When it comes to gadgets, my wife doesn’t often make quick decisions.
She researches. She asks questions. She goes to see the products.
Then, she goes away and thinks about it.
Regular readers — what is wrong with you? — will know that my wife intended to upgrade from her Samsung Galaxy S20 to an S22. Because that’s what a lot of people do when they’re in the mood for a new phone.
Upgrade to the latest version of the same thing.
The story so far
But, when she went to a Verizon store a while ago, Samsung’s folding phones had been placed next to the S22 range, at the very back of the store. This rather flipped her mind.
She stared longingly at the Z Flip 3. She considered its beauty and its throwback qualities. She wondered whether the crease in the middle would become a distraction. She pondered whether to get a black one or, in a fit of daring, go for a color.
And then she decided to leave the store. To think about it, you understand.
That was back in April. Since then, she didn’t mention much about the Z Flip 3. Somehow, never having seen anyone sporting one, the subject had been forgotten.
A couple of weeks ago, though, she turned and said something extraordinary: “There’s a new one, isn’t there?”
I looked up from a random third division sporting event on my laptop and said: “A new what? A new British Prime Minister?”
“No, a new flip phone.”
She’d seen an ad. Perhaps Samsung had been following her around all this time, knowing that she’d once hankered slightly for a folding phone.
She still wasn’t quite sure about it, but she went again to a Verizon store, which welcomed her with open arms, as long as she could wait an hour or make an appointment.
She chose the latter and I went along with her to observe whether she’d finally go over to the Flip side.
Oh, it’s you. We’ve been waiting for you
It was as if Verizon has seen her coming.
Immediately we walked in, there was a purple Z Flip 4 at the front of the store, staring at her like a puppy in a rescue home. The Fold wasn’t there. It was the Flip they were definitely selling.
My wife instantly saw it and instantly admired it. This was just too easy, right? Verizon wasn’t going to let this chance go.
Within seconds, though, she was whisked away to meet her Verizon salesperson.
She explained she was interested in the Z Flip 4 and he carefully walked her through the attributes. The convenient size, the fact that the crease allegedly won’t split apart or even be noticeable and, inevitably, the astoundingly convenient way it helps you take selfies.
I can’t say my wife takes a lot of selfies. I can say, though, that she’s moved when an invention has a clever aspect. Hey, she’s a scientist.
I asked the salesman whether many people were buying the Z Flip 4. He said yes and explained that it mainly appealed to women because of its size. Yet when you open it, it’s actually slightly longer than my wife’s Galaxy S20.
“Why did my wife have to make an appointment?,” I wondered.
“You don’t have to,” he said. “But you could be waiting around for at least an hour before you can speak to someone.”
“An hour? Why?”
“We’re so short-staffed. We’re 70% down on our usual staff numbers. They’re actually bringing in people from 100 miles away and putting them up in hotels to help us out.”
The salesman wasn’t, however, in a rush. He let my wife play with the phone, open it, close it, open it again, scroll around on it. And yes, wonder what it would be like taking a selfie.
The gentle closing
It was as if the salesman was ready with one enticing item, ready to close the sale. He certainly was.
He looked at her account, revealed that the phone would only cost her a couple of dollars a month and then calmly said: “And then there’s all the free stuff.”
“Free stuff?” she wondered.
“Yes, you can get the buds, the watch and a tablet. All for free.”
I confess that even I was astounded by this. Verizon and Samsung were prepared to give away all this stuff, just to make my wife happy?
Did they have this great a problem with hardware sales?
It was all over, bar the handing over of a credit card.
My wife isn’t greedy. She chose the Galaxy Buds, as she has no real need of the other two offerings. Most excitingly, she chose purple buds and, yes, finally, a purple Z Flip 4.
The salesman carefully helped her port over her data. He showed her all the phone’s innards and the clever buds case. To my life-addled eyes, he did a perfect job of not merely selling, but pacing the sale.
In the days since she bought her purple Z Flip 4, my wife has stared lovingly at it. She feels it’s not quite a return of the past, as the flipping mechanism is much less springy than on an old flip phone.
She marvels at the better battery life, faster charging, hasn’t found the crease a problem at all, and is entirely enamored with her Buds.
She feels like she has a phone that’s patently different, a homage to the past and a break from the past. And yes, she’s starting to take a lot more selfies. (Of us, you understand.)
This truly is a very different — and marvelous — phone.
Wait, wasn’t Apple the one that always thought different? Oh, well. Perhaps Samsung just hasn’t always sold its points of difference so well.
But Verizon seems to be doing a decent job of it.
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