The name Myles is forever tainted in my family. Ever since a flatmate with that name ripped me off to the tune of $10,000 a few years back, it has been difficult hearing the name Myles without wanting to damage something irreparably.
Myles Lambert is a con man and this blog post is intended not just as a memoir but a cautionary tale of what a sociopath can do to others, and a warning to anyone who comes across this charming Australian – last seen in Katoomba, NSW. He’s out there and doing this to someone else right now. He can’t help himself.
Part 1 – The Colleague
I first met Myles on level 6 of Myer – then, Grace Bros – where we were both retail workers. I bludged terribly in that job. I had a philosophy that I couldn’t convince anyone to buy anything they didn’t already plan to get. Not a good philosophy to go far in retail, but then, I didn’t want to. I wanted to interview rock bands, so that is what I did during my regular coffee breaks. It was all on the phone so no-one noticed.
Myles didn’t want to go far in retail either, but the most interesting part about him was that this charming, deep-voiced chain-smoker had the job totally nailed.
Myles was in cameras. And he did such a good job of selling cameras that he totally outclassed the elderly gentleman who had been there for decades and is still there to this day.
I started talking to Myles whenever I got the chance because he laughed at my sarcasm as if it was outrageously funny, and yet he had confidence in spades. He clearly respected people and could talk anyone’s language.
One day while on a break at Grace Bros, Myles told me he was negotiating a better salary package. He worked full-time so this was conceivable but the package he was asking for was not. Myles wanted $75,000/year.
Now, I had seen Myles at work. He could get a middle-class mum or dad to buy a better model camera than they wanted and they’d end up getting several extras they didn’t plan on buying. He was clever, not sleazy, just very savvy.
It didn’t surprise me that management loved Myles for his sales figures but his methods were, at best, odd. Typically, Myles would get customers over the line by giving them hefty discounts.
This was something we all did at times – mark downs were to be used at staff’s discretion – but his were extravagant. Cost price plus a few bucks.
(Before long, I was trying this method out too and sure enough it was never questioned until I reduced a HiFi system by about $300. Yes, we still made a profit, I reasoned. No wonder no one offered this casual any fancy salary package.)
Anyway, Myles had promised the Electrical manager that he could double their budget in six months and he said he had already spent the first month proving he could do it. He was on track and it was phenomenal.
Achieving that target would see his salary nudged to $50,000 – a 30% pay rise, at least. When that figure was agreed to, Myles waited a month then promised more and pushed for $75,000. The manager agreed and I was sworn to secrecy. If anyone else on our level knew that kind of salary was being handed out to a 21-year-old selling first-generation digital cameras and SLRs, not products known to draw millions, there would be a walk out.
It was astounding. He was cracking jokes with the manager who, despite the agreement, looked like he had found a goose laying golden eggs. And he had.
Myles could do any deal he wanted. It was the year 1999 and an early Sony Digital camera allowed you to put a 3.5inch floppy disc straight in the side. The shots were 640×480 pixels and grainy as hell but it was awesome and worth about $950.
One day, not long out from Christmas, Myles made his move. He had waited for the right time in the product cycle, hidden the box and the charger and then talked to the older camera salesman into selling it to him. Look, it’s the last one, it’s missing everything and I have cash. He got it for $90.
How do I know? He later sold it to me and late one day after the store shut he got me the charger.
But that’s not the weirdest thing. What happened to his $75,000? The manager agreed, he said, but then Myles had suddenly changed his mind. Myles was no longer interested. The thrill had gone.
Part 2 – The Housemate