I’d called an electrical firm to see about some work on the house, and the owner sent his guys over to scope the job. The guys gave me an estimate that I thought was a little high, but not too high, so I hired them.
The guys show up to start the work as planned. That same morning, I notice in the paper an ad for the firm stating that discounts are available to customers affiliated with certain social and religious groups. The ad doesn’t say which groups, so I call the owner and inquire. He tells me, “Oh, the price we quoted you already includes the discount.” Puzzled, I say “Really? You don’t know which groups I belong to.” In a casual tone that nonetheless suggests I might be mentally deficient the owner replies, “Well, everybody belongs to some group. I’m sure you do. It really doesn’t matter which one.”
Does this guy think I’m a moron? My gut says I should cut my losses and end this conversation, but I’m irritated and don’t appreciate being treated like an idiot. Against my better judgment I say, “I don’t understand. Are you saying you routinely build in discounts when you quote a job?” Giving a customer discount and then declining to inform the customer of that fact doesn’t make any sense, but I can’t help myself from trying to find some, anyway.
The owner pauses and then says in a hostile tone, “I know what you’re trying to do!”
“Excuse me?” I say.
“Yeah,” the owner continues, “I knew you were going to pull this.”
I have absolutely no history with this man. What the heck is he talking about? Again, instinct is telling me to hang up the phone, but our conversation is like some weird auditory train wreck. I know this won’t end well, but I can’t turn back. “What?” I say. The owner replies, “I know what you’re trying to pull. I knew that when my guys showed up today, you’d try and get me to lower the price. People do this all the time. I know how you think.”
I am good and mad about now. “Listen,“ I tell him, “I had no intention of calling you about anything until I saw your ad in the paper. And furthermore, you don’t know me or how I think.”
He screams, “Yes, I do know how you think! I majored in psychology, and I know how people think!”
|I am SUPER ELECTRICIAN! I can fish lines ... and read minds!|
Majored in … what?? I can’t remember whether I politely excused myself and hung up the phone or just hung up the phone without further comment. (Knowing me it was probably the latter.) Needless to say we never did business again, and if his guys hadn’t just then knocked a big hole in my wall, I would have sent them packing.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Why oh why didn’t I hang up the phone the minute that guy started talking crazy? Curiosity? Sheer stubbornness? And what in the world was his problem anyway?
Good thing I'm reading “Why We Do Dumb or Irrational Things: 10 Brilliant Social Psychology Studies,” posted on PsyBlog. This is a neat website chock full of well-written and well-researched articles on the intricacies of human nature. So far “Super Electrician” hasn’t contributed anything, but you never know.