Many months ago, I parted company with my iPhone 4S. You can read about the break-up here, but suffice to say that despite this long and mutually-satisfying relationship, I’d reached a point where other priorities (such as my mental health) had eclipsed my love of this particular Apple product. The iPhone hit the highway, and I fell back in with my old flame The Retro ‘Analogue’ Phone. Boasting such features as a built-in Sony Walkman and actual, pushable buttons I was as telephonically satisfied as I’ve ever been.
Until two weeks ago when Retro Analogue Phone took a nosedive down the toilet. Despite immediately making like a trained medical professional and whipping it straight out and into a bag of rice, those absorbent little grains failed to work their magic and I was left bereft. My retro phone was no more.
Ordinarily I’d have just left things for a few days, enjoyed being uncontactable, and trucked up to see O2 at the weekend. But there was some Important Shit Going Down for which I needed to be available. If ever there was a perfect time to destroy a piece of technology, this was not it.
So 8.55 the next morning found me loitering around waiting for the O2 doors to open. I sailed in ready to be embraced into the telephonic age and, unbeknownst to me, a stint as an O2 Salesperson.
I’d already decided that the basic Nokia 100 at 10 quid was all I needed. There are some Major Plans afoot in my life right now, and having a state-of-the-art mobile phone that does everything I ever wanted and more including cooking me dinner and turning my lights off, is not a priority.
That settled and firm in my mind I headed for O2 Guru Duncan who was, allegedly, happy to help. I told him my requirements, that there was no point in his trying to talk me out of it, I’d be taking the second-cheapest phone (a concessional treat in my eyes) and handed over my SIM.
I waited at the counter whilst Duncan messed about with some computer codes and what I thought was a prop from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Turned out it was my ‘new’ phone. Hmmm. I reminded myself that all I needed was to be contactable, and that in many ways this was punishment for being stupid enough to sling my phone down the shitter again. Still waiting, I noticed that the Guru was getting flustered. My phone wasn’t receiving start-up codes. In the O2 shop. Where there’s a perfect signal. A bad sign.
Sensing that Duncan’s ‘guru’ status was being well and truly tested, I saved him any embarrassment my drifting over to the phone display. Moving from one smooth-screened handset to
another I let my fingers play over each one in the way that people do when walking past soft furnishings.
Ten minutes later, and without a word from Guru Duncan, I reappeared at the counter with some questions. Firstly, was that piece-of-shit Nokia up and running yet? And secondly, was it too late to sell my soul to the Sony Xperia for a mere 70 new English pounds?
Answering these questions both in the negative was the first substantive action that Duncan had taken, other than sweating and swearing his way through shoehorning codes into the Nokia 100 Inbox. Two negative syllables was the extent of his ‘salespitch’, leading to a 700% up-sell!
I stood there letting this happen, and as he typed my number to programme access codes for this baby, he piped up “Oh-Seven-Five-Four“, and lo, the penny dropped. The wrong fucking number! And during this mistake – or should I say “mistake” – I had managed to cast aside all I hold dear and rack up a bill for 7 times my original intention. Unbelievable.
O2 I am impressed. With absolutely no apparent dedication to salesmanship whatsoever, your (well-trained?) O2 Guru managed to increase sales by a hefty whack merely by making a ridiculous mistake! Which meant at no point did I feel like I was having the piss taken out of me. If I had, I’d only have myself to blame.
So now my question is this: Why bother having salespeople at all? It’s far more effective to ’employ’ your customers to sell phones to themselves. Think about it. They know the pitch, the jargon and the sales technique that will work without fail. And when they do leave the shop with a product 7 times more expensive than their intended purchase, they won’t feel like they were duped. Instead, they’ll head home thrilled that they didn’t fall victim to pushy salesmen and the underlying suspicion that Commission rather than Customer Satisfaction was the main motivation!
So take note, O2: I fully expect to be paid for my efforts next time I hit the store for an upgrade. Which, given my propensity for chucking phones down the toilet, will probably be next week.