Daily Archives: August 16, 2002

Objects in mirror are older than they appear

You think people would learn by now that appearances mean jack shit. For the past month, I’ve been without my watch. It needed a battery replacement, and conventional watch repair places can’t do the work. They just can’t. So I have to go to a jeweler. First, some background information.

A long time ago, when I was still living in California, my mother worked for Tiffany & Co., and my father worked for a local Jewelers named Jessops & Sons. As a result, I spent a lot of time in the back rooms of jewelry stores. Part of my formative education included cuts of precious stones, ring settings, bow making, watch types, Faberge eggs, pearl stringing, spotting a person “casing” your store, two man grifts, Lladro figurines, and holding a seven million dollar emerald in my hand. One of the most important lessons I learned was customer service, which serves me well to this day.

Which is why it pissed me off when I walked into the jewelery store and the salesperson asked me, “Can I help you?” in that tone of voice.

I’ve heard the tone before. It’s the tone of voice used when the sales associate is trying to be sincere, but actually believes you’re going to be an incredible waste of their time. Meaning, “you couldn’t possibly afford anything in here, so how can I get you out of here as soon as possible?” This tone was refreshingly absent from the first associate I had spoken to, so I had decided to get the work done here. Sadly, it was quite strong with this one. I had come straight from work. The only thing I could think of was my youthful appearance. I ignore the tone and state my business, that another associate called to tell me that my watch was ready, that the work that I had requested was completed.

The tone continues, “I need to see your receipt–and what type of watch was it?”
I take out my receipt. “An Omega seamaster, men’s, two tone, black bezel and face.”

He starts to take me seriously now. I can tell. He actually sounds interested in finding the watch for me.

Now I start to use my own tone. “This was a simple cell and seal replacement. You took the watch in on July ninth. I approved the work on the sixteenth. This type of work normally takes three weeks.” I pause. “Can I get your name?”

He tells me his name.

“Yes, I spoke with you on the sixteenth.”

His eyes flit back to my receipt and he backs away from the counter to check on the watch.

After two minutes, he comes back with the watch. After demanding to see the work order, I then pay in cold, crisp bills. I mention offhand that I may be thinking about additional work on the watch–bezel replacement, overhaul–expensive work.

Now his tone is completely different. He’s done a complete one-eighty from his original stance, making sure I’ve got his card, that “anyone here at Blah, Blah & Blah would be more than happy to assist me.”

Right, I’ll bet you would.