“Yes, Barbara, you can sign me up for your newsletter…”

I recently tried to take on the task of finding a vacation destination for my family.  This is a job my husband usually fulfills but because the trip was to include my whole side of the family, I felt I should carry the responsibility.  I logged on and tried finding vacation homes and hotels that could accomodate all of us for a week.  There was one hotel in particular that looked very nice online.  I was having a hard time finding out room rates so I had to call to get more information.  The receptionist was extremely nice.  And very helpful.  And with rates at $845 a night per couple, she sure as heck should have been!  I was floored at this price.  But I still felt the need to play it cool.

And that, my friends, is the point.  Why do we feel it necessary to pretend our mouths are not left open at the complete shock of hearing things like this?  Whether it’s the price of a hotel, jewelry we are looking into buying or even a new washer/dryer set.  When someone tells us a price we cannot understand anyone in their right mind paying, why do we feel the need to “play it off”?   I don’t think that we need to curse out a receptionist and tell her where she can stick her $845 a night fee.  Or take that pretty bracelet and shove it down the jeweler’s throat.  But we could easily say something like: “Whoa!  Wow.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I am looking for something a tad bit cheaper.”  And perhaps ask if they have a place they could recommend.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  But no, we don’t do that.  I think part of all of this is that we know the person on the other end of the phone has no idea who we are.  So we can pretend to be whomever we want.  “$845 you say? Oh that’s a great price compared to what we paid last year in Aspen!” is how we might decide to respond.  Or we’ll keep asking more and more questions to pretend we are actually thinking of still paying such a price.  “Do you have a swimming pool?”  “Is your hotel kid-friendly?” “Do you serve a continental breakfast?” “Can I request a late check-out?” 

The fact that these persons have no idea as to who we are should allow us to just be ourselves.  But it doesn’t.  We should have no fear to let them know that we have lost interest in their item because of the price.  But we do.  We should not be embarrassed to ask if they give discounts to AAA members.  But we are.  So at the end of the conversation, when they ask if we want to go on and book the dates in question we have to connive our way out of the situation.  “Oh no.  I can’t book this without my husband’s consent.  Let me talk it over with him first.”  “Well, this is the first jewelry store I’ve been to.  I’d like to shop around a little more first.”

I have fallen victim to this so many times I’m unable to tell you.  So when the receptionist asked me if she could get my email to send out upcoming events and specials of the hotel, I didn’t have it in me to tell her that no discount would ever be enough to get me to stay there.  “Sure.”  I said.  “Please send me more information.”  And I may have added an: “I’d love that.” on the end.

Why are we wooed by the wiles of the voices coming from our telephones?  How is it that we get spellbound by the three-minute conversation we have with an operator and suddenly decide that they are our friend–and we don’t want to disappoint them?

I say all this but I cannot guarantee that I will man up the next time I’m asked if I want to be on the calling list to receive updates on the migration patterns of geese in our area.  I think my mailbox will continue to be barraged with newsletters and bulletins from every company’s secretary that I talk with.  But maybe I’ll start sharing them and start to forward them to all of you…;-) jk

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