“Buy This Crap” Weekend: Source Material for the Materialistic

As you know and have noticed – I post very little on this blog anymore, but that’s because most of my energy for posting has been expended by being aggravated at work or at home.  In fact, you can notice this simply by looking at the homepage and noting that this is the second Black Friday related post – and that the last one was from last year.  That’s pretty trippy.  Indeed, I believe this is the third or fourth Black Friday post (which I now just refer to the whole Friday-Sunday period as “Buy This Crap Weekend”).

It seems that every year I notice something different about BTC Weekend.  Last year it was the observation that corporations continue to be more perverted towards cash flow that they’d rather force their employees to work on a holiday, drop morale, in hopes that their sales increase.  That seems to be backfiring – a lot.  In fact, Reuters reported that customer traffic fell by about 1.5% per store, and while not a lot – when you count that in with the low traffic already sprouting on a day that’s gasping violently for sales – it is noticeable.  So much in fact, that the raw number of shoppers was around 133.7 million – down 5.2% from last year…for ALL of this BTC weekend (according to the New York Times).  Black Friday alone dropped around 10% from last year according to the Guardian – and to put a figure on that – $1.8 billion in sales compared to last year.

Why? Well because, who wants to deal with snot-nosed, self-entitled, arrogant, greedy shoppers that just spent 2 hours pretending to be thankful for what they have?  I sure don’t (even though I had to – on the other side of the counter).  Most shoppers conducted their business online or not at all this year.  After all, you can save more than any BTC Weekend shopper by doing one really easy thing: not shopping.  Nothing saves more money than just not buying anything.

That concludes my intro, and leads me into my first point though…online shoppers.

Now, this year I did participate in a little bit of online shopping myself.  Reason being: my Xbox 360 died the week before and I finally decided I was going to get an Xbox One if I could get it on special.  If I could, great, if not…oh well, I don’t need it that bad.  I did manage to get one, but I had questions about it as well.  I hadn’t thought of those questions until after I had purchased the console though.  What I am about to post is the actual conversation I had with a Microsoft support tech, and it absolutely blew me away…

Me: I am interested in getting GTA V, but I am confused about whether or not I will have to pay full price.  Is the sale going to be good after the one date mentioned for the gift card, or does it end the same day?
Tech: It ends the same day.  Unfortunately we are out of stock on the item, but it can be purchased still online for $59.99.
Me: Darn, I was hoping to just get the sale price.  I just didn’t want to spend the price as new, since I had already bought it once before.
Tech: I am very sorry, sir.  But it was only as supplies last.
Me: Oh, don’t worry.  I should have thought of this sooner.
Tech: If we could pull a game aside we would, but sadly all of the other customers have purchased them.  We apologize for the inconvenience.
Me: I appreciate that, but you shouldn’t apologize for my own short-sightedness!  Don’t worry, I’ll find it or pay full for it.
Tech: We need more customers like you […] Thank you for your understanding.

I’ve worked in retail now for 8 years.  I recognize the underlying message in what the tech was relaying to me.  I know the rhetoric.  When you are barraged by an assault of angry customers you become over-apologetic.  I had just done that the day before (this was on Saturday, and I worked Black Friday).  The observation is that people are seriously remaining belligerent and harassing even on a digital medium.  This tech seriously had gotten to the point he was apologizing for my error – that’s not acceptable nor is it fair.  This person doesn’t know me, didn’t know me, and still doesn’t know me.  They knew nothing of my intentions.  What happened was short-sighted assumptions on my part that the item would still be in stock when I finally stopped debating on whether I wanted it / got to it.  That is not their problem – they can’t help that.

(Shameless plug:  I contacted Microsoft support 5 times over the course of the last 6 days for various things that were somehow related to my 360 crashing and the new Xbox One purchase: every single time I contacted them, they were on the ball and provided some top notch customer service, so kudos to Microsoft!  I don’t think I ever even waited longer than 30 seconds to chat with someone either.)

By contrast: our store for the first time ever, had doorbusters on Black Friday – despite us not participating heavily in BTC Weekend idiocy.  Our doorbusters were gone by the time I arrived at work around 12:30 pm – not at all surprising.  Customers continued to come into the store and complain that we didn’t have anymore until 8:15 pm that evening.  Our store opened at 7:00 am.  We had 550 customers that day, and did $18,000 in sales.  For some reason, we were supposed to have enough for all 553 (yeah, right…we did 183% of normal sales (also 167% of our daily budget) and 184% of our normal customers) where does that happen?  (P.S., yes boss – I know you’re reading this and I did the math, those percentages are correct.)  That was just for our store – so I know damn well that other stores were in the same situation – and I know damn well that some of you people went out there and harassed my fellow retailers in the trenches with your foul, toxic, and shameful complaints.  Shame on you.

So, now we’ve progressed from being angry at people face to face and are progressing into the phase of complaining at people through a computer screen.  We have one of two names for you.  If you do this for the sake of complaining, you are an internet troll…also known as a horses ass.  If you do this for the sake of you thinking you’re more important that others, we call you an internet bully.  Either way, you really need to take a look at your life if that’s what you’re doing with your time.

Today reaffirmed that I will be planning to visit stores after I finally leave this job, and hope I encounter disgruntled customers who get all pissy with associates.  I plan on taking a page out of a customer interaction I was the center of.  And I would make the lady that had my back so very proud.

Actually, what comes to mind: we’re so busy checking everyone’s privilege – why can’t we check our own when we’re shopping?

See you next time folks!

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