Changing With The Enemy

— Tue, 11th November 2008 —

As if shopping wasn’t perilous enough, the bum economy has left us with a growing mob of desperate, groveling, manipulative sales associates to deal with. Material Interest explores this worrisome trend, and we’d like to suggest a few tips to handle these determined sales-men and -women:

• Don’t want to be “assisted?” Just say so. “Just looking, Thanks!” End of story.

• When entering and exploring an establishment, don’t act like a guest. Rather, act like you own the place and everything in it. Be a gentleman, of course, but don’t hesitate to feel fabrics, throw on jackets, and ask pointed questions. It’s the basic principle of asserted dominance, and clerks will respond with the appropriate level of submissiveness. 
• Find yourself seduced by an experienced sales clerk and the fine-knit patterns she’s pulling down from the shelves? Have a line or two prepared to kill the conversation: “Wow, nice, too bad I have to get back to work, thanks!” Or,  “Beautiful, this is definitely where I’ll be Christmas shopping next month, thanks!” 
• Unfortunately, the rule that you can’t trust a sales person’s opinion is doubly true these days. That’s not to say that every sales associate will lie through their teeth — just the vast majority of them. If you don’t trust your own eye, bring along someone whose opinion you trust. **And, always get a trusted second opinion when making a big purchase.**  
• Finally, use a clerk’s desperation to your advantage. We’re in a buyer’s market, so propose a deal or two, and see what happens. As long as you handle the negotiations like a gentleman, it can’t hurt.

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