Tuesday 10 December 2019

Smug Married: Sold on the Grrr Factor thanks to sniff of blackmail

After being ignored, shadowed, chased and badgered Aine O'Connor is feeling all shopped out

Aine O'Connor

I once tried door-to-door sales. The keyword being "once". I lasted about 55 minutes -- it really wasn't for me. In the intervening decades, however, via my much-practised role of purchaser, I have learned a thing or two about selling -- how to be sold to, granted, which I suspect might be one of the key components. Beautifully executed sales are an art form, but when poorly executed, few daily irritations can match it for sheer "Grrr Factor".

For me, the number-one place in the Grrr Factor is split between the two extremes of Grrr Nuisance Shopper (being the only person in a teeny shop, but the sales people ignore you and looked irritated if you trouble them to buy something) and Grrr Shoplifter (being followed round by the staff as if you just walked in straight from Garda Patrol to pocket their entire stock. At least make chit-chat to pretend your pursuance is social rather than suspicious).

High up the scale, too, is being virtually chased up an escalator by a sales person. As I am lily of liver all too often, I succumb to having one strand of hair curled, two nails buffed, one hand softened. This, in turn leads to other Grrr Factor rankers, such as having harassed me into the stool and stolen my time with inane banter ("you're mother and daughter, I thought you were sisters!"), they then get tetchy when I don't want the bloody service/product even if it is on special offer for one day only. You dragged me off the escalator, love. Be gracious in defeat.

While I submit to being fair game in a shopping environment, I really loathe being subjected to it at home -- some hangover from my failure, perhaps. They pitch up while you're half-way through slicing onions or have something boiling, and try to sell you broadband, satellite TV, the means to save orphans or different bins. You don't have your shopping head on, but, oh yeah sure, come on in total stranger and have my bank details.

On occasion, they need to come out to your house to explain it all and assess suitability. When we moved we had loads of that, you want this, it will/won't work and it'll cost this. Basic but effective. Complicating the issue can go wrong. The alarm guy who kept stressing how vulnerable I, as a woman, was to being subjected to hideous things in my own home if I chose to go without the most elaborate of his alarm systems just made me mad.

As did the "This is Not Pyramid Selling" selling experience. We'd get our product but would get all our outlay back if we converted a certain amount of people (Beloved: "So, like pyramid selling?" "No, no, no, no.") That felt dodgy but what was entirely irksome was the system of "subsidies", reductions off the price based on how much use we could be to them for Not Pyramid Selling. But these "subsidies", calculated on factors that weren't going to change, were only available if we agreed then and there, not within a month or a week, to fork out €7,564. Otherwise the cost was €10,430. I've seen that technique before, and it smells of blackmail, not sales, every time.

I put this to him, he took it amiably. We told him there was no way we were prepared to make a commitment like that without other research, subsidies or not. This he took less amiably. Grrr.

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