I used to know this guy who was a Microsoft millionaire, and he told this story once–I’m sorry, I have forgotten all the details. It was a long time ago. It had something to do with his wanting to buy something, and nobody would help him, and he was saying, “I have this money! I’m trying to spend it! Why won’t anybody take my money?”
Sometimes Microsoft millionaires have this problem because they don’t look rich. They walk around in jeans and a t-shirt and then they go to a Porsche dealership, ready to pay cash for a new car, and no salesman will approach them because they don’t look like they can afford a Porsche. Maybe that was the situation, maybe it wasn’t.
Anyway, I had a “Why won’t anybody take my money?” situation today.
We have this awful athletics store in my local community. It’s an independent store, appears to be family owned, and every time I go in there, the people who work there are always chatting with each other, having a great time and completely oblivious to the customers. They never offer to help anybody. If I ask somebody for help, they act annoyed that I have disturbed them from their important socializing.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many better options for athletic goods. I did find a specialty soccer store that’s not too far away, and I now buy our soccer gear there. But for other sports, the only other option is a big-box chain that’s much farther away. The service is slightly better there, but not a whole lot.
So I’ve decided to buy my boys a basketball hoop for the driveway. I’d budgeted a maximum of $800 for the purchase and went to this local store first. They had a single basketball hoop available, priced at $650, but it wasn’t portable. I needed something on wheels.
As usual, the store staff were talking amongst themselves. This time it was an exciting conversation about how wet their dog was (it was raining). I was the only customer in the store. I tried making eye contact with several of them, and they all ignored me. (“He’s so wet!” “I know! It’s really raining out there!”) Finally I walked up to them and asked them outright if they had any other basketball hoops for sale.
One of them said no, but they could special order them. Then she made a face like that was a real hassle for her and suggested I try the big-box chain instead.
I stared at her for a minute, because I could not believe that this “saleswoman” had just advised me, someone with money in hand ready to make a major purchase, to leave and go buy from their competitor instead. (“Why won’t anybody take my money?!”) And then I took her advice and left. And I went to their competitor, and I special-ordered a basketball hoop.
I don’t know how that local company stays in business.