I was pretty surprised to see myself on top of the first #MileMadness leader-board, I guess I managed to sneak in just enough of those gift cards at Office Max to keep up with the cool kids. Still I guess I was even more surprised to see some of the reactions on blogs and on Twitter. It appears some were expecting to see magic new tricks never revealed before on how to increase your MS. I am not sure how realistic this is. I often get asked by people “how do you scale up?” and the simple answer is you do everything the same, you just do a heck a lot more of it. So yes you spend a lot of time running between grocery and pharmacy stores, or asking friends, relatives and random strangers on the street if you can open Bluebird accounts in their name. And yet I think there is one simple “magic trick” that everyone can use that will significantly improve their success rates in manufactured spend.
This one is particularly useful for those of you who have trouble convincing a store clerk to sell you a gift card using a credit card, or let you use a gift card as a debit card to buy a money order. It is so simple anyone can do it – at least in theory. So what is the magic??? Always say “Please” and “Thank You“. That’s it!
I am guessing I lost a lot of you at the end of that paragraph, and those grumpy miserable souls who I did lost will continue to run into problems with their big attitude. Ironically I think it’s likely the same people that have been complaining about the lack of magic tricks. But I genuinely do not mean this flippantly. In fact I am very purposeful in having good manners. I’d like to think I have decent manners in general, but I tend to exaggerate it in this game as it is an extremely disarming tool. Cashiers are naturally nervous and suspicious when you want to buy several thousand dollars worth of gift cards or money orders in one transaction. Anything you can do to relax them is going to help you succeed rather than walk out empty handed.
Let me give a real life example. Last week while I was out West having a great day with fellow contestant MilesPointsAndMaiTais, and later in the evening we hit up a WalMart to unload some of those goodies we’d picked up en route from OfficeMax. We both ended up using different cashiers and I was with a supervisor who was having a lightly heated debate with a co-worker about some kind of problem. So I was getting the “authority” figure and she was already edgy from dealing with some problem. So I asked to buy a money order for $799.75 and that I’d like to split the payment four ways. And then I paused – deliberately – and said “… please“. I then made a joke about how I always teach my kids to say please and thank you so I should make sure I do the same myself. I got a full on smile from the lady serving me. Now don’t get me wrong this was a friendly Walmart anyway, but now I am cruising, and after finishing up my first batch I manage to do another batch, and then finally I get to do a couple more $1k’s on a regular miles-earning debit card (off the books for the competition), but now I have a highly co-operative cashier I am going to milk it for all I can. I have had plenty of similar situations where I have started off with a highly skeptical cashier and ended up all smiles and thank-you’s.
So always remember, no matter how frustrated you might be at your lack of success, things will work out much better if you always Keep Calm and remember to say Please and Thank You.
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