tried the “it’s just policy” routine. Classic, but a blunder.
“Let me ask you this,” said John. “If I walked in the store and bought that furniture with cash, would you have charged me the fee?”
The owner was forced to answer, “No.”
“Then that is not the same as cash.”
They removed the fee. My love for John increased exponentially.
Minor Pricing Adjustments
One day John was strolling through a “Bulls Eye” department store. On the shelf were cases of his favorite soda and at a very nice price. John likes saving money. It was a no brainer win-win so he tossed a case in his cart.
At the register, however, a decidedly different price that came up. A much higher price. This particular store would eventually become famous for this sort of scanner switcharoo thing. Let the buyer have the eyes of an eagle!
“Wrong price,” said John.
“Nothing I can do about it,” said the employee.
“Wrong answer,” said John. “Get the store manager here. Now. I’ll be right back.”
The clerk went one way and John went the other. I would have been pissed to be waiting in that line.
When they reunited the clerk had the manager in tow. And John had a shopping cart full of every case of that soda he would find on the shelves.
“I’ll be taking all of these at the marked price. Or we’ll just see what happens next.”
He got the soda at the labeled shelf price. I think my love for him doubled again.
Mirror Mirror Not On The Wall
Is John a little bit anal? No doubt. He sometimes worries about things that even I fail to get.
He bought a mirror through mail order. I can’t really describe the mirror because I’m not into such things. Some kind of ornate thing with mondo patina that is supposed to make your home the equivalent of a neckbeard wearing a fedora or some such thing. In the early colonical style, wagon train steampunk sort of way, I guess.
The mirror had some kind of imperfection. John was not happy. Me? I would have lived with it (and reserved the right to bitch my ass off). John responded differently.
He called the company, arranged to return the item, and demanded a new one. The idiot employee assured him that the next one would be good.
This process repeated. Soon, John was dealing directly with the CEO of the company, who assured him that the next one would be good.
John made the CEO do it twice before he was finally satisfied. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You should see John’s grease collection.
I was so impressed I think I jumped his bones but that’s another story. 🙂
John should write a how-to book.
Or, I could steal his ideas, write the book, and take credit for them myself. Somehow, though, I expect John would catch me in the act. He’s just that good. 🙂
I could have used John during our countertop crisis. First one they sold after we paid for it. The second one arrived with saw-chip marks at both ends. And the ends were sanded. It was like “oops, chip marks…they won’t notice so I’ll smooth the edges for them.” That one went back and we bought another one from another store that will arrive in less time and sawed in-house WHILE I WATCH!
I hope to make John proud.
Well played. Because, that really chips me off!! 🙂
It occurred to me this morning that stuff like this is a war. It’s a retail war. And every good war needs an enemy. Based on all empirical evidence, we can only assume that retail views the consumer as that enemy.
John is a very handy man to have around. I’d loan him out to you if I could.
John would be a good friend. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
He sounds like someone I need to know. I’m getting better at standing up for what is right, but he could teach me a thing or two!
Exactly. He’s a stand up guy.
The other one I like is “Pay No Sales Tax” which means, we’ll discount you 7% on items we just marked up 25%. Hooray for capitalism!
To think, all this time, I thought that meant they were taking a loss on my behalf. Oh darn.