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To want to be left alone by shop assistants

(27 Posts)
catwalker Fri 30-Sep-11 09:36:08

Maybe it's my age and I'm giving off an air of bewilderment and confusion but there seems to be an increasing trend for shop assistants to ask if I need any help when I'm just browsing. Fine if I'm looking around obviously in need of help, but when I'm studying something I'd quite like to be left alone to think. I had a rare shopping trip yesterday and in some shops I was asked 4 or 5 times if I needed help (on some occasions more than once by the same assistant...). I was looking for birthday presents for my son and just wanted to be left alone to ponder whether various tops would fit him, which wallet would suit his needs best etc etc. Final straw was in M & S where I was deep in thought at the gadgety/gift counter and a young assistant came up to me, apologised for interrupting my shopping and then quizzed me about M&S cards. I know he was only doing his job so I managed to be polite. But really - should I get a special shopping t shirt with "BACK OFF!!" printed on it?!

Is it just me....?

aldiwhore Fri 30-Sep-11 09:37:07

No not just you!! YANBU, though I suspect there's people who would post in AIBU because they didn't get ANY attention from an assistant.

mummymccar Fri 30-Sep-11 10:34:38

YANBU but most high street stores have a sales maximising procedure in place that includes acknowledging the customer in this way. So many people were complaining for so long about being ignored that this is the result. I think they went overboard.
Waterstone's did some very interesting Market research a couple of years ago that (to sum up) showed that customers prefer to be acknowledged, not hounded (as if this wasn't already obvious!) so they retrained their staff to greet the customers and strongly discourage asking 'can I help?'. The research showed that this would make the customer feel acknowledged and encourage them to ask for help if actually needed. Much better now! Wish more people who follow their example!

StrandedBear Fri 30-Sep-11 10:42:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WhoWhoWhoWho Fri 30-Sep-11 10:47:03

I hate this too but know from working in shops myself in the past that they have to ask you or they get in trouble.

Why they think pestering works just baffles me, I hate it and will quite often turn and walk our of the shop in protest and go elsewhere as it annoys me soo much! A hello is fine, anything more than that annoys me.

NorfolkBroad Fri 30-Sep-11 10:47:13

I do find that a bit annoying but on the other hand I cannot bear it when you go into a small shop and are TOTALLY ignored, not even acknowleged with a hello.

AgentZigzag Fri 30-Sep-11 10:49:23

YANBU, once is OK and polite, but it's the constant hoverers who put me off going in certain shops.

It's mostly the smaller shops where there's only once assistant, they have to stay there to serve you obviously, but the watching makes me feel as though they think I'm going to nick off with the stock or something.

I love the 'BACK OFF!!' shirt, I could put that to use in all sorts of places, maybe in the checkout queue at the supermarket when I've got someone breathing down my neck and ramming my ankles with their trolley?

BarmyBiscuit Fri 30-Sep-11 10:50:25

I prefer them to come up to me as I hate going up to an assistant and asking something as I feel I'm intruding even though I know it's their job. Shoe shops are the worst. I know I am weird that way though.

TotemPole Fri 30-Sep-11 10:55:10

A lot of sales staff earn commission to top up their relatively low wages. It's understandable that sometimes they try too hard. Just say you're fine and will ask for help if needed.

LadySybilPussPolham Fri 30-Sep-11 10:55:34

It amuses me that when you buy clothing in M&S they always trot out the same line at the till - "that's a lovely colour isn't it? Definitely the best one"

MrsRobertDuvall Fri 30-Sep-11 10:57:25

I was a retail manager for years before dcs, and we would aim to greet every customer with a hello, a good morning or a smile.
It was done in part to make a customer feel welcome, but also to get the message to shoplifters that we had acknowledged they were in the shop.

I love friendly assistants who smile and let me know they are there to help if you need it. And have good product knowledge.

I do not like the zombielike attitude in places like Hollister, on the rare occasion I have been in there.

Loathe M and S because no one is there to help.

seaweedhead Fri 30-Sep-11 11:01:49

When I was in my early 20s I got sacked from two shop jobs for not harrassing the customers enough grin

They are told to do it and get in trouble if found not to be following procedure. Its when every assistant in the shop asks you it becomes annoying- I walked into a shoe shop the other day and was asked four times within the space of about 20 seconds if I was alright/needed any help etc. i just walked out without even looking at anything, it made me feel really uncomfortable and like I was being watched. Maybe I just look shifty/lost!

I think a smile and a "hello" is enough.

AgentZigzag Fri 30-Sep-11 11:19:29

That's it MrsR, the difference between harrassing you and acknowledging you.

When I moved from t'city to a small town, the difference between the friendly shop assistants in the city and the surly attitudes in the town was really marked.

I've got used to it now and find myself a bit suspicious of an over friendly assistant grin

Meglet Fri 30-Sep-11 11:46:59

What mummymccar said. A cheery good morning / hello is fine. I used to tell customers I'd leave them in peace to browse but to let me know if they needed anything. Nicer than hovering around them IMO.

confusedpixie Fri 30-Sep-11 12:35:31

I had this yesterday in Lush and have been wondering whether to post. Stepped in and was immediately chatted too. We waved them off politely, took (quite literally) one step forwards and another assistant was on us. There were five assistants on the floor in the branch which really wasn't too big and each one tried to stop me as I walked through. DP on the other hand was mostly left alone, apart from when a young gent (the only male assistant about by the looks of things!) insisted that my 'dashing friend' had to smell this product which he had no interest in but made me laugh grin

To be fair, they were all lovely, helped me with queries I did have and were happy to play with the stuff they were selling, I just wish they would have given us a little more space!

Shakey1500 Fri 30-Sep-11 13:13:09

YANBU, I can't stand it either and I'm a sales assistant. So, taking into account my own dislike I try a different approach. I "pretend" I'm on my way to do Something Else Important That Doesn't Concern The Customer, small frown on my face akin to concentration as I walk past them. When I know they've spotted me I do a little backtrack and ask "Are you ok? Need any help?"

If they say no, then it's easy to acknowledge that and get back to My Very Important Other Business. If they say they do then happy days, I'll assist them. grin

IrmaLittleteapot Fri 30-Sep-11 13:16:16

YABU. It won't kill you to politely say "No, I'm fine thanks" will it?

Bangtastic Fri 30-Sep-11 13:23:09

It is annoying, but these days instead of getting hot under the collar I usually just say something like "I am fine for now thanks, but if I need any help I'll come and find you" and that sends them happily on their way. No point getting angry at the poor men/women/kids who are only doing what they have been told to do by their managers. I am sure they are aware of how big a pain in the arse they can be, and dread approaching customers more than customers dread them approaching.

mummymccar Fri 30-Sep-11 13:27:28

I feel sorry for the teenagers actually - a teenager alone in a shop is just like a magnet for shop assistants. I always found Accessorize to be the worse for that - even worse than the supermarkets. It was a long time ago so it may have changed now but I remember popping into Accessorize whilst waiting for my friend who worked in Monsoon next door. Friend was going to let me use her huge discount so I spent about 10 minutes choosing what I wanted. I was asked if I needed help so many times that I started to feel very uncomfortable. In the end an assistant came over and asked me to leave. No reason given other than that they reserve the right to refuse service. Very odd. I was quite a middle class teenager too, not chavvy at all, very quiet and didn't swear. I was so humiliated and just wanted to cry. Turned out they just didn't really like teenagers.

I think the greeting as you walk in to the store or as you browse is much nicer, much less pressure.

startail Fri 30-Sep-11 13:46:26

I spent hours and hours buying nothing as a teenager. A day in town being my escape from an entire week of grandparents every holiday.
Back then you didn't get any of the every teenager is a shop lifter stuff it's so sad.
DD2 would be mortified if anyone said anything to her, DD1 would just tell them not to be so stupid and carry on browsing. Her hide is thicker than your average rhino.

DH just leaves if shop assistants approach him, I do a good line in deflection to ensure we actually get what we've come for without him snarling. Any questions that Do need asking I ask.

Heuchera Fri 30-Sep-11 13:49:27

I have this all the time and it enrages me too. Agree that a polite greeting to acknowledge your presence is better, then leave it up to you to ask for help if needed. But I suspect it's part of the increasing desperation of retailers to get you to buy - everything is just so cut-throat atm.

I'm sure I can't be the only one who shops online and is absolutely inundated with catalogues, too. Boden are the worst offender - and with the constant emails as well. I get a catalogue seemingly every couple of weeks, and emails daily, sometimes more than one. Feels like most of my life is spent deleting the bloody things.

ColdSancerre Fri 30-Sep-11 14:02:36

I hate this too, I went into Neals Yard aromatherapy shop for a browse, as soon as I got through the door I was asked if they could help me, I politely said no, just browsing, walked to the nearest display and started looking at stuff. Within seconds the shop assistant piped up 'oh you went straight to that display, were you looking for a moisturiser'

I just looked at her and walked out without even replying. Why can't people just let you alone after the first offer of help?

aquashiv Fri 30-Sep-11 14:05:46

No I want there help sometimes esp if its something I want to buy thats their job! If I dont I just say thanks I amfine.

nickelbabe Fri 30-Sep-11 14:09:23

mummymcar - hmm. Their mystery shopper crap seems to have ignored that research then - the latest one is close to hounding.
in fact, my friends who work there say they feel embarrassed approaching customers using the criteria on the new mystery shopper "list" because it's very intrusive.

nickelbabe Fri 30-Sep-11 14:18:00

my little friend (who's 4) would kill you all!
A child was asking the price of something that he couldn't afford, and my friend was behidn the till (he likes to help with the till!) and he stuck out his hand, smiled and said "excuse me, would you like to pay for that?" grin

then a bit later, a child whose parents were nowhere to be seen (outside at my closing time, when I wanted to go home, just letting this child annoy me browse in my shop), and my friend started following him round the shop going "excuse me, where's your mummy?" and "where's your dad?" I wasn't convinced this child was "just browsing" so my little friend was keeping a proper close eye on him... grin

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