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Saturday, April 26, 2008

[#] [7]
washington mutual is being much more aggressive in its upselling techniques: every time i talk to a wamu teller they ask if i'd like more information about whatever service they're being asked to upsell that day; whenever i log in i now have a stupid interstitial screen that asks if i'd like more information about a service i don't have before i am allowed into my account.

but nothing compares to today. i was in freddy's looking at mozzarella for the pizza i was making tonight when two people dressed in washington mutual outfits approached me.

"excuse me, ma'am? are you a washington mutual customer?"

i turn, afraid this is some sort of official business: "um.... yes....."

the woman's eyes & voice brighten. "you -are-? have you heard of our credit card--?"

as soon as she said "you -are-?" i think "oh, no!" and my suspicion is verified when she starts to ask about credit cards. so i cut her off, begging: "please don't bother me. i'm shopping." which certainly isn't the strongest thing or everything i could say, but i'm very constrained by my naturally ingrained politeness and social awkwardness.

"oh." she says, and stiffens. they walk away. i feel relieved, angry and guilty at the same time, but i spend the rest of my time in the store afraid i'll run into them again. i get my cheese and use the self-checkout kiosk to get out of there as quickly as possible.

i really hate petitioners and the tactics they use to get your attention and how they try to make you feel guilty for not stopping. i hate how their demands erode the general goodwill of everyone walking down the street. and now i'm not even safe inside a grocery store! argh! i wish there was a "do not call" list or "unsubscribe" option for human interaction. i'm writing wamu & freddy's a letter in protest.

How can Freddie's possibly think that letting their customers be accosted by Wamuites is in any way a good thing? Is there a WAMU branch in Freddies?

Well, I hope your letter to them brings something good -- some free apology cheese, perhaps?

fawtkij (I think -- the i & the j seem to be superimposed, and I'm not sure which comes first.)

mufrjxze (perhaps I'm not human after all.)
yes, most fred meyers here have a wamu branch inside. but if this is what's going to happen, i think i'll put off shopping till the bank is closed or not go at all!
"i really hate petitioners and the tactics they use to get your attention and how they try to make you feel guilty for not stopping."

Petitioners used to bother me a lot more, but I eventually took to telling the truth, which almost always a variant on:

"That sounds like a very important issue, but I haven't done near enough reading on it to sign anything."

I've never been hassled one way or the other, anyhow, and I think most of the petitioners I see in my neighborhood are hired help. Al, on the other hand, managed to get a true believer last week while on campus at PSU. He really harangued her for not caring about his issue. I think my canned response might have blunted his attack.

Or not ... some people just can't keep it together.

Also ... I took a media literacy class the fall before Ben was born. One of our homework assignments was to spend a day counting how many ads we saw, including billboards, promotional posters, etc. It was sobering. And I had to start counting right after getting out of bed, because the pants I pulled on that morning had an ad for themselves on the part of a front pocket that faced into the pants.

Anyhow ... part of me is now going to be keeping an eye out for roving WAMU people. I'll have to learn something horrible about the company I can use on them.

On first submit: No blockquote allowed? Why not give me a purple crayon and get it over with?
advertising is one thing. i don't like it, either (i'm fairly label-less unless i specifically want to promote something).

but advertising is fairly passive. forced social interaction is another level entirely. it -requires- you to be politely accepting of the intrusion or rebuff the person, which we (especially women) are conditioned not to do. and if we reject that conditioning, it makes us all meaner people, suspicious that the next person who approaches us is wanting to sell us something. cell phone kiosk people are the worst; even if you don't look in their direction, they make up stuff to say about you to get your attention, or they hold out their hand for you to shake, so you actively have to stifle any kind impulse you might have. i feel they are terribly manipulative strategies.

plus, i give political petitioners slightly more slack if it's voting season. i give an answer similar to yours, though it also involves something like, "this is not the way i make decisions" or "i don't sign petitions without more research; i'll check this out at home." but i don't talk to the greenpeace/compassion-for-the-children solicitors.

@susan: i think the word verifications are getting harder.
When I first moved to Texas, someone accosted me at the Whole Foods (they had one dinky little store at the time) to sign a petition on "Initiative & Referendum." Having just moved from living for 3 years in NJ (a state without I&R) and having lived for 4 1/2 years in Germany, I had no idea what it was, so I asked the guy, "What is this?" and all he could say was essentially, "it's so we can get 'initiative & referendum in Texas!"

Dude, if you can't explain what it is, I sure as heck ain't gonna sign your petition!

Texas is still not an I&R state, although I have since educated myself as to what it is.


(this verification is almost pronounceable)
People "dressed in Washington Mutual outfits"? They have uniforms?

One tactic is using a big smile and a happy voice and saying, "Thanks for dropping by (or 'thanks for asking'), but I'm just not interested." Cut off communication quickly at this point, or repeat as necessary. You can say a happy thanks again as you walk away or close the door.

Summary: positive sounding response with quick shut down.
@dang: i don't even want to give them the idea this is an acceptable way to approach me. i want them to -stop- doing it. to everyone, ideally. seriously.

when i say "uniforms" i mean the blue wamu shirt & the tan pants it looks like everyone is required to wear.

btw, i got bland responses from both wamu & freddy's, along the lines of "we're sorry if you were inconvenienced by our representatives. we value you as a customer and would never intentionally do anything to offend or upset you..." yeah, yeah. just STOP doing it!
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