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Close Your Mouth, Open Your Ears

, , , , , , | Working | June 21, 2022

My late brother related this story to me many years ago. It was the mid-1980s, and all his children were still in school. He’d always wanted to get a set of that well-known encyclopedia and figured this would be a good time, since his kids would also make great use of them.

He contacted the company and they sent over a salesman. My brother was interested in buying the whole set all at once, as opposed to one or two volumes a month. He also was not interested in any kind of financing. He had some friends that had told him more or less what to expect and that he would save a decent amount of money by purchasing the entire set all at once. They warned him that the salesman would probably try to hide the true price behind all kinds of financing tricks and whatnot. He had at least a ballpark cost in mind, and he was prepared for any tactic the salesman would try to pull on him.

The salesman showed up and had brought a complete, brand-new set with him. He spent about twenty minutes showing all the features to my brother, his wife, and the kids. He also mentioned that this edition was the newest version that had just come out in the past couple of months, so my brother would be getting the newest version available, and that the next version would not be released for several years.

After the salesman completed his spiel, my brother asked him this simple question:

Brother: “Okay, I really like this encyclopedia and would like to get the whole set from you tonight. What is the price to buy the entire set from you right now?”

Salesman: “Well, we have payment plans starting at only $20.00 a month and—”

My brother interrupted him.

Brother: “I asked you for the price for the whole set, no financing or payment plans.”

Salesman: “Well, we have plans where you can buy just one volume per month—”

My brother interrupted again.

Brother: “That’s not what I asked you. How much is it to buy the whole set?”

Salesman: “We can do another type of plan, where you can purchase either two, three, or four volumes per month, and you’d pay around $20.00 a month, per volume, so you’d get the complete set much faster, with the payments then spread out over—”

My brother interrupted yet again, now really aggravated.

Brother: “What part of ‘What is the price of the entire set?’ do you not understand?”

Salesman: “Well, we have several payment plans that fit any budget.”

Brother: “Hold it right there. You are not listening to me. The next words out of your mouth will be the full price for the whole set, or you’ll be leaving my house.”

Salesman: “Well, it depends on several factors—”

My brother stood up with daggers shooting out of his eyes.

Brother: “Enough! Get out of my house right now!”

Salesman: “But Mr. [Brother], I haven’t finished explaining all your options and benefits.”

My brother led him to his front door.

Brother: “Oh, yes, you are done here. I told you the next words out of your mouth were to be the final, full price for the entire set, or you were leaving my house. You ignored my request, ignored every question I asked you about the final price, and were very evasive every time I asked about it. You are leaving my house, right now.”

At this point, my brother all but shoved the salesman out the front door and slammed the door behind him. He was so aggravated that he never bought the set nor even bothered to look into it ever again. 

The salesman lost an all but guaranteed sale, all because he wouldn’t listen. He was probably afraid that mentioning the full price would scare people away, but he lost a sale by not listening to a customer that was obviously prepared and willing to make a purchase on the spot.

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