Thursday, May 9, 2013

Retail Warning Sign #1: The New York Times Sucks


As I’ve mentioned before I work in retail selling electronics. Sometimes people are friendly and you enjoy talking to them during the transaction. Those people are very much in the minority though. Most people are terrible for one reason or another, and if you work retail long enough you’re able to pick up on why it’ll be terrible before it’s even started. Sometimes you don’t even need for the customer to speak before you know they're going to be trouble. When guys come in wearing decorative scarves, they’re very rarely fun to deal with. And the more scarves a guy is wearing generally corresponds to how much trouble they're going to be (referred to as the Sokol rule of exponential scarves). Most times you need them to open their mouths before you know you’re in for trouble. One of which I’ve noticed is that whenever a customer starts out by saying “I was reading in The Times...” that person is going to be trouble. The problem with this is that their rarely if ever is any context to go along with what they’ve read. And when people come in without context I have fill in a lot grey to make them understand. 


This is where they export confusion
I don’t know the demographics of folks who read The Times, but from what I can tell, it skews old. Really old. And when old people read the technology section they get confused. When they get confused they turn to friends and loved ones for help. If they’re not available they turn to me for help. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to give an eighty year old a brief history of everything that’s been invented in the past thirty years, but it can be a frustrating experience. If I were to read an article about a product and understand nothing about it, I would probably realize that this product is not for me. People will often come in because The Times said that the Apple TV is great (it is) and everyone should go out and get one. Which is fine it is great and most people need a certain level of understanding before an Apple TV enters their life. You should be at least aware of the internet. If not then the whole experience plays out like the movie Blast From the Past. And if you recall that was a shitty movie. You not only have to explain what an Apple TV, but every associated piece of technology. You have to explain what Netflix is, what an HDMI cable is, what WiFi is, and why you can’t fit a VHS tape into a streaming box that’s a quarter of one’s size. It’s like trying to explain a Mazerati to a guy who just learned that it was possible to tame horses. 


All the news that's fit to confuse the shit out of old people
People never come in with any context or what they read. People will be thumbing through the finance section and see that the price of TVs have dropped the past few years. I don't know if they read the whole article or just read the headline and then make a beeline to annoy me. Every time this happens people will come in and get angry because they should be paying less because The Times told them so. When they ask me why TV prices haven’t dropped I have to ask them compared to what. They will then look confused. I will have to explain that the word less implies some starting point, and just because it is now less does not mean it’s a price they want to pay. They will then say that there was a story about how The Times reported that the price of TVs have dropped. You will then have the same conversation 4-7 times depending on how old they are. 
"In my day you could buy fifteen TVs for a dollar!"
This isn’t the only behavior that is almost universally trouble this is just one of the hundreds of things that make me know I’m in for a rough ride. I'm sure I'll cover some more of them. But let that be a lesson to all the budding young retail hopefuls. You’re out there going to college hoping to land a good retail job. But it’s not all fun and games. In fact it’s rarely either of those things. Especially when someone has just read The Times. 

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