A few weeks ago, I wrote a giant ass rant about some of the worst jobs I’ve ever had. Initially, it had one last job at the end that was pulled at the last minute. Mostly because the more I wrote about it, the more I realized how depressing it was. And since depression month was just around the corner, I figured it may well be better saved for when the mood was right. While I’m not going to name names in this article (mainly because I know how voracious their legal team is at threatening lawsuits to anyone saying negative things), I will say this job has to do with a large electronics store that you have most likely been to more than a few times to Buy stuff. Even if it’s not the Best place to go to. Got it? Okay, let’s move on.
So while this certainly wasn’t the worst job I ever had, it was by far the most draining. There were days where I would literally be sick going in to work because of how much I detested what I did on a daily basis. It was a constant stream of awful customers, non-stop sales pitching, inept management, and just an all around atmosphere of no one wanting to be there. It wasn’t really like that when I began, but at some point things changed, and everyday annoyances snowballed into absolutely awful working conditions. And today, we’ll be looking at a few of the worst. But first, let’s start off with the most obvious:
The customers you deal with in electronics basically boil down to them being either completely clueless, or sure that they know everything about computers, but still completely clueless. Most customers that I helped had almost no knowledge of anything computer related. This is fine. I enjoy educating people about technology. It’s fun to tell people about the WiFis and the GBs. The problem comes from the second group. People that THINK they know things, but in actuality have learned most of what they know about computers through their 8 year-old kid, or rumors and hearsay that they may or may not have thought up themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I cringed so hard I hurt myself when a customer started off with “My Brother told me…” It was usually a goddamn nightmare at that point on. I once had a customer convinced one of our laptops played PS3 games because his son told him so AND WHY WOULD HIS SON EVER LIE TO HIM so obviously I was dumb as shit and didn’t know how to do my job. That’s about the time I went and hid in the bathroom stall for fifteen minutes.
There were also the crazies. Customers that just would absolutely lose it if they didn’t get their way. You’d think such behavior would have been left behind at age of three, but I would see it on a daily basis by people that would claim they were adults. One such fun customer had previously bought a computer at some other store thinking it was some baller assed gaming machine. Here’s a protip, though: You can’t buy a gaming computer for 300 dollars. So upon seeing his computer couldn’t even run Quake II without looking like a slideshow, he brings it to us to put a graphics card in. No problem, except the customer had also bought one of those super slim desktops which allow almost no room for any sort of graphics card. We kindly explain this to him thinking that maybe he would:
- A: Understand the situation and return the computer for something better.
- B: Maybe accept a far less powerful graphics card that would fit as an alternative.
We were surprised when he chose to:
- C: Lose his cockfucking mind and threaten to kill all of us, including the other customers in line.
He then went on yelling of how he had been in Iraq and had killed more than his share of people, and wouldn’t think twice about doing the same to us. He continued his tirade of insanity to the point where he was eventually escorted out while calling everyone in the store “a bunch of big niggers.” The best part though, is that I had nothing to do with any of the above. I was on lunch across the street, and just happened to be walking back across the street and into the store when he was leaving. Spotting me, he decided to floor his car straight at me, causing me to fling myself over into the grass to avoid being splattered across his hood, while he drove by saying he would come back later to kill me. I can’t even explain how happy I was that I almost got seriously injured for something I had no idea even happened. Good times.
One of the more surprising things I learned is just how big a pain in the ass foreign people are. And I am not even generalizing. When I first started, whenever a group of foreign guys came up, the employees in the department would empty out. At first I was like, man, you guys are just being assholes to these people. But I learned all too quickly that literally almost EVERY foreign person buying a computer is like a fifteen minute trip through Hell and back. I think this has to do with the fact that foreigners are used to a certain way of shopping in their respective countries. Namely haggling the SHIT out of you. So when they come here and see a price tag that states how much something is, then OBVIOUSLY that isn’t how much they are going to pay for it. Oh Hell no. So then it is time for me to glaze over and listen to countless offers, untold amounts of “What are you gonna do for me”s, and a never-ending amount of accessories that they think they should get for free. Some would even offer to trade things they own to me. Needless to say, after a month of working there, I would run just as fast out of the department when I saw a group of foreign people walk up. It’s just not worth our time to spend an hour with people who are constantly wanting to spend less, when our jobs relied on making people spend more. Even if trading for a baby goat was REALLY tempting.
So those are generally your basic customers. I would also get the people bringing in broke ass computers for repair or upgrades, but luckily I never had to spend too much time with them. I did get one man who brought a new Macbook in and asked us to install a 3.4 floppy drive in it. That was the day all of the flowers in the world died at once.
Having to deal with the above over and over on a daily basis was more than enough to lead one into a life of drinking problems. But I haven’t even gotten to the actual job yet, and it’s just as bad.
Selling You Everything You Don’t Want Or Need
My job, as I was led to believe during training, was to sell computers and to service computers. Fine. After all, I’m a pretty good salesman. I was also aware that I would be trying to sell our basic warranty service along with the computers, but this was never focused on much in training. I was eventually shown the rundown of the warranty and how to sell it, and even though I would never want such a thing, I realized it was my job to try to sell people on it. At this point, things weren’t so bad. I understood why warranties are offered, and just about every place on Earth does it anyway. The problem started when things started stacking up on top of that warranty, to the point where I was literally forced to sell upwards of twelve things to each customer, not even counting the warranty. Yes, I’m being completely serious.
So what exactly was I offering to you, the customer who probably wants a cheap as shit $300 laptop? Well let’s start with the warranty. At the time there were multiple price ranges for two separate plans. One for standard repair, and another for accidental. Okay, so you declined that. How about in-home networking to set up a router and your computer? No? Well you’ll need anti-virus and we have a deal for…Oh, you already have antivirus. OK, I’d just like to tell you about our tech support subscription that we can offer that is separate from the warranty…Yeah I can see why you wouldn’t want that if you didn’t want the warranty. Would you be interested in getting on the Internet from anywhere? We have mobile hotspots that allow you to do just that! No again? Okay well we have…oh you’re walking away? But I have a few more great things to tell you about! Like our awesome financing! Oh, and we can get you set up with a Cable TV plan as well! What about the great deal for Microsoft Office we have for every computer purchase! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE BUY ONE OF THEM.
Yes, I had to offer all of the above, every time. And I didn’t even mention other things such as data backup, buyback programs, and whatever else they forced us to force on customers. And if you think you could get away with not offering it, well, the supervisor standing five feet behind you with a clipboard checking off everything you mention would have a thing or two to say when you failed to mention the awesome benefits of buying a family cell phone plan with your laptop. It got to the point where I was spending close to ten minutes just shilling products for other parts of the store, let alone the stuff for our department. The managers called this “giving a buffet of options to the customers and letting them choose.” The customers responded by getting angry and leaving without purchasing anything.
I won’t even go into the accessories, which at one point I was “coached” to essentially hold customers hostage while leading them through the four or so accessory aisles before going into my pitch for all that shit above. And then FINALLY, after twenty or so minutes of wasting the customer’s life with endless sales pitches, I was allowed to sell them a computer. If you ever find yourself trapped in this layer of Hell, here’s a protip: Browse for the computer you want in the store, then buy it online. Ironically enough, the convenient, hassle-free online sales that are eating away at big box retailers are the very reason why more and more things are pushed at customers in the stores. Maybe eventually they’ll put two and two together there.
Financing You Into Oblivion
Just about any large store you go into anymore will find yourself assualted with store credit card offers at every turn. It’s getting harder and harder not to walk from one side of the store to the other and not here about a store’s “Great Financing Offer!” at least four times. It’s to the point now when I go to a store, I’m genuinely hiding from employees just to not have to listen to that damn credit card pitch again. And it’s not like they want to tell you about this shit. It’s just that their job depends on it. Most places have a very strict policy on how many credit card signups employees should have per week, or face write-ups, or even termination. It was a constant, CONSTANT talking point for managers every day. It was also pure torture for employees, and made us resort to really awful practices. From convincing a family in debt that just ONE more credit card wouldn’t hurt, to trying to finance senior citizens who never wanted or needed a credit card. It was an act that made my stomach turn every time I was pushing it on people. But that wasn’t to be my concern. You see, according to management, we were “helping” people afford the things they needed. Need was a big word. It was repeated constantly like we were some life-sustaining product. Last I checked no one has ever NEEDED a damn 54 inch HDTV.
There’s certainly a very real reason that places want you to sign up for their credit cards, and it has nothing to do with “helping customers.” It’s all about making money for the store, and knowing that a person with a store credit card is much more likely to return to that store to make purchases. This isn’t even mentioning the kickbacks the stores get from the banks for using store credit cards over other credit cards. It was broken down to us on a whiteboard showing the amount of money the store made versus another card, and it usually came out to be a good 50% more per transaction. And that’s not even mentioning getting a customer to take credit protection and shit like that. Basically it came down to the thing it always comes down to: It profits the store. Customers be damned if they can’t pay their bills. We got our money when we sold a 2500 dollar Macbook to a family that can barely afford what bills they have now, and that’s all that matters.
One would also think that the offers would only go out to people getting large items. Not so. We were to offer it to Everyone. Every single person that walked through the door that was able to get credit. And it didn’t matter what they bought. Got a CD and a bag of Skittles? Check out what this awesome financing can do for you! Standing around waiting for your husband to finish taking a shit so you can go to Bed Bath and Beyond next door? Let me show you what six months of no interest can get for you! And if they refused, we were actually supposed to follow up and ask AGAIN if we saw them browsing. It was just shocking at some point.
I never realized just how annoying it was until I became a customer myself again. My girlfriend and I went into the store not long ago to retrieve a game that was on sale. At the front of the store we were greeted with a table not allowing us to progress past it until I heard a pitch for a card. After that, halfway into the store, there were two more employees handing out pamphlets and giving more pitches. Once we got to what we wanted, another employee asked if he could help, which was just another chance to “remind us of our great financing! Here’s a pamphlet!” Heading back up front, I made the mistake of wandering near the cell phones, where I was greeted by another person standing around solely for the purpose of credit card offers. I was able to walk fast enough to ignore that one. Finally at the register, I was again offered a card one more time before I left. She also put another pamphlet in my bag. To call that a pleasant shopping experience would be a stretch for anyone. Gonna wipe my ass with those pamphlets.
The lesson here is to not get in that trap of store credit cards. While the hollers of no interest, and super cool shit may be a damn good temptation, it’s just not worth it in the long run. If you need a card, the best option is to always get one straight from a bank, or if you MUST get a store card, make sure it can be used elsewhere. Don’t let stores trap you into giving them your money.
Or hey, you know. Just pay with cash?
WHINE WHINE WHINE
Please note that this all looks like a giant whine-fest. I do not like to be that guy on the Internet complaining about a shitty job, since there is more than enough of that everywhere. This is however my personal experience with how bad things actually were, and hope that by reading it, you may think twice before berating employees next time your shopping experience isn’t going as smoothly as you wanted. Usually there are other factors in place making your purchase as annoying as humanly possible, and there’s not much either of you can do about it except keep taking it in the ass until the transaction is over. It’s kind of like a life lesson I guess. Except you only have to go through it once, where the employees are on that train of hurt all day, every day.
Honestly the thing that got me through it wasn’t the idea of getting a better job or anything like that. It was surprisingly the people I worked with. While I’m not the most social of people ever, there’s no way I could have made it through most days without the rest of the people I worked with that were just as miserable. From talks of drowning ourselves in the sink, to throwing shitty customer’s laptops across the stockroom, it was this banding together of depressive fools that made my time tolerable.
I’d still never do it again, though.
No matter how many baby goats you offer me.
Jeremy is a quiet, steadily mortified man hailing from Indianapolis.
Contact him this way: email@example.com (hint: it’s email)