I once heard a car salesman explain that while he would make some concessions in the sale of a car, that when he got a customer who was driving the "hard bargain" that he would just tell the guy to fuck off. Even if he could drop the price a little more, or help the guy out with a free option or whatever...if he got the sense that the guy was going to be unreasonable he'd just end the sale and tell the guy to go buy a car elsewhere.
That surprised me. I just figured he'd do what he could do to make the sale. But when he explained it further he made a lot of sense. His thinking is that when you're dealing with a grade A certified asshole, the only way that you could possibly come out ahead was by cutting bait. There are some people, he explained, that no matter what you do for them they are dissatisfied. No matter how much you help them, they require more help. No matter how nice you are, they accuse you of being an asshole. And least and definately not least, no matter how much you drop the price they accuse you of ripping them off.
These people are rarely repeat customers and when they are it's the same no-money-all-hassle headache is was the first time. And forget about them passing along your name and helping you out with other customers. They probably don't have any friends and even if they corner someone and tell them about their car purchase, they'll bath mouth the dealer anyway.
I've taken that little story to heart and tried to apply it to other aspect of my life. Thankfully, this has come out handy in dealing with bicycle racers. Bicycle racers are the greatest concentration of anal retnetive, self-involved, pains in the ass ever assembled for one hobby. I've heard that dog show people and beauty pagent moms come close, but that's about it.
I had one guy who lives around here and who just had completed my metric century come up to me, " Did you know that part of the course wasn't marked ?"
me: " yeah I heard. They paved the road in that section after we marked it. If you got lost I apologize"
dork: " no, I didn't get lost..I had my cue sheet and the way was obvious. But I could have gotten lost. Someone else could have gotten lost."
me: " ok"
dork : " you know that the course should be marked at each of the intersections ?"
me: " uhhh, yeah. Obviously. I said that we had marked it, but it got paved over."
dork: " well most rides have the whole course marked. I mean, I didn't get lost, but it really should be marked. Hopefully no one will get lost. Maybe next year you can mark the course"
me ( now totally pissed off) : " hey that's great advice...next year we'll look into that.
dork: " good because it's good to mark the course...it helps when it's marked"
Sure enough in March I got an email from the guy...." will the course be marked this year?".
I'm going to go out this week and draw little arrow in the road going off the edge of a friggin cliff.
For an upcoming race that I'm putting on, it's already begun. " you're website doesn't give exact elevation gains " and " you don't have enough prize money" and " there needs to be another womens/masters/handicap/junior category" etc etc etc. Nevermind that I offer the best race, with the nicest ammenities for the cheapest price....somehow or anther my race sucks.
This year I have one answer that I cut and paste to every complaint.
" Thank you for not coming to my event "
and if they respond to that, I go wtih....
" You are now banned from my event for one year. Any subsequent correspondance regarding this matter will increase your ban by one year for every email sent "
It's gone pretty well so far. As of now, half the state of Maryland is banned through 2009.