It’s quite late. I’m hearing the hum of trucks commuting along the distant highways. It’s Sunday night, which means there are plenty of those. “Trucks” I mean. Seems like a lonely night to be driving with family left behind. But, I guess that’s the life of a trucker.
As I’m sitting here at my computer I was thinking about stress and how it affects our lives. For the trucker, it’s the constant bouncing in a not-so-comfortable cab and, sometimes, in not-so-lovely weather. I doubt they eat correctly. Greasy eggs, burgers, and fries probably constitute the trucker’s diet. I’m sure they break it up with an occasional order of French Toast or pancakes. They spend all of their time on the road and must deal with stupid drivers ALL day long rather than just ‘here and there’ as the rest of us do. Hmmm…maybe WE are those stupid drivers. Anyway, they force themselves to stay awake and then force themselves to go to sleep. They have stringent deadlines regardless of the “construction” that’s taking place every five to ten miles. And — if one finds himself or herself on Route 95 South outside of Ft. Lauderdale and Miami — well, I’m sure they are contemplating if they have a good life insurance policy because that road is enough to make you NEVER want to get back in a vehicle again! Yep…truck drivers have a LOT of stress.
Now, you would think that a solopreneur, such as myself, wouldn’t have too much stress. A great deal of my work is done right in my home office. I don’t have any employees, so no one is calling off sick due to a cramp in his or her ear lobe. For the most part, traffic jams don’t affect me. So what in the world could stress me out?
Answer: Buying a new lap-top. Yep. I know it sounds trite. But, let me tell you something. Every time I exercise the privilege of being a consumer, I’m reminded as to why some of our political leaders would rather outsource our jobs to other countries whenever possible. (Now…hold on! I don’t agree with that remedy. I’m just saying that I can understand why some, short-sighted decision-makers would do this.) Fortunately, our economy is limited to outsourcing many of our service positions. Overall, that is a good thing! But, I can’t remember the last time I was able to go to a store or a pharmacy or another type of vendor and NOT have to think for the person behind the counter. Now…please bear with me on this and tell me that you’ve NEVER experienced something similar to what I’m about to share with you.
So, I go to a store (which I won’t mention) to purchase a laptop. After the appropriate comparison-shopping between laptop makes and models, I make my decision. At this point, the sales assistant prints out TWO, 8 1/2″ x 11″ pages and proceeds to ‘explain’ my options for a service contract and a warranty. I would LOVE to explain to you what these pages provided. But, this is one of those situations where one DOES have to be a Rocket Scientist to comprehend everything that just came out of the sales assistant’s mouth. It took me longer to decide which “plan” I wanted than it did to pick out the laptop. This is when I realized I was in trouble.
I bought a great package. I think. The one thing I knew I definitely wanted was to have Microsoft Office installed and some virus and spyware protection, etc. I bought the computer last Monday. I was kind of under the gun to have the computer ready by mid-week; but, I didn’t want any mistakes made. So I figured if I gave the ‘team’ until Thursday, all would be well.
Well…it wasn’t. When I returned on Thursday evening to pick up the computer, they couldn’t find it. The sales assistant that was helping me kept coming out every five minutes to report that he still couldn’t find it. Other sales assistants were noticing his frustration and came to his aid. Now, I had five other sales assistants in the back room trying to find my laptop. Finally, they called for the manager. She found it. I asked her why the other sales assistants couldn’t find it and she said, “It was behind something.” I think my eye-roll was contagious because even the people behind me in line seemed to be following my lead. We all looked as if we were having some type of seizure. Actually, at that point, a seizure might have been more fun.
So, OK. We found the laptop. I’m now back to my original sales assisant who proceeds to take my laptop out of the box to double check that the installation was complete. It was the wrong laptop! But, it was in the right box. Hey…ya gotta count your blessings, right? So, I asked, “Where is MY laptop?” He said, “I think we gave your laptop to another customer cause the laptop we set aside for you is actually his and actually costs $400 more than the one you bought. We’ll just call the other customer in the morning and have him return your laptop and give him this one back.”
Now, this sales assistant couldn’t understand why I DIDN’T want to take my laptop once he retrieved it from Customer #2. I obviously wasn’t going to pay for a warranty on a laptop that left the store in someone else’s care for almost 3 days! He just couldn’t get this. I explained it to him. He got it.
This is where the fun starts. The laptop make and model that I had originally selected was out of stock. The only other laptop of the same make with the same or better specs was $350 MORE than the one I bought. I spoke to the manager and said that I thought they should give me the upgraded laptop for the same price as the one I bought because I didn’t want a slower processor or reduced graphics quality just because they made a mistake. You see…the make and model I bought was a great price for LOTS of bells and whistles. As I said, there were no more left in stock and really nothing else in that price range that could offer me the same quality machine. With my service contract, warranty and the price of the laptop my original sale was $1,120. The manager said he wouldn’t take a $350 loss by giving me a laptop with the same bells and whistles for $350 less than it’s worth. I said….”OK. If you can’t give me the same quality laptop, then instead of losing $350 you’re going to lose $1,120 cause the deal is off.”
He didn’t get that either. He said that he was willing to work with me, but not to the tune of a $350 loss and that I’d have to find another laptop for no more than $100 to $150 more than the one I bought. If I could do that….he’d eat the difference. I did. He did.
So, once again, I had to leave the laptop there in order for all the installations to take place. This was last Thursday. I figured I’d give them until Sunday at 1 p.m. to do everyting without error. I went in today at 2 p.m. and was so happy that they actually found my ‘new and improved’ laptop. I said to the sales assisant (same one as last Thursday), “Do you think you should check the laptop and make sure that everything was installed correctly?” He said, “Really? Would you feel better if I did that?” I said, “Yes, because if I get home and can’t just fire it up and I have to bring it back in I’m NOT going to be very happy.” He said, “That’s true. Let’s check it out.”
He skillfully cut through the tape on the box (he’s getting really good at this!) and fired up the laptop. A few moments later, he gazed at me across the counter while turning sheet white. “They forgot to install Microsoft Office,” he said. “It will only take ten minutes. Would you like to look around the store while I install it?”
I can only tell you that my eyes are getting really strained from all the rolling around they’ve been doing this past week. But, I do have my laptop. And, it’s worth $150 more than I paid for it. Plus, they gave me a $50 Gift Certificate for my troubles. I spent part of it on a microphone, which I will need in order to produce audio postcards in the future. I picked it out while my friendly sales assistant was installing Microsoft Office. How convenient!
So, back to my original question. Is it ever possible to go to a store and just be the customer without having to think of all the possibilities that may go wrong? Hold on. Let me roll my eyes and think about this.