So, ya’ll have read about Oprah and the salesclerk at some chi-chi Swiss handbag boutique, right? Ms. Winfrey wanted to see a purse that retailed for just under $40,000. The clerk repeatedly told her it was very expensive and wouldn’t show it to her.
Have any of you had a similar thing happen, where you were mistaken for being a shoplifter or just too poor to buy the item in question?
I have, on a much smaller scale. My mother and I were at a department store looking at lipsticks a while back. She wanted to get a new shade. Nothing too fantabulous. Just something summery, for about $20. The store was not busy at all. There were no other customers. The two clerks continued to chat away with each other, never bothering to ask if we needed any help.
When I finally told them we’d like to see how one shade looked on my mom, one of the women rolled her eyes and said, “Well, that’s very expensive, you know.” She didn’t take one step to come over to us.
It didn’t really occur to me right then what was going on. Thinking that there could be a possibility that this particular lipstick might be $100 (which is just too much, no matter how pretty it is), I said, “Oh, how much does it cost?”
Yes, she thought we wouldn’t have $20 between us.
I know that people are often judged on how they’re dressed. We weren’t dressed poorly. But, what if we had been? So. What?
I told her how rude and presumptuous she was. She smiled smugly.
I also told her that I was meeting with the store’s executives in a few hours for a fashion layout I was coordinating. I would be telling them that the reason I’m selecting a competing store for the editorial spread is because of her laziness, prejudice and overall lack of customer service.
She blanched, offered to buy that $20 lipstick for my mother, but never apologized.
I said, “No, thank you. Why don’t you buy it for yourself to try to hide your true colors?”
I almost never come up with zingers when I’m in the moment. I think this one was one of my better ones, because it expressed how I felt. Minus the swearing.
© 2013 JAE-HA KIM
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