GETTING MORE TALE #476: Won’t Get Fooled Again
(the long-awaited sequel to Record Store Tales Part 225: Bait & Switch)
“I knew immediately there was a problem. In his hands was a used copy of Puff Daddy’s brand new smash hit album, No Way Out. It had one of our Bargain Bin stickers on it, priced at $5.99. However the album was a fairly new release, and any used copies we had were always priced at $11.99. I’d never put one of them in my Bargain Bin, ever at this point. You just didn’t throw a new release into a sale bin. As Puffy said, ‘It’s all about the Benjamins.'” — from Record Store Tales Part 225: Bait & Switch
We had a deceptively simple inventory system at the Record Store. Each used CD case was empty. Every one of them was tagged with the price, and a number that would tell me the location of the actual compact disc behind the counter. This system benefited both our point of sale computer, which updated our inventory live in real time, and it was also a security bonus. With compact discs safely stored behind the counter, thieves knew they would get nothing by stealing a case. We made it obvious, by posting large ALL CASES ARE EMPTY signs. The bastards had to get creative when ripping us off.
In the Record Store Tale above, a scam artist got away with it. I wasn’t going to let him, but the owner didn’t stand up for the guy, called it a misunderstanding and let the guy have a discount. The scammer switched price tags, without realizing that the number code on the tags lead to a specific disc. When boss gave the guy a discount, it made me feel about two feet tall. I never let that happen again.
My new strategy was quite simple and it worked every time. When the first guy ripped us off, my big mistake was explaining to him that somebody switched price tags. That got him on the defensive and he had already prepared his argument regarding bait and switch laws. I got smart after that, by playing dumb.
The most memorable occasion involved a douchebag in his mid-20’s, and a rap title. I cannot remember today what the rap title was, but the CD itself was very brightly coloured and easy to spot. Buddy came up to the counter with a CD case, and the price tag looked tampered with. They never quite looked the same once peeled off and re-applied, and years behind the counter taught me that. Sure enough, the number on the price tag led to me the wrong compact disc. I checked out the locations of the discs in the computer and confirmed the guy had switched a tag. He wanted an $11.99 CD for $7.99, but it wasn’t going to happen on my watch. I pretended to look for the disc, but I had actually already grabbed it and put it aside. The price tag that he swapped it with, the $7.99 CD, was alphabetically right next to the other one. It was obvious he just grabbed two nearby and switched prices. I was taking time figuring this out though, so I had to tell him why.
“I’m sorry man but I’m having a really hard time finding this CD,” I explained. “Each price tag has a number on it that tells me where the disc should be, but it’s not in this spot. I’ll keep looking.”
As earlier explained, the compact disc I was supposedly looking for was a bright one, easy to spot. What I didn’t count on was this dude has already seen it behind the counter in its location. But what he didn’t count on was that I had since yanked it and hidden it out of sight! From the right vantage point, you could have spotted it, but it was gone now.
“Are you sure?” the scammer asked. “I think it’s right over there,” and he pointed me in the general direction. I put on a good act of looking, flipping through every disc but his. “I’m sure I saw it right there.”
“Can you show me?” I asked, knowing it wasn’t there. I don’t know if he figured out my game or not. He probably had. But there was nothing he could do about it. “Is this it?” I pulled out a disc with random artwork on it. “No, but I saw it right there, in that spot that is empty now.” Yeah, he caught me.
“I’m really sorry but it’s not there. I’ll keep looking. Why don’t you give me your name and phone number? I’ll call when I find it. I’m sure it’ll turn up.”
Small triumph, but, still a triumph.