Our intention, my TWDB and I, had been to go out last night. Thursday night rocks in the centre of Montpellier, apparently, and we have been wanting to go out more, recently. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that we want to go out, because, like Alice at the tea party, how can you have more when you have yet to have had some?
We made a brave start with restaurants recently, but want to widen our going out with café-théatre and café-philosophie. So far so failed what with work and weather, but never mind, the intention is there...
Yesterday it was both work and fatigue that had us cloué au canapé. Me from my late night listening to the plumber's woes, he from a mind-draining day at work in a heavy week. So we chickened out from plunging into the drizzle and sat eating sturdy veggie soup and spicy chicken and rice.
We also watched Envoyé Spécial on FR2 which was all about the customer-fleecing techniques used by shops such as Darty, Boulanger, and Carrefour to sell televisions, washing machines and other éléctroménager. It made hairy watching because unless you know how they function, or are very careful about doing some research before you buy, you really are at the mercy of a bunch of cowboy salespeople.
I'm not naive, I know that businesses have to make a profit, I know that customers are manipulated and that marketing techniques are designed to get us to spend more, but to take the client for a pigeon (an idiot/mug) with no concern for what s/he wants or needs is going too far.
A salesperson in Darty gets a fixed salary of around 500Eur/month. That's not much so he has a lot to make up on commission. Each day, items are designated a commission rate so one tele might yield the salesman 2.20Eur while another might give him 5.20Eur. Guess which one he'll do his utmost to sell you regardless of what you want or need?
In Carrefour, the commission rate is even displayed on the price tag, bottom left in yellow. Unless they now change it...
Guarantee extensions are designed to increase the profit margins of the company. Very very few products (about 1.5%) break down within the first 5 years so it really is a waste of money. The exception being my laptop which my eldest crashes on a regular basis and has been repaired for nothing several times.
After-sales repair services now barely repair a thing. You pay, often up front, (at Fnac) for an estimate which is based on nothing - they don't even open the item - and is very expensive; the price being, funnily enough, roughly the cost of a new version of the item. If a repairman comes to your house to repair something like a dishwasher, he'll probably declare it good for the tip because he has a lot of people to see and is paid commission on the number of people he sees in the day rather than whether he actually repairs anything.
Naturally, he'll charge you around 65Eur for this 5-min assessment.
Manufacturers are building into their products a lifespan that is limited to a maximum of ten years, and make them impossible to repair. All, of course, so that you have to keep buying, and they have an easier time predicting purchase trends.
The lesson is, of course, to know what it is you want before you go and buy. Or they'll take you for an idiot and treat you like one, lying through their teeth with comments such as 'I bought this one and I've had no trouble with it!'
Research, research, research.