Authorities Vs. Pawns and Free Market Shops

Posted: Mar 19, 2024   3:50:47 AM   |   Last updated: Mar 19, 2024   3:50:47 AM
by Pascal-Denis Lussier

Fence and sun

I was in a pawnshop last Thursday, wanting to unload a DVD and blueray player, along with one of the three high-def computer screens I had that fell within the minimum specs they require in order to screw you on the value.

Yeah, I get it… it’s how its goes; business, and all that.

Plus, if things had gone as I’d originally intended, per the initial deadline, that was it, I’d have been gone, the keys on the counter, and selling those at a higher price no longer relevant whatsoever.

However, as I write this, doing so in a world where I sold my other two monitors, left to the one on my laptop (19” and touchscreen, at least), I do regret the $20 I got for the one at the pawnshop, though it’s the same price I ended up selling the other two, anyhow.

The real issue, and a torturous one it is: Going from four screen to one so quickly… I feel so naked and incapacitated.

That. One screen. It’s gotta be the epitome of poverty. Maybe.

I’m not sure about other parts of the world, but I know that new regulations have been continually imposed on pawnshops, the police now tightly linked to many aspects of their business and certain policies have been created to enforce periods wherein goods can’t be resold, abolishing any difference between “loan” or “sale”, and some goods require proof from the police that a verification was done and the good isn’t reported stolen.

And there’s hardly any independent pawnshops left, most belonging to a chain or other. And all are puzzling entities when one considers how these businesses tend to be run and how little effort tends to be placed on the sales and promo end, ditto display and fixtures and thematic or seasonal rotations to attract regular bargain hunters and similar, à la Winners. Also striking are the missed opportunities that ought to readily discernable with the higher ups if a chain—being the Office and Data System's Manager for a 1-800-GOT-JUNK franchise made me aware of several facets behind the 'junk' and recycling business, and of a major overlap that exists that pawnshops don't exploit and absolutely should, which I won't say publicly as I've oft been tempted to pitch it privately, though I'm not sure it's a world I really want to play any meaningful role in. And, no, rerouting goods that were picked up is already something that's exploited at the employee end of 'junk removal' companies ("junk" is a misnomer of sorts in many instances), and not at all what I have in mind.  

It's a special type of business that, generally, attracts a special kind of customer, and I’ve no doubt that this explains why, in many such places, ‘customer service’ is given no consideration and the staff receives no training; you’d swear that some are encouraged to see all their ‘patrons’ as deplorables and/or drug addicts and to serve them with whatever disdain they believe is deserved. 

All the refinements and etiquettes of good service are far from guaranteed, like, simply, acknowledging a customer's presence when they come in, the clerk letting them know that they'll be taken care of when they're free / done with the current customer. Nah. If already busy, the guy behind the counter doesn't even make eye contact or shift gear, no matter how long a line up may form; he takes his sweet ass time, casually researching the lowest price that can serve as the basis for the low percentage offered on goods, or he stands by—if not sitting—and focusses on watching a customer check out something they're considering buying rather than letting that customer do their thing as the clerk performs a quick triage, asking what each person in line wants to then provide immediate help or reassure all of a short delay, squeezing in a straightforward, quick-in-and-out transaction while that other customer is testing that thing... But, sadly, multitasking isn't an expected or necessary skill if a pawnshop clerk, it seems; if it takes 20 mins to casually do a 5 mins job, then don't expect a hello before 21 mins, and only if you're next in line.

Talk about adding insult to injury. I don't know what the percentage is, but there's no doubt in my mind that people with some sort of addiction represent  

In such circumstances, I've found that most people don't care so much about who was next per any "first-come" priority, so long as 'things are moving', and anyone who's behind in line that may get served ahead of them doesn't involve anything that's more demanding or bound to take longer than what their own turn is likely to take.

Interestingly, an event like COVID established that pawnshops provide a vital service for many, which is why they, like grocery, pharmacies, and liquor stores, were, for the most part, considered necessary establishments during lockdowns.

Depending on the situation one is in, it provides a source of quick cash at rates that are a bit better than that of credit cards, and, regardless of the reason, sellers are what make buyers possible, hence, without the need that the service answers, clerks who look down on their clients wouldn't have a job from which to do so, and I fail to see highly-respectable and productive citizens in those who happen to clerk in such 'shops'. Keep in mind that, as in all else, there are exceptions, and it's a subset that, nonetheless, based on what I've seen, is typically well represented within that milieu.

Really upsetting in all of this are those online sellers one eBay, Amazon, or other, who offer a ridiculously low price on an item simply to outrank all, and attract the most, but charge an absurd amount on shipping and handling, making the item no cheaper than the average price several times higher than their bogus 'low, low price'. E.g. The average price for Widget W-X2100 in like-new condition is $40 plus and average of $10 for shipping depending on where one lives, but one or two quirky-looking places sell Widget W-X2100 for $9.96 but charge $48 for shipping. They don't pay $48 for shipping; they pay the $10 and pocket the rest, bypassing higher fees and certain withholding periods on the bulk of the payment that ends up not transacting through the platform, only the $9.96 being submitted to such.

However, for pawnshops, well, there you go, that's what the item is worth, $9.96, justifying the offer of a dollar for an item that, in reality, will cost at least $50 for anyone to have that item, in hand. You point this out, and the reply is: Yeah... but we don't care about shipping; that doesn't concern us. We just look at the price you can buy the item for.

Which earns: OK, but if you want the item, that's not the price you're going to pay; that low price is just a ploy...

And round and round it goes. Don't bother; poor logic almost always accompanies poor customer service.

•       •       •

As I waited my turn last Thursday while at the local pawnshop, a black fellow was pawning a gaming headset and controls, offering all sorts of excuses and reassurances as he kept asserting that he was going to be back as he moaned all kinds of gripes about the cost of living, all whilst also revealing that he spent far too much time playing online and that his girlfriend better not find out that he got money by pawning those things.

He then cursed the times, commenting how the whole economy is tanking and Canada is heading down the crapper before blaming his situation on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet's mission to destroy Canada's economy to better control us all. It was high time he stepped down so Pierre Poilièvre could take over.

"Oh, god! Please don't be so ridiculous," I blurted out, unable to contain myself. "It's global; there's more than conservative idiocy and Trudeau clashing in the world."

"Oh, you're one of those; you get all your news from mainstream media, and that's why you can't know what's really happening," he returned. "They lie to you."

What came next, of course, was a mention of the WEF and Klaus Schwab, and leftist liberals being Commies, and Canada now turning into a toilet ever since Trudeau came into power, because, before Trudeau and the Liberals came into power nine years ago, things were pretty good before COVID, food was that expensive not too long ago.

Sigh. A real genius.

What really disturbed me was his level of certainly, which didn't even offer the slimmest opening for anyone to jam some good sense in there and open up a valid discussion. All he could offer was a solid stream of rightwing xenophobia and immigrant-based bigotry wrapped around Culture War talking points he strung together as if doing so conferred a hidden meaning on the whole that brings enlightened people to some truth.

The guy sounded nuts. And just plain ignorant and gullible when he waved away the effects of the ongoing conflicts and of the failed and backfiring sanctions, pointing out how little I understood, for the real problem in Canada, killing farmers as we speak, is Trudeau and his government's obsession with their "carbon thing... carbon pricing... or is it taxing? His carbon taxes, that's it." 

Not only did the guy display the rightwing I've-no-clue-but-I'm-opposed-to-it attitude that's typically seen whenever certain things may demand that all work toward a change, but he then summed it all up in a manner that was to be expected: imposing Wokeness on all to push their global takeover plan is what's at the root of the evil the world now faces... in Ottawa.

"Of course! there's it is!" I snapped. "Woke is the problem; identity issues are why we should have nuked the world tens years ago. You're a brainwashed mess if you think an asinine Culture War is responsible for where we're heading."       

"Ah-ha!," he yelled. "Who said anything about the Culture War? People like you are always looking to go there; I never even mentioned anything about Culture War stuff. Not a thing, so why do you bring it up?"

The clerk, who initially sided with the black man, opened his mouth, mumbled a few words as he realized the stupidity of what the other man was saying, then pressed his lips together and lifted his hands to signal that he was no longer involving himself in the discussion.

The discussion brought us right on the cusp of a really heated screaming match, which neither of us seemed to want to have, as the tension was instantly deflated through curt, conciliatory remarks offered simultaneously, but just to close the matter, and not in any show of acceptance toward the other's position.

On the bright side: Be happy, USA. That one, he's our moron, not yours. So he can't vote for Trump (nor Biden).


Posted 2 months ago  Last updated: Mar 19, 2024, 3:50 AM


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