I’ve been trying to avoid telling a lot of customer stories on the blog since I took the new job. As critical as I could be of my students at times, I knew those kids and had personal relationships with them, and even when I was furious with them and/or occasionally poking fun at them, it always came from a place where I wanted to help them get better and frequently was from a place of actual affection. My customers are strangers, and even though the chance of them finding my blog is even less than the chance of my students finding it, “dumb customer” types of stories tend to feel meaner, for lack of a better word, than stories about my kids.
It has not yet failed to startle me how customers do not seem to understand that furniture retail is still retail, and that they are at a retail store in America when they are buying from me and not, say, a bazaar in the Old City in Jerusalem. Bargaining is neither necessary nor particularly encouraged, and while, yes, I might be able to come down a bit on the price of that piece of clearanced furniture you’re looking at just so that I can get it off the floor, I’m not moving down $1000 on the price of the most expensive table in the entire store (which you will receive new) under any Goddamned circumstances. It’s not happening. And that clearance furniture? We’re talking maybe another $50 off, or maybe 10%, depending on how much it is and how much it’s already marked down. Yes, I know there’s a scratch on the front. That’s why it’s clearanced. You may notice that it’s already 40% off. I’m not taking another 20% off because of a scratch that I already took into account when I priced the piece. You are not the first person to notice the scratch, believe it or not!
We have a love seat on the floor that is in clearance and it is literally beat to hell. It looks like someone has tried to peel the leather off of it. I have no idea why we have it, or why we didn’t just throw it away. It’s $18. It was $800 new. I assume it’s there in case someone wants to try and reupholster it as a project.
Someone asked me if I could do any better on it today.
No. It’s eighteen fucking bucks. I cannot do any better.
(This happened yesterday.)
If, by some chance, you have had a problem with a piece of furniture we have sold you, and if we have agreed to exchange said furniture piece, and we’ve called you and told you the replacement piece was here, and if we specifically told you in the phone conversation that you had to bring the old piece (which you have been using and sitting on, because a rip in the upholstery on the side of a chair does not render it unusable) in order to receive the new piece, and then you show up without the old piece?
You’re not getting the new piece, no matter how much you yell and scream about it. I don’t care that you think you have to “check to see if it matches” before you take it. You are not getting the replacement piece until you bring us back the old one.
Sound unreasonable? Try that shit in any other retail store on the planet. Go ahead, go to Best Buy and try and exchange your new TV and tell them you’ll bring back the old one once you’re sure the new one works.
Go to Target and “exchange” a pair of pants, and when they ask you for the old pants, explain that you left the old pants at home, and when they tell you you need the old pants if you expect them to give you the new ones, tell them to drive out to your house and pick them up and see how well that works for you.
Because it is no different when you are buying furniture. You wanna buy the replacement piece, and then return the old one later on? That’s fine. We can accommodate that. But you think I’m just giving you a free $600 item so you can take it home and see if it works?