Over the weekend, I found myself in the checkout line of a Toys R Us store in Traverse City, Michigan, with a very excited seven year old. We were just buying one small Lego set, but the joy of a getting a new toy was still overwhelming for my son.
Of course, as a dad, I was feeling like a big spender ($7.99) and golf tournament fundraising ideas enjoyed basking in the adoration of my off-spring. Therefore, I wasn’t really paying attention to the lady at the cash register. We exchanged a brief hello, but I quickly went back to talking to my boy.
As he was showing me how cool this Lego set was, the check-out lady interrupted and asked me for my phone number. I looked up at her quizzically. Her long, red fingernails hovered expectantly over the number pad, waiting to key in my digits. I really didn’t like that question, so I told her that I didn’t have a phone. That wasn’t exactly the truth, but why should I volunteer my personal information at Toys R Us? What business of theirs is my phone number? In this day and age of identity theft and robocalls, that’s really crossing the line.
She looked at me with unmistakeable indignation and quickly pressed a button that must have been labeled “difficult customer”. She then asked me for my zip code. I understood what she was doing, but I just didn’t want to play along. So, again, I refused to answer, and she once more pressed the difficult customer button. Twice for emphisis.
I thought that would be the end of the pop quiz. But it wasn’t. Ignoring my previous two answers, she then asked if I would like to join the Toys R Us Rewards program. However, I knew that if I did, she’d need my phone number and zip code, so I passed. She wasn’t going to outfox me!
After I declined, she then had the nerve to ask me if I would like to apply for a Toys R Us credit card. Was she kidding me!? Here we are, in an absolute credit crisis meltdown in this country, and she’s asking me if I want to pay 22% interest per month on TOYS?
I suddenly felt some pity for her. She was just doing her job. She was probably in no better position to get a Toys R Us credit card than I was. But her job depended on her faithfully asking me these questions, so I decided to cut her some slack and take a more humanistic view of her. Besides, there was nothing else, I thought, that should could ask me.
I looked back down at my son and tussled his hair. He smiled up at me, it was truly a priceless Master Card moment.
And then: “So, do you need any extra batteries today?”
Arrrrrrrrrrgh! I gave up. All I could do was just smile. “No thank you. I’m all set.”
She finished running my DEBIT card and put the Lego set in a bag that was way too big. I finally said to her, “Wow, they certainly have you asking customers a lot of questions.”
She sighed and said to me, “I just want to make sure you have all the information you need.”
That last statement of hers really hit me.
“I just want to make sure you have all the information you need.”
Since my mind is abnormally and freakishly tuned into to non-profit fundraising, I immediately wondered how such a process of “up-selling” (as the check-out lady was doing) would work in schools.
As many of my readers know, I was once an elementary school principal. Here’s how I imagine an “up-selling” conversation would go in the school office.