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Thursday, 6 July 2017

People Are Like Garbage Trucks

A few months back, an elderly tanned big brawny old man (in his late 60s?) with bad knee and a walking stick shouted at me at the top of his lungs... Everyone turned an looked at us.

He is like your neighbourhood "ah long" or contactor with permed hair, wearing thick gold chains around his stumb of a neck, and multiple "Lords of the Rings" gold rings around his leathery fingers...

All I did was to make a "joke" that if he wanted "free" delivery and installation for the home appliance, I just need to change the price tag to a $100 more...

99.99% of the other customers will get the sugar-coated poke that there's no such thing as "free" delivery and installation. Its either included in the price, or its not.

I am glad I had some "cultivation or training". Although I was caught off guard by this sudden outburst, I simply smiled at him.

Seeing I did not "bite", the old man continued his tirade against me and threatening to complain to management.

I continued smiling at him with full eye contact (its an animal and man thing). No malice, no anger, no condescending pity on him.

It was actually a sorrowful sight.

I imagined he could be a gang leader or someone important in his prime in the 1970s or 80s...

But now... Not in the best of health, wearing all that gold to "mask" his current lack of means... If money was not a problem, why get so worked up on a home appliance that only costs $300? 

Since I've been on the receiving end of patronising smiles before, I made sure my smile is the "stand tall I wish you well" variety - not the "I pity you" kind. 

For that would have made the situation worse.

The old man lumbered out of the showroom mumbling to himself...

It takes 2 hands to clap.


  1. Good job, I dun think I can do that...

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      Thank you.

      Not easy.

      He was shouting at me like those Youtube videos you see of customers abusing sales staff...

      I'm glad I was Mindful.

      It has gotten quite bad in recent years.

      Quite sad to see posters at hospitals, govt offices, retail showrooms, and restaurants where Management firmly reminds customers they will not condone customers "abusing" their staff.

      I guess its a side effect of our pressure cooker living in a cosmopolitan city where the "successful" and those still "struggling" co-mingle together in a tiny fish bowl...

  2. U very brave !!!
    I can't handle this kind of situation...

    1. sy sy,

      I started in retail at 16. I guess I had "practice"?


      No lah. Maturity helps. As I get older, I discover I am less "reactive", more "reflective" ;)

  3. Still many people are so dumb to believe in free delivery service. How does free lance delivery service folks get paid?

    1. CW,

      Well, there are financial bloggers who consider credit card miles are "free"...

      And make the effort to spend "extra" per month so they can reach the "cash back" quota or meet the hoops and hurdles each month to qualify for that "extra" 1% in interest...

      As a retailer, I would prefer to offer a "Buy 1 get 1 Free" promotion over a 50% discount sale.


      I get to sell 2 instead of 1 :)

      The Jedi mind trick really works on feeble minds!

    2. Quote : "Well, there are financial bloggers who consider credit card miles are "free".."

      Sometime, I laughed when I read. Hey; you fly on company account? of course; it is not really free. More of privilege. Common folks who don't fly on company account also can meh?

    3. CW,

      Only 2 groups say what they say:

      1) Vested interests (working with CC). My snake oil brethren ;)

      2) Business owners and high flying corporate warriors. Duh! "Ah kong" pays ;)

      That's why most readers of Rich Dad and Poor Dad missed the main message... Its not about cash flow or passive income. It's all about the benefits of becoming a Business Owner!

  4. I remember got lena cow bei cow bu by some nasty people before.

    I usually poke or fight back.

    When I kena by boss where there is no position of strength. I just LL face

    U good

    1. Btw, how did your colleagues who saw your "plight" react during and after??

      Interested to know

    2. Sillyinvestor,

      2 other colleague promoters were serving 2 other pairs of customers.

      All were stunned and just gawked.

      Since there were no fireworks or excitement, their "interest" faded even quicker.


      After the incident, one of the colleague who saw approached me to enquire what happened?

      This one not friend. She is the typical show "fake" concern to get the juicy details so she can "broadcast" to everyone later. You know, the rumour monger ;)

      The other promoter, when no one was around, teased and poked me. We had a good laugh. Now this one is friend ;)

    3. Hahah SMOL,

      Just bo Liao, I know it's doesn't matter and does not bother u. How do U know your "friend" is not super high EQ and know what "click" for u?

    4. Sillyinvestor,

      You think too much...

      日久见人心 ;)

  5. Hi SMOL,


    The bandits have totally no clue who they are dealing with. Who is "Akagami?"

    1. Unintelligent Nerd,


      Ikan bilis (anchovy) opponents I ignore.

      I save my strenght for the biggest opponet of all - me ;)

  6. Wow !!! 好忍功,以退为进 ,,,,退一步海阔天空
    Yah... Life is so stressful nowadys...we will see more an more such "irrational " act happen from time to time .... sad :-(

    1. STE,

      And over the smallest of things...

      Now the road rage syndrome has crossed over to public transport and hawker centers...

      Work - ensconced in a small cubile.
      Public transport - packed in a sardine can.
      Home - trapped in a shoebox.

      I do envy Malaysia.

      At least there are 2nd or 3rd tier smaller cities or villages where one can live in open spaces, sleep on land at your feet, and wake up to nature singing to you.

      Of course earn a lot less, but at least there's a choice.

      Singapore's last sanctuary as in Pulau Ubin will one day turn into a HDB estate or Condo enclave :(

  7. Hi SMOL,

    Your job quite good, because there's training grounds to practice your inner peace :) I would apologise and smile too, no point tango-ing with him. He could have had a very bad day.

    I'm glad I've matured from a angry 'righteous' person to a calm collected person. These days, when people disagree with me, I don't have to prove that I'm right and they are wrong. There's no need to prove myself, so that's the nature of my inner peace and calmness. And of course, recognizing the onset of anger will usually make me not angry anymore.

    Well done :)

    1. LP,

      I can empathise what the old man maybe going through...

      I had a money shock myself when I came back 5 years ago too. I had always assumed seeing a family doctor would cost me $10-15? Imagine my shock finding out its around $40-$50 now!?

      The old man probably had a price tag shock (his mental price remained at 10 years ago?) and he took it out on me :(

      Yes, that's why I went back to my selling roots (初心). To put my cultivation into practice.

      Especially when I spot ex-colleagues, friends, and neighbours. Do I hide? Be self-conscious? Be ashamed? Or am I too quick to explain my situation?

      I caught myself slipping in "I am retired" at the beginning 3.5 years ago. My ego :(

      Now I just say I work weekends.

      They don't ask, I don't elaborate further :)

      Serving others is aslo a great way to practice humility.

      Or so I thought!

      One Buddhist 师姐 was telling me she volunteers at a Buddhist kitchen but was a bit disappointed one rich tai-tai likes to boss others around and give the group leader a hard time...

      That tai-tai is not mindful her "generosity" is giving the people around her "stress"!

      She forgot to 放下 her social status the moment she steeps into the kitchen ;)

  8. You punch above your weight meaning without much education you go so far until today is something for people without much education to emulate.

    Me almost started in the sale line too but "fate" push me into technical line.

    Just wonder now if I have gone into sale line will i be a different person experiencing all the snakes?

    1. temperament,

      Yes, sometimes I do pinch myself to see if I'm not dreaming,,,

      I too sometimes wondered what would I be if I had gone into business during my lost years in my early 20s...

      I have a theory. You and I have all the time to change our "fate" - you into sales; I into business - but we didn't.

      It meant one thing. We are not into it.

      We say say only ;)

      Life is interesting. Who we are today is a series of decisions (and non-decisions) we have made in the past.

      I can safely say we BOTH are not strangers to making our own decisions :)

      (Its ironic in the arena of investing/trading, I see some like to outsource their decision making to others!?)

  9. SMOL,

    Would like to understand how you interpret my problem.
    By staying calm and mindful of my emotion I sometimes wonder am I in a dream. So what I sometimes do is to do things that are out of my comfort zone to feel my heart pumping with excitement. Is this normal and why do I do that?

    1. Blursotong King,

      1. Snakes shed its skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that may have attached to their old skin.

      That's normal. If we let things take their own course.

      But if we are impatient and try to make a plant grow "faster" by pulling it up by the roots... That's not helping and may cause the plant to die...

      2. Mindfulness is the ability to look at ourselves from the outside in. Its like watching a Youtube recording of our actions and speech ;)

      But if you are "making up" the narrative to suit the world view of yourself, must be careful you don't lapse into delusions...

      Here and now, awareness, mindfulness are all about the reality.

      Memories of the past, dreams or fantasies of the future are not real.

      3. The moon is real. The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon. Neither is the reflection of the moon on the lake the real moon ;)

      真真假假, who is to say I'm not a grasshopper dreaming I am a man?

      Maybe when I die I'll wake up as the carefree grasshopper?

  10. Hi Jared,

    Sorry to hear about the undignified treatment that you suffered. The biggest loser is still the "gold-plated" customer who lost control of himself over a home appliance. Imagine if the scene was captured on YouTube. The party who shouts always look bad. Being "gold-plated", he will get even less sympathy from the public. How will bystanders think of him? Initial thought will be 金玉其外,败絮其中.

    I think your reaction was a good one. Staying silent or "inaction" is a good reaction in a chaotic situation. A tiny flap of the butterfly wings may lead to further "chaos" because the outcome is so unpredictable. Even a mild and reasonable reply can provoke further strong reaction. I am not a salesman and doubt I have your ability to have a soothing eye contact. If I were in your shoes, I will probably avoid eye-contact to avoid risking a staring incident.

    Maybe your shop can consider charging for installation so that you can state the price upfront? The old man has a bad knee and needs a walking stick. I believe he has problems with DIY. The elderly market requires installation help and this is a business opportunity to make more money:)

    1. hyom hyom,

      I didn't get to be where I am overnight. I started on the selling floor at 16.

      Got lots of time to sharpen my saw ;)

      We do indicate (in fine print) delivery is extra.

      And we do offer an outside contractor that does installation for customers who need them (buying to replace existing home applicane). But customer must pay ;)

      Our pricing is actually more "transparent".

      80% of customers who buy home appliances DO NOT need installation - they are new home buyers and they already have engaged their own designers or kitchen contractors who offered "free" installation ;)

      But when these customers buy at retailers who offered "free" installations, they are subsidising the 20% who do not have their own designers or contractors...

      That's why when I was a purchaser, I always ask for the complete price breakdown from suppliers.

      This way, I can negotiate a better price ;)

      For eg, if my own transport is cheaper than supplier's transport, I'll ask for ex-factory price or Free On Board (FOB) price.

      But if supplier's transport network is more efficient than mine, I'll settle for Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) price.

      Older customers tend to ask for FREE gifts.

      Younger customers will say they don't want the FREE gifts but prefer a bigger discount in exchange.

      From a business owner perspective, I would prefer to give FREE gifts over giving cash discounts.

  11. Hi Jared,

    It was bad luck to encounter this lousy customer. When I was a student, I hear politically-correct sounding slogans like "Customer is always right". How can that be? Of course there are lousy customers who are wrong. A lousy customer is someone who makes demands that raises business cost but refuses to pay higher price. A business which practises "Customer is always right" will eventually retrench its loyal staff if it panders to the demands of these bad customers. Your encounter is a classic case of a bad customer. The few businesses who can afford to uphold the "Customer is always right" principle are high profit margin private banks, not low margin retail brick-and-mortar shops which are struggling to survive against the e-commerce onslaught.

    Reading your story makes me appreciate the difficulty of the retail job. You have to entertain whoever comes through the door. Hard to be selective to save time and anguish on bad customers. I think your boss should raise your salary when the business becomes more profitable. If I have the privilege to become a boss one day, I will consider doing that.

    For expensive items, I prefer shops that are transparent and give me more choices so that I can get the best bargain. For cheap items, I prefer to be presented with straight-forward options even at the expense of transparency. I don't want to crack my head and spend time thinking about getting the best bargain over cheap stuff. Time is more precious than that small sum of money. Not worth the time to become a professional purchaser like you.

    Thanks for the tip. Next time I visit a shop which offers free installation, I will hesitate about buying because there probably will be cheaper prices elsewhere. I don't want to subsidise other customers.

    As a customer, I prefer cash discounts over free gifts. I may not need the free gift but everyone needs more cash. I believe it is the more rational choice. Hmm ... I wonder why older customers have the preference for free gifts.

    In a way, I am also a bad customer to retail shops, especially when I was younger and more hard up over money. I and my wife will ask around at the more expensive brick-and-mortar shops with helpful staff, use them as free product showroom, then buy at cheaper shops or online. Sad to say, cheaper shops have less helpful staff because the thinner margins mean they are paid lesser. However, I ALWAYS treat the sales staff with utmost courtesy because at the back of my mind, I feel guilty. If every customer were like me, these sales staff will lose their jobs. As an experienced salesman, how do you sniff out and handle undesirable customers like me without causing offense? It is not profitable to spend time on us but rude to brush us aside.

    1. hyom hyom,

      So long never visit this watering-hole, come give me a long list of questions! You har!

      1) Don't get me wrong. This unpleasant encounter is just one data point. The MAJORITY of the customers are wonderful and fun to interact with.

      I do enjoy my weekend sales gig! And I'm paid to have fun!

      2) Yes, don't sweat the small stuffs. I've seen Singaporeans spend 20 minutes trying to bargain down a pair of $10 slippers in Bangkok... I mean, really...

      3) Next time when retailers say their price includes delivery and installation, ask for the price WITHOUT delivery and installation. And what's their delivery and installation costs separately.

      This way, you can compare apples to apples with other retailers who offer the basic item price only ;)

      4) Older customers prefer free gifts because their time no internet so they quite clueless on "market price".

      As a business owner, I would prefer to give a free gift that retails for $100 to customer than to give a cash discount of $100 off!

      Older people (most not much study) are not business savvy enough to know that the cost price of that $100 free gift is definitely less than $100 to the business owner ;)

      5) You are indeed a "bad" customer. Shop "brick and mortar", then buy cheaper on-line :(

      I can't tell. I just do my best to impress the pants off my customers. If my service is good, most customers will still come back and look for me ;)

      The business owners and salespersons will especially come back to me. As fellow snake-oils, they WANT me to get the commission.

      There's an unwritten code that's adhered by "successful" people - we want to REWARD people who treat us right.

      And we are the ones who write compliment letters too ;)

      When we returned to our regualr restaurants or retail shops, we get greeted with, "Welcome back Mr/Mdm Wong!"

      I'll write about TIP - To Insure Performance one day ;)

  12. Hi Jared,

    I have been reading portions of your blog today. Wonderful! There are some terms which I don't quite understand exactly and Google does not help. Would you mind explaining what is the meaning of bei-kampings, bleeding heart, man-whore?

    1. hyom hyom,

      LOL! I write in Singlish.

      1) Bei kambing - Its Hokkien and Malay Singlish word for White Little Lamb. It used to denote "innocent people". Very trusting as they have no idea there is such an animal called wolves... You say anything they believe!

      The England word for it is credulity ;)

      2) Bleeding heart. This one is used to "poke"
      someone who is excessively soft hearted... too kind... too generous. I'm definitely not one. I don't suffer fools easily ;)

      3) Man-whore. A whore is a female prostitute. So a man-whore is... Me!

      How can I be "hao-lian" when I'm more shallow than piss on the sidewalk!? (That's American lingo)

      Yes, now I showing off I can speak Singlish, England, and America :)

      My math horrible; so something got to compensate!

      Classmates moan when its England and China composition time. I don't have this problem. I just write, and write, and write!


  13. Hi Jared,

    When I just entered the sales line, got a female GM shouted at me through the phone for delay of shipment. She really used 1哭2闹3上吊 although it's fake tears. She shouted so loudly but yet I don't dare to hang up my phone lor hahaha! In the end, she apologised and sent me a bottle of wine.

    These anecdotes are scary but yet memorable. They toughen us up and really test our EQ. You are definitely too zen liao, bad customers meet you also no fun! :)

    1. Jes,

      There sure are memorable moments in sales!

      I think I better share some counter-balance happy incidents least we frighten off wannebes from the sales line!

      Last Saturday, there were 4 xiao mei mei doing "recce" for their friend. Asked lots of questions, and when one took out her smart phone and asked can she take a picture, I replied, "Sure!"

      And promtly posed a cutsey horizontal V-sign salute next to my eye.

      The 4 xiao mei meis looked stunned for a second and then burst out laughing.

      Of course I knew she meant whether can she take a picture of the home appliance ;)


  14. Hi SMOL,
    Nice sharing.
    It took me awhile to learn the Thumb-rule of handling angry customers - let them shout, don't argue, don't explain.
    Now when I interview customer service officer applicants, I always ask how will they react when angry customer shouts at them.

    1. Rainbow girl,


      Having walked the talked and actual experience on the selling floor will help you better select your job applicants ;)

      Contrast this if you had zero service line trying to select customer service officers "blind"...



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