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Saturday, August 24, 2013
MEDIA mogul Oprah Winfrey’s much-publicized shopping experience in Zurich which escalated into an international incident brings back unpleasant memories for me.
No, I was not in Zurich. No, I am not anywhere near Oprah’s billionaire league. No, I was not shopping for a USD$38,000 Tom Ford bag. Truth to tell, I wouldn’t have the courage to step into these boutiques. I confess I am afraid to be told I cannot afford anything in these shops. And they would be speaking the absolute truth.
The question is, is this good, even acceptable customer service?
A few months back, I found myself in the Louis Vuitton shop in Dubai where I witnessed a rather unsavory incident.
A lady walked into the shop. She was simply dressed, was wearing no jewelry and was carrying a non-designer bag. In brief, she didn’t look like she could afford anything in the shop.
Still, she confidently walked towards the shelves and asked a sales attendant to see a bag. The attendant, with some hesitation, handed the bag on the shelf to her. The lady then decided to see another bag. This time, the sales attendant gruffly told the lady that she would go to the backroom and get another piece because she didn’t want to get the one on display dirty.
The lady patiently waited for the sales attendant to come back. Upon the sales attendant’s return, the lady decided to look at other bags as well.
You could now see visible signs of irritation on the face of the sales attendant.
After a few minutes, the lady decided to buy one of the bags shown her. The sales attendant looked surprised. She told the lady the price of the bag in dirhams. The lady confirmed she was buying the bag. But the sales attendant remained unconvinced. She took out her calculator and said the price out loud in US dollars obviously to make sure there was no confusion. The lady still said yes.
The lady then quickly scanned the shelves for other bags and then told the sales attendant she wanted three of the bag she had earlier chosen.
This time, the sales attendant looked shocked. She repeated, “Three?” The lady answered in the affirmative.
Out came the little calculator again and this time, the sales attendant said out loud in a very firm voice how much the total price of the three bags were in dirhams as well as in US dollars. The lady nodded her head.
It was then when the sales attendant’s attitude dramatically changed. Her face lit up like a light bulb when the lady mentioned she was buying the bags as gifts. She quickly showed the lady the new luggage collection which had just come in. Gone were the signs of irritation. She was now all smiles. A completely different person. She started chatting up the lady like she was her new best friend.
Wow…what a difference money makes.
From Zurich to Dubai, we all get judged by shopkeepers who should really think a hundred times before they do. It doesn’t have to be about race.
But snobbery still abounds. It would augur well for salespeople to know that some people don’t look the part but they can actually buy the entire store.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 25, 2013.