My mum gets confused about mobile phones.
To be fair – so do I.
You seem to be able to get any number of different handsets and contracts, for all sorts of different prices depending on where you look, who you talk to, and whether or not you look like you are a clueless woman.
My mum has always struggled at phone shops. They see her coming, and they must rub their hands together with glee. They use baffling terminology, they talk her into things she doesn’t need, let alone want, for a price she doesn’t want to pay. It makes me FURIOUS.
Today my mum and I went to a phone shop to get her a new phone. We had chatted beforehand so she was clear on exactly what she wanted – a shiny new iPhone. (As an aside – iPhone’s are Pedro’s nemesis. Well in truth, the whole Apple brand. As someone who completely understands computers and technology he cannot understand why people would pay more for technology that just ‘looks nice’. Well Pedro, you will now discover that I DO listen when you talk technically – I, along with millions of others around the world, know NOTHING about technology. We love the shiny, sleek curves of the Apple brand. But more than that – we love the INTUITIVE USER INTERFACE. *sits down to a round of applause, with a soundtrack of Chaka Khan* )
To give you some phone history – my mum had a very basic text and talk ‘Pay as you go’ (remember that everyone?! 10p a text!) phone for a few years, moving onto a contract on a basic (and unheard of) model of smartphone only two years ago. When she first got a phone, she would send texts at a rate of roughly one per day, taking around an hour to reply to a question with:
For various reasons, namely that in order to take out a phone contract you seem to need to jump through more hoops, sign more papers, and bring more proofs of identity then you do to pass a CRB check to work with children, my mum’s first contract phone had to be in my name. She hadn’t brought formal ID detailing her mum’s first pet’s hairdresser’s name or something ridiculous. So I took responsibility for it, with my mum paying me back through direct debit each month. When my mum started to become more phone proficient, and started to develop phone envy of smart phones, (‘ooh maybe I’d like to be able to check my facewatch a million times a day!’ ‘mum – it’s facebook’) we went to a phone shop together to sort it out, and to change the contract into her name.
‘We can’t change over your names on the contract in store’ explained the bored-looking sales assistant, barely disguising looking at his ‘designer’ watch, clearly wondering when he could go and attempt to pick up girls with sleazy chat-up lines (Clearly I’m not one to judge a book by its cover). ‘All we do here is sales.’ FOR GOODNESS SAKE. He then attempted to sell my mum a £40 a month contract. I flipped. We ended up walking out of the shop at the point when he was sarcastically explaining why we were stupid and he was a sales God. (He may have been saying something completely different, but some sort of red haze had descended and I was finding it difficult to hear anything other than a dull roar.)
We then made three calls over the course of a year to our service provider (CLUE: It rhymes with..oh wait, it doesn’t rhyme with anything) to try and change the name on the contract. Each time we got a different gobbledegook reason as to why they couldn’t do that over the phone, only in a store. GAH.
So when we went into the phone shop today to get my mum her shiny iPhone, you can understand why I was already on my guard. They seemed to treat tricking us as a game – I was ready to play hardball (ooh that makes me sound tough!) I was going to march in and tell the assistant exactly what we wanted in no uncertain terms. I heard ‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin as I stomped sassily in. (Yes I was channeling Bridget Jones).
He was so nice. He listened to us both as we explained what we wanted, and the issues we’d had in the past. He echoed that they couldn’t change over the contract in the store – but helpfully told me exactly what to say over the phone there and then. Standing in the shop, on the phone with Over-the-phone Sales Man I was being given grief over what we wanted – to cancel my mum’s existing contract to start a new one. I handed the phone over to our lovely sales assistant (In-the-shop Sales Man – our knight in shining armor) and he firmly told them that as the customers we must be given what we wanted. I took the phone back, and caught the end of their conversation – a horrible tone of voice from Over-the-phone Sales Man – and gently let him know that he was now speaking to me again. The change was remarkable, from hard and accusing his voice was now back on sales mode. I was shocked.
Anyway, after an hour in the shop, my mum is now the proud owner of a lovely new iPhone, which she is completely happy with having been talked through every detail in layman’s terms by our patient In-the-shop Sales Man.
This was the saga of the phone shop – and I would hope, a lesson in patience and perseverance in sales. And also why Apple is the best (sorry Pedro!)
Your thoughts – are phone sales assistants friend or foe?