Oxford life. Thirtysomething challenges. Music leanings. Anything really.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The hardest shop of them all

I went to Phones4U this lunchtime. An appointment for a "chat" about upgrading my (crap) Nokia 6610 and my (crap) 3G network contract. I knew, and the bloke knew, of course, that this wasn't a "chat", it was a sell.

I'm rubbish at negotiating for just about everything. But for phones, it comes easy.

The second I walk into the shop, I get psyched to take on the wideboys in their nasty-but-flash-but-cheap-but-modern-but-ridiculous suits, and their tie-knots that can only be tied that big in order to hide a samosa.

I am also blessed with absolutely no phone-lust whatsoever. Personalisation, ringtones, features - how this industry has managed to make society lust after such tat is beyond me. I do like the cameras, and the synchronising calendars, but really, why would I want to be able to surf internet content provided by 3G? Football, tits, and R&B videos? No thanks.

Well armed for the negotiation, my "chat" started well. The salesman dealing with me apparently had just dosed up on cocaine. Fidgety, aggressive, utterly disengaged, and focussed only on cash, he didn't last long. "Maaaaan, I can't go sooooo cheap. It's toooo low man. Sheesh." He took his quivering body off to the manager within a couple of minutes.

The manager was impressive. In built snobbery tells me most of the guys in these shops aren't exactly high-flyers. But Gary, store manager, was very good. We drummed out a deal. I felt like I got what I needed, and he dealt with me properly. What impressed me was his command of numbers - rapid scribbles, rapid calculations of the average payments if he did this bonus, or that feature, or those minutes, or this cheque-back.

Each little concession from him was provided after every "no, that's not good enough" from me. Well-trained, he still made his cut and I got a deal I was happy with.

(PS - the samosa gag - i nicked that from the Guardian)

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