Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Selling TVs When I Didn’t Own One

by | May 6, 2024 | Sales | 0 comments

Chronicles of a Sales Dummy: Only Dummies Ask for Discounts

Photo by Nabil Saleh on Unsplash

A writer I like pronounced on his social media platform, “Asking for a discount is a sign of lower intelligence.”


I must be one big dummy.

Never mind that haggling is very much ingrained into certain cultures, mine being one of those; if a guru on the internet says it, then it must be true.

I guess we, people of non-European descent, are nothing but a bunch of dummies.

Myself included.

I already said that. Then again, I’m a dummy, so I repeat myself.

Maybe it is frustrating to some to be on the receiving end of a transaction and being asked to give something for less. But price tags are a relatively new invention, a suggestion, an idea, a social construct, if you will. So, when people like me see a price tag, we think, “That’s the price for the dummies.” Little did I know I was the dummy all along.

I mean, you can just say no to anyone asking you for a discount, or you can go on a social media campaign to change most of the world’s view on haggling, hoping it will catch on so no one ever asks you for a discount.

Women’s rights are a joke in a lot of places in the world. However, activists should put that on hold so they can start working on this very pressing social issue: the issue of having to haggle with people who can’t read the omnipotent price tag. Ah, the nerve, the injustice, the inequality! #endhaggling #equalityforall

All my life, I have had jobs in either sales or customer service. I thought I enjoyed interacting with people. Come to find out, I’m just a dummy.

I had such a job while I was going to community college. Why was I going to community college? Remember: me dummy be.

I held two jobs while taking a full load of credits and competed with the debate team.

One of those jobs was helping at-risk youth improve their academic performance so they could apply to college.

The other job was a highly coveted one as a TV sales rep at Mission Valley Best Buy.

The TV department sales job was so sought-after because it was the best pay in the entire store. The markups on TVs, cables, and audio components were astronomical. People would drop a few thousand dollars with the help and encouragement from sales dummies, I mean associates, like me.

Watching these people look up to me for advice and guidance was surreal. It was a performance of a lifetime. I could hear myself spouting the pitches I heard from my videophile colleagues. I could hear myself reciting memorized scripts and, at the same time, laughing at the entire situation.

I did not own a TV.

I barely watched any TV.

Customers saw me in that department and trusted me to tell them the difference between LCD and plasma.

“Really, both are great! The plasmas have darker colors, while the LCDs have cooler colors. It’s so obvious! Can’t you see it?”

I could see in their face they couldn’t see it. We danced, pretending to see it because we wouldn’t be the first to acknowledge that the LCD had no clothes.

I can admit it now; I, myself, could not see the difference or even care to see it.

Early in my sales career, which I think aligns with every salesperson’s career, you gravitate to gigs that are less about serving a client’s needs with a high-quality product and more a game of persuasion, “What can I get people to buy?”

Such games were played at Best Buy in their Magnolia room.

I’m not sure if this is still there, but the Magnolia room was where all the high-end audio systems were sold. Selling TVs was fine and dandy, but the real money and prestige (among sales dummies) was on selling the audio.

Now, believe me when I tell you I couldn’t see the difference between the different TVs, but for some weird reason, I was able to not hear the difference either.

The markups on audio were obscene, and I remember one customer spending nearly one hundred thousand dollars on his entire system. We were constantly instructed to push those products.

I can only imagine such sales have become easier now that “Netflix and chill” is such a popular activity. Back then, we relied only on our guiles to convince customers they needed the theater experience to feel like they were in the middle of the explosions, fighting the axis of evil from the comfort of their personally butt-dented couch.

I would often help customers who came from Tijuana who did not speak English. Always, without fail, they would ask me, “Yeah, that’s the price on the tag, but what is the price if I pay all cash.”

Of course, this store wasn’t a mercado in Mexico, but I wasn’t offended.

What the writer missed when proclaiming the lower intelligence of those who haggled was to account for cultural differences.

In Hispanic cultures, you are expected to haggle.

No one thinks you are a dummy if you don’t haggle, but they do think you could be a mark if you don’t.

Sometimes, you just haggle just to protect yourself.

Sometimes, I haggle and lose just so vendors can feel good about themselves and their products and services. Because if you don’t haggle, vendors are left thinking, “This is too easy. Maybe I should be charging these silly güeros some more.” And then inflation.

So, really, haggling is inherently a pro-social, community-building enterprise to keep each other honest. And the current sky-high prices are not the result of inflation, as the Treasury would have you believe, but of people not haggling. We have too many smart people in this world. There are no longer dummies negotiating prices down.

After reassuring my Tijuana customers that Best Buy was not trying to take advantage of them, they always figured out a way to produce a credit card and pay for everything I recommended, which included the TV, the HDMI cables, the surround sound system, and two bags of Welch’s fruit snack.

I don’t even know why I helped them at all.

They were just dummies, according to my writing guru. I should’ve not made the sale and sent them packing because they asked for a discount.

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