Thursday, March 23, 2006

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Frugal for Life posted a link to a story entitled "Well-Dressed Women Get Better Service at Clothing Stores." How well-dressed you are is one indicator of your status, and how much money you have to spend. Makes sense, right? But so not true! If any of you have read the Millionaire Next Door, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Okay, a bit of a rant. But a few years ago, my friend (let's call her Justine) and I went to The Bombay Company store because she wanted to buy a birthday present for another friend. There was an older woman standing just inside the door, ostensibly to greet people and welcome them into the store. When Justine and I opened the door, she gave us the once over, and then pursed her lips. No 'hello', no 'welcome to Bombay Company'. Okay, then. Justine and I did a quick loop around the store and then walked out without buying anything.

'Did you see the look that woman gave us?' Yeah. Totally rude. I'm never going back to that store.

Admittedly, Justine and I were dressed fairly casually. She was wearing jeans and a nice sweatshirt. I was wearing jeans and a leather jacket. And admittedly we weren't wearing makeup, and we both look younger than our age. But here's the kicker. At the time, Justine was an auditor at a large consumer products company, and I was an associate in private practice at a large law firm. Could we afford to buy something at Bombay Company? You do the math. Justine was ready to make a purchase that day. But based on the treatment we received, she decided to take her business elsewhere.

In contrast, when I was in graduate school, I needed to buy an interview suit. So, at a friend's suggestion, I went to Nordstrom. I was wandering around the petite section, looking hopelessly lost and confused, when an older saleswoman came up to me and asked me if she could help me find anything. I told her I was looking for a black suit, one that I could wear on multiple interviews. But nothing too trendy or expensive. She sized me up with one look and then found two suits for me, both of which were very much on sale. After trying on both suits, I decided to go with the cheaper one. When she finished ringing up my purchase, she gave me her business card and told me to call her if I ever needed to buy another suit. Again, I didn't have any makeup on, and I was in student attire. You can be sure that I went back to Nordstrom and looked for that saleswoman after I graduated from school and entered the workforce.

The moral of the story is that appearances can be deceiving when it comes to wealth and purchasing power.


franky said...

So very true. There loss, not yours.

franky said...

Make that, their loss, sorry, I can't write.

Jane Dough said...

Ugh! I hate when things like that happen. However, I always try to excuse the behavior of the person who dissed me. Maybe she has corns and her feet were killing her that day. Maybe she just chased a pack of disruptive leather wearing youths out of the store and thought you and your friend were part of the gang. Maybe she is just a mean and bitter woman who at an advanced age has realized life stinks and you and your friend happened apon her in that moment of awakening.

In other words - who really knows why people behave the way they do. Sorry you and your friend had a bad experience. But blaming the store for one employees bad attitude seems a big extreme.

Just saying is all...

IRA said...

Sigh. The rational part of my brain agrees with you. The less rational part...well..I still do an involuntary sidestep whenever I walk past that store. But as my brother would say, I probably need to just get over it. If the same thing had happened at Target, I'm sure I would've just shrugged it off as a random incident.

Gigi said...

That's when you want to go back and have a Julia Robert moment from Pretty Woman when she goes shopping on Rodeo Drive.

By the way, I love Nordstroms (when I make it there). I also received excellent service buying a suit and even had them fix the hems for me in less than a day.

mapgirl said...

Last time I checked, my money was the same as everyone else's. When I worked retail we had a quota. I didn't care. If you were ready to buy, I was ready to sell. That's the proper attitude of a salesperson.

I love Nordstrom's. One of my favorite pick me ups was to go into the San Francisco Nordstrom's on my meager salary and just try stuff on. The Donna Karan purple label suits were my favorite. There was no way I could afford it, but I'd get the numbers and tell them I'd have my mom buy it for me tax free in PA. (0% vs 8.25%, not insignificant on $2000) I liked that they would always treat me like a paying customer because someday when I could afford it, I'd be back to buy it. Nordstrom's has great service. When a friend complains about it, I tell them to talk to a manager right away. Nordstrom's has wonderful service and you should expect that from ANY of their departments.

Sorry to hear that Bombay Company wasn't so great. I know that at airlines, I get better service if I'm dressed like a business traveler, but I can't wear a suit on X-country flights.

Single Ma said...

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!! I don't blame you for leaving Bombay without buying anything.

There's too much competition for any retailer to NOT be on their A-game. I don't care if it was Walmart, Target, or any other big retail giant. If I feel mistreated, then I aint buying there!

Furthermore, an employee represents the company, especially when they work directly with the public. Yes, we all have bad days, but if you're not feeling well, then stay home!!

I work hard for my money and I REFUSE to give it to ANYONE who doesn't treat me with courtesy.

BTW, I luv Nordy's too! Their clearance racks are fabulous!