Keeping things simple

Yesterday, I was in a mall. I wanted to buy a bottle of perfume from a store. This is a chain store with many branches in Malaysia and in other countries.

I normally carry cash around (not much of an e-wallet guy), so I think of any retail transaction like buying a donut*: take item, go to cashier, pay cash, pocket the change, exit store. End of transaction.

But not this time. First, the saleslady asked me whether I have a certain e-wallet account, so I could be eligible for a 5% discount. I said no, cash please.

Then, she asked whether I would like to apply for membership.

I said no, not interested. I don’t shop there regularly anyway.

Then, she suggested that I download the chain store’s own mobile app — available on Android and iOS — and explained that by downloading the app, I can collect points, get exclusive offers, and redeem points by buying more stuff at any store nationwide. I will have access to a dashboard complete with bells and whistles, all at my fingertips, not to mention notifications of upcoming sales campaigns.

I said no.

She then asked if I wanted to buy a shopping bag. She phrased it in the most middle-class way possible: rather than buying a shopping bag, I would be “making a contribution in support of their no-shopping bag campaign”.

No. I can put it in my work bag. It’s a small bottle — just 100ml.

Then, almost exasperated with my refusal to do any other transaction except paying in cash, she made a final attempt to upsell by asking me for my birthdate (and my IC to verify it). So I could receive a special discount for my upcoming birthday.

I finally said no for the last time.

After what seemed to be an eternity in the upsell limbo, I paid for the purchase, pocketed the change, said thank you, and left.

Call me old-fashioned but if I step into a store, I just want to buy something, pay in cash and leave. Why is it so hard to do so nowadays?

*RIP Mitch Hedberg

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