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“No sir, you cannot ‘test drive’ the merchandise” December 12, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, Humor & Satire, Uncategorized.
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This is the statement that a very dear friend heard from a store clerk this past Sunday. Not just one store clerk, actually, several store clerks, each at different stores. Now, it’s not what you think, for those of you who are heading down that path. The poor guy was simply trying to make a mundane purchase, and wanted to ensure that it would fit his needs. But being denied the test drives and without finding anything to suit his needs, he remains purchaseless.  Macy’s even failed him, but then again, even Macy’s isn’t Macy’s anymore.

Our dear friend was in search of a murse. For those of you not hip with überchic male accessories, the murse is a male purse, also called a man-bag.  Once en vouge with fashion-forward dudes in the late ’70s and early ’80s (my favorite and most fashionable cousin had one) they have resurfaced, allowing women’s purses to be free of dear husband’s, boyfriend’s and guyfriend’s keys, wallets and their other accoutrement (as if we don’t have enough in our purses already).  But, our dear friend is suffering from a wallet that no longer fits his needs and is literally falling apart at the seams. Now, the funny thing is that none of the sales clerks would let him test to see if the murses or overgrown wallets if you will (suddenly I’m reminded of a joke about a moil, but I’ve been crass enough this week and won’t go there), but yet we get to test drive all sorts of merchandise every day. When you buy shoes—shoes of all things—you get to test drive them. That’s what trying them on, walking around and looking at them in those rediculously angled mirrors is. When you buy jeans (for those still brave enough to enter a dressing room), you get to test drive them. We test drive cars, which clearly depreciates the value, but it’s not like the dealers are changing the sticker price or preventing us from taking a spin around the block. Even when my husband and I bought our latest cell phones, we got to test drive them of sorts. The sales woman let me toss the different models that we liked in my purse to see how easy it would be to find without looking, how much space they’d take up if I was carrying a teeny tiny bag, how it felt in the back pocket and so on. She even said we could drop them if we wanted (having a toddler, the sturdiness upon being dropped is key) and I did.  (We were assured that they’re tested before getting to the showroom for imapct resistance.)  

And almost any woman knows that when you buy a purse, you also do a kind of test drive: you sling it over your shoulder, check out the weight, where it hits you on your body, the feel, whether you can get in and out of it easily, you open it up and check out the compartments and so on. So why oh why was our poor friend not permitted to have the same experience in his quest for a murse?  Could it be that the pruney sales clerks were so baffled by the sight of a man seeking a purse, I mean a murse, that they couldn’t fathom how to handle such a strange customer?  Did they fear a metrosexual man who just needs something stylish, efficient and convenient for his necessary items—a place for his stuff as George Carlin would say?  As Julia Roberts’ character said in Pretty Woman, “sucks to work on commission” since clearly they didn’t make any money that day—at least not from a dude who was ready to drop some cash.  

I’m thinking that our dear friend needs to stay out of the middle-end, big-box department stores where fashion-forward is clearly not part of the vocabulary and head straight to Kenneth Cole.

Copyright © 2007 Erika-Marie S. Geiss

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Comments

1. Marilyn - December 12, 2007

What’s up with that? That store clerk sounds like he needs a nap (and a vacation!) Maybe he’s on some sort of power trip in his narrow part of the universe. Of course then there’s the “I don’t care about customers” contingent. Maybe he just needed a hug?…

2. Michele - December 12, 2007

Hmmm… Has customer “service” faded forever? Does no one realize that the customer is “right” and/or the whole reason the store clerk has a job to begin with?

*Shakes head*

Funny post by the way!

Smiles,
Michele

3. Kate Boddie - December 12, 2007

What is this world coming to when men can’t be afforded the same luxuries when mur…pur…murse shopping as women? What’s next? being denied the right to test out the latest concealer? Ha! Anyway, that is pretty absurd. I definitely thought of Joey from Friends when I read this, when he goes to the audition with a murse and doesn’t get it expressly for that reason. What did he want to do with it? Just do what we all do when we buy purses? It’s not like he wanted to put it on his head or anything, right? What with all the emo sales clerks in the world, you’d think they’d understand the need for a murse! Now if a guy starts seeking out a manpon, I’m going to have to run in the opposite direction.

4. Kathleen Frassrand - December 12, 2007

What a funny post. Very nicely done!

Service is indeed dying. Even in the grocery stores. Trying to get a bagger to actually BAG my groceries and put them in my cart is useless. Doesn’t happen anymore.

In stores, most of the clerks don’t know anything about the products they are selling. Heck, most don’t even know WHAT they sell. For them to deny him the ability to test drive the murse is ridiculous. Of course.. I don’t ask permission for those types of things. I just sling it over my shoulder and give it a work out. The only way I could see them NOT allowing a test-drive is if the murse was sealed up tight and him opening the package would make it harder for the store to sell. But.. really… I can’t see that being the case either. They would have to have one out for display purposes.

I think this is a case of laziness on the part of the clerk. There are 10 more people behind your friend who will complete a purchase without making them work. Why should they take time out of their “busy” schedule to accommodate one little customer. Yegads! What is this world coming to!!

For my money, I’d rather run into a small mom & pop store and actually get some service. Might pay a bit more.. but the people who are getting your money actually care about doing a good job and providing a service to their customers.

5. Shadow Ferret - December 12, 2007

A murse? I guess I don’t understand. I’ve never had my wife carry any of my keys or whatnots. If something doesn’t fit in my pockets than I obviously don’t need to be carrying it.

That said, I do find it curious that no one would allow him to test drive the purses. Maybe they were all a little freaked out by it. Maybe they were all just a tad on the homophobic side.

6. Melaniehoo - December 12, 2007

Poor guy! I’ve had salespeople treat me like crap when I’m looking to buy something and I just want to scream at them. How do they not get that they’re throwning a sale out the door, and probably future sales because of their attitudes?

I think I higher-end store might be the solution – or shop with a woman. 🙂

7. emsgeiss - December 12, 2007

Melanie, I know. It’s as if we don’t all talk (or blog) with each other.

Shadow, hmmm…could you teach my DH that trick? Actually, he’s usually pretty good about putting whatever in his own pockets, except of course when we’re going to some function, where the purse I’m carrying is a small clutch. It’s sad that if the being a tad homophobic was indeed the cause, since a) our dear friend is not homosexual and b) even if he were, what business is it of the clerk’s? and c) why can’t a heterosexual man buy a freaking piece of small every-day luggage? (And this touches on Katie’s comment too) Why are guys (all guys) forced to shove things in their pockets or carry a giant messenger bag or briefcase if they want something remotely stylish? A briefcase looks pretty dumb on the weekends. Manpons…OMG Katie, you had me rotflmao.

Kathleen: I totally agree. I think at the mom&pop stores and small boutiques, customer service usually is better…the people are more passionate about their wares or at least about their business, probably partially because they have something to loose if they loose customers, but also because they believe in what their selling or at least their little piece of economic real estate.

Michele…no customer service seems to be an oxymoron these days…the service is lacking and as customers we’re often made to feel stupid for even walking into the store.

Marilyn, playing devil’s advocate 😉 perhaps it was the sales clerks’ collective first days back since Black Friday and they were suffering from BFPTSD. (not)

8. Nick - December 12, 2007

A post from the murse buyer himself. I was actually trying to test drive a wallet. The one I have now I like to call “George” as in George Costanza (if you watch Seinfeld you know where I am going with this). The desire to find a “murse” came after expending a couple of hours just trying to get a shop clerk to let me test drive a new one. I can’t belive they would not let me. I even offered to leave them my military ID card to ensure I would not steal the one I wanted to try. A wallet is not a purchase to take lightly, the follwing things have to be taken into account: 1 Does it fit and feel good in my pocket. 2 Can it fit into my front pocket when visiting a third world country. 3 Does it have enough storage space ect… I could go on for hours. So I have upgraded “George” with a new rubber band to keep everything from falling out until I can find a suitable murse or test drive a new wallet.

9. Rebecca Laffar-Smith - December 12, 2007

It’s a shame how corrosive we find customer service all around the world. I’m one of those people who actually prefer to be left alone by the sales people unless I specifically ASK for help. Otherwise they hover around like hawks expecting me to pocket something or trying to push something I don’t want down my throat. I’ve learnt the adept technique of a sharp eye contact and firm shake of the head and a short “No, thanks.”. It shuts up pretty much ALL service people and they keep a fair distance.

I’d be inclined to test it out without permission unless it was wrapped. My mother isn’t even THAT considerate. She won’t hesitate to open a box or plastic wrap to check out what’s inside it. As far as she’s concerned the customer has the right to have a good idea of what they’ll be purchasing BEFORE they fork over the money. Legally I believe she’s within her rights too but I’m not that brazen. If it’s firmly wrapped with no display model I just won’t bother buying it.

I wonder how many retailers don’t realize they lose a great deal of potential profit from these kind of small inconveniences.

10. Dawn - December 12, 2007

I’m with Rebecca–better to ask forgiveness than permission. 🙂

Half the time, you can’t get the attention of a salesperson in a store, anyway. (Unless, of course, you want to test drive a wallet, then they hover like hawks.)

And Manpon… Boddie, stop it! 😀 ROFLMAO!! Too much! Between you and Amydoodle, we are all going to be Web surfing in diapers!

Dawn

11. Laurie - December 13, 2007

Hey, the hovering in Sri Lanka consists of a store clerk standing LESS THAN A FOOT AWAY from me while I’m looking at something. GIVE ME MY PERSONAL SPACE! They follow me around moreso than they do locals. I don’t know – am I somehow more prone to shoplifting?

And customer service doesn’t exist here, either. I could tell you horror stories. Oh, like the bra shopping incident.

I was at an upscale department store that actually sold underwire bras (I don’t like non-underwire, and underwire bras are extremely difficult to find here), and I found, surprisingly, a couple of bras close to my size or at least possible. When I enquired, I was told there were no change rooms, and I could try it on where I was. What, get naked? Are you nuts? Then the guy told me that, well, of course, I was expected to know my size and shouldn’t need to try one on. Um, no, what size and how they fit varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from product lines to other product lines from a single manufacturer. There is no standardized sizing for bras. There is no way to tell if it fits without trying it on. So he repeated that I could try it on where I was, in the middle of a crowd of shoppers.

I, of course, dropped them where I stood and walked.

12. Soccer Mom - December 13, 2007

You’re a better person than I am, Laurie. I’d have been inclined to start strapping bras on. All of them at the same time and not in the right places. By the time I wrapped one around my head, he might have gotten the message.

Who sells bras with out a change room?

13. Elrena - December 13, 2007

Soccer Mom, I’m doubled over laughing!

But I think it’s ridiculous that a guy can’t test drive a man-bag — sheesh, shouldn’t there be more important things to get huffy about? Almost makes me want to go work in retail. 🙂

14. NL Beshear - December 14, 2007

rofl All of you are too funny, it’s a good thing I emptied my bladder before embarking on this blog reading blitz. About customer service, I’ve had my fill of dealing with “customer service people” via phone, and had less than satisfactory results. I do believe “customer service” has gone the way of the grocery store bagger (one who actually bags your groceries And carries them to your car for you) and full-service gas station attendants.

15. Barrie Summy - December 15, 2007

Off-the-wall thought: would the man have had better service had he shopped in, say, October or March? Anytime other than this holiday season when tempers and patience are on short order? Probably not. But the thought popped into my mind, and I couldn’t resist typing it.

16. emsgeiss - December 15, 2007

You guys are all cracking me up with your comments. Laurie, you should be sainted for your patience and resolve with that clerk when you were trying to buy a bra. How does someone work in women’s lingerie and not know that you have to try bras on. It’s not like you were requesting to try on a thong. What a dolt! That has got to be the best shopping horror story I’ve heard/read. Barrie, you make a good point, but I think that all of us have experienced poor customer service regardless of the time of year. And if Mr./Ms. Clerk expects to get anything from Santa or the Hanukah fairy they should be nicer. 😉 I agree with Dawn on the diapers–I think g-diapers may need to make an adult solution for eco-friendly diaps between Bodie and Amydoodle.

17. Laurie - December 16, 2007

Thing is, women here generally don’t try on bras before buying. But there’s a longer story there, one that involves women here not knowing how a bra should fit, not knowing anything about the purpose behind underwires, and so on. I had one sales manager at a Triumph factory outlet tell me that no bras larger than a 36C had underwire – they are NOT necessary – and the way she snivelled at me, it was quite obvious she was looking at me like I was the stupidest woman on the planet.

Large breasted women here tend to usually buy a bra for the cup (sort of) with the resulting bra band creeping up to the neck. Or they end up with boobs down at their waist. Or they end up with sausage boobs. And yes, ill-fitting bras are much much much more evident here than they are in Canada or the US.

I also didn’t mention in the previous comment that here, other than perhaps two or three stores where I’ve found C or D cups (and they cater to the foreigner crowd), every single other store in the entire country sells B cup bras only, non-underwire only.

So, in all fairness to that guy in the lingerie department, he’s working on the same knowledge as everyone else in this country. Which is amusing if you consider that Victoria’s Secret bras and lingerie, and those of many other big lingerie companies in the US, are sewn here in this country just a few miles away from where I was shopping. Even those who work at the factories don’t understand proper fit, I don’t think. And no, I wasn’t all that patient. I was ready to use the bra as a sling shot…

And that’s also why I’ve resorted to sewing my own. With underwires that I had to import from the US, despite the above-mentioned Victoria’s Secret factories. Because, while I can buy bra elastic and bra fittings by the bushel here, and those foam forms (but only in 34B, 36B, and 38B sizes), I cannot get underwire. In a bra-manufacturing country.

18. Nick - December 17, 2007

Wow we went from test driving wallets to bras. Well I guess they do both hold something valuable. I have shopped in my fair share of third world countries and the clerks there do hover and pressure you into buying stuff. However that is part of the game, I hate to shop but i LOVE to haggle and bargin when third world shopping. Hell sometimes I don’t even want what they are selling but end up buying it because I “got a good deal”. I bet I could have test drove my new wallet there. As for bras I don’t think that is something I would test drive in Sri Lanka, and being a man it might be kind of embarassing if I did…


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