Recently, I was reminded of an incident that happened back in my college days. It was 1995 and I was taking several marketing classes as I wrapped up my music business degree. One of my assignments was to gather some high-end product information and write a review. Sounded easy enough, right?
Little did I know I was about to get slapped down by sexism. Has this ever happened to you?
As the owner of a Corvette (a used 1979, cherry red one… queue the Prince cassette tape), I thought it would be fun to get some marketing materials on the latest Corvette models. All I had to do was go there and ask them, right?
So I drove my Corvette to the local Chevy dealership and stepped through the showroom door. It was semi-busy with activity but there were a few salesmen at their desks so I figured I could quickly ask one of them for some promotional materials and be on my way.
I approached the first desk and said hello. The salesman smiled and started turning on the charm. I made my simple request for a brochure or two and was asked to wait for a minute while he went to get it. Looking back, I have to admit that it puzzled me as to why he wouldn’t keep brochures at his desk, but maybe he just ran out of them.
A few moments later he returned to his desk with a glossy magazine style brochure in his hand and said “I’m sorry. I can’t just give you the brochure, but I can sell it to you.”
Hmm. Ok, well he is a car salesman and I can sort of understand them not wanting to just give away materials to someone who is clearly not going to buy a car from them right at this moment. What’s a couple of bucks to get my homework done, right?
Me: “How much?”
Car salesman: “$40.”
Me: “$40? For a brochure? Are you serious?”
Me: ”Umm. No. Thanks for your time.”
So I left.
I went home that evening and explained the assignment to my husband. He offered to go there the next day and ask them. I didn’t figure he would do any better than me, but if he wanted to do that, I wasn’t going to stop him. I said “Whatever you do, don’t buy one. I can find another product.”
The next evening as I was working on homework, my husband walks in and tosses not one but TWO Corvette brochures onto the table. “You got 2? How much did that set you back?”
Hubby “Nothing. He just gave them to me.”
Me: “He GAVE them to you?”
Hubby: “Yup. He also gave me this promotional video and this sticker.”
So yeah, mixed emotions fly at this point. First, I’m happy that I have what I need for my assignment and second I am seriously peeved that he could just walk in there and have whatever he asked for handed to him like it was candy.
Did he lie? Did he pretend like he was interested in buying a new car? Believe me, I grilled him. Surely, I missed a trick.
So how did it go down? He drove there in his Corvette (yeah we both had one) just like me and gave the salesman the same story… that he needed some promotional materials for his wife’s college project. Same exact story. Same scenario. The difference? Only our gender.
That was quite the eye-opener for me. How about you? Have you ever run into a situation like this?
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