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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

The sweet deliciousness of the up sale

Posted on March 27, 2010 at 4:40 PM

I’ve ranted about negative customer experiences in the past, and -- don't worry -- I'll surely do so again in the future. (I have a *third* meeting with Baldini coming up this week. He was actually quite a bit less confrontational on our second meeting or perhaps it was just that the I-used-your-foul-smelling-BO-as-my-deodorant guy hadn’t come in to salt my game.)


Today, however, I’m going to talk about a really positive customer experience. Sometimes you have those encounters where you are just clicking as salesman and customer. They get you, you get them, they’re totally gobbling on all the little hooks you throw out, you aren’t pissed ‘cause they interrupted a potentially record-breaking game of expert-level Mine Sweeper, etc. One of those times when you feel like, Damn! I *am* a good salesman.


An older couple drove down to our shop today, having traveled nearly an hour to get here. The wife was carrying one of my business cards that she got at the Home Show over two years ago, and I must say, as you’ll see from the conversation, I owe her for a good bit of the sale. They walk in and her husband exclaims that they wants to get a new TV and that he built their cabinetry and that it can only handle a TV 36-inches wide. He’s done some looking and he found one Samsung 37-inch TV that will fit.


Now, I’ve just recently written columns on modifying existing cabinetry to accommodate a newer, larger TV and the math of switching from a 4x3 (square) set to a new 16x9 (wide) set, so to say that I was prepared would be an understatement. It was like this guy was my high school final, and I had spent the previous two months cramming for it. Advantage: Sciacca.


So I ask him to draw me a picture of his cabinetry. While he is doing this, I’m engaging them with some mild, probing questions, like a gentle puppy-dog lick instead of a brutal proctological fisting.

“Do you like to watch TV?”

Him: Yes.

His wife: Oh, God, yes. It’s all he does.He loves watching TV.


“How large is your current set?”

Him: It’s a 36-inch tube.

Her: It’s tiny.


“Would you consider wall mounting the TV, instead of putting it in the cabinet?”

Him: Absolutely not. I built that cabinet and it has doors to hide the TV.

Her: Well, maybe. I’ve never thought of that. Is that what a set looks like mounted on the wall? Well, that’s looks pretty nice. Very modern!


So, he finishes with his drawing and I start pointing out ways that we can modify the cabinetry. We could frame this forward, we could rework this, we could stow the TV vertically and then rotate it 90-degrees when it came time to watch.


Then he says *maybe* he would consider going a little bigger, may up to a 40-inch.

“Sir,” I say, shaking my head like I've got to deliver a really painful truth, “I’ve got to be honest. For all the work that it’s going to take to modify your cabinetry to accommodate a larger set, I just don't think it would be worth it to only go 3-inches larger than a 37. It'll cost hundreds of dollars and at the end of the day, I don't think you'll be happy." 

We happen to be standing inches away from a 55-inch, ultra-thin Sammy, something that looks little bigger than a razor blade from the side, with all 2 million pixels throbbing out a nature Blu-ray. I point to a lonely, wall-mounted 37-inch set way across the store which is turned off, silently declaring "I'm old news for losers; don't be a loser."

“Do you really want a TV that – wait for it – small?”


Then I slip in, “You know, I’ve been doing this job for 12 years, and I’ve never once had a customer say they wished they’d gone with a smaller set. Doesn’t matter if its 50-inch or 100-inch, people get used to that screen size awfully quick and then wish they had gone with something a little bigger. (“And, sir, haven’t you always wanted to be, you know, just a little bigger?” I didn’t, but it would have been legendary.) I’m just worried that you’ll be disappointed with a 37-inch screen.  Here, let me show you this…”


That’s when I whip it out. Of course, by “it” I’m referring to an issue of S+V with my column on math for installers. ("Oh, yes, ha, ha. That is my picture. I happen to write for this publication.")  I point out the section on how big a widescreen set needs to be to match the height of an old 4x3 set. A little clickety-clackety on the calculator (divide the 4x3 set height by .49 to get the new 16x9 diagonal size) and voila! The calculator – not me – tells them they need at least a 44-inch set. And this is clearly a man that would never doubt the stark, LCD numbers of a Casio. Meanwhile the wife is just nodding along like I'd just explained that of course you need oxygen to live.


So, he asks me to look up some dimensions on a 46-inch TV, you know, just so he can have the numbers. While I’m in the back looking it up, I can see the wife just staring at the 55-inch Sammy like she’s remembering all of her old loves. They were kind and gentle and knew how to treat her like a lady.

When I come out, he says, “How high do you normally mount a TV on the wall, ‘cause my cabinet is four feet tall so it would have to go above that.”


So we go and look at TVs that are wall-mounted with the bottom at just under 4-feet and he agrees that isn’t too high. No, not too high at all. His wife throws in, "And with a set that big, our guests could see the screen while sitting on the couch. Oh, wouldn't that be nice?"


Long story short: Came in to buy a 37, ended up getting a 55. “And now," she says, "can you get rid of all those complicated remotes and what can you tell us about this Blu-ray...”  Old lady, I just can't quit you!


Categories: Mar 2010, CTA, Electronics

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Reply Rob Medich
4:42 PM on March 29, 2010 
This is a beautiful story. I had to stop reading several times to wipe away the tears.
Reply Malia76
7:46 PM on April 9, 2010 
I have gone an entire week without taking the time to enjoy your writing. This was so great to begin with. I just love a story with a happy ending. How has Nicholas Sparks become so popular with all these sad endings? I need more upgrades, and the wife being the smart one. Enjoyed, thanks.