#923: Resisting the hard sell

I can’t stand a hard sell in any kind of store, even less in a clothing store, and especially in a children’s clothing store. This past weekend, that’s exactly what I went through. And while I left that store internally fuming, I was glad to have made the discovery that I have a daughter who is a smart and nice shopper.

I don’t know if all Please Mum stores are operated like this (and I hope to find out, if they respond to my “feedback” letter), but the one near us was absolutely appalling in its level of excessive attention to customers. And by “excessive”, I mean a high-pressure sales tactic. It started with both employees approaching us to tell us of the store promotions—not a big deal in itself, but I did note with amusement the look of annoyance that Employee #2 shot Employee #1 when I told her, “Yes, we know. Your co-worker just told us all that.” (“Oh, she did, did she?”) Employee #2 then proceeded to tag along behind us in the store, in the hopes of getting us interested in much more than the long-sleeve t-shirt for the Boy, which was all that I intended to purchase.

“Would you like to look at pants? We also have matching short-sleeve tees. How about raincoats? Hats? Socks? No one needs winter coats?”

No matter how much I declined, she kept at it. But the thing that bothered me most was that she talked directly to the Boy and asked him if he wouldn’t like to try on a nice t-shirt with a picture of a moose, or a bear, or something about grandpa on it. In my opinion, it’s not an acceptable sales tactic to turn to a child—after you’ve already attempted, and failed, with the parent—and entice him into trying on a product.

The only thing we wanted. Not matching pants, raincoats, hats, or socks . . .

When we left the store, with a lone boy’s long-sleeve t-shirt purchased, I remarked to the Girl, “Did you notice what a hard sell they were doing on us in there?”

“I know,” she replied. “That’s why I had that denim jacket on. The lady kept pushing it towards me, and told me to try it on, and I didn’t want to sound arrogant and say, ‘No, I don’t need that.’ So I tried it on to make her happy.”

Ah, now it made sense. I had thought that it was out of character for my girl to ask for a mirror to see how the jacket looked, she not being the type to walk into a store and ask for things, let alone grab something off the rack and preen in front of a mirror with it. She had done it to be polite to the pushy saleswoman, and in the end, had simply returned the item with a sweet, “No, thank you.” (She had certainly been more polite than I, who after two firm statements of not wanting to provide my e-mail address and not wanting to receive promotional mail, had to finally end the salesclerk’s entreaties by supplying a fake address.)

While I know that I certainly will not be walking into that store again, I did gain something positivie out of that experience. I learned that my girl can walk into a hard sell and not be sucked into buying something that she didn’t want. I liked how she was polite about it, and at the heart of it, had a notion of sparing the feelings of someone who was trying to do her job. Most of all, I loved how she could fake the whole thing, by looking in the mirror and saying what was required of her, but then confounding the pushy salesperson by not being the whiny, materialistic, gimme-gimme-gimme child that I’m sure that salesperson was depending on. I hope that my baby continues to be a responsible and smart shopper like she has shown herself to be on this occasion.