Our first house was very small. Space was therefore limited, and when it came to buying a suite for the lounge, I knew exactly what I wanted, and more importantly, what would fit. I’d seen a corner suite reduced in the sale to £499 in the window of a furniture store. We were second in line the day the sale started, and the person in front of me was not after lounge furniture.
I collared the salesman and told him I wanted to purchase the suite in the window. He wouldn’t sell it to me. When asked why, he said he only had the one, and needed it for display purposes. I pointed out it was a SALE, and he said it didn’t matter, he needed an example in the shop, and the one I wanted was ‘It’. I walked out in disgust, the five hundred pounds cash in my pocket intact.
Some months later, and not in the sale, the same suite was in the same shop with a price tag of £699. I didn’t have enough money, and not one to buy things I can’t afford, I decided I’d save a bit harder and hopefully it would still be there in a couple of months.
I’m pleased to say that two paydays later, after scrimping and cutting a few corners, I had sufficient funds to buy the suite and went down to the shop to purchase it. It was still there, but had increased to £899. I thought sod it. I’m not meant to have it, and we made do with the second hand one we already had, however uncomfortable.
A year later, a similar suite was in the shop window at a sale price of £599. I went in, and a different salesman told me it was for display purposes only. Annoyed, I asked him what was the point of offering something for sale if they had no intention of selling it and perhaps one of their other showrooms would have a suite that I could buy. He told me he didn’t have time to ring round and promptly went off to serve the only other customer in the shop.
We knew of another outlet some 20 miles away, and thought we’d give it a try. Sure enough, in the window was a corner suite, with armchair, for £599. We went in, and I asked the salesman if there was any reason the suite in the window could not be sold to me. He looked a little surprised, and said No. I asked if I had to have the armchair, and he said if I didn’t want it, he would knock £50 off the price. I thought that wasn’t a fair deal so decided to have that (and the cushions) as well and would juggle the furniture to fit it all in.
As he turned away to get the credit forms, I told him I didn’t want it on terms as I intended to pay in full. He looked at me a little strangely and suggested that a credit plan might suit me better. I insisted there was no need and produced my credit card.
It was no ordinary credit card. It was a card that implied the holder had a significant sum of immediate available funds. It was a card that had no restrictive limit. It was a card that had to have the balance paid off in full every month. And it had my name on it. It was also a very friendly card. So friendly in fact, that it was as if a switch had been thrown and we were suddenly addressed as Sir and Madam. We were offered tea and biscuits and a comfortable seat whilst the invoice and receipt were being printed, and “of course Sir, delivery would be free”.
Perhaps I should point out here what we were wearing. We weren’t in our weekday working attire, and whilst our clothes were clean, they were a little worn and tired, and our coats not our best. Not exactly the way to make a favourable impression on commission based sales staff (think of the scene in Pretty Woman where she’s trying to shop for clothes in Rodeo Drive) . We weren’t eccentric millionaires either (I wish) , but I did happen to work for the Card company and having one was a perk of the job!
Footnote: the delivery guys laughed when they carried the units into our house, saying it would never fit. Hubby didn’t think so either, so I told him to ‘Trust me’ and go out (turned tables on the DIY episode) . When he came back, the unit and armchair were in place and looked great. OK, the little table had been put under the stairs and the bookcase was now upstairs in the bedroom, but it fitted, just like I said it would!