Dear Everyone Who Has Ever Offered Me A Store Credit Card,
I don’t want a store credit card. I really don’t. I haven’t wanted any kind of credit card since I got my first one at age 18 and maxed it out in an eBay bidding war over a pair of limited edition purple Ugg boots. At the same time, I understand that selling store credit cards is an important part of your job, so I always try to validate your efforts. I nod and smile as you tell me about the benefits of a store credit card, and then I sigh and say something like, “Hmmm … maybe next time.”
And herein lies the problem…
I’ve always thought that I was being a validating listener. But apparently from your side of the cash register my attentiveness makes me seem like easy prey, and suddenly my attempt to buy a pack of athletic socks turns into an hour-long lecture about the life-changing benefits of a Kohl’s card.
I complained about this to a friend of mine who works in retail and happens to be a master seller of store credit cards–we’ll call her Deep Throat–and she said my approach was all wrong. “You need to be firm,” she said. “Just say, ‘no thanks’ and say it like you mean it.” She tried to sell me a pretend credit card and I practiced saying no. The next day I went to Barnes & Noble to buy a birthday present. The nice woman at the counter smiled at me as she rang up my purchases. I knew what was coming.
“Would you like to hear about our membership program?”
“No thanks,” I said firmly.
And this woman looked at me with such a heartbroken expression that I was genuinely concerned I had misheard her. Perhaps she had actually said something else, something like, “Would you help me save this dying puppy I’m keeping under the counter?” This couldn’t be the typical reaction to a firm “no thanks,” could it? If it is, I’ll gladly take the hour-long lecture instead. Sure, I had successfully turned down a store credit card, but I had seemed to emotionally scar an innocent person in the process. I fumbled for my debit card, paid, and left the store wondering if I’d ever be able to get this right.
So, Everyone Who’s Ever Offered Me A Store Credit Card, I wanted to apologize if my enthusiastic nodding has ever misled you, or if my attempt at a firm “no thank you” has ever broken your heart. I’ll keep practicing my versions of “no thanks,” but maybe I’ll buy a bigger wallet too, you know, just in case I need to make room for that life-changing charge card.