The Work, Travel and Everyday Life Newsletter
from Randy Lewis
I probably needed a haircut.
I bought a new iPad yesterday. I probably needed a haircut worse than I needed an iPad. It’s just with the sheltering in place idea I can’t get a haircut in California but I can get an iPad.
I pride myself on being at the front of the technology line in the “folks over 60” category. I am a big fan of technology. I like tech for the fact that it makes life easier, simpler and most of the time pays for itself many times over.
I’ve got to be honest. Going into the weekend I had absolutely no interest in getting an iPad. However, when wife Carol told me that her iPad was eight years old and was “starting to act up” I took the hint. We were approaching Mother’s Day weekend and a new iPad would be just perfect for her.
I told you that I like to be at the head of the technology line. With regard to the iPad, I certainly missed the boat on that one. I had to be literally the last person in America to get an iPad who might have ever wanted one.
Our oldest son has a lot of skills, one of which is being a “technology guru”. He’s always recommending that we buy this new gadget or that new gadget. If I had invested the money that I have spent on his recommendations his and his sibling’s inheritance would be much larger than it actually will be!
I must tell you that when he comes to me with the newest of new ideas my response is often, “why would I need that”? Then after a little more direction and education from him and some time for me to think about it I usually end up buying whatever he has recommended. Then a week or two later I am advocating to my friends for the product that just three weeks ago I was telling our son I didn’t need. That’s just how it works.
I was amazed at what I learned during the process of buying an iPad for my wife. It seems that Best Buy had them on sale. The normal price was $429. The sales price was $329. That seemed like a worthwhile price reduction.
I figured I would simply go online with Best Buy and confirm they had the inventory at the nearest store. Then I would drive over to Best Buy and pick up the iPad in their parking lot. That’s how we shop nowadays in California.
Of course, nothing is ever easy. Best Buy was out of stock on iPads in its stores. However, I could have one delivered in about 10 days. Nope, nothing is ever easy. The Best Buy delivery date wouldn’t make it in time for Mother’s Day.
By the way, there’s a reason I personally have never had an interest in an iPad. I already had an iPhone with a 6” screen and a MacBook Pro with a 13” screen. Did I really need to add an iPad with a 10” screen? It really seemed like just one more thing to weigh me down when I headed out on my nearly weekly airplane trips. I really always thought that an iPad was like a big phone that you couldn’t use to call anybody!
There was another reason I didn’t want an iPad. I figured they would be nearly impossible to type on. I wasn’t interested in a miniature keyboard or a wireless keyboard. The greatest value of my MacBook Pro is that it allows me to type. However, over the past year, I’ve been dictating much more of what I write than typing the content. Because I’ve pretty much switched to dictation over typing I concluded that maybe I DID need an iPad especially if they were selling them for only 329 bucks.
Nevertheless, nothing is ever as easy as it might initially seem. Not only did Best Buy not have the items in stock they weren’t going to have the color I wanted (gray) in stock…..in the immediate future. If I wanted an iPad from Best Buy I would have to order it in silver. That wasn’t my first choice but what could I do? Mother’s Day was coming up right away. I placed my order and agreed to wait for the next 10 days.
Then our son asked me how the entire iPad acquisition process was going. I told him about the Best Buy inventory situation. That’s when he turned me onto something that I couldn’t ever recall trying myself.
He recommended I go over to Target and get them to, “price match” the Best Buy price. Target was selling these machines for $429. That was $100 more than the Best Buy price. However, it looked as if the price match approach might work at Target so off I went to the store.
Before I left the house I printed out the 13-page order details from Best Buy. The Target website made it look like I might need that.
Although we are in a shelter in place lockdown situation in California right now people can shop at Target. They can’t get a haircut but they can buy clippers at Target to cut their own hair. I recommended that idea to Carol. She politely (mostly) declined the opportunity to cut my hair. Yep, I definitely needed a haircut more than I needed an iPad.
When I walked into the store I noticed there weren’t all that many people inside. Probably two out of every three people that I saw were wearing a mask. I wasn’t wearing a mask but I should’ve been out of consideration for others. Everyone gives everyone else a pretty wide berth in stores nowadays.
I was in Target for the purpose of buying two iPads at $100 lower than the price they were offering their customers. Best Buy couldn’t give me the iPads in the color gray that I wanted. The Target price match situation told me that the items had to be identical in order for Target to price match a competitor. Did identical mean the same color as well? According to the details of the Target price match program the color had to be the same as well. I felt a little uneasy doing my first “price match” attempt. What could possibly go wrong?
I approached a young man in the technology department and told him what I wanted to do. He seemed to think that my price match strategy was no big deal and went about trying to make it work. I handed him my wad of papers to prove that Best Buy truly was selling iPads for $329. He waved them off. He wouldn’t need that documentation he told me. He would simply check things out about the Best Buy price offer on his phone and that is what he did.
My Best Buy iPad price match called for two silver iPads. I could see that Target had two GRAY iPads sitting on the shelf within only a social distancing reach. Was the silver vs. gray variation going to screw up the whole deal? I figured if I didn’t mention the difference maybe the sales clerk wouldn’t either. I must admit I am a stickler for honesty. Not bringing up the color difference almost made me feel like I was shoplifting.
I was just about ready for Target’s security staff to come up from behind me, put the cuffs on, and take me “downtown”. The charge? Trying to buy iPads in gray rather than silver.
About this time the sales clerk was saying, “Sir, sir?” His comment broke me from my trance. “Sir, we have a problem here”. Damn! Busted! I was going downtown. “What’s the problem?” I meekly asked.
That’s when the young man told me that I could only price match one item in the store and not two. That was a bummer! I guess Carol wasn’t going to get an iPad for Mother’s Day. O.K., just kidding!
Nope. Stuff like this is never easy. I accepted the “policy” and asked if there was another Target store nearby that might have another iPad in stock that I could price match.
While all of this was going on, and I was paying for the first iPad, the clerk and I were talking about credit card rewards points. It seemed he had the same credit card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, that I had. With the credit card discussion, I felt I was building a bond with the young man. Building bonds with folks is important.
I had now paid for the first iPad. It was boxed up. It was time for me to leave and head over to the next Target store. It was at this moment that the sales clerk told me, “What the heck. I’ll make an exception and let you buy the second iPad at the sales price here as well”. That was nice of him. That would make things a little simpler.
Did I mention these transactions are never easy? Carol and I are always saying, “No good deed goes unpunished”. When I went to use my credit card for the second iPad my card was rejected! That was embarrassing.
I’ve had this credit card rejection idea happen in the past when I attempted to charge an item within seconds of charging an earlier item at the same location. Almost immediately I got a fraud text alert from my credit card company. I made the necessary corrections and then paid for that second iPad. I was off.
I think of just about everything I do in life as a learning opportunity. The situation I described above was a learning opportunity on several levels.
Of course, this missive has absolutely nothing to do with buying an iPad, having an iPad or needing an iPad. So then what is the purpose of this story?
First I have learned to have the patience and understanding to listen to our son when he describes new technology opportunities. People in that “over 60” group aren’t always willing to jump off the cliff in search of more tech in their life.
Sorry. As people age, they get much more conservative in their behavior. I’m not making a comment about politics. By conservative, they are just much more averse to risk-taking. It’s amazing what some folks think of as risk-taking.
As I noted oftentimes at first I think our son is recommending something that I have absolutely no need for. However, I have enough experience to know that if I do exercise just the right amount of patience with a proper dose of education I normally going to come out ahead with his ideas.
I have never thought much of the price matching idea between retailers. It always seemed to me there was just enough difference between an item sold at one store and item sold at another that the price-matching would never really work. Today it did. Today being willing to accept a new idea (price-matching) I got what I wanted quicker, in the right color, and at a really good price.
I guess I’ve saved the most valuable lesson, that I learned a long time ago and try to practice whenever I can, for last. It’s easy to try to be nice to your family and best friends and the people that you work with. It’s not that difficult to think that if you were nice to all of those people that you might get some return coming back your way for treating them well.
However, there can be lots of other people in your life, maybe like a Target sales clerk, where the reward for being nice might not seem as obvious. Long ago I came to the conclusion that it’s a really good idea to be nice to everyone. Being nice often means building a bond even if it’s with a person you will likely never meet again.
First, you never really know when being nice will provide a nice reward. Secondly, and more importantly, it’s just the right thing to do to be nice to folks.
Today by having a personal and professional conversation with the Target sales clerk I think I met made him feel like he was important. I had no idea when we were having that conversation that he was going to reverse his policy and let me buy both items at his store at the sales price. I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t built up a bond with him I never would’ve gotten that consideration.
I figured the cooperation I got from the Target sales clerk was simply an unexpected reward for trying to do the right thing and having an attitude of being nice to everyone. It’s just the right thing to do.
By the way, I can tell you that Carol was thrilled with her Mother’s Day gift. She liked the color too!
San Clemente, California