Ripping Off a Priest


Timeline: 1989.  Laptops are arm-numbing monsters.

Zenith had announced a new concept in computers, the "notebook" computer.  It was called the Minisport, and was not intended to be an "only computer", but rather designed as a minimal "field" computer, where work would be done, to be later dumped to the "big" computer on the users desk.  Neat concept.  The machine had a bizarre 2" floppy disk, a very small screen, very small keyboard, and the primary storage was a RAM disk.

When we were first told about the machine, Zenith told us as they expected it to sell VERY well, we were NOT to discount the machines at all (the computer industry is weird.  Dealers offer big discounts on parts they can't get.  Supply/demand, people?).  So, that's what we did.  We got fliers,  We waited for the crush of people lining up to buy this tiny little computer.

The first person to come in looking for the machine was a Roman Catholic priest, who ran out to our store the day he heard about the machine -- it was EXACTLY what he wanted.  We reluctantly explained the company policy on pricing, and he understood.  We took his name and number, and waited for the machines to show up.

When the first shipment arrived, we called the priest, and he hurried over to buy one.  He was the first person to buy one.

He was the only person to buy one at full list price.

In fact, as far as I am aware, until we started discounting the machine below store cost, he was the only person to buy one.

Zenith had goofed.  People were screaming for a small laptop, but they waited a full-function laptop, not a "second computer".

Zenith had goofed, and we ripped off a priest by selling him something no one else wanted, at full list price.

We all chipped in at the store to make sure this priest had service beyond anything he ever anticipated, and fortunately, he was pretty good natured about it.  We later gave him a very big trade-in on a significantly upgraded computer (one that had a tiny hard disk instead of the 2" floppy).  Don't quite know how, but we managed to keep him a happy customer.  We hope. After all, the guy has a friend in a very high place.


Copyright 2000, Nick Holland
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