Today I’m shopping at Fred Meyer when an announcement over the loudspeaker catches my attention.
“In two minutes, we’ll be giving away free products in the back of the store. Only one per adult customer. Remember, in two minutes…”
Not one to turn down free things, I decided to head to the back of the store with my 4 year old in tow. I was thinking it’d take but a minute to get my free things, and we could finish up our shopping.
I was skeptical when I noticed the back of the store had a display set up with mops, cleaners, and a mirror. Hmmmm. It reminded me of the Sham Wow demonstration booth at the fair, but hey, free stuff was promised, better stick around.
A gal who I shall refer to as the Presentation Lady dashed up to the booth saying she needed to make one final announcement and that she’d be back in “one second.”
“One second?!” my son skeptically exclaimed. Actually, if I had been smart, I would’ve taken the cue from my son that Presentation Lady may have a knack for exaggeration.
Presentation Lady told us we must come in close. We all came in close. No closer, she said. We came in closer. No closer still, she insisted. Apparently she wanted us all within arm’s reach. So she could easily hand us our free stuff, she explained.
She pulled out a bucket and told us that the first thing we were about to receive was truly very special. It’s a special kind of cloth that you can use to clean your glasses, CDs, electronics, what have you. She tells us such a cloth would retail for $5-7, but guess what. Today, just for us, it’s free. Not only that, it’s our “ticket” for a “special surprise” that only we will get. Because of course we are super special for being the first people to hear her talk and stand within arm’s reach of her. I try to use it to clean my glasses, but it doesn’t seem to do much.
I’m beginning to really wonder what the real surprise is at this point, and have a hunch I’m about to get snookered into watching a presentation first.
Presentation Lady tells us about these amazing towels that only require water to clean. They’re made by some intriguing company called Euro Clean. She messes up a mirror with hairspray, toothpaste, and hair gel. Then she demonstrates how her towel with water cleans it right up. Only it doesn’t. The lady next to me says, “hey it’s still smudged.” She’s right. It’s visibly worse than before she started. I’m getting impatient.
But I’m also curious because behind this lady are all kinds of mops and cleaning rags. Things that I could find some use for. I am hoping they are the free surprise that’s coming, so I put up with her.
Presenting Lady then asks my son to draw crayon on the floor so she can demonstrate her amazing Euro Clean mop. My son feels nervous about this at first, because crayoning up the floor is a big no-no in my house. Sure enough her mop removes the crayon from the floor. But we also know that stains freshly left are also the easiest to clean. I wonder about the crayoning my kids did on the wainscoting in my dining room a couple weeks ago that I’ve not removed yet….
Then Presenting Lady decides to do a little more exaggerating. She says how spendy paper towels and cleaning products are.”A roll of paper towels is usually about $1.50 – $2,” she cautions. “And Windex is $2 – $3 a bottle.” I want to interject that she is clearly delusional and/or not hip to using coupons, but I kept my mouth shut. I just want her to move along at this point so I can get my Secret Special Surprise that only I and the 10 other Special Fred Meyer shoppers have been chosen to receive.
Presenting Lady goes on about how her Euro Clean mop is superior to other mops, like a sponge mop. I wonder who even uses a sponge mop anymore? Do they even sell these in the stores? She then shocks her audience by saying using a Swiffer and refills will cost about $300 a year. OK. I’ll take your word for it, Lady.
I ask her how her mop is better than the steam mop I bought a couple months ago at Fred Meyer. It would seem to me my mop is doing more sanitizing since the water is steaming hot, I tell her. Well, this mop uses less water, she tells me. But of course, she tells me she’s never used a steam mop. Imagine that. But less water. Now that is something to consider. Good grief here I am wasting an extra cup of water to clean my floor. That little tidbit rocked my world.
Now comes the part where it’s clear Presenting Lady is wrapping up her little talk.
Get to it already! I’m thinking. Where’s my Super Secret Surprise? That and my son is so bored he’s untied one of his shoe laces and both of mine just to pass the time. I’m also beginning to wonder if we’re going to need a potty break soon.
Now she tells us there is a special deal. This mop is normally $39.95, but as a representative, she’s authorized to provide us – and only us – with a special deal of $29.95. No shipping or handling. Imagine that.
Even better, they have a – wait for it – buy 5, get 1 free – sale running right now. Why on earth one would need 6 mops or be stupid enough to gift them at the holidays is beyond me. At this point, Presenting Lady’s pitch is so infomercial I completely tune out. My brain is numb.
Until she mentions the surprise we’ve been waiting for TEN MINUTES to hear.
Our surprise was we get a couple of those amazing cleaning rags if we spend $29.95 and buy the mop.
Yes, that was the “freebie” I’d been waiting for. And at this point, I am completely furious. I am like the woman-in-the-YouTube-video-going-off-because-she-didn’t-get-coupons furious. And now I know exactly why she wanted us close. So we’d feel uncomfortable if we wanted to leave. It was a trap. At that point I’m too mad to care, so I do leave. I seriously grab my son’s hand and stomp off. Mad at this woman for deceiving me, and mad at myself for being deceived. The woman who made the remark about the mirror being smudged leaves too.
I’m stunned at how others are still standing around Presenting Lady. Were they paid to be there? I don’t get it. “Wake up, people! There is no freebie! You’ve been duped! Run for your lives!” I want to scream.
The moral of this story is this: If you see a demonstration for Euro Clean at your Fred Meyer or anywhere else, RUN. Do not be swayed by the lure of something free, being told you’re a special customer, or that good things are coming. I assure you nothing good is coming.
While that little presentation may have been a waste of ten minutes, I did end up with two things for free. A scrap of cloth (which did not clean my glasses properly, but may come in handy as a diaper wipe) and inspiration to write this post. So I suppose I didn’t entirely leave empty handed.
Photo credit Nicolas Raymond