Tuesday, August 09, 2005

How Not to Sell Me Something

First, I should apologize for taking so long to post an actual interesting story rather than just book reviews. We are having some issues with our wireless network (again) and I haven't been able to plug in with the laptop. I'm home sick for the morning, so thought I would seize hubby's computer, which is hardwired in, so I could share this little tale with you.

Last Monday afternoon, I called Chris at work and explained that my Mexican Craving Gland had taken over control of my body and the only hope to cure it was to go to La Rancherita for dinner. He agreed, which was odd in itself, since he normally fights going back out to dinner once he is home... and also since we are broke and promised ourselves we wouldn't eat out so much. But, he also knows that once the Mexican Craving Gland takes over, well... all hopes of a normal home life are gone until it is stopped.

So I arrive home Monday night at my normal 6pm-ish (damn commute) and I am pretty much starving. I dart into the house, planning to scoop up the baby and toss her and Chris into the car to head back out. As I turn the corner into my living room... what's this? A twenty-year-old blonde, cute and freckly college kid is in my chair! And she has... what's that? A SALES portfolio.
Muttering a small curse under my breath--part of this curse was dedicated to my husband's endearing weakness for cute sales people--I smile and allow myself to be introduced.

She's selling an "educational kit" designed to help me teach my child at home. Yippee. I'm starved. So I say, none to kindly, "Look, I am starving and need to eat now. Could you possibly come back another time?"

"Oh SUUUUUURE," she purrs... and we set up a time for tomorrow evening. We go get Mexican food. I am happy.

Tuesday evening arrives, and so does she. This time, and this is partially my fault because I actually agreed to the time we arranged, she arrives just as dinner is ready. So she sits at the kitchen table while I stand in the kitchen cutting up the baby's chicken, and she launches in...

"So do you KNOW what I LOVE about APEX?!" she coos. We have already learned that she is from Montana.

"No... what?" I take the bait.

"People here are SOOOOOOOO interested in their kids' eduCAtion!"

Oh brother.

"Did you know that children learn more between the ages of 0 and 5 than at any other time in their LIFE?!" she continues...

I nod. I did know that. I am a parent, and I studied to be a teacher. I've read a book or two.

"Well, is little Athena in daycare?" she asks.

"Yup." I offer, helpfully.


Oh, good. I am so relieved that the 20-year-old approves of my choice for child care. Of course, it turns out that she was setting me up.

"You know... most daycares today won't even put the ALPHABET up on the wall, because they don't want to make the kids who are less able feel bad that they can't read..."

Um... what?! "I'm sorry... I don't mean to call you a liar or anything, but I assure you that we pay quite a bit of money for a daycare that we researched pretty thoroughly. And I have seen alphabet flash cards in the room for the two-year-olds. They DO teach children the alphabet, among many other things..." I'm getting pretty annoyed now, and my food is getting cold.

"Oh." She tries another angle... "So have you lived in this neighborhood long?"

I'm thrown a bit. "Three years."

"So you must know..." and she opens up her book and starts rattling off my neighbors' names. I only barely recognize one or two, but apparently, this tactic is designed to make me bow to peer pressure. If ERIC down the street bought this product, then I must buy it too! Steam is coming out of my ears.

"So," she pauses, "are you interested in seeing these books and software products."

Now, I am normally very nice to sales people, as I used to be one. But I NEVER knocked on doors without previously being invited in. And I am watching my egg noodles get cold. There is very little in this world worse than cold egg noodles. So I turn on the mean meter.

"To be perfectly honest," I say, "I am not interested. However, you have come a long way, and I am willing to at least look at what you have. But I will tell you up front that I will probably not be buying."

I have to give her credit. She doesn't take it personally and she plows ahead. "What if I tell you how incredible affordable it is?"

Now, you and I know that I just admitted we really didn't have the money to get Mexican food the night before, so I am tempted to say, "you mean less than $20?" But I refrain. I DO say, "I would like to see the quality of the books..."

She opens her bag and produces a book. I have to admit, the books were nice and colorful, and I certainly see that if I were homeschooling, they would really come in handy. But since I turn over an amount of money equivalent to a second mortgage to pay other people to educate her all day, I am not really thinking we need these, even a little bit.

Then she describes the software. This software (a collection of CDs) is designed to be used when she is in grade school. Like 4th-6th grade. 4th grade is 10 years away for her. Miss Montana called in "an investment in the future." I call it "coasters" since I am fairly certain any application I buy today is not going to work on my computer in 10 years. I mean, 10 years ago, I was using a Mac Performa with a 2X CD-ROM drive. Oh, and did I mention that they are all about science? I'm equally sure that science will change a bit in 10 years. As a librarian, I wouldn't recommend an encyclopedia that was more than 5 years old... So I'm failing to see the value in the "value added" products in this package.

So I ask her the price. She gives us the spiel about how much people would expect to pay for this number of books (citing that picture books cost $25 each, mind you -- I'm a librarian, so I kind of get them for free, at least for a little bit at a time). She comes up with something like $1200, which I imagine is true for the number of books and coasters we would be getting. Then, drum roll please... she announces it can be ours for $450!!! The best part is, I can pay now, and the books will be here by the end of the summer! Whopee!

So I politely decline her offer to take my money, and she looks me square in the eye, opens her own eyes wide, and says, "Don't you want to help your CHILD?!"

I almost threw the cold noodles at her. Fortunately, Chris shuffled her out the door while I muttered to myself about how people are duped into spending way too much on their kids. Then I look around my house and remember that I am one of those people. I may have passed up this one, but I know I won't escape forever...

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