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never judge a book by its cover...

April 25th, 2010 at 01:55 am

On Wednesday I was talking with our tattooist, L, and he told me a story that I immediately thought 'I HAVE to share this'. Big Grin
Some background information: L is mid thirties, not particularly rough looking but does have two arms covered in tattoos. He's smart and has a bunch of degrees, but likes the job he has now over anything he's done before. He also probably likes the money the job provides, as he can easily take in $4k a week or more, working less than 30 hours...

So he was telling me how he was looking at buying a new LCD tv, and after looking at a few places, went into a well known, high end department store and found they had a good range and prices. Asked a sales clerk for some information on energy ratings and HD, to which the sales clerk goes 'Oh, yeah. I'll see.' Walks over to the desk, chats for about five minutes to another sales clerk, stops to ask another couple if they were right, to which they reply 'We're just looking' comes over with a sheet of paper and hands it to L saying 'Here', and then walks off, thinking L was a timewaster. (And this is a store that's meant to pride itself on customer service). The sales guy walks right over to the couple who are clearly just looking around and asks them again if they need help, which they don't. L had $2k in his pocket in cash and was going to buy a TV right then, but he walked out instead.

I experienced the same thing in a furniture shop yesterday, where I found a book case for $400 that was something we would have bought if it weren't for the customer service. And I can say with 99% certainty that the customer service would have been different if I were wearing work clothes, or other clothes that covered my legs Smile. (I'm not being paranoid, after a certain amount of time you learn to accurately guage a persons level of acceptance...)

In both cases, these shops lost a sale because they made an assumption based on someone's appearance.

It doesn't offend me, it's kind of like water off a ducks back, but I do find it a bit narrow minded, and atleast in some cases a little amusing.

(I also have to point out here, that tattoos are actually quite expensive, so I don't see how someone could think that people with a lot could be poor. Atleast where we live anyway, those with ink are those who earn a fair bit of money. I'm not saying everyone is like that, but it's certainly the case of the majority, atleast here...)

Which leads me to thinking: how many of you have been dismissed because you don't look like the 'type' to have money or the 'type' to buy something from a particular store? We all know, atleast here, that frugal people tend to be judged a lot and it wouldn't surprise me how many memorable stories are out there... What's your best one? Big Grin

7 Responses to “never judge a book by its cover...”

  1. MonkeyMama Says:

    I don't have any stories. I agree - I find stories like that amusing. I probably don't have any stories because I don't go shopping that much. Particularly for big items. Big Grin
    I've actually been yelled at by a car salesman for refusing to borrow money to purchase an automobile. That's my best story. They rather yell at cash paying customers than sell us a flipping car (they had plenty of cars in our price range - was about $10k at the time).

    My stories are more along the line of, "Come on... It's ONLY x dollars per month," from salespeople. Generally been pressured to buy more than we intended to. Which I don't really see why what you would look like would reflect. (If it is assumed anyone who can breathe can buy stuff on credit).

    Non-financially, my more scruffy looking husband has gotten some weird assumptions over the years. I am sure his time will come. If we ever went shopping for a high-end item, I am quite sure neither of us would be taken very seriously.

  2. ambitioussaver Says:

    My story is similar to MonkeyMama, but we financed for 3 years and they kept encouraging us to finance for a longer term.

    If I have any discrimination against me, its because DH and I look "too young" to have four kids and a family. I think we are the youngest people in our subdivision, everyone else is late 30s/early 40s. Our best neighbors have kids that could be my sister.

    Because of that, if they see DH and I out together... they think we are newlyweds or if its just me, like if I'm interviewing for a job - people assume I'm a brand new graduate with no responsibilities in life. People often come up to my husband thinking he's 1 or 2 ranks below what he is cause most Chiefs in the Navy look older.

  3. fern Says:

    Most salespeople work on commission. As a customer unhappy with their level of customer service, you'd have much more impact complaining to the manager, asking to deal with ANOTHER salesperson and then making the purchase, preferably in view of the first salesperson.

    If you just walk out, they'll never know.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    ambitioussaver - I am so with you on the *young* thing.

    I'd still walk out, but Fern has a point. It's probably a good idea to write a letter. When you are treated with such disrespect, you just don't want to deal with the place. I totally understand just walking out. But some communication to the store would probably be a really good idea. A "FYI" in case they cared at all.

  5. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Back in the dinosaur days of PCs, DH used to make purchase selections for a school. Locally, there were not yet many places to shop, and the best place was in the high dollars business district. Slob that he is, Dh would try to shop there. He had a hard time getting any salesperson to pay him any attention. Even if he'd said, "Look, I've got $500,000 that needs to be spent," I doubt they would have believed him. He probably should have phoned ahead to make an appointment and waived around something official looking from the college, but I don't think it occurred to him to try to puff up his importance in order to get service.

    I myself have experimented with wearing a suit (I never wear one!) in my own home when I'm getting work done on the house by a roofer, painter, tuck pointer, etc. I really think I have gotten better service and attention to detail in my own flippin' home when the other person can imagine that I am "someone."

  6. Marie Says:

    My uncle owned a huge car dealership and every single month the same employee was "salesman of the month" meaning he sold the most cars. Why? Because he always waited on the people no one else wanted to - the people who "looked" like they didn't have the money to spend. I've remembered that lesson my whole life.

  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    I haven't really run into that yet. For the most part, it does seem like sales reps tend to avoid me though. I don't know why. I don't dress up to look like crap or anything. Perhaps they naturally assume that I already know what I'm looking for or maybe they're extremely busy? I dont' know.

    Either way, I must say I don't really mind. If I really need help, but I'll get somebody's attention.

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