Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Hard Sell

I know there have been lots of posts written on this subject but I did my beauty counter circuit last Thursday and I don't know if it's because sales are slow, it was a Thursday night so a bit quiet, Christmas staff have been taken on or I look like a soft touch but I basically felt stalked/harrassed throughout in a variety of different shops when I really didn't have anything in mind to buy. It seemed to be the first night of late night shopping so there were lots of events/discounts going on (including WAH nails in Topshop, which was too busy for me to take advantage of, booo!).

In House of Fraser, most of the counter staff were fine - in MAC they were quite busy so despite swatching away on my hand all I got offered was a tissue, and no assistance. That all changed at the YSL counter though - as soon as I glanced at the new YSL Shocking Mascara the sales assistant was over. After about 2 minutes of nonstop spiel and me not saying anything she was like "right, ok, I'll take this to the till for you shall I?" Errrr, no. She then really went into the hard sell, commenting on my eyelashes, evading the price, how it didn't matter that I had already bought YSL Faux Cils recently as Shocking "wasn't an everyday mascara". Well that put me off straight away, I know YSL mascaras have a tendency to dry up and I won't be buying a £22 mascara to wear on the odd night out for it to dry up. I made my excuses and tottered off. I probably would have bought that mascara if I hadn't felt so pressured. And I'm not really a fan of being called babes. Her make up was really harsh too and was all I could look at while she was selling her socks off.

In Boots, the sales assistant on YSL was a bit lacklustre - just a quick "are you looking for anything in particular?" and as I wandered off "did you find anything?" No, that's why I'm wandering off! In Clinique, the sales assistant greeted me right away but quickly found that the thing I wanted was out of stock and then proceeded to try and sell me a pricey gift set that didn't contain the actual product I wanted. She seemed a bit grumpy to have missed out on the sale.

In Selfridges there was some sort of event taking place at Bobbi Brown so the other counters were quite quiet. As I padded around MAC (more out of a sense of duty rather than wanting anything as I had already swatched to my hearts content in House of Fraser), about 5 sales assistants asked me if I was ok, offered me help and said if I needed anything to give them a shout. Which is fine, but maybe they should keep an eye on what their colleagues are doing too so I'm not asked the same question 5 times in about 3 minutes. The sales assistant at Illamasqua was really good, she greeted me, told me about the products in enough detail without overloading me, showed me some Christmas sets then left me alone to browse before saying bye to me as I left the counter. Her make up was fab, totally what you'd expect from Illamasqua, and I did actually see a few products I'm going to buy next month when I get paid. The Nars counter was really quiet and the sales assistant was on me straight away, told me a bit, then proceeded to stand over me whilst I swatched. She offered me a tissue and then basically followed me around the department, not saying anything other than offering me her hand to swatch on so mine didn't get messy. It was a bit weird! Then I went to Clinique, I got the impression the sales assistant was quite new, she was really enthusiastic, quite helpful and got me the product I wanted but then proceeded to try and sell me about ten other things, none of which I was interested in. The till took forever too as they wanted every detail - name, address, email, telephone number - without explaining why and it was slow to input.

I was quite interested to read about Clinique's Service As You Like It but despite my moaning, it's really not that hard to just politely say no or that you're just browsing (unless you're speaking to the House of Fraser YSL woman, I thought I was going to have to smash a glass cabinet or something to create a diversion and make my escape!). It's a good thing for people who don't feel comfortable saying no though, and I suppose it will mean that customers get the level of service they're happy with. It seems a bit odd going out of your way to put a band on to say "serve me now!" instead of just approaching the sales assistant though.

I know it's a job and I've worked in commission-based retail (shoes, glorious shoes!) before for a few years so I know what a hard slog it can be but I've not felt quite as consistently given the hard sell before by so many different places in one shopping session, thankfully I managed to avoid anyone trying to give me a make over. So, what's going on? Have you noticed that it seems to have got a bit more of a hard sell on the counters? Are any brands better/worse than others? Am I just being grumpy?


  1. I get what you mean on the beauty counters! Mac is really hit and miss, sometimes the staff are friendly but the majority are really rude! At my local chanel counter theres a lovely young girl and a rude older woman so I walk through to see whos on the counter before I have a browse. I hate it when you feel pressured into buying something, personally I like a good browse and if I see something I want to buy I'll ask for an opinion from the staff. Your not grumpy I think this is how the majority of us feel! xxx

  2. Ah this is one of the reason why I avoid high end make up counters - I just hate that presence and knowing your being watched and waited on before they pounce on you. I wish they'd get it into their heads that the pressure and their presence really in honesty puts me off even going to their counters yet alone buying anything

  3. See I usually want to see products and colours in person so I do tend to like going to the counters rather than buying online - and as I found with Illamasqua there are some really helpful sales assistants out there, but some that are total pests too!


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