Friday, 9 November 2012

This was getting really weird

I wanted to buy I hard drive. Or better said: I NEEDED to buy a hard drive, I needed to buy a 1 Tera Byte Hard Drive. My old one had ceased to be, and I have not made back ups from my computer since more than half a year, give or take a quarter. And going from 500 Mega Byte to 1 Tera Byte seemed only logical. Problem however is that buying a hard drive is as uninteresting to me as buying shoe polish, detergent, staples that fit my stapler, or the little tool you need to remove the staples after you accidentally stapled the wrong stack. It is simply not the kind of product you take home, unwrap and then indulge in a lively 6 hour back-up session.

I had been canvassing the different choices for a while, and in all fairness, the Sonys, WDs and Samsungs of this world have done a great job in attempting to make a sexy product out of it. Different colours, styles, robustness, add-on covers to personalize your cool 1 Tera Byte Hard Drive... For me however it is still a far stretch of the imagination that teenage kids these days would be impressed by this. "Dude, check out my new 1 Tera Byte Hard Drive. It backs up like crazy! And it has like, REALLY many many bytes".
Anyway... I finally got into the buying mood and stepped into a store called Challenger. I stood at the hard drive shelf for some 10 minutes, looking at all the choices. Narrowing it down to the 1 Tera Byte ones. Looking at the USB 2 ones. The USB 3 ones. The Thunderbolt ones. The shiny ones, the matte ones and the just-in-between ones. I finally opted for the Sony, in a cool brushed aluminum style (to impress my teenage nephews). It was S$149 (member) or S$179 (non-member). I had made my choice. I wanted this cool looking Sony Black Brushed Aluminium 1 Tera Byte Hard drive. But I did not want to become a member. I know what memberships mean in stores like this... tons of spam, 'personalized' brochures in your mail box ('a special offer for you, Mr Ben') and a customer card you need to carry around at all times, and that all for probably a one time purchase at the store.
I stood in line, proudly with my Sony Black Brushed Aluminium 1 Tera Byte Hard drive in my hands... tonight I would back up like I never backed up before! Mega Bytes would elegantly flow at light speed from my MacBook to my Sony 1 Tera Byte Hard Drive! I was really looking forward to this. When it was my turn, a friendly girl in her twenties served me. The inevitable 'You member?' question came.
'No' I said
'You want to become member?'
'No' I said
'You get a lot of advantage if you become member.'
'Thank you, but I do not want to become a member, I will pay the full price' I said.
This clearly was unheard of. Her colleague, from the next cashier, overheard this and came over.
'You get a free pen', she said,  'And a torch. And lower prices. And a fabric thing' (OK I do not think she said 'fabric thing', but she showed me a fabric thing). You pay 30 Dollars for membership, so same price in the end.'
'OK I see that, but I still want to pay without becoming a member' I said.
' But Sir, why would you do that, you can get the free goodies, including the fabric thing, plus membership for the same price'  the first girl said.
'Er.... I do no like to go through all this registration' I tried, really cornered now.
'No problem Sir, I can fill out the form for you'
'Look, I JUST want to pay without becoming a member, OK?'
'But Sir, you will pay the same price'
I did not want the membership, but these girls had paid a bit TOO much attention to the 'close the deal' part at their sales training.
It was clear they would not let me buy the hard drive without me becoming a member.

This was getting really weird. I realized I just entered a lose-lose situation.

Option 1: tell them to bugger off, that I wanted to pay the regular price for my Sony Black Brushed Aluminium 1 Tera Byte Hard drive WITHOUT becoming a member. But after all this, I had just made the internal decision that I did not want to buy at this store anymore. Or at any Challenger store in Singapore. Or any Challenger store anywhere. Or at any store that had any permutation of a subset of letters from the word 'Challenger' in its name.

Option 2: grasp my Master Card out of the girl's hand, saying 'I do not think I want to buy here' and walk out the store, facing a boring evening without exciting things like REALLY fast backups.

I made a split second choice between the two.

I should have made bold statements on consumer rights, on how the tyranny of customer loyalty programs touches the very essence of free hard disk choice, but instead I took
option 2.

The girls were speechless.

I am still looking for a good 1 Tera Byte Hard Disk.


  1. Why did you go to, a challenger ? You know, challenger, don't call that name for nothing. Hahahaha. Harvey is a better name, I think.

  2. the poor gal just doing her job. Maybe she get a commission?