So when I was growing up, there was a pretty standard exchange that would happen when Mama or Daddy would buy something. It went a little something like this.
1. Mama or Daddy would make their selections, ask questions if they had them, and then place whatever they were buying on the counter.
2. The cashier would ring up everything, then say, “That’ll be $9.42″ – or whatever the amount happened to be.
3. Mama or Daddy would give the cashier some money.
4. The cashier would give them change and a receipt.
5. The cashier would say, “Thanks so much for your business – y’all come back soon.”
6. Mama or Daddy would say, “You’re welcome. We will.”
7. The end.
It was so simple. Seven steps. Sure, there were some exceptions every once in a while, but by and large, any trip to the store was a clean and orderly process. Easy breezy.
This past Saturday I went to a store where I shop a pretty good bit (enough that I know the cashiers and the cashiers know me). I needed a few hair care products and some make-up – plus I needed to pick up a prescription. Here’s what happened.
1. I grabbed a buggy and started walking down the make-up aisle.
2. I’d made it about three steps before someone said, “Ma’am, is there anything we can help you with today?”
3. “No – I think I’m good,” I answered. “Just need to pick up a few things on my list.” I waved my list and grinned.
4. “Well, if you don’t mind, when you check out, check out here in cosmetics. It helps us a lot if you do that.”
5. “Oh?” I replied.
6. “Yes ma’am. It really helps us if you’ll check out in cosmetics. So when you get ready, just look for me or the other lady who works in this area.”
7. “Okay – but I have to get a prescription…”
8. “That’s fine! We’ll be here to check you out after you get your prescription.”
Two minutes later.
9. “Ma’am? Are you ready to check out yet?”
10. “Nope – I still haven’t dropped off my prescription.”
11. “Well, be sure to find me or the other lady when you’re ready.”
Ten minutes later. Prescription filled.
12. “Ma’am? Can we help you check out in cosmetics?”
13. “Well, I’m still looking. Just headed over to look at the nail polish.”
14. “Okay – just find me when you get ready.”
Five minutes later, checking out at cosmetics because I’m a pleaser and I didn’t have the courage to go to the regular check-out at the front of the store because I had sort of agreed to check out in cosmetics and oh my word I am a noodle of a human being.
15. “Ma’am, do you have a discount card with us?”
16. “I do, but nothing I’m buying is on sale.”
17. “Well, fortunately I can still offer you a dollar off of all our Sally Hansen nail products today.”
18. “No, thank you.”
19. “Well, I’m going to put a free sample of this moisturizer in your bag. It really does wonders for fine lines, and after about three or four days of use it really resurfaces the skin and gets rid of all those problem areas.”
20. “No, thank you.”
21. “Well, how about a coupon for a discount on this product just in case you’d like to try it?”
22. “No, thank you.”
23. “I don’t know if you noticed up front, but we’re also featuring Buy One, Get One Half Off on some of our Revlon products right now.”
24. “No, thank you.”
25. “All righty. Your total is $36.17.”
26. [swipe debit card, press "not today" when asked if I'd like to donate to charity, then press "no" when asked if I'd like cash back, then finally accept purchase amount]
27. “We hope you’ll shop with us again soon.”
28. Me, in my head: “Oh, ma’am. I don’t think I have the strength.”
29. The end.
I recognize that it’s a tough economy and businesses are looking for new ways to make money – which means that they’re coming up with all sorts of customer programs and discount cards and baskets of candy at the cash register and whatnot. But I would love it – LOVE IT – if I could make it through most purchases without someone asking me if I’d like to sign up for a credit card or receive three free magazines or purchase the deal of the day or join their exclusive member club for the low cost of $20 a year.
Maybe I’m just getting old and crochety. And these are some first world issues, I know (I am so mindful of that, in fact, that I almost didn’t write this post. I totally get that in the grand scheme of life, my frustration with retail selling practices is hardly a blip on the radar of inconvenience). But it just occurred to me over the weekend that I’m increasingly willing to go out of my way to shop at local stores with no discount programs, no up sells, and no incentives at the register – because I find more and more that those stores offer excellent customer service and consistently thank me for my business. Those are little things, I know. But I’m so tired of feeling like my day-to-day purchases just aren’t cutting it unless I earn enough points for the gold level or spin a wheel three times so that I can buy Kleenex for a dollar a box or return to the store in four days with my bonus bucks that will save me upwards of two dollars on something that I don’t even need.
Is it just me? Or does anybody else feel like the up sells / hard sells are a little out of control? I know that it’s not the cashiers’ fault – they’re only doing what their managers ask – but I want to tell those managers (and their managers’ managers, and their managers’ managers) that I’d be a lot more loyal with my business if I weren’t so stinkin’ tired of the fact that when I try to give them my money, it doesn’t seem like that’s enough for them.
And I just needed to vent about that a little bit.
Hope y’all have a lovely Tuesday. And I hope somebody thanks you for your business today. Because that’s a kind and lovely thing for stores to do.
Old & Crochety in Alabama
(who doesn’t want another discount card for the rest of her whole life ever)