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The never-ending hoops of retail pain

Small wonder if retailers are in pain, with their desperate, needy tactics a shopper’s biggest turn-off.

It started innocently enough, didn’t it? At some point in the mid-90s, if I recall correctly. You’d hop along to McDonald’s and order your Big Mac with extra pickles and hold the sauce, and you’d invariably get the question, “Would you like fries with that?”

But where it’s ending is the road to exasperation, and it’s a dead-end street. If retailers find themselves suffering, perhaps it’s time to direct the blame away from the now-distant GFC and aim it instead at their own needy, desperate, and increasingly silly tactics.

I went to the Body Shop the other day, looking for a spare hand and a new foot. Phnar phnar – no, I was after a small tube of moisturiser that only the Body Shop sells. That’s it. That’s all. I was in a hurry and just wanted to get all wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am on it – in, purchase, out, and escape. The man’s version of shopping, if you will.

Only the Body Shop, damn it, wasn’t having a bar of that. They got me in verbal handcuffs and they did not want to let go.

Here’s how it went down.

“Greetings, retail minion. I want to purchase this small tube of overpriced moisturiser. Here is my credit card.Make it snappy.”

“Oh hiiiiiiiiiiiii,” simpers Retail Minion. “How aaaaaarreeeeee youuuuuu?”

“I am fine, thank you Retail Minion. I would return the question inquiring after your health, safety and wellbeing but firstly, we are not acquainted and secondly, I am on a mission to acquire this small tube of overpriced moisturiser as quickly as possible.”

“Nowwwwww … do you have a Body Shop card on youuuuuu?”

“No, Retail Minion. There is no card. Please hurry.”

“Ohhhhhhhh … would youuuuu like to sign up for one?”

“No, Retail Minion. I am not needing your card. Just this small tube that promises to make my life better.”

“Nowwwww … would youuuuuu like to sign our petition … to save the fluffy bunnies in Mongolia? They are suuuuuuuffering, the bunnies. They suffer so. We weep for the bunnies.”

“No, Retail Minion. I want this small tube. Take my money, Retail Minion.”

“Nowwwwww … would youuuuuuu like to go on our maaaaailing list so we can keep you up to date about the suuuuuuuuffering bunnies in Mongolia?”

“No, Retail Minion. Make it snappy.”

“Nowwwwwww … would youuuuu like a baaaaaag with thaaaaaat? Is there aaaaaanything else? Would you liiiiiike a sample of some cleanser? A yoga session? We could hold hands and sing Kumbaya?”

“No, Retail Minion. Give me the moisturiser, and back away slowly.”

(Actual conversation may have been slightly different.)

Shopping, even if you know exactly what you want and where you’re going to get it, has become an exercise in the same realm of painfulness as a Justin Bieber album on repeat play. Of course, some retailers are more guilty than others; the Body Shop is probably an extreme example in terms of the number of hoops they want you to jump through when you’re making a purchase. But the rigmarole is excessive and unwieldy – and a deterrent to shoppers of the speedy variety.

And if one more Retail Minion coos at me, a tube of overpriced moisturiser is going to go where the sun don’t shine.