I thought I would start off my 31 days by having someone else do the work. A few weeks ago I received a discount offer for sofa cleaning by Air Fresh Chem Dry. I have wanted to professionally clean the sofa and chair for quite some time, as you can imagine, but they looked good enough so I put it off. Then, seemingly all of a sudden, they were far from good enough. The coupon came at the perfect time so I took advantage of the $58 professional cleaning and made my appointment for last week. At the same time, I asked for a quote on cleaning the chair.
$160. I passed. (!!!)
A few days before Air Fresh Chem Dry came over, I received a call from our regular carpet cleaners. They offered a price to clean our carpet. I passed. They countered and offered to clean the carpet and one chair for $48. I told them to come on over.
Who knew that when I contracted with two different companies–one national, the other local–I was in for such a sociological treat?
I don’t remember the year I first heard about gender bias against women during sales transactions, but I had to be in college, home on break and watching primetime news programing. It was disheartening to see the grainy video feed playing back from the woman’s hidden camera as the mechanic blithely charged her more than he should.
The guy from Air Fresh Chem Dry was young and almost as attractive as his swagger suggested. Maybe he didn’t want to be there; maybe I didn’t care. He came in, looked at the sofa, and reminded me of the service fee in addition to my coupon. Yes, yes, I remembered.
Then he tried to upsell me. Boy, did he ever try to upsell me.
He took one look at my chair and suggested I get that cleaned as well. I said the price I was quoted was outside my budget. He offered to clean the chair for $160 and use a solvent on the sofa free of charge.
No, thank you.
The solvent must be tied to some bonus structure because he really pushed it. Repeatedly. To the point it was suggested I would be foolish to clean the sofa without it because the solution really isn’t anything more than heavily mineralized water and he would have to come back in a month when the stains reappeared.
I felt I had no choice but to stick with the solution and foolishly decline his offer for the solvent.
He started in again, this time calculating how much money I was wasting. I am sure I looked as bored as I felt. He kept trying and trying and trying, becoming increasingly more agitated when I refused to add on additional services. I gave myself points for not stooping to his level by pointing out the obvious: a fool and her money may soon be parted, but only an insane man does the same thing over and over again and expects different results.
He finally gave up with a snap of his clipboard and a terse, “Give me 30 minutes to clean your sofa.”
I replied, “Sounds good!” My smile never reached my eyes.
I was in the kitchen drinking a glass of water when the Mister came in to grab his car keys. I forgot he was in his office doing work while he waited for a delivery. He asked how things were going in the way spouses sometimes do when they aren’t expecting an interesting answer. I told him the guy was being a jerk and pushing solvent. Suddenly, the Mister had a new interest in the intricacies of upholstery cleaning. But he was running late and I didn’t need him to protect me from a guy who sells solvent for a living. I’m a big girl.
But wouldn’t you know it? On the way to his car he crossed paths with the guy and his hose. A cool hello from the Mister, a surprised response from the cleaner. That’s all it took for the aggressive pit bull to turn into a cuddly lap dog. Back inside, he was friendly, full of smiles and conversations.
I wanted to laugh or roll my eyes or grit my teeth in frustration. Mainly, I felt bad for the guy and reminded myself I didn’t know his life story. Maybe he takes care of his mother with that upsell. And maybe he is a punk that needs his ears boxed.
When the local cleaner came over the next day, I was ready for another battle. Instead, I remembered why I have used this company for seven years.
No service charge, for one thing.
No solvent, either. He started with the chair and said he thought most of the stains would come out, but that I should expect some to still show faintly on the light upholstery. I was immediately on the defensive.
“Are you saying it needs solvent?”
“I mean, your solution. What’s in it? Heavily mineralized water? Is that what you use to clean furniture?”
“We use our detergent to clean the furniture…?”
“Oh, well. Good. I’m glad!”
He looked at me and blinked. I don’t think a customer has ever said they were glad about detergent. I smiled and made sure it reached my eyes.