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Published November 25th 2012
Don't let a sales person ruin your shopping trip
When out shopping, we usually focus on the sales, discounts, and other cut backs on the original price in order to get good deals. There is also the matter of timing—when prices are reduced and when club members are invited to secret sales before the doors are thrown open to the public. Expert shoppers have even been known to be able to zero down to the specific time of the day when you get more for the dollar. While these are certainly important factors, there are a couple of other aspects that may help you get better deals.
Developing a personal relationship with a sales clerk Dear Lizbeth, as a valued customer blah, blah, blah….and so on and so forth goes the newsletter making it sound like they really want to give me a good deal and that I'm one of a very select group that they have these warm feelings for. So the chosen one picks up her handbag and goes to the store. But she is greeted with indifference and has to elbow her way through a mob of similarly 'chosen' ones who apparently come with a black belt in shopping. And so not finding any of the goodies promised in the newsletter she goes home and sulks.
I found the solution to this scenario purely by luck. Kate is a sales assistant in an apparel store in Northlands shopping centre. I hit it off with her the first time I met her for the simple reason that she's a nice human being. Now when I hit the store she gives me all the help I need. If I like something and it's on full price, she winks and tells me to wait a couple of weeks. Even if the place is crowded, she walks up to me and we have a friendly conversation as she tells me what's what and where it's at. It goes both ways; this shop has 70% of my custom solely because of Kate.
Even if you don't know them personally, smile, look them in the eye as you speak, and even lightly touch them on the back of their hands if it comes naturally, and you'd have made it personal.
Dressing for the occasion From all my years of shopping, I've found this one simple rule that's simply golden. If you're shoe shopping, wear your good upmarket shoes. Sales assistants always glance at your footwear and size you up to gauge and slot you. If they see you wearing expensive shoes, they figure you know your shoes and will circle around waiting to help. On the other hand, if you walk in wearing smelly sneakers, they'll take one look at you and then proceed to ignore you. Same goes for clothes, jewellery, and bags. Walk in there Gangnam style and they'll decide you need to be treated with respect.
I have a friend who is the soft-spoken, non-assertive type. She wanted to get her mother a Swarovski bracelet for her birthday, saved up for it, and went to the showroom. She was sold a display piece that was obviously not fresh. She was assured that it was the absolute last piece in the shop and there was no hope of getting a fresh piece any time soon. She bought it but was terribly disappointed. Knowing I'd written a review on this store, she mentioned it to me.
We decided to go check just in case there was a new one. Lo and behold, there was indeed a new one displayed. We spied the jackass who'd lied to her and cornered him. He didn't recognise her probably because this time she was dressed up and the two of us were in our high heels towering over him and bathed in Estee Lauder. I was sporting a Swarovski necklace and the minute he saw it he welcomed us like I was his favourite aunt. Long story short, I faked an interest in the bracelet and asked if he had a fresh piece, which of course he did and tripped over his own legs to go find. My friend mentioned her recent visit and he looked like he wanted his mommy. He started to deny it and we took him apart like a wishbone. He apologised, exchanged the piece, and offered the complimentary journals which he had also "forgotten" to give her earlier.
Knowing about the product If you're on the market for expensive stuff like electronics or home appliances do a bit of research to get an idea of what's best for you. Years ago I was in the market for a laptop. I knew how to use one but was totally clueless as to technical aspects. I walked into the shop and a friendly looking individual came waddling up to me asking if he could help. "I'm looking for a laptop," I said sounding like Maroon 5. He proceeded to show me a few rattling off technical data like he was talking about the weather. On seeing I didn't understand a word he pointed to one and said he'd highly recommend that.
At that stage the one thing I knew was that the Celeron processor was being phased out because it was slow and Intel was all the rage. I saw the one he'd recommended so highly as being perfect for my needs had a Celeron processor. But not having the nerve or the knowledge to contradict him, I walked away confused and not knowing what to do.
That was a steep learning curve and now I know RAM is not a kind of sheep or a bank. You don't have to be an expert on the topic. But being able to ask at least three good questions will keep the snake oil salesmen guessing. You can get these questions from any forum on the topic online.
This works like greased lightning. Even if you're not dressed up, you can get attention and good service if you throw your shoulders back, suck your guts in, walk with confident strides, and speak up in a slightly louder than usual tone of voice. On the other hand, if you slouch, mumble, or walk in looking like you're in two minds about it, you probably won't get the time of the day from them. While I would stop short of saying you need to be snooty, it is the snooty, loud ones that get served while the soft-spoken, unassuming souls wait it out. Draw a balance between the two and it is bound to go well.
Long time ago, when people used to actually shop at David Jones, we were there checking out the winter coats on the top floor. There was a camel coloured one apparently made from real camel fur and it felt lovely. We asked the salesperson what material it was and she replied, "Oh, that's $2500" like it didn't matter at all as she was certain it didn't blip on our radar. To this my friend replied, "Is your name David Jones?" "Certainly not!" she replied and my friend said, "Didn't think so, but you act like it is." And we walked away giggling like school girls.
So, that's it. These four tips may turn the tide in your favour when dealing with difficult service. If you have any of your own, do share.
What a fantastic article! I generally have quite good experiences with sales clerks but sometimes have the misfortune of meeting the snooty, slimy kinds and it completely ruins my day. I'll definitely be arming myself with these tips when I go shopping today (dressed in jeans and flip flops, no less!)