Retail Rant: The Magic Brother-In-Law

I recently handed in my notice to go full time in the professional Dungeon Master-y gig; it’s going well. And with my new found freedom, there is a rant I have been meaning to share with you.  A simple formula of words that will guarantee your friendly electrical retailer will immediately hate you, with a passion.

My [relative] works in [pertinent field], he/she will [perform service].

For example:

My Brother-In-Law works with computers, he’ll sort it out for me.

Allow me to tell you why you are wrong, and also a bad person.

You Came To Us

You have a family member who you claim to be an expert in the field. Why did you come to a shop to buy anything? If your relative’s knowledge is so unassailable then it was surely easier for you to sit them beside you and ask them questions while you shop online? Instead you’ve come to waste our time, to interrogate us for free advice when in fact that time loses us money, not as a company, as an individual. There are other people waiting, and you have spent half an hour asking all the questions you could have asked The Magic Brother-In-Law.

We know what we’re talking about, we’re not here to lie to you, we’re not here to oversell, there are laws in place to prevent that, and you can come back for a refund if you were mis-sold. What happens in that case is that the person who did the selling will either learn what they did wrong and become better experts, or they will be furthered along the road to being fired. Therefor, we know what we are talking about and will sell you what you need.

Sometimes the advice we give isn’t what you want to hear. If your Magic Brother-In-Law disagrees with us, then they’re most likely not as knowledgeable as you seem to think, or they’re telling you what you want to hear.

So why are you talking to us? Why aren’t you asking them?

Your Relatives Have Lives

Oh boy do I ever not want to talk about work when I come home from work. You think your Magic Brother-In-Law wants to? So if you go to them and make them work outside of work then you and that relative are going to rapidly find you have an increasingly strained relationship, they have hobbies and families to spend time with, they do not want to advise you on what washing machine to buy, there are people in this world who get paid to have those conversations.

The term “Work’s with computers” these days basically means “has a job”, in what particular field does this person work? Are they a programmer, do they build hardware, are they an alpha tester, or do they work in data entry? There are so many fields, and in so many of them all you need to know about computers is that the company you work for clearly bought the wrong ones. Let me clarify this for those of you in the cheap seats:

“Works with computers” does not mean “Knows about computers”!

Being asked questions every day, constant training and googling for answers, it all makes us very knowledgeable, and yeah, in time it makes us experts. Experts who are paid to have time to talk to you, and who get to keep getting paid so long as our knowledge helps you make an informed choice and buy something from the company.

We Don’t Like It Much Either

With very few exceptions, everyone in retail would rather not be in retail, but (political soap box, be forewarned) the world is a terrible place and jobs like retail are a necessary stepping stone that for some becomes a prison for many years. We have no love for the companies that we work for, we work out of desperation and self-preservation, and to some degree for the sake of the people we are working alongside.

Now bear that in mind. It takes a fanaticism and a love for the corporation that will one day come to be recognised as the patriotic zeal it is, to actually want to extort people for money in the name of a good sale. Most of us are willing to coast somewhere above the minimum amount of effort, but that requires ensuring that we know what you need and ensuring that you understand the suggestions we are making. We are advising you so that you get what you need, so that you have a good experience, and come back and ask for us, allowing us to keep our jobs long-term, because sometimes it’s necessary.

Take a moment to consider the person behind the name-tag, they’re a person in the same way your Magic Brother-In-Law is, not tools for you to use to get your way. So when you say you have a relative that will do our job for us and will do it for free, for you, you sound like less of a person. Be better.