I know it’s been far too long since either of us has posted on our blog, and to anyone who is reading this and cares: I apologize. Emily has not been finding the right treatment for her illness and I have been without a job for a while, except in February I started working for a hospital as IT Support! It’s an awesome job, and one which involves me doing what I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I went to school to study IT programming. But I digress; I’m here to talk about something I don’t think I’ve really talked much about, and that’s what it was like for me when I used to work for Verizon Wireless.
It’s a huge company, and one which pays well to do one thing: Sell. I only worked there for 6 months, 1 of which I was in training outside of the store I was to work in, so really 5 months. If you’ve ever worked retail, and I’ve discussed this, you know the deep down hatred you feel/felt going to work. But Verizon Wireless is a special monster to me, because, though I’ve spent most of my life working retail, Verizon Wireless taught me that everyone is a mark and there are core rules to this:
- No one should leave the store with less than $150 in merchandise. Should they: you are a weak person and unworthy of the job
- Everyone is a potential new line, because everyone (whether they know it or not) always has the need for MORE
- Verizon Wireless is the best network, no matter what you hear
- We are not sales people, we are leaders, bringing people to a better life, and one which benefits all parties
These ‘Rules’ may seem basic, and expected, but how they were used will always leave a dead place in my heart.
Sell, Sell, Sell: The Time I Went Against My Own Morals
I had a manger, his name was Nick. He was short, with greased back black hair, and the demeanor of a rat, except he was able to make older woman love him. Nick used to be the top sales person in the region, until they brought him on as a manager, thinking he could teach others how he made these sales. ‘Lucky’ for me, I ended being something of a project to him. I hate Nick, I hated Nick, and this story will make you hate Nick.
One night, we were about 2 hours from closing and Nick, myself, and a few others were working. The night had been okay, relatively slow, but we had a few new lines and our sales were on the lower end of good. I was set to take the next customer, and Nick was always watching over me, because I had weak numbers. So, in walk an older woman with her daughter, and I chip up, thinking, “Maybe she’s getting her daughter a new phone?” Then the customer walks in, the person at the door leads them too me, I had on my best smile, and then I saw their faces and my smile faded slightly: They had been crying.
I started by asking how I might be able to help them, “…on this fine night” (it was actually after it had snowed, so everything was a plowed mess outside). The older woman began to talk, but faded without saying anything, so her daughter explained to me that her father had just died (the mother stifled a cry when she said this) and, with a slightly weak voice, they needed to disconnect his line.
I kind of stood there, slightly disappointed, but overall filled with sadness for how there two looked, and the state they were in. I started playing with my tablet, looking into disconnecting a line, but the line was only 6 months in, and disconnecting required a manager’s approval.
Nick, like a vulture, came over to me as I was headed to the back to see if any other manager was still in. Nope. He asked what was going on and I explained. By the time I was done you’d think I’d told him that he’d just won the lottery by the expression on his face. I remember the next words quite well, he said, “Tim, when people are in high emotions they’re more willing to buy things; this is AWESOME!” He then lead me out to the people (the second he turned he put on a fake expression of grief, almost as if he were mocking theirs, and proceeded to talk to the people.
The mother and daughter, soon were tearing up, I felt awful and tried consoling them. Nick told them that disconnecting the line would be no problem, and how sorry he was for their loss. Then, he quickly turned into a different person. While typing in the approval to disconnect the line, eyes on the tablet, he began talking to them about how, with the line gone and the money to be saved, maybe tablets would make sense (since, at the time, a phone line was $40 per month and a tablet line was only $10). In his snake like words, ones which I still don’t remember, he convinced them that they needed 2 tablets and cases, along with screen protectors and anything else they might need, “…because, I know it’s hard now, but these things will help you, even distract you, from all that’s going on.” I was stunned, but he was doing all of this under my sign in information, so it was going to be my sale.
I nodded dumbly, agreeing with Nick and even backing him in certain instances.
The mother and daughter left that night, still weak and sad, but with bags full of tablets, accessories, and enough money to make my days sales put me in great standing. I went home that night and slept soundly, but within a month I quit, because of Nick.
This was not the only instance of anything like this happening, but this was my experience working there, and how I know Verizon Wireless stores work.
So if you’re ever in the need of anything tech or phone related, go to Best Buy or, better yet, do it online. The coercion and greed that drives companies is normal, and this story isn’t unique.