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When I have to mentally catalog how to keep myself safe, you're doing it wrong - Hawk's Eyrie
It's all about releasing your inner sociopath
When I have to mentally catalog how to keep myself safe, you're doing it wrong
Last week Tuesday I went to get two of my tires replaced. I thought the America's Tire by 237 & El Camino Real was open longer; as it was I slipped in as their last customer of the night.

The previous weekend I'd called to get the price on the tires I wanted. They'd gone up in price from the last time I'd bought the *exact* same tires (which I've been buying since 2006). I questioned why & it was explained; however, the man I spoke with on the phone indicated that he'd give me the previous price, which was approximately a $6 difference per tire. Note that he indicated this without me saying much more than "last time they were cheaper, and I have the invoice in front of me".

Hence I went into the America's Tire expecting that A) they'd be willing to give me the older price with little hassle, B) with the knowledge that the listed price is rarely the price in places like these, and C) wanting to practice my haggling some as I'm getting ready to replace my car.

I'm a woman. I never go into places like this expecting to say "I want A, B, and Z" and to have the staff listen & provide without questioning me. Not all males will question my competence as a female to understand anything mechanical; enough do that I never go into these situations without mentally preparing myself & making sure I can quote enough detail to have people shut up and treat me like I have a brain.

In this case, I knew the parts number I wanted, I knew the price that I expected from the previous call to be fairly easily obtainable, and I knew that even though I'd forgotten the invoice at home that their system keeps all their old invoices in the system for reference.

The two men behind the counter were busy; that was a shame, as I watched both of them enough to note that they would have been pleasant to deal with. Instead, they called up a 25ish male from the back who was probably mentally preparing to leave for the day without more customer interactions.

When asked what I wanted, I said 2 "part number" tires. He looked at me and insisted we go look at the car. Strike 1. He starts to look at my tires, & when questioned as to why he need to look at the tires while having the parts number, he replied it wasn't a parts number. Strike 2. After having it pointed out that I needed 2 of "part number", and I got the number from THEIR invoice, he got what I was saying. So onto the next step - getting the invoice pulled together.

Even when someone says "I want part blah blah blah", you give them a price quote in a place like this. He starts jamming through getting me the tires without quoting. Strike 3. When I ask for the quote, he gives me the higher quote. I start to haggle - knowing that the price is most likely not firm - and he gets testier with me. He doesn't like the fact that I want approximately $12/total off, his claim that they're the only one who sells the tires doesn't make me decide to give in, and at NO point does he state straight out "I can't change the price.". Nor does he try to get his manager involved, which is what I expect my people to do if a client is trying to negotiate price with them when they are not authorized to do so.

Instead he asks "Why are you being so rude?"

And he hit it out of the park. At this point the man I assume was his manager turns around and just looks at him. I point out that I'm not being rude, I've been buying from them since 2006, etc... and he says "Look, I'll give you this tire for free, but in the future the price is the price, and the price can't be changed, and the price is the price, and you can't change it, and we value your business which is why I'm giving you this discount, but the price is the price in the future and it can't be negotiated".


After pointing out the fact he went overboard, but I would take it, I go to wait for my car.

I'm the last customer. They lock the front door & I'm waiting for my car to be finished. I have no idea how late the entire staff will be waiting, & something clenches in me when I think that I might be stuck alone, locked in, with this person. I mentally start cataloging all the ways that I could defend myself, and only stop when I realize that at least 1 other sales person will be around as well.

I didn't understand why I fell into that mood. I'm always conscious of my safety; I rarely have to think about how I will defend myself, I just do it. And I didn't understand why this fight response was triggered.

Until the next day when I realized he asked "Why are you being so rude?" in the exact same tone men use to women when they ask "Why are you such a bitch?". That question is often ended with some type of violence, violation, or berating of the woman in question. Even while my conscious mind didn't recognize the tone, my subconscious thankfully did. I'm not sure if the sales guy would have done anything; I know nothing about him other than this encounter. However, I find it highly dubious that if I hadn't been female, I wouldn't have had the $12 discount with very little argument. At the very least, I wouldn't have been berated for having the audacity to haggle.

If I'm in a well-lighted business, in a safe neighborhood, with police cars outside pulling over speeders, and I have to start to mentally catalog how to protect myself? Guys? You're doing it wrong. Completely and utterly.

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10 talons or Rake your talons?
(Deleted comment)
rimrunner From: rimrunner Date: October 8th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
Yeah, this.
From: silmaril Date: October 8th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
Pretty much this, yes.

Mind if I point this entry out to a couple of friends, Hawk? I notice it isn't locked.
merhawk From: merhawk Date: October 8th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
Thanks, and yes. If I leave something unlocked, it's okay for linkage.
merhawk From: merhawk Date: October 8th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
Maybe you're right. I won't deny the fact that I was in haggling mode, which makes me somewhat desensatized to certain behaviors.

The thing that's hard to convey in words is the picture in my head that happened, which is this guy behind the counter - seemingly the manager - turning around and looking at Rude boy. And then Rude boy immediately offering me this deal. I suspect that the manager just heard that last bit and wasn't quite sure what was going on. And that the kid realized he stepped over the line as soon as his manager - and he might just be a senior salesperson - turned to look at him.

I don't know. It's easy to second guess, but sometimes hard to react to in real time.

And thank you.
rimrunner From: rimrunner Date: October 8th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
What an asshole.

I hope his manager filleted him.
merhawk From: merhawk Date: October 8th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
I suspect he'll get reamed since someone's going to notice that he gave a tire away for free. However, I also suspect that the guy whom I think was his manager didn't hear the whole thing and the interaction will be shaded somehow to be my fault.

Yeah. My fault that he had to ask why I'm rude, because I haggled & was annoyed when he ignored the parts numbers I gave him.

I keep debating about writing a letter to the company. My desire to write the letter is fighting against the socialization that says I shouldn't be churlish, he gave me a free tire! Along with trying to figure out if this is a fight that's worthwhile to dredge up the energy to push.
(Deleted comment)
stoneself From: stoneself Date: October 8th, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
From: chrisrw109 Date: October 13th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)

Write the letter....

The only way to really make an impression that has anything other than a minor ripple effect is to write a letter to the company and to the General Manager of that particular store.

Plus it has the amusing effect of shocking people into realizing that there are direct consequences of horrendous customer service.

I might be biased thanks to the awesome experience I had after an Enterprise Rental Car agent threatened to call the police on me. :)
mice From: mice Date: October 8th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
I've been noticing this more and more, like on stage. Improv is definitely male dominated. I'm an aggressive player so if I do something, there is an incredible jerk (who I've come to think of as a jerk due to this behavior) who will question me about the choices I made - not to better understand it, but so he can say what I could have done better. Not in his opinion, just what I could have done better. He doesn't do this for anyone else and the girls on his team are very compliant and will compliment his scenes to a high degree instead of initiating, which is what I do.

It's the awesome combo of being a girl and being younger, despite having more experience than this guy.
merhawk From: merhawk Date: October 8th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC) (Permanent Entry Link)
You're not aggressive, you're assertive and self-assured. When we allow our interactions that are exactly like our male counterparts to be labeled as "aggressive" when theirs are considered being "assertive" or "self-assured", it hurts us. And it reinforces for them, too, a stereotype they might not consciously realize they buy into.

That guy sounds like a Grade A jerk. Do you have a way to point this out to him without it backfiring on you?
10 talons or Rake your talons?