Blog: Leonie BarrieGallows humour

Leonie Barrie | 7 April 2009

Industry consultant David Birnbaum has sent in what he describes as “Some sick jokes” or “A little department store buyer humour suitable for periods of depression.” The challenge is to work out which of the following is made-up. 

A fellow is walking down the street and sees his friend Fred hitting his head against a stone wall. He goes up to Fred and asks: “Why are hitting your head against the stone wall?”
To which Fred replies: “Because it feels so good when I stop.”

That is definitely on the sick side. However, try this one.

Telephone call from children’s wear buyer to one of her best wholesale suppliers:
Buyer: “Do you know the pink ruffled party dress?”
Supplier: “Yes, you mean the one that is selling so well. Are you calling to place a reorder?”
Buyer: “No, not quite. I am calling to tell you that next Monday we are marking it down 50%.”
Supplier: “Are you crazy? This is a great selling style. Everybody wants one?”
Buyer: “Yes it is, and that is exactly why we are marking it down. We think that if the customers see they can have your dress at half price, they might also buy some of the crap that is not moving at all.”
Supplier: “This is insane. You are giving away my best style in the off-chance that you can get rid of your mistakes bought from my competitors.”
Buyer: “Yes, and the reason I am telephoning you is to ask for markdown money. After all it is not our fault that your styles do not sell at a profitable price.”

And this one:

Telephone call from buyer to supplier:
Buyer: “You will recall that three months ago when we placed our orders, we specifically told you that as a condition of sale, we wanted 15 days credit at your expense.”
Supplier: “Yes, and next Thursday when I ship the goods, I will be giving you 15 days credit, at my expense.”
Buyer: “That is the problem. We now want 30 days credit, at your expense.”
Supplier: “You can’t do that, I have a confirmed order.”
Buyer: “True, but we can reject your goods for poor quality.”
Supplier: “You cannot reject the goods for poor quality before I ship the goods.”
Buyer: “You are absolutely right, that would be unethical and we are an ethical company. It says so on our hangtags. We will not reject the goods for bad quality until next Friday. But why argue. If you do not have the funds to extend credit for the 15 days, we will do so on your behalf. We will of course have to charge you interest and regrettably the rate will be a bit high. After all, based on our conversation, you appear to have financial problems.

And this one:

Telephone call from supplier to buyer:
Supplier: “Is it true that our style 4675 sold out in 15 minutes?”
Buyer: Absolutely! I have never seen anything like it. We had a riot. Customers were fighting each other to buy your style. Customers came up to us with tears in their eyes begging us to telephone them the moment the new stock arrives.”
Supplier: This is great. I will get on to the Indian factory at once. I am sure that we can ship in three weeks. How fast can you give me your reorder?”
Buyer: “Three weeks is good. I am not saying it is not good. However, we were thinking more like end-May delivery.”
Supplier: “That is impossible. This is February. End-May is three and a half months away. Your customers want our style 4675 now.”
Buyer: “True, very true. But what you have to understand is that right now we are up to the ceiling with garments on the markdown rack. We have to move those goods before we can take in your style.”
Supplier: “But don’t you see if you receive this style in mid-May, nobody will want to buy them. You will wind up marking them down as well.”
Buyer: “True, very true. But what you have to understand is that is how we work, and we do know our business.

Remember Fred. Perhaps he was not so crazy after all. At least his pain will stop eventually. His was the only made-up story – the other three are all true.


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