I recently needed some new pants for work, so I went to a local shopping center to quickly grab some from my typical place. However, when I got there, the whole strip of stores where I planned to shop was roped off with caution tape, and there were huge blowers drying out the stores from what I assume was some type of water damage, so my normal store was closed. I was on a fairly tight schedule, so I walked a few stores down to a different major retailer that I don’t ever shop at, but decided to give a try because I was in need and it was convenient.
I went in, browsed around, and found 2 pairs of pants that I liked. I actually really wanted a different style, but none of the employees ever approached me or offered to help, (and I never saw an employee on the sales floor), so I just took the 2 pairs that I picked out myself and proceeded to the checkout counter. After tax, my total was right around $90. The cashier asked if I’d be shopping with my (store brand) card. “No, I only use debit,” I said with a friendly smile. As she continued to place my items in a bag and complete my transaction, the cashier again mentioned their credit card, encouraging me to apply to save 15%. “No, thanks. I only use debit cards.” She then commented that even though I only use debit cards, that if I signed up for their credit card, that I could immediately pay it off with my debit card in the store. “No, ma’am”, I said. “We have a made a family decision not to use credit cards, so I am not interested.”
By this point, I was losing my patience. I’m used to the credit card drill at the checkout counter when I shop in stores, but this clerk was exceptionally pushy. All I wanted to do was give her my $90 of real money and get out of there, but she would not take “No” for an answer! I actually contemplated leaving the pants at the counter and telling her I changed my mind because of how pushy she was over this credit card, but I really didn’t want to have to go to another store and repeat the process, and let’s be honest, I’m not actually that bold. When I thought it was time to insert my debit card into the machine, she stopped me. Here we go again!
The cashier said, “I know that you only use debit cards (#snarky), but I have something to show you that isn’t a credit card.” I stood motionless, wondering if this was really happening, and just let her speak. She proceeded to give me a speech about how if I PURCHASED a discount card for $25 that she would give me 25% off my purchases between now and November. But the deal was only valid if I spent at least $100 per transaction, so I’d need to go back and pick out another item worth at least $10, PLUS pay for the $25 card in order to qualify for the discount. Let’s think about this: I buy something else I don’t need to bring my total from $90 to $100, then give you $25 for more a card, just to save $25 on my purchase and get me back down to $100 when my original total was $90??? My head was spinning at the absurdity.
I didn’t mean to be rude, but the first thing that came out of my mouth was, ” No ma’am, I don’t intend to shop here again before November, so I will pass.” (#BAM) She finally let me insert my debit card into the machine, and as it was processing, I told her in a kind way that it was quite difficult for people like me who don’t borrow money to enjoy a shopping trip because of the checkout process. I explained that it’s uncomfortable to say “no” even one time, but to have to say “no” multiple times is hard. I then explained that I worked for several years as a financial counselor and saw countless horror stories of families in debt, so I have made a firm decision not to use credit cards at all. She brushed it off and asked me if I’d like my receipt emailed. Nope, don’t want to be on that store’s email list!
Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that sometimes being different is tough. I realize that the majority of Americans use credit cards (including many of you reading this), and many of you probably use them responsibly. But my goodness, based on this one visit, this particular store has lost my future business because they continued to push me to accept something that I verbally said no to several times. I know full well that retailers make a lot of their money from credit cards and train their employees to sell them, but I wish they were more respectful of people who choose not to use them. In this case, they were so focused on hooking me in to their system, that they didn’t even realize they were losing a potential future customer over it.
What’s your opinion? Do you ever experience this, and if so, how do you handle it? If you’ve worked in clothing retail, I’d love to know the “insider scoop” of the incentives for employees signing people up for credit cards so I can try to see it from the salespersons’ perspective. After that experience, I think I’ll just stick to my usual method of shopping online for a while!