Something inside my cell phone busted loose. It requires a good deal of shaking before it will perform acceptably. (Don’t try this with babies).
Given that my current cell phone contract is expired, I thought I’d explore my options for phone service with a new iPhone or Android. Stop #1 was the phone store in the “dancing pigs mall.”
Have you ever had a customer service experience that was so good that you start looking around for the hidden cameras? The sales guy was great. He listened. He suggested. He spoke intelligently and enthusiastically. He knew his products. He wasn’t pushy. He was nothing short of excellent.
Afterwards, I did some research and I decided to buy a phone which does not work on Mr. Excellent Sales Guy’s network. I felt very sad about this. I hoped that the competition was a worthy adversary.
When I stepped into Cell Phone Store #2, I thought it was going to be easy. There were three employees and no customers. Despite the high employee-to-customer ratio, the “dudes” behind the counter seemed more intent on completing their game of grabass than anything else. I’m not sure how many hours of daily grabass the company mandates, but corporate overlords should rest easy knowing that grabass is taken seriously in Davis.
Finally, one dude broke away from his game long enough to ask me what I wanted. I told him that I was a customer; that I wanted to re-up my contract, and that I wanted to buy phone they were advertising. He randomly selected a phone stuck to the wall and said, “There it is.”
But there it wasn’t. That was not the droid I was looking for.
When I explained that the phone he selected was neither the model nor brand that I had requested, the dude grew surly. I was cutting into his grabass time. He didn’t have the phone I wanted. I queried him about prices, and availability, and he was completely lost.
He gave me the Look. You know the Look you give your mom when she asks about your day, but you want her to get out of the basement so you can go back to playing Dungeons and Dragons and discussing the merits of Elf boobs? That’s the look.
So I left.
In hindsight, I wonder if the dudes behind the counter were really employees. Maybe the real employees were tied up in the back. I hope not. But since I won’t be returning, I guess I’ll never know.
Store #3 had a one-to-one employee-to-customer ratio. Unfortunately, the customer was a very attractive young woman, and the store employee was doing everything he could to prevent her from leaving. After ten minutes I left. I got an ice cream. I went into a nearby book store. I made a purchase. Half an hour I returned to the Cell Store #3.
The same employee was there, looking extremely involved. The same customer was there, looking extremely bored. I waited a bit longer, wished her luck, and left.
I returned the next day. The same guy was behind the counter, but there were only middle age men in the store, so the line went fast.
I had a good feeling. This store had a great big picture of the phone I wanted. It was four feet square and had lights around it. (The picture, not the store). The store had every appearance of a place where a guy could buy that phone.
Mr. Phone Guy explained that they did not have the phone and that he did not know when they would. “Maybe next week some time.”
I asked if he would take down my name and number and call me when the phone was in stock. He cocked his head to once side and spoke very slowly, “That phone is in very limited supply. Very limited. I don’t know when we are going to get it.”
He let the silence draw out between us, giving me the Look. You know the Look the waiter gives you when his shift is ending in ten minutes and you can’t decide between chili cheese fries and garlic fries? That look.
I asked if I could place an order for the phone and re-up my contract. There was a long pause before he spoke again.
“Look. If you want to order the phone, you need to give me a… um… fifty. A fifty dollar deposit. And I don’t know when you will get the phone. It’s in VERY limited supply.”
For a phone they have so prominently displayed in their store, you’d think there would be a bigger supply of them.
I showed him my credit card.
“Fine. I’ll order one.”
He was incredulous. He held my gaze for a long moment, reached under the counter and pulled out a gun. NO. That’s what I thought he was going to do. He pulled out a phone.
“I need to answer some questions about the procedure. Hold on.”
He messed around with the phone for a minute, held it up to his ear and (I swear I am not making this up) he walked out of the store. I was left alone to ponder just what I had gotten myself into.
Was this a test? Was I the first person ever to make it this far? Was I about to meet Kaiser Soze?
After a few minutes he returned.
“How about you just leave your name and number. We’ll call you when the phone is available.”
He produced a scrap of receipt and a ball point pen. Then he scrawled what might be my name and number of the back, set it on the counter and gave me the Look. You know that Look you give a guy about ten seconds before you beat his ass for wasting your time? That look.
What was the deal? I wanted to buy a phone. With money. You’d think I was trying to buy porn and pay for it with leprosy.
Rather than risk another ugly encounter, I went home and I called Cell Phone Store #4. Apparently, Store #4 actually SELLS phones.
No, they did not have the phone in stock, but they would order it. It would be in tomorrow. And by the way, I’m eligible for a $50 discount. Boom. Done. Just like that.
I don’t want to give away any free advertising, so I won’t tell you which establishment sold me the phone. But I imagine that the guy in the store at 434 “F” Street gives his customers the Look. You know the Look you get when someone is doing their job and taking care of business? That look.