Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oprah Winfrey : The costly refusal.

Last time Oprah Winfrey made news, was when she visited India and met the most accomplished people here who are none other than the ones in Bollywood. As she sat across the table for dinner, she famously asked ‘I hear that some people in India STILL eat with their hands?’ Then, it was a terrible shame that Madam Winfrey dint know that a majority of us Indians STILL cannot afford food.

Today as I glanced through the news, I came across this racism controversy of Ms.Winfrey. A shamefully ignorant clerk at an upscale store in Switzerland refused to show a purse worth $38000, (named after Jennifer Aniston), to her because he felt she may not be able to afford it.
This is 'that' bag!

This is completely believable. I have always told my friends this, when you go to buy clothes, that is when you should be dressed your best. Because wood headed sales guys often assess you with what you are wearing and your chances of finding an attire of your taste depends on that.  This was during a time before malls came into our lives and allowed us to choose what we wanted. When I was younger there were shops in which clothes were neatly stacked in cupboards and sales guys across a counter would pick them and display based on their mood.  If you are not very attractive in their eyes, you will end up buying a reject. This is a painful truth. Storekeepers measure you by what you wear and how presentable you look.

So Ms. Winfrey was not talking on her show and therefore might have turned up at this unfortunate Swiss store dressed for comfort. This is not about the ignorance of that guy who was unable to recognize her. Whether she can afford it or not is not the point either. It is the question of the basic right of a person at any store that has stuff on display. Anything should be accessible to the person who has walked into the store - without having to meet any prerequisites. The customer needn't arrive in a limousine walking like it was a red carpet event.

I have met rude and highly self-esteemed teenagers and young adults who literally have grown head phones from their ear lobes working as sales persons and delivery boys at various brand outlets. They are veterans in belittling customers and treating them like dirt. I have also seen sales persons at showrooms passing their comments and giggling at potentially vulnerable customers who try on the clothes displayed. I am a programmer by profession, and my codes do not expect me to smile at them, but I know the basic code of conduct expected of a person who is in the sales business. Do you or do you not feel like stepping into that store once again, where you were treated like a King with faces around that smiled gracefully and talked politely? Is it so difficult to show minimum civility to any person for that matter? You may not sell a Chanel or a Louboutin, but people are drawn to you by the way you treat them. And they will come again by how much you care about their purchase.

I am sure that poor guy at the Swiss store might have been fired and made to go through a list of Celebrities alive as on August 2013. It is not about being a celebrity. I may not be Oprah Winfrey or Jennifer Aniston, but today if I walk in to a Hummer showroom and ask to be shown a H1, I should be granted the opportunity.

 So this time, I guess Oprah was right when she said that she was snubbed.


Alternatively, she could have asked,’ Do people in Switzerland STILL find this bag expensive?’

20 comments:

  1. I totally agree. I dont see how the sales paerson can just blindly decide "No. You cant afford this so I'm not gonna let you see it even if you ask." Its bad enough to not show the customer after you judge their 'worth' but when they ask, to refuse seems really rude.

    Puns aside, the irony that it was told to a billionaire is truly priceless.

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    1. Right. Do these guys undergo any training before they hop on to this job? I don't think so !

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  2. Experienced it! I totally agree that one should dress best when shopping :D The sales girls and guys can belittle anyone. God bless if you are oversized! You can actually hear them giggle when you are struggling in the trial room. I just don't go to such shops :P
    As for Oprah, well deserved :P I felt it funny that she should ask "If indians STILL eat with their hands". As if pizza and burgers introduced forks and spoons :P

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    1. And when she is eating with a fork and a spoon, she is STILL using her hands :-D

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    2. Anita Ophra need a lesson on how people on world do eat.But the sales man you can find the World over.In Abu -dhabi Duty free once I saw a salesman when one of fiend try to pay by his silver card,and on showing the gold card the sales guy gone pale.The thing is human and Universal.Ophra is closing her eyes to her own Backgrounds.

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    3. So are you saying that these rude salesmen are right?! I cannot believe you :D

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  3. Nice post.. I am glad you came up with this topic.. I had many questions regarding this on my mind since days.. No one should be judged on the way they dress or either on the capability of whether they will be able to afford it or not..!! Thank god for malls.. They treat everyone equal.. And that guy surely must have got fired.. I don't know who started the concept of one should dress well while going to shop just because they will be judged.. I never do that and hence prefer malls.. Because the price and the material remains the same for everyone..

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  4. A pertinent post indeed, especially your description of today's headphone-toting salesmen :)

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    1. I cannot tolerate people who act like they just got their hearing senses and listen to music during working hours.

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  5. Have had people say that to my face , that I cannot afford some expensive Lehengas in a store.. :P just because I was not dressed to the occasion..It is there every where.

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    1. It is unfair and racist. How can anyone calculate their financial abilities by how they look? It is not the right thing to do !

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  6. Well said I can confess I and my wife do not like to visit the shop where we are treated rudely

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    1. Who does ! Its a pity such people are hired to interact with customers.

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  7. Its so damn true! Sales guys are trained to be humble to their customers. Although its human tendency to judge a person in front of you, blindly relying on the judgement to be true is wrong. There are also cases where the sales guy is not happy with his boss / management, but showing it on the customers will not only affect the brand, but also his future as a salesman..

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    1. Unfortunately we as customers seem to know more about basic customer etiquette than people who are in that business.

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  8. I have always wanted to enter a Louis Vuitton store. But the sales people look so mean there! Not that I look I can't afford it, they will know when I ask which is the cheapest one. Lol!

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    1. Haha same here not just for Louis Vuitton ..but for many others :D

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  9. Nice post. And very timely whichever era you read it. Have had many similar experiences, some of them recently. Remember this same scenario in the movie Pretty Woman?

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    1. Haven't watched Pretty Woman. This happens to everyone I guess. Although it is outside the scope of sales persons to judge the customers.

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