A pushy salesman who refuses to take “no” for an answer can be immensely annoying. They sometimes try to go on and on with long monologues about how I need to buy something. Even when I have already refused to buy this thing. Several times.
I recently bought a new scanner. My old one was about ten years old, and I wanted to replace it with something that has higher resolution. I ordered the scanner from an online shop and selected the option to pick it up at the nearest store of said retail chain. Once my scanner was transported from the warehouse to the store, I got a phone call informing me that I can pick it up at any time. Normally such phone calls are quick and in no way annoying. But not this time.
“We would like to inform you that we are offering extended warranty for all electronics sold in our store.”
“I don’t need it.”
“How can you say that! Electronics often break. If that happens, a warranty would protect you from extra expenses.”
“The probability of that happening is too small to be worth paying extra. I won’t buy the warranty.”
“That is an incorrect assumption, scanners break on a regular basis, and repairs are very expensive…”
The conversation dragged on for about five minutes. I kept on arguing about how I don’t want the extended warranty, and the lady on the phone kept on inventing various lies about how likely a scanner is to malfunction and need repairs. Moreover, she kept on asking me to justify my decision and argued against every statement I made.
It was almost surreal to listen to a salesperson tell me that the product I am about to buy is extremely unreliable and will fall apart the moment I touch it. If electronics really were that unreliable, I wouldn’t be buying them.
Here’s the deal that was offered to me. The scanner itself comes with a two year manufacturer’s warranty. The shop offered me to pay extra 25% from the purchase price in order to extend the warranty for two more years, thus giving me a four year warranty in total.
That would have been a terrible deal. Extended warranties are usually a waste of money. If my new scanner breaks 23 months after making the purchase, the extended warranty will be useless. If my scanner breaks more than four years after the date of purchase, the warranty will be useless. If my scanner doesn’t break until I decide to replace it with a new one that has a better resolution, the warranty will be useless.
If my scanner actually breaks between two and four years after the purchase, the chances are that the repair will cost less than 25% of the purchase price. I live in a country where salaries are lower than in most other European countries, thus repairs are generally affordable. For example, not so long ago my refrigerator malfunctioned (after I had been using it for ten years), and the repair cost me about 15% of the purchase price.
In order for these warranties to be beneficial for me, 25% of all the electronics I own would have to break in the time period between two and four years after the purchase, and they would have to break so terribly that a replacement would be necessary. This is simply not happening. Of course, electronics break every now and then, but it doesn’t happen so often, and the repairs are generally pretty cheap.
I have some money in my savings account. If some of my electronic gadgets breaks, I will either pay for the repair or buy a new one. Stuff breaks rarely, and when that happens I can pay for surprise repairs. Never mind that usually electronics either break in the first few months after the purchase (due to some defect) or they serve me without any issues for at least five years. I am careful with my stuff, so it rarely breaks. Besides, this a scanner, I don’t even intend to use it that often, I certainly won’t be using it on a daily basis.
The very fact that some retail business is pushing extended warranties so hard on me guarantees that these warranties are profitable for the business while being a bad deal for me.
When I arrived at the shop in order to pick up my new scanner, the sales assistant said: “Would you be interested in purchasing an extended warranty? Our shop offers…” At this point I stopped him with: “No, and I am not interested in having yet another five minute argument about this topic.”
At this point the sales assistant did shut up, but he appeared very annoyed and acted as if I had offended him. He seemed really grumpy while taking my money and giving me my receipt for the purchase.
Some people tend to claim that shopping is fun, enjoyable, and even exciting. Yet for me it routinely feels like an ordeal. Even showing up at the store in order to pick up an item I had ordered online can be annoying.
I wonder why marketing specialists do this, why the sales assistants are trained to be so incredibly annoying. Such negative experiences should prompt at least some of the shoppers to go to a different shop the next time they need to buy something. I certainly don’t want to have yet another conversation with sales assistants from this retail chain. Then again, they probably have calculated that being annoying is financially beneficial for business. If pushing these warranties upon customers so strongly results in some people actually buying those things, then that offsets the lost customers who got annoyed and decided to shop somewhere else the next time.
Note: In my website, here you can find my other articles from this series of blog posts about marketing and its various failures.