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Opinion: Buying a car is easier than buying an appliance

By David Morley, 19 Oct 2019 Features

Opinion car buying easier than appliance shopping feature

Turns out buying a fridge wasn't as straightforward as buying a car

"No, my good man, I do not wish to buy window tint. Nor do I want the carpet mats at $200."

"Okay, what about rust proofing?"
"If you can’t sell me a car that won’t rust in the warranty period, I fear we are wasting each other’s time."

"Stain-guard for the seats?"
"Don’t think so."

Fair dinkum, buying a car can be a tough gig. Truth is, I’ve only ever bought a couple of brand-newies, both functional little hatchbacks for The Speaker. But each time, I’ve walked away wondering why the hell the process needs to be so difficult.

Thing is, if the whole shebang was made a bit easier, a bit less of an insult to one’s intelligence, the dorsal-fin-in-a-suit might make his or her monthly target a bit more often.

Hell, even if they just had the people skills to weigh me up and figure that 100kg of experience and cynicism was unlikely to fall for the paint-protection-treatment scam, we’d all benefit. Trust me.

MORE: Five top tips for getting the best deal - from a car dealer

But while I was once content to put car-sales folk in a category of their own, a recent whitegoods-buying excursion has made me wonder if all sales staff aren’t cut from the same loopy cloth.

I needed a new bar fridge for the Melbourne Bloke Centre. But I wanted one with a decent-sized freezer because I often have a bit of bait left over after a hunter-gatherer (fish-killing) mission and want to use it next time.

So I found a store that had the make and model of fridge that would keep beer cold and bait frozen, and set off in the Bat-Ute with a pocket full of fifties and a new-fridge song in my heart. Naturally, it went badly.

MORE: Inside advice on getting the best deal on a new car

I wandered into the shop and headed for the bar-fridge corner, where I soon found the beer/bait-preservation unit in question. I managed to attract the attention of a staff member and stated my case as simply as possible. To wit: I’ll have that white one, thanks.

"I’ll have to check", she says.
"Check what?"
"That we’ve got one in stock."
"Um, okay."

"Hmmm", she says after a minute or so of randomly punching the keyboard, looks like we’re out of stock.
"Okay, I’ll just take this one right here."

"Well, um, I can’t sell you that one; it’s our display unit."
"I don’t mind if people have looked at it, I’m sure it’ll still work fine."
"Yes, but if I sell you that one, we’ll have none in stock."
"Isn’t that the end-game in retail?"
"Yes, but this is our display unit."

"But why do you need a display unit of something you’re not selling?"
"Well, we might get more stock in."
"So take one of the new ones when they come in and make that your new display unit."
"Oh no, that’s not store policy."

"O-k-a-y. Lemme get this right – you won’t sell me this fridge because it’s store policy for customers to be able to see exactly what they can’t buy?"
"Well, I’m not sure it’s that simple."
"You bet your name-tag it is, Delores."
"I could check with head office to see when we might be getting more stock in."
"Nah, don’t bother, I really only wanted an ex-display unit. Toodles."

Now, I’m not picking on Delores, and clearly it wasn’t her call, but somebody really should talk to head office and let them know their in-store policy is on the bugle. In fact, the only thing that smells worse is my now very second-hand bait. And my bloody beer is warm.

Maybe I should have gone with the window tint.

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