Monday, February 06, 2006

COLUMN: The Anti-Shane

I think perhaps I've met my arch-nemesis.

I've met many people I honestly can say I've disliked. But it's not often someone comes along who I hate to the point of worrying about my physical health -- as in, "I think this person is causing me to have a stroke. Please point me to the nearest bottle of aspirin."

I'm referring to a retail-store clerk I had the pleasure of dealing with last week.

The story began innocently enough the other day. I walked into Best Buy at the exact moment they were unveiling a new shipment of X-Box 360s. Not only was I staring at THE single hardest-to-find item of the season, but it was making the nerd in me go gooey. Ergo, my field trip to browse DVDs turned into an unexpected $400 hole in my wallet.

That's where it starts to get fun. You see, out of the goodness of Bill Gates' heart -- Time Magazine's Man of the Year Bill Gates lest we forget -- once you've bought the X-Box 360, you need to buy a second official X-Box 360 wireless controller so your friends can play.

And of course you need the official X-Box 360 S-video connector cable so you can see what you're playing. And of course, what's an X-Box 360 without the official X-Box 360 remote control. Rapidly, I'm learning how Bill Gates can afford to be so stinking charitable.

This lack of necessary accessories is what led me to the lair of the nemesis. I won't pony up the name of the store, but it's one of those strip mall video-game places (and it's NOT Video Games Etc. because I like those guys.)

I was on my lunch hour and pressed for time, so I walked in, went straight to the counter, and told the clerk what I needed: controller, cord, remote. Just that simple, right?

"You're in luck," Darth Retailer replied, "We've got several used controllers in right now. They're $10 cheaper!"

I suppose I should appreciate the guy trying to save me a few bucks. But X-Box 360's still are precious commodities. You can't find one without looking high and low.

How does this store come to have a ton of USED controllers? Did they fall off the back of a truck? Am I being offered a black market joystick? Will I get home and notice the brand is spelled "Ex-Bachs?"

"No thanks," I said, "I prefer to buy new."

"No," Darth said, "you should get the used one. We guarantee them. If it breaks, we'll replace it with a brand new one."

OK, let's assume these game controllers are legitimate. That means the game controller in question could have been fondled by a 12-year-old with greasy Cheeto-stained hands and maybe a raging case of pinkeye. The more I thought about it, the happier I was to spend the extra $10.

"No thanks," I said with emphasis, "I appreciate the offer, but I'd like the new one."

"BUT SIR," came the immediate reply with more than a hint of annoyance in his voice, "It's GUARANTEED. I'm going to ring up the used one. Trust me."

Trust him? I wanted to HURT him. Fine. I gave up. I had to get back to work. I bought the used controller and picked out a couple games to test drive my new toy.

"Now, sir," he said. Wasn't this guy done? Not by a mile. "For an extra $4 per game, I'm going to put our lifetime guarantee on these."

No thanks. I'm careful with my games, and after throwing down this much cash, $4 is starting to get precious. "Nope, I'll pass on that."

I looked up just in time to see Darth roll his eyes exasperatedly. "And you realize, SIRRRR, that the first time you jump up and down while you're playing the game, you WILL scratch the CD and you WILL have to replace it and you WILL come in here and have to buy a new one."

That was it. I'm a polite guy. I usually let people walk all over me. But not this guy. I did what I've never done in a public setting before. I snapped.

"And you WILL realize, CLERRRRRRK," I started yelling, "that if you push ONE more thing on me to raise your commissions, I WILL jump up and down on your head. Repeatedly. And if I DO scratch the game and if I DO have to replace it, you can bet your life that I won't come in and do it here!"

I suppose I could have walked out. But that would have required me going to ANOTHER store and wasting even more time on something I should have outgrown circa 1992.

Instead, I let him ring me up while I explained to him the difference between helpful courtesy and obnoxious up-selling. All the while, the guy was totally silent. I don't know what freaked him out more, getting yelled at or getting yelled at by somebody like ME.

Regardless, I'm hoping he tones down the sales pitch on other customers. In the future, I'll take out my aggressions the MATURE way: defeating the Nazi scourge on "Call of Duty 2."

1 comment:

Wendy said...

If it didn't hurt so bad, I'd still be laughing, but my throat is protesting mightily.

You know what I think? I think it was the whole "sir" thing that got you. ;) Part & parcel of being "old."

Seriously tho', I hate it when the clerks try to upsell you - especially when you pointedly tell them that you're not interested. And, even tho' I was a retail clerk before, I have absolutely no pity on them.

On a side note, I would have loved to have seen it. I just cannot picture you EVER yelling. Me, OTOH, that's a whole 'nother story.