No Really: I Want the Leather

In 1999, after I had been working full-time on True for awhile, I found I really missed having peers to chat with, as I did when I had a Day Job. So I started a little group of online entrepreneurs to network with.

One of the members, Anne Holland, the publisher of MarketingSherpa, which issues interesting marketing and advertising case studies to more than 147,000 readers (more than True? Hey!), shared a story with the group which she has graciously allowed me to repeat here:

My car died so last night I went to the VW dealership to get a new Beetle. The salesman (who according to the wall plaques was sales guy of the month for the past six months) repeatedly tried to talk me out of upgrades. Was I really sure I wanted the sunroof, the CD player, the heated seats?? Did I know these things cost more?

Finally when he tried to push me into cloth seats, I said, “It’s my new car and I want the leather, what is the problem?” He replies, “Why not try the leatherette?” I say, “Isn’t that vinyl?” He says, “Yes, but it’s much less expensive than leather.”

I finally said, “Do I look poor or something? Why won’t you sell me what I want? Do you think I can’t afford it?”

He just looks at me, and I look down: muddy jeans, sweater covered in dog hair, ponytail, no make-up, chewed nails…. Then I looked around at the guys in their suits all over the showroom. And I say, “You don’t understand, I own an Internet business.”

Then he let me get the leather. It will be here Saturday.

When I ran Anne’s story in the Premium edition on Monday, several readers wrote to say they were glad I got the leather. Take a look at my photo. I really don’t look like a gal with a ponytail that “should” wear make-up. Really

Anne, like me, just laughs when we hear people say the “dotcom meltdown” proved no one can make a living online. We’re out here. We may not be getting rich, but many of us can choose to get the leather seats.

2 Comments on “No Really: I Want the Leather

  1. Your note to pay attention to the details was, yes, humorous in itself. I remember a question posted on the Internet, how much should one tip his mailman at Christmas? You’d be surprised (or not) how many people said “At least 10%, if not 15%.”

    Of WHAT???

    I dunno about you, but I hold on to 15% of my junk mail to give her at Christmas. 🙂 -rc

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  2. In the 80’s I was trying to make a living as an illustrator. I didn’t know how to switch a computer on, let alone did I own one, so when I needed a photo of a luxury car to work from I rode around to the local Mercedes dealer, on my very old Honda (built from 2 scrap bikes & oddments of steel & aluminium — it really looked as if it was Noddy’s bike!). I parked up outside the main entrance, and ambled in, wearing a ripped well-worn patched-up leather jacket & patch jeans, army surplus boots, & my famous beard. I looked rough, but the salesman didn’t even blink: he showed me over several cars and encouraged me to book a test drive (I didn’t mention that I only had a 2 wheel licence at the time), found some brochures for me & was extremely polite. Although he may not have made a sale that day, he showed me a valuable lesson in reserving assumptions — and maybe one day I’ll be back to buy.

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