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Backpack Pushback

, , , , | Working | July 30, 2019

(Our state fair offers booth space to businesses to advertise products and services. The non-profit office I work for participates every year and gives out thousands of small promotional items for free. Our giveaway items range from stickers, to pencils, to chip clips, to drawstring canvas backpacks. Naturally, the larger items like the backpacks are the most popular. We’re told to push the giveaways, but to allow each person only one of each item. While I’m volunteering at the booth, a woman runs up the table:)

Woman: “Hi! I work at that booth right over there, and that gentleman just bought some things from me, and I’m all out of bags! Could I have one of these to give him?” *grabs a backpack from the table*

Me: “Well, I’m not sure…”

Woman: “Oh, please? Please? He really needs it to carry his things. Please? Can I just take this one bag for him?”

(I think about it for a moment and don’t see any harm in letting her have one bag. It’s still free advertising for us, after all, so I agree.)

Me: “Sure, I suppose that’s all right. You can take that one.”

Woman: “Oh, thank you so much! Thank you!”

(She holds it up and runs back over to the man.)

Woman: “I have a bag for you! Here you go! Here’s a bag!”

(All is well, and I turn back to our own customers… but several minutes later the woman reappears. She immediately lays her hands on the stack of canvas bags.)

Woman: “Hello again! I’ve got more customers and they really need bags for their things. Can I have a couple more? Please, for my customers?”

Me: *repeating my instructions for the giveaway items* “I’m sorry, we’re really only supposed to give away one per person.”

Woman: “But I’m not keeping them! They’re for my customers! They need bags! And I’m all out! Can I just take a couple more, for my customers?”

(I know if I don’t put my foot down, she’ll be asking for bags every time she makes a sale, so I offer a workaround.)

Me: “No, I’m sorry. But they’re welcome to come and visit our booth, and if they’d like to choose some of our giveaway items, including the bags, that would be okay.”

Woman: *disappointedly* “Oh. So, I can’t have even one more bag?”

Me: “No. But your customers are welcome to come and get one from us themselves.”

Woman: “Oh. All right.”

(I watched her ask a couple more nearby booths for bags and then walk back to her customers empty-handed. The customers took their things and left, and didn’t even pass by our booth. Thankfully, that ended other sellers trying to put their own products in our free backpacks!)

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