Ever get the feeling that some sales clerks consider questions from customers to be major intrusions into their real job–which is to take our cash at top speed and shove us out of the way for the next customer’s money.
Recently I came across such a clerk when I decided to buy a digital camera. My research had indicated my computer operating system wasn’t compatible with the camera’s software so I needed a memory card reader (a small drive to get the digital photos into the computer). When I telephoned the store with the best camera deal, I asked if they could recommend a reader in the lower price range, but not the lowest. According to camera forums, a few very cheapo readers had a dramatic tendency to emit burning smells and melt.
Downtown I went and, with the camera picked up and paid for, I scooted over to the camera reader department. Stationed behind the counter was a pugnacious looking, cold fish disguised as a senior citizen. When I told him the camera department had recommended a certain reader, he whipped around, grabbed a reader package off a wall peg, slapped it on the counter, scribbled out a sales slip, slapped that on the counter and turned away-done. Oh boy. I hadn’t had a chance to read the specs to double check that it was definitely going to work with my computer, and I certainly hadn’t said I was definitely going to buy the reader, and here he was finito with the whole deal. By this time it was clear I was dealing with an extremely bristly critter who was there to rack up sales–not to help customers. At that point, however, I figured I didn’t necessarily have to deal with him. The cashier was way at the other end of the counter so I had time to check the reader info while standing in line waiting to pay. Reading fast, I couldn’t see anything about the reader being Mac compatible, even though it had a USB connection. And past experience had shown if it didn’t say it was Mac compatible, it wasn’t.
Reluctantly, I returned to the counter. Clearly annoyed to see me, Old Bristly brusquely pointed out some fine print that said the reader was indeed compatible with Mac. Okay, back in line to pay, still reading. The reader had a USB 2.1 connection. My Mac is 1.1. Still, I Had to be positive this faster device would work (even if slower) on my set-up. Inner groan. I had to face the Grinch again or chance buying the wrong thing. Back I went and, In the neutral tone I employ in dealing with cantankerous creatures who seem to yearn for confrontation, I apologized for bothering him (as if) and asked about the USB compatibility. Blazing more angry sparks in my direction, he snapped that the USB would work on my system.
By this time I had lost my place in line twice, I was tired and hungry (it was well past dinnertime) and I had a long subway ride home. In line again, I finally reached the cashier. Simultaneously I noticed that the memory card reader did not list the particular memory cards that I seemed to recall worked with my new camera. Maybe I was too bleary to see them. Or maybe my camera’s memory cards could be read in all readers. The cashier extended her hand for my money. Blast. If I paid now and bought the wrong thing it would be another long schlep back. So back I went, steeling myself for round three with the white haired dragon.
He shot me a furious glance as he continued with another customer who seemed to be as equally in the dark about card readers as I. Finally he turned to me, his expression and body language shouting, “Oh god, is this idiot ever gonna leave me alone!” But his lips were thinly compressed–silent. Still refusing to enter his hostile space, (I wanted a card reader, not a fight) I again apologized for the further interruption (again, as if) and pointed out that the memory cards compatible with my camera did not appear to be listed on this particular reader.
“No!” he barked, his face turning an angry scarlet. “This reader doesn’t work with that camera! Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?” And he snatched my sales slip back.
Swell. At that point I was feeling so drained, my annoyance was over-powered by a gust of relief. At last. Escape was on the horizon. And once free of him on the street, I at least had the satisfaction of knowing my questions (pesky to him, informative to me) had prevented me from buying the wrong thing, something that would have cost me further time and energy to return. And in my book, saving time and energy is no less important than saving money.
Except in this case I saved money too. The next day I again donned my pesky hat and telephoned the camera manufacturer a second time. On the first call the tech person had said I needed a reader that cost about $10.00. It turned out reliable ones cost a lot more. So maybe a different tech person would give me further, more substantial info. And in fact that’s what happened. Gratefully, I received the happy news from a second tech person that my camera didn’t need a reader after all. It turned out that the photo system software already installed on my not-so-new Mac (which I had never looked at) would work perfectly well in receiving digital camera photos. Good old Mac.
Sometimes asking a lot of questions is the only way you can save time, energy and capital. And If others perceive that as being a pest, c’est la vie in today’s world.