800-588-2300 Empiiiiire

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After a particularly nasty run-in with a particularly nasty and irrational neighbor, I had Empire Today install some relatively inexpensive hallway runners. Not because I needed to, but because I never wanted to hear from this neighbor again.

If you haven’t used Empire before, you should know that, as with many service providers, once you use them, you are on their call list forever. And they call often. Good thing their phone number is so catchy because I always know who’s calling and I answer the phone and immediately hang up. Immense feeling of satisfaction and power? Check.

A few weeks ago they called and, although my blood boiled, I was feeling the Christmas Spirit so I answered the phone. The telemarketer told me that Empire was running a special and he asked if I needed new rugs or shades or if I needed anything cleaned.  Ding ding ding.  We actually needed shades.  I asked if they had blackout shades and he didn’t know what that meant (interesting choice to select a telemarketer to make cold calls who isn’t familiar with the company’s inventory, but who am I to judge?  Oh right, I’m the customer, aka the one who gets to judge). After putting me on a “brief hold” I was told that they did indeed sell blackout shades and we settled on January 8th from 9:00-11:00 for someone to come take measurements and give us a quote.

January 8th arrived.  My phone rang at around 9:00am and on the other end was Doodah (that was not actually her name, although I don’t think it’s that far off; since I can’t remember it, Doodah seems fitting). Doodah wanted to confirm that I was expecting someone to come take measurements and then she asked the oddest question: “Are you the only one in the home who will be making the decision about whether or not to purchase the shades?”

What am I, seven?

“Well, I guess I’ll discuss it with my husband at some point.  Why do you ask?”

“Will he be home when I come over?”

I had never been asked these questions by any service provider before. Was it some sort of trap? What information was she trying to ellicit and why? Was she going to rob us?  Did she need a headcount of who would be home?  Did she want to know if we had weapons?**

“No, he’s at work.”

“Maybe I should come tomorrow then?  So that you can both be there to make the decision?”

“No, I think I’ll be capable of making this decision on my own”.

What is it, 1950?  I need a big, strong man to help me make a (decorating) decision? To give me permission?

So Doodah agreed to come over. She arrived at my apartment (with her carpet bag, literally, but she was no Mary Poppins) and took a few measurements while I looked at the color options.  FYI, they’re all variations of white.  So I chose the white one.  She did a few calculations and told me that, with the 40% (!) discount, the shade would cost [$    ]. I’m not going to tell you what the quote was, but suffice it to say it was outrageous enough that I wanted to check with my husband to see if he also thought it was an outrageous amount and thus justified getting an estimate from another company. So… it turned out that Doodah was in fact, correct, I would not be making this decision on my own. Infuriating! I hate being wrong.  Especially when I thought I was justified in feeling offended by her questions. I mean, could I have made this decision on my own? Of course I could have. Because I’m a grown ass woman and I’m capable of making my own decisions.  However, I’m the same grown ass woman who has been known to make decisions and regret them. Immediately.

The moral, for me, is that the minute I reached for the phone to get my husband’s opinion, I should have realized that I already knew the answer to the question I was about to ask him.  And as for Doodah?  I was able to withstand the high amount of pressure she was putting on me to sign the contract, even though I wasn’t sure I would be purchasing the shades from her. Practically begging, she was.  And no, I would not sign it even when she offered to waive the requirement of putting down a deposit.  Who would sign a legally binding document if it weren’t necessary? Not this grown ass woman.

 

 

Follow-up: We got a second quote and Doodah, even with her 40% off, was overpriced.  So we’re not getting the shades from her and I win.  Ha ha.

A lesson for Doodah: I’m no saleswoman, but I have a feeling that it’s easier to make a sale when you compliment the customer (“I love your apartment!”) instead of offending her by casting a distasteful eye around the crowded playroom and saying “I don’t know how people live in the city.”

 

**Important footnote: If you would like to send your child over for a play date but you want to know if we have guns in the apartment and you’re too afraid to ask me, lest I get angry and decide to shoot you with my gun, you should know that we do not have any guns. Do you?  Please let me know so that I can cancel all future play dates at your apartment.  And now you know where I stand on the gun debate.  Weight off shoulders.