Friday, June 15, 2007

The Joys of a Consumer
So I'm moving in a couple of weeks. After an embarassingly long time at an apartment building that has really gone downhill in recent years (I'll save a final farewell for another post), I'm out of there by the end of the month.

My old bachelor furniture is not really worth moving, and it would be depressing to see it in my new place. So we need furniture. My girlfriend and I spent some time on Memorial Day weekend looking around. It did not go well. I think I said "Two thousand dollars for a couch?" about 10 times. So we regrouped, and by using the internet we determined that you don't really get the most for your money from a high-rent department store. Lower overhead means lower prices. Now I get it.

After doing our homework, last Sunday we headed to a furniture store in a rather tired shopping center that shall remain nameless but is located in, uh, the Seven Corners area. We had received a promotional thing in our e-mail. As we entered the store, we were given a new sales leaflet that advertised similar deals to the e-mail, but not exactly the same. The salesperson didn't really seem to understand the internet. Great.

We continued on. And we actually found something that we liked. The salesperson told us of the great deal that was going on this weekend, that involved no payments or interest for a year. That would be nice, at this particular point in my life postponing debt, interest-free, is appealing. The salesperson led me to the finance office, which was comprised of three young women in burkas in the back of the store. One of them took my information, and said that I'd be paged momentarily.

I was paged and returned to the office. It was explained to me that there are actually two deals out there now, the one that I was aware of, and another one, that involved actually making 12 monthly payments for the furniture, with interest of 24%. At the end of 12 months, you get the interest that you paid back. And this is the only deal that I was eligible for. What the hell?

Several things pissed me off about this: the whole bait and switch, the fact that since I've just bought a home I'm well aware of what my credit rating it (good!) and the part about 24% interest. I mentioned all of these to the woman, and said that this was a deal killer. There's a chance I'd still buy the stuff by paying cash, I said, but I needed to think about it. I managed to have the whole converation without using the word "bullshit," which was difficult.

I told the salesperson, sorry, but I think the finance people are trying to pull a fast one on me. She asked if I wanted to talk to the manager, I said no. However the manager intercepted me on the way out, and asked me how my experience was. Not so good, I said, telling him, among other things, that an interest rate of 24% was unconscionable. He played dumb, and asked if we could talk about it. I kept moving, and said that I was leaving, he had my phone number if something else developed.

We did some other errands in the center. I was kind of in shock, and envisioning a new home filled with pillows, with no furniture at all. That would be preferable to ever having to spend another moment in a furniture store.

About that time my cell phone rang. It was the manager. They'd made a mistake! Turns out, I am, indeed, eligible for the original deal. And because of their mistake, they'd actually give me no payments or interest for two years! As much as I felt like hanging up on him, well, we liked the furniture, the pillow idea wasn't getting much support from my girlfriend and if I agreed to this, we were through with furniture shopping. I told him I'd think about it during lunch, and stop back by the store if interested.

For lunch we stopped at the Chinese restaurant in the parking lot of the mall, which I think is great, though every person that I've been there with doesn't seem to agree. Weird. In addition to good food, they also have good mai tais, several of which I enjoyed. We figured we'd go ahead with the deal, and move on to other things.

So I returned to the store, and was warmly greeted by the manager (who actually was a very nice guy) and the salesperson (same with her). I went back to the finance office, and the burka women seemed happy to see me, which made me suspicious. I finished some paperwork with one of them, while the other two engaged in a conversation using that language that girls in junior high school use when the don't want people to understand them -- not pig latin, but similar, it seems to involve saying something like "to the gee" or "to the gaw" after every sentence. Very professional. I don't think they were talking about me based on their occasional interjections in english, but it was still a little off-putting.

So that was it, I scheduled a delivery and got out of there.

I hope this furniture lasts a long, long time.

1 comment:

cleavers44 said...

And thus the sacred compact of the furniture was sealed, and there was much ululation amongst the masses.