Thursday, February 2, 2012

Please Don't Help Me

Whenever I go to a sale in a department store, I am besieged by falsely chipper salespeople who destroy my focus as I frantically grab four sizes of the same item to ensure a right fit. 

"Should I take these for you?" she oozes.  

"Not right now," I say distractedly, holding up the various skirts to see which one will be long yet flattering enough. 

"OK, but if you need help, my name is Amy."  

"Uh-huh, yeah, sure." The 8. I'll stick with the 8. 

She re-materializes not five minutes later, while I'm debating whether the jacket in my hand hand has a distinct belly-concealing peplum or if it is just too long.  

"How about now?" 

GO AWAY!

After four more reminders of her existence, I give in and hand over my precious hoard. Of course, when I return to her lair to reclaim them, she barely looks at me. I wait a half hour for a dressing room, while she coos insincere compliments about my patience.

I would also be more impressed with this so-called customer service if, when coming back three days later to the same floor to return an item, a salesperson would actually be there to take care of it. But it seems they have radar for returning merchandise, and the floor is deserted. I finally manage to detect an associate lurking behind a rack. She grumbles and angrily punches the keys as she processes the credit. 

The NY Times believes that it is because of the peaceful online shopping experience that buyers no longer want an over-smiling clerk bopping into their face as soon as they walk in the door. 

Since online clothing shopping does not work for me, I am not going to afford the internet credit for this, since: 
“At the department store, the beauty associate is on top of shoppers from the moment they walk into the section. In our studies, women often described them as ‘sharks’ or ‘vultures.’ ”
A customer’s attempt to get to an intended counter “becomes as planned and calculated as a military airstrike,” he added.
Amy, who obviously thought she had netted a tuna or spied some carrion, didn't even bother assisting once she was safely holding my selections hostage. 

But it was at a sale last year, while I was struggling with various shoes, a saleswoman quietly appeared by my elbow, cradling in her arms the boots of my dreams. 

"Thank you," I breathed. 

So rare is this divine shopping experience that I almost vowed to name my first born after her.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is a way to get the divine shopping experience, but it requires the same logistical planning as a smallish humanitarian operation.
1. Choose a store (max two) that you like and can meet MOST of your needs --Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom for me--and do a few fact finding missions. Wait for someone to help you HELPFULLY. In my case, I was shopping for sheva brachot outfits by myself, and trying to find a matching hair accessory for each one that I liked with my fall AND could put on by myself. I did not want to walk to the hair accessory section of Nordstrom each time (its downstairs) to try another one. Angelic saleswoman fetched and carried for me for the better part of two hours.
2. Ask Angelic Saleswoman for her card. They all have them.
3. Before shopping (this is the challenge) CALL Angel Saleswoman. Say "I'd like to come in on Sunday, are you in?" if she says no and you MUST go, go anyway, but not for divine experience.
4. Whenever possible buy something with her so she gets her commission from the sale.
5. Repeat.

Results of this-- someone who knows my size in any number of different brands, someone who never shows me a skirt above the knee or a dress without a shell or a sweater, someone who calls me if something I loved goes on sale, someone who reserves the large dressing room for me, someone who brings bottled water in the overheated store in December, and (the BEST part) someone who once used her employee discount so I could get a $500 dress for a bris in the family without feeling bad about it.

Princess Lea said...

Holy mackerel! That is impressive!

Then, remember the mace for when the scary salespeople try to get the way of your hand-selected personal shopper. "Back, I said!"

Wig Making Diva said...

Come to the UK! Sales people just don't do that here!! I don't know why... we just generally don't get that amout of assistance for some reason.

Princess Lea said...

I've been to the UK! Although they seemed very "friendly" at the stores I went to . . .