By Cliff Lee
“Do you have a Dexit tag? “Do you have a Dexit tag?” And just to make sure, “do you have a Dexit tag?”
If that sounds like a familiar refrain (thrice over), then you’ve probably met your neighbourhood Dexitman. Meet Matthew, John (who orginally told us his name was Jay because he doesn’t like being talked about), Amit, and team leader Nathan – they want to tell you something.
If you haven’t already heard, Dexit, a tiny white tag, is a new way to pay for your small purchases, like your daily coffee and donut. “If you drop some change while wearing low-rise jeans, leave it,” insists one of the many ads around Ryerson. Since frosh week, the sales team has taken up residence across from Starbucks in the POD60 Lounge.
Their goal? To make sure you sign up for a tag. For each one taken off their hands, a sales rep makes a $1 commission. And they have gone to great lengths to get that golden loonie from students.
Ali Campeau, a first year RTA student, was late for class when she saw her first Dexit sales stunt-a giant Dexit tag tormenting an equally giant coin. “You’re history!” she remembers the tag threatening. “I don’t know what they were doing, but it was funny and I laughed. But it didn’t make me want a Dexit tag,” says Campeau.
Kathleen Church, dressed in hot pink at a Ralph Lauren booth, had the opportunity of spending two days watching the Dexit crew work their magic. She bore witness to what she could only describe as “this weird robot dance” with “weird robot noises.” “It was awful,” says Church. “The Dexit guy was right in the middle of the hallway. He scared all the girls away.” Among the Dexitmen’s most frequently used strategies for baiting students was attaching chocolate bars to retractable keychains.
Once a student moved towards the Wonderbar-snap! You’re their latest catch. “We seriously have fun out here,” says Amit. “Most people think of us as students going around just working for Dexit. We can relate to them easily because we’re all fresh out of school.” However, students don’t always appreciate Dexit’s “fun” approach to the job.
Kryssy Oyagi, a first-year arts student, felt “attacked” when she was getting her student card. “They get really excitable and throw the promotion in your face so fast that you can’t get out of it,” she says. “We were just trying to promote the tag; show people it’s out there,” reasons Nathan. “And by doing that sometimes you have to raise a bit of a ruckus. “[Students] are trying to learn, and we’re just trying to do our jobs.”
But what is the Dexitman’s job? In the office towers of the financial district, they’re expected to dress and act more “professional.” They are instructed to be less in your face and more laid back with the business community. If they’re in a mall or food court, Dexitman is again expected to soften his sales pitch.
“People want to have lunch and not be bugged,” says their sales binder. But the gloves come off when Dexit arrives at Ryerson, York, and George Brown. “[Campuses are] much different than other locations,” advises page 42. “The campuses need very proactive sales representatives.
An in-your face attitude plays very well at these locations, because students respond to it.” “I hate Dexit,” responds Paul Jackson, a second-year arts student who walks by POD60 daily.
“Every day they’d ask if I want one of these tags and every time I used to tell them I’m just opposed to the idea. It was an inconvenience – I started to just say ‘no’ and walk by.”
John Corallo, director of ancillary services, asked Dexit on two occasions to scale back their aggressive sales tactics. “Some people may have found us intimidating or overbearing,” admits Nathan. He subsequently cut back his staff of seven to four. And told them to ask every few students, instead of every single one.
Last week, The Eyeopener reported RyeSAC President Dave MacLean took complaints about Dexit to vice president administration and student affairs Linda Grayson. The Dexitmen spent 20 minutes debating the newsbrief about the “Damned Dexit Dudes.” They don’t understand what issues students could have with them.
“What does that mean? That sales people are crappy people?” asks Amit. “I asked one girl, ‘How’s it going, do you use Dexit?'” remembers John. “And she goes, ‘I’m not interested in your Dexit. Get the hell away from me. Fuck off!'”
Some people were rude, but John just shrugs it off – he knows not to take it personally. Matthew insists a lot of people don’t even want a Dexit, and are totally against the concept.
“They’re still coming here just for the chocolate bar and we’re still giving it to them. That makes us pretty cool. I’m not gonna badger them. If they don’t want it, they don’t want it.” “A lot of people are judging a little too harsh,” John concludes.
Whatever issues there were, John and his co-Dexitmen won’t be here to face them. Now that their contract for the space has expired, our favourite POD60 Dexit crew are off to Union Station to politely ask if people have heard of them. In two months, they managed to give away 1000-1200 tags — below expectations, according to their head office.
“My staff worked their asses off,” says Nathan. “Even though sales were low, I couldn’t ask for any more. They did a great job.” There will still be a Dexit refilling station in Jorgensen Hall, although it won’t be the same without Amit, John and Matt.
But if you feel something familiar is missing in your life, and you’re not quite sure what it is, just ask yourself: “Do you have a Dexit tag?”