After a substantial number of months saving his money, my oldest son finally saved up enough to by himself a tablet. After doing a little research online, we settled on going down to Barnes and Noble to pick up a Nook. On the way, I gave him a quick warning.
“They’re going to try to sell you more stuff,” I said. “They’ll probably want you to buy a maintenance plan.” I explained what that was, and then finished up with “It’s your money, so it’s up to you. I just didn’t want you to be surprised.”
In the store, the sales person immediately started talking to me.
“No,” I said. “I’m not buying it. My son has been saving and saving. This is his money, his tablet, his decision.”
The guy did a double-take, then asked my son how old he was.
“Ten – no eleven! I really like this one.”
The process continued from there. Every once in a while, the sales guy would forget and talk to me, and I’d redirect him to my son.
It was cool to watch my son doing the big boy thing, meeting the sales person’s eyes, thinking about what he said, and making decisions. Even more fascinating, though, was the sales person. He was clearly under instructions to upsell, but he just couldn’t bring himself to rip off an eleven year old.
The result was a weird mix of sales information and straight truth.
“Did you want a case for it?” he asked. “You should probably have a case for it. Here’s the one I have. It’s the cheapest, but it does the trick. Or you could buy this one. It’s really popular.” His voice dropped to a whisper, “and it’s perfect for people who don’t care about their money.”
My son glanced at me. I smiled and winked. “Your decision.”
“We offer a maintenance plan,” the sales guy said, before launching into all its benefits. When he finished, he added in that same whisper, “I didn’t get one. It’s a third of the cost of the device.”
After my son had finished all his decisions, the sales guy visibly relaxed. “I’ve just got to say that this is really cool. Eleven years old and saving up for a tablet? And you letting him buy his own? Really cool.”
We shook hands. “Thanks. And I appreciate you being so honest with him.”
He flinched just a little, then laughed.