Friday, January 21, 2011

Facing Down a Salesperson (and Winning!)

Back in November I sat on my favorite glasses and broke them into a million pieces. The frames were made by Smith before they started doing their own prescription line (I do believe). I had prescription lenses put in and I wore them for seven years or so. I got a lot of compliments. The first time I met Stoker I was wearing them and the only reason I caught his eye was the glasses and my attractive behind.

Kidding of course. There were other reasons.

Smith has a great warranty, but I think I was beyond the time frame, or at least, the damage to the frames was obviously NOT from a manufacturer's defect (unless the manufacturer had used macaroni and paste to construct the frames). So I couldn't send them in and expect much. Or I could, and Smith would probably do something about it, but then I'd feel guilty the rest of my life for taking advantage of a company when I KNEW it was my fault.

To make matters worse, the pair of glasses I got the year before were total crap. I guess it's my fault for being such a sucker half the time, because everything special the eye place (Optique on West End in Nashville) could do to my glasses, they did. Because I let them. Because they're so forceful and they read you a list of what they're going to do and you can't follow what they're saying and then at the end of the list, they say, "Ok, the amount you owe is X dollars." To avoid looking stupid, after all, you've just spent two hours picking out the glasses and wasting their time (you're made to feel; or perhaps you just suffer from a hyper-awareness-guilt), you nod mutely and hand over your debit card.

So the last pair sucked. I got the special aerospace engineered jet-aircraft high tech poly-whatsit plastic/glass so the lenses were real thin and light and didn't turn my ears saggy from all that heavy glass/plastic weighing them down all day. I got the type of glasses with no nose-pinching things just so I don't end up with a skeletal bridge when I take the glasses off. You know what I'm talking about. The only problem is, those glasses with no nose-pinchers are harder to adjust.

That was why the last pair sucked. Thin, high-tech lenses and no nose pinchers. "We'll adjust your glasses any time, for free." You just have to make the time to go in and have them adjusted. Headache city. In short the last pair was too light and fell off my face all the time, and they were crooked even though I had them adjusted the day I picked them up.

I lost that pair. Before I sat on the other pair. So I was wearing the very first glasses I ever owned. A fifteen year old Tommy Hilfiger job (that was back when Tommy was the bomb) or something like that, which, as it happens, also always managed to fall off my face. I have a very small face, I guess.

In November I went in to get new glasses. I spent a few hours picking out what I wanted, then sat down to do business and the lady told me I couldn't get a new pair until January according to my insurance, unless I wanted to shell out $500. No, I didn't want that. But if I'd been AWARE that I didn't get another pair in 2010, I would have canceled the stupid insurance and reinstated it the next year, because I'm devious like that. Who knows if it would have worked. (They pillage me, I pillage them. That's how it works, right?)

January rolls around. I return to the eye place. They pull out the glasses I'd picked before and I sit down to pay for them and talk business. The chicklet rattles off the list of charges fast enough to make an auctioneer jealous, and finishes up with, "The total is $190."

I stare at her for a second, blinking rapidly. "So wait, I owe you $190?"

"Yes, that's correct."

"What exactly is my insurance paying for?"

She sets the paper down and shows me. This paper would have been helpful to see before she read me the charges.

Essentially, my insurance is paying hardly anything and the frames I'd picked out were priced at some astronomical amount. $400 or something like that. And they weren't even the Dolce Gabana kind with diamonds and crap on the stems! In fact, I have no idea what brand they were! Nothing spectacular. Nothing to provoke envy in my enemies. Certainly not worth $400.

"Hmm," I say, "The last pair I bought, seems like my insurance covered more and I ended up paying hardly anything out of pocket."

"Maybe those frames were on sale or they were on the list of frames that your insurance paid more of."

"Where are the frames my insurance will pay more of?" I ask, feeling fleeced. 

She stands and walks to a drawer in a side-table and yanks the drawer out. This is obviously the drawer of cast offs and birth-control glasses and I laugh, remarking as much. To which she only smiles, politely. Originally, when I bought my first pair there, the so-called sale-frames were on display, like the other glasses. They must have learned in the interim that to discourage customers from getting the cheaper frames, they needed some psychological warfare. It almost worked on me. Almost.

I found a decent enough pair that wasn't too repulsive and returned to the desk. "I'll get these."

She goes over the charges with me, again. I still owe too much (for my taste. I've got a lot of expenses this year, you know). The thing that's costing so much is the super-high-tech-weightless polywog crap lenses. So I say, "I don't think I want the special lenses. I mean, what do they even do?"

"They make it so that when someone is looking at you or talking to you and you have your glasses on, they see your eyes instead of their reflection." And it does something with computers. And somehow takes the glare off cars. So, basically, I'm being charged $75 or whatnot for polarized lenses. So other people can see my glorious eyes and not their ugly face. I bought a pair of polarized sunglasses from REI for $20 recently. Something doesn't seem right here.

"I don't want that. Don't do that to my lenses," I say.

"But that puts your lenses under warranty. If you don't do it, they're not under warranty. If you break your lenses today or tomorrow, for example, then you'll have to pay $65 to get new lenses." 

"So you're saying that I can pay either $75 now for a warranty, or $65 should my lenses happen to break?" I'm not making this up. Stoker pointed out that with the $75 you do get the better lens, but still! It's absurd. And in any case, my insurance was only going to pay a $20 of that.

The girl did try to convince me a bit more to get the better lenses, but I won! It was a hard fought victory, too. Those people have a way of making you feel like you don't understand how stupid you're being for not getting the most expensive crap in the world.

Stoker claims I had a deer-in-the-headlights look about me during the battle, but he understood why. When someone talks to you with auctioneer speed and then wants to take your money, there's a level of discomfort. I might have fallen for it two years ago. But I'm older now. Older and wiser.

p.s. Even if I manage to break my lenses next week, I will still be the winner.

No comments: