Susan Morrison: Computer says no to buying all that stuff I don’t need

A trip to the wonderful world of up-selling beckons when your laptop calls it a day. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
A trip to the wonderful world of up-selling beckons when your laptop calls it a day. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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The laptop made a strange noise and stopped working. Naturally, I was outraged. Why, I exclaimed to my techie friends, I only bought it in 2009, whatever can be wrong with it? Cue derisive hooting from said techie friends. A laptop purchased in 2009 is virtually a quill pen.

The laptop made a strange noise and stopped working. Naturally, I was outraged. Why, I exclaimed to my techie friends, I only bought it in 2009, whatever can be wrong with it? Cue derisive hooting from said techie friends. A laptop purchased in 2009 is virtually a quill pen.

Off to the shop that sells laptops. Saw one, liked it and collared an assistant to do the needful. You can’t just help yourself and head to the checkouts.

Stacey realised she had a live sale, and hit the customer facing position. Head cocked to one side like a labrador pleading for a treat, faint frown of concentration and laser beam gaze.

Now, she said, what do you want it for?

The question threw me. Apparently these days the purchase of a laptop involves persuading a shop assistant called Stacey that this little computer would leave this place tucked under my arm, and that we would stride into the future together, bound for glory. Fear not, Stacey, this laptop will be safe with me. The hard drive will remain unsullied, and certainly never be seized by big burly blokes from various police divisions.

No-one has ever asked me what my intentions were about something I wanted to buy. It was just a given that I wanted that pair of brogues in the window. Why, I once bought a dozen heavy duty plastic bags, a saw, four rolls of gaffer tape and a ski mask and no-one ever said to me, what are you doing with that lot? Looks like you’ve got a messy murder to clean up here.

She was still staring, so I said something about spreadsheets and basic office functions. I’m not sure what a spreadsheet is, but it sounds utterly delightful, like an essential part of a picnic, brightly coloured and waterproofed, laid out on a green meadow somewhere, waiting for the Gala pie and ginger beer.

Clearly, we have a difference of opinion as to what a basic office function is. In my book, entry level office function is gossip, closely followed by tea making abilities. The answer seemed satisfactory. This didn’t surprise me, because there was a little piece of paper stuck to the front of the laptop that said “perfect for spreadsheets and office functions”, which fortunately I had read prior to Stacey hoving into view, although I hadn’t realised there was a multiple choice examination to pass prior to purchase.

However, Stacey was not entirely happy. Had I considered a full megabit graphics Intel Whazoo? Backup capabilities retro engineered by the lads here who can do it for only £50? Hack Free hands-off cloud working on a Bachmann Turner Overdrive, a bargain at only £120.75? Anti-virus package that secures against Trojan horses and Greek mice, on special offer in-store for only £35? An annual warranty to prevent my emails being hacked by and being used to embarrass Hillary Clinton? What exactly did I like about this machine? It’s red, I said. Sadly, Stacey didn’t manage to sell me anything more than a bright red laptop, and I do feel sorry about that, because I see the hand of management behind it.

Somewhere in that building there will be a grim little wallchart, with brightly covered stickers next to each name. Once a week there will be a team meeting with a young manager moving the stickers about because Simon managed to shift more WoofTwark SuperDefence Paks, or Andrea flogged a couple of Micromanage Office Updates.

Those little stickers equate to meagre bonuses to supplement a salary that really barely matches the CEO’s biscuit budget.

It’s called up-selling. Flogging you bits and piece you don’t really need to go with the purchase you’ve just made.

What non-shop floor management don’t seem to realise is how uncomfortable it makes us, the customers feel. Saying no is not a pleasant retail experience, especially when Stacey and her ilk hit you with the full pleading puppy-eye look.

Sales pitch took shine off shoes

Back in the day, shoe shops mastered this ruthless drive to ensure the customer left with more than they bargained for.

Suede boots was it? No chance you’d get clear without acquiring water-repellant spray, despite the fact you were sure there were three tins rusting under the sink already. Patent leather courts? You’ll need special polish and this bag to go with them. A wee shoe horn perhaps? Laces? The path to the till was a minefield of high pressure sales pitches. I was a sap back then, and usually I caved.

When they beat their chests and bemoan the death of the high street I remember the days when I wasn’t a hardened battleaxe and left shops holding the shoes I wanted and the polish I didn’t need.

Yep, I bought the shoes and the polish, but I never went near that shop again.