Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
April 14, 2008
You Get Mad, You Spend:
Ain’t Capitalism Grand?
You want to know why people in customer service are rude, inattentive,
incompetent, confrontational and completely unhelpful?
Now we know. To get more of your money.
new study by a doctoral student at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon
University concludes that if you go shopping when you’re in a lousy
mood, you’re likely to spend more money.
The lead researcher, Cynthia Cryder, had a group of 33 shoppers ages 18
through 30 watch video clips before sending them off to shop. Some
watched a sad clip, others a neutral one. Those in the former category
were willing to spend more for the same items as those in the latter
Now, I could quibble with the sample size or argue that lots of other
factors might have influenced the behavior of the two groups. But that
would ruin a perfectly good column premise, so instead I will completely
accept everything Ms. Cryder said.
people spend more when they’re cranky. That makes sense. I can just
envision a lot of you storming through the aisles of our many fine
retail establishments grabbing things:
“Give me that. This
too! Give me this #*(#$@($@# thing! I’m going to take it home and smash
it to pieces just because I #$(*#$@*(#$@(* can!”
Obviously, customer service trainers have understood this for a very
long time. And you thought the pimple-face kids, the bitter middle-aged
cranks and the arrogant jerks were just the result of tight personnel
budgets. Are you kidding me? They recruit people who demonstrate
an ability to annoy you.
The HR department probably has people standing outside the studio where
they film The Jerry Springer Show waiting to hand out job
applications to members of the audience.
“The woman with the tattoo on her third stomach fold, who said she’s not
letting some tramp horn in on her man – we’ve got to have her,” says the
customer service team leader. “And the guest – the one with the fetish
for stuffing fish down his underwear? Whatever it takes to get him. Six
figures should be our starting offer.”
course, a good customer service department needs diversity. Idiotic,
dregs-of-society types are only part of what makes a good team. You also
need a few Don Rickles types, who can annoy customers by standing there
and insulting them.
“Good afternoon, sir.
Welcome to Bob’s Appliance. With a tie like that, may I recommend you
purchase an oven today that’s large enough for you to climb inside? We
have excellent financing options, even for people such as yourself whose
credit rating is probably one of the few things lower than your IQ.”
You can just feel the veins popping out of your neck as this guy lays
“Why I oughta . . .” you seethe. “Just for that, I’m buying your most
Only later, when you get home, do you realize that your rage-inspired
impulse buying has left you in hoc until the second term of the Chelsea
Hey. These people are good. You get mad, you spend. Cynthia Cryder at
Carnegie Mellon has proven it.
The best news is that this portends effective solutions for the nation’s
current economic situation. President Bush wants us to make consumer
purchases to stimulate the economy. And the stupidest 5 percent of the
population needs jobs. (In my home state of Michigan, make that the
stupidest 93 percent.)
Problem solved. Take the unemployed, hire them to do customer service
jobs in various retail establishments, then watch as the rest of the
population is angered into buying up everything in the store.
love capitalism. It finds a solution to everything. It’s making me feel
all warm inside. Or is that the fish inside my . . . oops, never mind!
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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