Ding Dong

Yes, admittedly, I hate going to the cellular dealer. It’s a road trip my husband loves and I dread. I know I’m not going to enjoy the experience before we even leave the driveway. He admires all the bells and whistles but I only require a basic phone for emergencies and texting my girls.

The experience starts with the dealer welcoming me by opening the door but I’m already irritated because they want my name and number before we’re even over the threshhold.

My husband and daughter head right for the droids and i-phones to discuss all the features and I sit down to plan our strategy. A strategy that can start when we reach my name in the queue. In other words, an hour, because the customer to salesperson ratio is about 12 to 1.

I look for a chair among the sterile displays and finally find a chair in the corner that looks like it lost its card table. I make a quick assessment of the scene in front of me. While dozens of customers wait, I realize one of the employees is free enough to walk around like a cigarette girl and offer mini bottles of water. Evidently, someone made a decision that it’s better to hydrate us than wait on us.

I drink mine quickly, since it’s one swallow, and then realize that the store layout is so sparse, there is no trash or recycle bin. Although I don’t find one, I do make eye contact with a fellow customer. A fine fellow indeed, who tells me there is a free coupon for the phone my husband is inspecting.

By the time the sales woman arrives my husband knows what he wants, is direct and clear. She offers some other options but he insists he is all set. She finally resolves to his wishes and says she’ll be right back. One would think she is getting a new model of the phone from the back room.

She’s really being a wizard elf, filling a bucket as big as a sleigh, with every possible accessory. She returns to suggest a waterproof case, screen protectors and a charger. I tell her we don’t live on a house boat and know that a charger comes with the new phone. She doesn’t even flinch at my sarcasm and rather offers us insurance and explains that we’ll still need a car charger.

We refuse everything and I tell her about my coupon:
– She wants to see it but I tell her I left it at home.
– She asks if it is an on-line coupon?
– I say yes, I got it in an email.
– That’s not what she meant but regardless, it’s only if you buy the phone on-line.
– I timidly threaten that we could therefore leave and buy it from home.
– She has a quick retort to explain that we are in tax free NH and if we order from home – Massachusetts – we’ll have to pay tax on the retail value.
– My “virtual” coupon now has virtually no value.

We move to the register to pay. Our $50 phone quickly becomes $80, to include the upgrade fee. We do agree on the screen protectors and my husband would like the car charger after all. In that case, she can bundle it for less. With my group discount, it will “only be a few dollars more”.

I did hate coming here; I couldn’t fake my way through the sales pitches. My husband loved it; he was a kid in a candy store. Now that we had a new phone, it was a true emergency. I just wanted to be back in my driveway.