Customers Really Do Suck

In my adventures in the realm of retail, I have pretty much narrowed down a comprehensive list of customers that one will encounter. I would like any one of you reading this who has ever shopped anywhere ever to read carefully and determine where in the list you belong. One should also note that these categories aren’t mutually exclusive.


The Pretender: This particular breed aggravates me for several reasons. What this person takes advantage of (but doesn’t deserve) is the customer’s treatment. You see, as we all have heard at some point, “The customer is always right.” For argument sake, let’s assume this is true (it’s not by the way). Well as far as I am concerned, you are NOT a customer until you buy something, period. Until you actually buy something, you’re a shopper, not a customer, and there is a difference. The problem is, because of the politics that occur behind the closed doors of a business, you are granted the customer’s rights and immunities strictly for the potential that you (maybe) will become a customer. So what does this person do? Simply, they pretend. This person acts as if they’re going to make a purchase, for various reasons. Some like the feeling of being a customer. Some just want information and figure they’ll just waste a salesman’s time. Again, this person is NOT a customer, and luckily for them, the business still treats them as if they are.


The Caveman: Sometimes these aren’t all bad, but the caveman can be a very draining to deal with. The caveman doesn’t know anything about anything, it’s a wonder he even knows about stores. Whatever the caveman is interested in, he simply is more intrigued that the technology exists to produce the item of interest than what it does. What’s good about the caveman is that the level of shock sometimes will have him or her throwing their wallet at you. The bad is sometimes they’re just trying to learn more about this amazing new invention. Dealing with this can be very tricky, if you touch on the wrong topic, you’ve opened a can of worms. You may mention a technology or use of the item that overlaps with something else. Now you have to explain more.


The “Educated Consumer”: You can tell from the quotations that the consumer in this example is far from educated. The “educated consumer” is fully loaded with more useless knowledge than an Antarctica history teacher. They have studied long and hard all the buzz words that exist in the world, and also feel as if they know things about the business and are on the inside track…they’re not. The “educated consumer” for example knows that when buying a budget brand item of just about any genre, they’re much smarter, the foolish ones paying a lot of money for Vercace or Sony are just paying for name. Or maybe that’s what they tell themselves to justify being cheap? In either case, this breed will tell you you’re wrong on topics you know in your sleep.


The “Pro”: Again, we have a customer whose name adorns quotes. The “pro” is not a pro whatsoever. They do not get paid for the work they are supposedly doing, nor do they really know anything, for example- in a world where there are cameras that cost ups of $5000, the pro will purchase (or talk about purchasing) a 2-bit $140 dollar camera. Now this isn’t to say that a camera of that value is necessarily bad, but a real pro wouldn’t give it a second look. The “pro” however, will explain to you how great this camera is, and much like the “educated consumer,” tell you how smart he is for saving money for something that completely does the same thing. What’s great is that the pro needs to know every detail about the cheap camera he is buying. They will also explain to you why they need all these features.


The Pro: This is the actual pro. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but a pro. The pro may actually know more than you, but still seeks your advice, maybe for giggles. Unlike the “pro,” the pro has zeroed what they want and has minimal questions save maybe one, which ultimately will not affect the sale of this product. They know they need it and they want it.


Needs a Push: Another simple explanation here, the customer wants to spend money, but just wants someone to tell him it’s a good idea. They’re not always easy to spot because they will sometimes disguise themselves. Frequently, they’ll putter around and try and get you to recommend what they want in the first place. This doesn’t always happen on its own however and will ultimately kill your sale. They’ll ask, “Which DVD player do you recommend?” Now you can try and beat it out of them, but they’ll never tell you what they have looked at or narrowed down to. You can ask them if they have at least picked out; size, price, color, brand, function, it simply is not a bone they will throw you. Here’s an example of the dialog that would occur:


Rep: Well we have this Panasonic-

Cust: Nah, I hate them, what else you got?

Rep: How about this Toshiba?

Cust: How much is it?

Rep: About 200-

Cust: Nah, that’s outta my price range, but I see you have this Samsung for 80 dollars.

Rep: Do you want to go with the Samsung then?

Cust: What’s the next model up?

Rep: That’s 130…

Cust: …and the next?

Rep: …180…

Cust: Nah…those are too much

Rep: Sound like you want to go with that Samsung

Cust: Any reason you didn’t recommend them to start with?


…you can guess where that goes. In this case, the shopper doesn’t need a push, he needs a bullet in his head.


The “Big Spender”: The “Big Spender” feels like his sale is extremely valuable to you. He may only be spending 200 dollars, but he wants you to know that this is indeed a big ticket item. He/she is the man of the hour spending all this money. This jerk will ask you to throw in things for him/her for this amazing purchase and remind you how much they are spending and how grateful you should be. This is laughable to you however when you have had customers spend 40 times as much as be 40 times less of a prick.


The Secretary: Someone the secretary has weened her way into being a simple robot and can in no way be of any help to you. There is no potential to add anything to a sale because she is only following orders. She cannot provide you with any useful information, sometimes lacks even the most basic of information, such as the person’s address she’s ordering for, ugh.


The Skeptic: This breed is so smart, that they know not to believe anything you’re saying because you’re a salesman and you’re trying to make a sale…but, why are they calling YOU then? The skeptic thinks anything you’re doing is a sales tactic, yet will continue to grill you with questions. Sometimes they will ask you the same question in a different way hoping you’ll slip up. Sometimes they will try and reason with you as if you were not a salesman, which makes them feel like part of the “in” crowd (example: “Is this what you would buy for your mother?”)


The Prick: This person has discovered at some point in their life, that they can accomplish things pretty simply – by just being as unpleasant as possible. The Prick will be impatient, no matter how fast you service them. They will also make little remarks during awkward silence that they will undoubtedly cause about you or the company. Typically this person loves to hear themselves talk as well and will rant about things not having to do with you at all sometimes. Sadly, the prick gets what they want nine out of ten times because for some reason, retaining a customer of this caliber is important to business…somehow.


The Foreigner: There is nothing wrong with being foreign, we are all foreign somewhere. If you are going to be the foreigner however, you need to be considerate to someone else in terms of the aggravation they will suffer since you cannot speak their language and want an endless amount of help. The foreigner can sadly be any of the proceeding or following genre of customer as well as being foreign. Although you can repeatedly tell them that you do not understand what they want because their lingual skills are minimal, or they don’t even know how to explain themselves, they insist on talking to you rather than doing some research on their own. On occasion, the foreigner has not even begun to research what they want, they want you to do all their work while they do not even have the decency to speaking to someone in their own tongue.


The “Busy”: There is not much to say about this person, but they are out there so they need to be accounted for. The Busy is a person is acts as if they are actually too busy for YOU, even though they have come to you for help or service. Usually this person will exhibit some Prick qualities, sometimes mixed with the qualities of the Secretary, which is a losing combination. This person may even need research assistance because they do not know exactly what it is they want, however this does not stop them from acting like you are holding them back.


The Patel: The ultimate aggravation incarnate. Actually worse than the prick, the Patel comes from a place in the world where the bottom line can never be written in stone. To quote Al Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross: “Allah himself could tell them to sign on the dotted line and they won’t do it.” Patels need to feel like they are getting a deal and will not say yes until it is offered. No matter how much or how little they are spending, they want a discount. Some are somewhat charming in their method, while some are downright nasty. With questions like, “What’s my discount?” with no such context to justify such a request, the Patel makes you want to kill someone. Even worse is that these folk tend to feel like anything that does not go 100% to their expectation is thereby a discountable offense and will express this to you.


The Mini Patel: The Mini Patel is actually most enjoyable. A variation of the Patel, the Mini Patel is usually distant relative of the Patel who has the instinct to haggle as the Patel would, but not the proper motivation or understanding to execute this act. The Mini Patel will take “No” for an answer very often, feeling accomplished by the mere act of trying. The Mini Patel is happy with the “E” for effort.


The Complete Moron: Finally, we end our adventure at the complete moron. This person can be any combination or variation of the above mentioned. The complete moron tends to have questions, but not understand your answers. Known for saying some of the dumbest things you can imagine someone saying (example: “You mean I have to know if I want this before I buy it?”) The complete moron will usually be someone who has no business being on the phone, or out it public, they are just bad folk. Remember that kid in Friday the 13: Part 5, he flips out on the guy who will not accept the candy bar? Well, I want to react like that guy to all of these people. If you don’t get the reference, I can’t help you.


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