Spirits in a material world

Yesterday we were bored (in Dallas?  Whodathunk?) and we had some spare energy left, so we decided to go on a little field trip–to the mall.  Generally it’s a nice, clean, bright, fun place to hang out and live vicariously through 15-and-16-year-old strangers with frosted hair, designer clothes, and their parents credit cards.  I swear, as bitter as I can come across, it’s healthy for me, as it keeps me young (younger than I would otherwise have been by now).

Except for yesterday.  This time of year, while awesome in every other way, is hell on mall-loitering.  Yesterday in particular, I was reminded of exactly what it is I cannot stand about the approaching Holiday Season.  It’s the kiosks that, previously toned-down throughout the rest of the year, have begun to snort coke again and ramp up into overdrive, accosting would (not)-be customers from across the mall aisle.  And a multitude of other headaches that I won’t launch into explanations of just yet because I don’t want to spoil the plot completely.

So anyway, just today, I decided to run a Googler on something to the effect of “pushy mall employees” to see if ours is an isolated phenomenon or if there are small t3rr0r!st cells of such sales associates in various states of desperation seeded across the Land of the Free.  Among my search returns I stumbled across an online article in some business trade journal called “Recession-Proof Your Business”.

Among the strategies listed, it mentioned things like up-selling the customer on higher-profit items, and it had the gall to assert that perhaps that entry-level bottom-rung staff you hired might be “afraid to be pushy”.  Boy, if I’ve ever seen the need for a wake-up call to action…

So, I submitted the following comment and of course, that section is moderated.  This said comment is awaiting approval.  I’m posting it here in case it never sees the light of day (or should it make it through but only after a few alterations)…

Here’s how to REALLY recession-proof your business…

1) Quit jacking up prices.  Unemployment is at an unusual high.  Consumer confidence is in the toilet.  The stock market is recovering, but who gives two shits when you’re out of work and it takes on average 6 months to find a new job?  Prices keep creeping up, and this is the wrong time for it.  It’s a sure-fire way to kill your sales.

2) Stop pestering ppl while they shop.  I swear, I can’t walk down the aisle of a mall without getting hollered at carnie-style by snotty Latinas manning kiosks on commission.  I can’t even walk into normal stores, either, without multiple employees tag-teaming me, coming up to me literally every 3 minutes like white on rice.  I had selected some possible purchases but left the store without buying anything at all because I’m adamant about shopping in peace and I wasn’t given that opportunity.

3) Stop cutting corners on quality.  I know your cost of production is going up.  So is our cost of living.  It sucks everywhere.  But I promise you, if your product feels cheap or has “made in China” on it, you’re not getting top dollar (I’ll wait for a sale) and that’s if you even get my business at all.  Which, if a product feels flimsy, you probably won’t.

4) Stop asking for my personal information, my contact information, my demographics, or anything else.  I’m purchasing a product and I’m handing you (hard-earned) cash in exchange; this does not require my zip code, my phone number, or my hypothetical firstborn child.  And stop asking/recommending/requiring that I somehow register my product or sign up somewhere in order to activate my warranty.  People go to great lengths to avoid advertising in their own homes, whether it’s web browser pop-up blockers or to pay extra for unlisted phone numbers, and there’s a reason for it: we don’t want to be pestered!  So don’t ask.

5) Stop peddling extended warranties or service plans.  If you can’t stand by your product as it is the way it’s made, then maybe you oughtta rethink either the product itself or the price you’re selling it for.  If I’m paying $1000 for a fridge, I better not have a shred of doubt that it’ll last for more than 3 years.  And I better not have to pay extra for such piece of mind.  Remember when products lasted 10, 15, 20 years?  Those were the good old days.  Bring them back.

6) Stop looking at me as a demographic.  Life, the marketplace, and everything else, is NOT simply a meat market.  Behind the wallets and plastic cards with magnetic strips and numbers on them, we’re real people with real feelings.  We’re just trying to get by.  Just because I’m female and 32, how the bleep do you know what I’m thinking, or what I drive?  I live in a zip code of Infinitis and BMWs but I drive a Toyota pickup.  Stop assuming you can read my mind because you can’t.  Stop assuming I fit in because I don’t.  I’m a person, and an individual, not some slab of meat with a bank account and a line of credit.

You pay dearly for this kind of insight from consumers.  I just gave it to you for free.  It’s your lucky day.  Use it wisely.

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