I have a friend who’s watched ‘You’ve Got Mail’ more times than is considered civil to admit. In the movie, the huge bookstore brings the little bookstore (owned by Meg Ryan) down the corner to bankruptcy. Admittedly, it is a heart rending angle to small businesses, and a long time ago, I found myself admiring the pluck of the lady who owned a small coffee shop. She had put up a sign imploring customers to not go to Starbucks.
The placard said: “Don’t let your friends go to Starbucks!”
I haven’t gone to the small place in a while – I vaguely tried to recollect why, and couldn’t. I stepped in.
Before you go off imagining Meg Ryan in a coffee shop, let me stop you in your tracks and state that I am not particularly fond of this lady who runs the shop. If I were Malcolm Gladwell, I could have written a book about this particular phenomenon, and how I should trust my instincts etc. I am not Malcolm Gladwell, so I shall satisfy myself with saying I am not fond of her.
This morning, I read all about sumptuous breakfasts in the English countryside and by the time I took the swift walk down to the office, my stomach was starting on a tantrum for a spot of breakfast. I relented and ordered a plain bagel with only eggs – no cheese, no tomatoes.
I can hear you mutter in your little head that there really is no need for all this detail about a breakfast order, but the crux lies here. You see the rates written up in this shop are as follows:
1) Plain bagel with only eggs is $3
2) Plain bagel with eggs and cheese is $3.25
3) Plain bagel with eggs, cheese and tomato is $3.50
I paid her $5 expecting $2 in return. The shop, meanwhile, has 2 more people in there oggling at my back. I don’t know about you, but everytime I feel like a bottleneck, I will squirm and rush.
All a sales person needs to say is:
“Uh…I don’t know why – let me go and check” , and I would hang onto their hands, and stop them, thinking furiously:
“Just service me please – I can’t hold all these people up. “
As you can imagine, as soon as these strangers walked in, this particular sentiment kicked in. Just give me $2, so I can move. Come on : $2. Quick!
She gives me $1.75. See! In one blinding flash of revelation, I see why I stopped going there. This wasn’t a mistake – she did this everytime I ordered p.b with only e. Once, when the shop was empty, I gulped down her potential cheap-skate view of me and showed her the sign for $3, but everytime?!
Why not just update the board to say $3.25? It’s not like I would change my mind and not buy because of the 25 cents. Next time, I’ll step into Starbucks on my way – the SKU can only give the advertised rates see?!
I am asking myself why I put up this post now. Because I have ensured that all my friends can think of me as a cheap-skate from now on.