Yeah, you shouldn’t Buy This, says the sales associate

20 Feb

I worked retail only one time in my life. I’m grateful for the experience; I kinda feel like everyone should work a retail job at some point in their life (better to do so before 30 years of age… that’s my opinion).  I learned a lot at this worldwide retail chain and fortunately, I had the privilege of working this particular gig, for a couple years, that boasts being the world’s most valuable retail space per square foot.  I was a sales associate, trained to friendly probe and inquire and assist shoppers.

I won’t mention the retailer by name, although it would probably provide this post with some SEO power, but it is a hardware/software company that sells many innovative products that consumers love. They love the products! Love them.  We just have to be clear on that before moving on…

The incident:
I was “on the floor” on an afternoon when I was approached by a college student inquiring about the NEW electronic gadget that the company had just recently announced (and we of course had them freshly stocked). This young man showed me his gadget that he had just purchased maybe two weeks prior.

Unfortunately, he had made the purchase just outside of the 14 day return period – otherwise, he would have been able to pay a restocking fee and exchange his item for the latest. He looked at me with this defeated expression and said something like, “Well, ‘might as well spring for this new one.”  I discerned some things in his tone and words.

I felt like I could tell that he felt so … so, like he’d never be able to be “caught up.”  Like, he had might as well plunge more cash into this electronic and just deal with the added debt that he’d accrue than to simply enjoy what he had.

I looked around to see if I was in the clear; I didn’t want any of my colleagues to see me giving this kid a pep talk to NOT buy the latest version of the thing he had just removed from his pocket to start our conversation.  I coached him: “Listen man. You have one.  I know you see this new one and you want it, and sure, it has *a few* more features than the one you’ve got there in your hand… but!  Don’t worry about it. Do you like the one you have?”

“Well, yeah.” He answered.
“Ok. Doesn’t it make your life easier and more enjoyable? Have you enjoyed having it thus far?”
“Yeah, it’s what I was looking for.”
“Ok. Lemme make a wager. I bet that you won’t be in the ground, hopefully decades from now, having regretted buying this new one.”

I guess that made some sense. I don’t think he spent more money that day, at least not on the latest version electronic gadget.

I’m not going to make assumptions that management would even have gotten steamed over my actions; one or two might have because I basically prevented a sale – and of course, there aren’t profits unless there’s a sale. But I truly believe some other members of management would have even supported my feelings and actions.  After all, if this young college-student consumer gets control over his finances, and still loves the company’s products for years to come just as much as that day, then he’ll be back.

The take-away:
People get to the end of life and have all sorts of regrets and things they wished they’d have done… relationships they wished they would have mended or invested more of their own energy into. But people DO NOT EVER get to where they’re tying things up in their last chapter and think back through their entire life and say, “man… I sure wished I would have bought that [big screen tv/iPod/SmartPhone/car/truck/house/etc].”

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