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I have mixed feelings about shopping at places like BG and Saks, and, even worse, smaller establishments in which I may be the only customer in the store at the time. Their salespeople aren't necessarily "pushy" usually, because they'd be fired for that if they did it too much, but they're sometimes a bit too helpful and often -- how do I say this? -- back me into a sartorial corner. There are times when I walk into a store with absolutely no intention of buying a product; I merely want to try items on so I can note my size and get a better price elsewhere. Sometimes I try on high-quality products to see how a garment SHOULD fit and then find a less expensive but comparable product from a different label. Perhaps some might consider that wrong, but there's really no other option if you're on a budget but can't psychologically cope with having inferior goods. However, if I even, say, try on a pair of shoes, they immediately give me their card and put the pair of shoes "near the register" unless I have a very valid reason for not liking them (which is usually limited, in their minds, to "my feet don't fit into these, nor the more expensive Santonis you brought me, nor the much more expensive Lobbs").

Occasionally I think this is just "good customer service", other times, I find it frustrating and inconducive to my shopping - especially for things like shoes, where you MUST interact with a salesperson. What do you think?

On the other hand, I get even more annoyed when the salespeople don't pay attention to me because I am young (22 but look like I'm 18). Also, I must consider that these people have mouths to feed and are probably working on commission. I guess what I'm looking for is a place where I don't feel strange shopping without having any intention of buying anything but where the salespeople don't KNOW that. :icon_smile_wink:
 

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I usually say, "Thanks, I'm just browsing." If the salesperson comes back with "Fine, my name's X, just let me know if you need any help," I say "Thanks, I sure will."

If you start asking for special assistance (getting shirts or shoes out of the back room or off a high shelf or something) then of course you're putting yourself at something of a moral disadvantage and creating an expectation that you'll be opening your wallet. Asking to be pointed to your size on the suit rack and then trying on jackets without assistance doesn't rise to that level, IMO.

Any sane store and salesperson should generally welcome any polite, self-service, light-footprint, low-maintenance browsing. If you don't buy today, you might next week, next month, or whenever. To a retailer, "foot traffic" is a good thing. If you start taxing the salesperson's time and attention with no intention of buying, that's not good and should be avoided.

Keep in mind that sales staff are trained to cue you to buy. It's one reason they now often tell you their first name--it creates an ersatz personal relationship and with it a subtle pressure to buy (how can you not purchase anything from your good buddy, ole salesperson what's-his-face!?).

I remember the old Britches chain in DC at one point coaching their employees (a brigade of suspendered, long-tied, and slick-haired young men) to stick their hands out at you for a hearty handshake, introduce themselves by their first names, and then try to get your first name. I found this off-putting, and would usually try, as politely as I could, to avoid giving my name.

A practice by salespeople that I do commend is giving helpful information. The other day I was in a Filene's Basement browsing the ties. A nearby clerk said, "If you don't see anything you like today, we're expecting some Burberry ties in next week." (Of course this kind of statement can be used as a bait-and-switch tactic just to get you to come back next week, but I'm not that paranoid so I assumed he was sincerely offering useful and to the best of his knowledge, accurate information and thanked him heartily for it.)

My take is basically customers should not act like Genghis Khan or Leona Helmsley, and salesclerks should not act like Andy Bernard from The Office, and everyone will be happier.
 

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I remember the old Britches chain in DC at one point coaching their employees (a brigade of suspendered, long-tied, and slick-haired young men) to stick their hands out at you for a hearty handshake, introduce themselves by their first names, and then try to get your first name. I found this off-putting, and would usually try, as politely as I could, to avoid giving my name.
One of the guys at work does that. He even does the handshake thing to me and I see him a couple times a week. I figured he was just the slightly odd guy that he is. I find it a bit off putting too and even though we are supposed to do the whole "I'm so-and-so and I'll be here to answer..." thing I'm just not a name guy. If a salesman gives me his name I'll most likely forget it. If I somehow give them my name it just seems weird when this total stranger is acting like they know me.

So to actually answer the question I say I'm just looking which I usually am. I often actually say that I'm not buying today, just looking, as a sort of fair warning that if they want to help there isn't a sale in it for them right now. Any one left at that point is either persistent in a way that I'll find what I want somewhere else or genuinely helpful.
 

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Let them know that you are browsing. Their pay involves commission from sales, so the last thing you want to do is lead them on and then say you did not want anything in the first place.

High-end stores are the most difficult because you have gone to a specific brand or specific clothing style store and there are less customers there too. With a department store, it seems more logical because you may be purchasing something but not from that specific department, which is why I prefer to browse in department stores rather then specific stores.

If you have a shopping history at a specific store/department, it is far easier to browse. They know that you are a customer, who will buy but maybe not today. I have gone into stores just look at the new collection or see what they have in stock, had a chat and left with purchasing anything.
 

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As others have said, I simply advise salespeople, offering help that is not required or wanted, that I am just browsing and that I will let them know, should I need assistance...works like a charm! Many of the salespeople in the stores we frequent most often, have taken the trouble to greet both my wife and I by name and on a few occasions have even taken the trouble to telephone us when they get items in that they feel we would be most interested in! It seems to me that rather than verging on being pushy, that is just great service. ;)
 

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It is very easy to smile and politely say, "No, thanks, I am just looking today". It has always worked for me.
:teacha:
 

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I regularly tell people in all kinds of stores that I'm just looking.

On the other hand, I remember back in the late 60's or early 70's that Barney's used to have baskets spread around the store with "Just Looking" buttons, and their promise was that their salespeople wouldn't bug you if you put one of them on. I liked that practice.
 

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Telling the salesperson that you're just looking is still the best way to get rid of the salesperson.

However, you are obviously aware that these people work on commission, and that their commission doesn't (directly, at any rate) affect the price of the items. So it's considered somewhat rude to buy an expensive item like a coat or suit without the help of a salesperson. You're denying him his livelihood. It's sort of like walking into a sit-down restaurant and then placing your order directly with the kitchen, rather than with a waiter or waitress.

That being said, when and if you're ready to make an actual purchase, you should flag down the salesperson who initially greeted you. He may or may not try to steer you away from your purchase and toward something more expensive (i.e., higher commission) or higher-margin for the store. If that starts happening, politely but firmly insist that you like what you've found and plan to buy it. You'll get what you want, he'll get to attach his name to the item, and you'll both be happy.

If you plan to visit a high-end department store on a regular or semi-regular basis, it really helps to be friendly to the sales staff. It also helps to single out and befriend one salesperson in particular. That way, you'll be treated like a valued customer every time you walk in. Over time, your salesperson will be able to get you special deals and exclusive items. It's still a business relationship, obviously; the store has identified you as someone who spends a lot of money. :) It's sort of like being a "high roller" in a casino. You'll be treated exceptionally well, but that's because the store has run the expected-value calculation on you and figured that you'll spend more money than they'll lose by pampering you.

Now, if you're truly just browsing and have no intent to purchase an item, then it's totally fine to wave off the salesperson. You shouldn't ever feel pressured into buying something, or into accepting suggestions.
 

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One of the guys at work does that. He even does the handshake thing to me and I see him a couple times a week. I figured he was just the slightly odd guy that he is.
Well, at least he's not doing as a sales tactic, but rather out of what sounds like an innocent case of mild social awkwardness. It is a bit odd, though, I must agree.

There's a chain of related eateries around here (Mike's American Grill, the Sweetwater Tavern, the Carlyle Grand Cafe) that was training their bartenders to do this. Last time I was in one of these establishments, I was spared this excruciating treatment, so maybe enough people complained and they cut this nonsense out. The first time it was done to me, I told the chirpy twentysomething who was pumphandling my arm and trying to get my first name that "Sir" would be fine, and on my way out I complained to the manager (not about the particular bartender, who I knew was just following orders from some git in the marketing department and was otherwise fine, but about management's decision to start this annoying practice in the first place).

I don't think I'm stuck up about this: In places where I'm a regular, I'm on a first-name basis with the staffers who normally serve me. But to have it done when you step into a place you seldom or never frequent and just want a drop of the creature or a bowl of soup is really pretty irksome.
 

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There's an unwriten rule amongst fashion industry people that if you go into a store you say hello to who's in front of you first and ask is it alright if I/we have a look around. When your done say thank you and walk out. Do all this in a straightforawrd respectful Gordon Ramsay like way.

Nobody will talk to you then hardly as they know your another designer/store checking them out.

If you do engage with a staff member don't feel bad about not buying sometimes they really do like to talk about clothes. when your not going to buy say thanks for showing me this or these and just be polite.

Sometimes people say just browsing like **** you. Some people ignore sales guys if they say hello. I always used to tell my kids if someone blanks you like this make eyecontact and greet them again until you get a response....it's just about respect.
 

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If you start asking for special assistance (getting shirts or shoes out of the back room or off a high shelf or something) then of course you're putting yourself at something of a moral disadvantage and creating an expectation that you'll be opening your wallet. Asking to be pointed to your size on the suit rack and then trying on jackets without assistance doesn't rise to that level, IMO.
I agree strongly. Making a salesperson work for business that you have no intention of giving is unfair. When I go to a clothing store, I might ask questions, but if they offer to get something out of the back, I stop them and say, "I don't really need it today."

Having a regular salesperson, regardless of how limited your purchases are, is valuable. Having a regular salesperson and never making any purchases will get you a bad reputation and poor service.

Friday I bought a seersucker suit. I selected it with no input from anyone in the suit department, so I walked over to my regular salesperson, who's based in the Polo area. I had to wave off five other employees on my way over there, and my regular person thanked me repeatedly.

Saturday I bought a tie to go with it at a different store. I was greeted by name, and the gentleman I work with spent twenty minutes picking out options. If another customer came in who had something waiting in the back, I had no problem letting him leave to take care of them.

Then I bought a $15 item at a high-end department store. I apologized to the salesperson for taking up her time with such a small item, and she said, "I know you're here all the time, and I appreciate your loyalty."
 

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Tell them that you are just looking round - politeness inverse to their pushiness - and then by body language simply shun them. If they have more than half an ounce of brain (less likely) they will then go and harass a more promising prospect.

They are servants in the shop and should know their place.
 

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Tell them that you are just looking round - politeness inverse to their pushiness - and then by body language simply shun them. If they have more than half an ounce of brain (less likely) they will then go and harass a more promising prospect.

They are servants in the shop and should know their place.
I really hope you are just pressing buttons here. It's not 1900s Bond Street, or remains of the day. Total fantasy. If you have that attitude with all members of the service industry I wouldn't like to see what goes into your soup.

We are a nation of shopkeepers remember.
 

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There's an unwriten rule amongst fashion industry people that if you go into a store you say hello to who's in front of you first and ask is it alright if I/we have a look around. When your done say thank you and walk out. Do all this in a straightforawrd respectful Gordon Ramsay like way.

Nobody will talk to you then hardly as they know your another designer/store checking them out.

If you do engage with a staff member don't feel bad about not buying sometimes they really do like to talk about clothes. when your not going to buy say thanks for showing me this or these and just be polite.

Sometimes people say just browsing like **** you. Some people ignore sales guys if they say hello. I always used to tell my kids if someone blanks you like this make eyecontact and greet them again until you get a response....it's just about respect.
+1, but even a little more. Remember, they are working for you. (No disrespect intended--good sales people offer valuable service). I went into Morris & Sons here in Chicago. They offer John Lobb, Brioni, etc. I had no intention whatsoever of spending money on my first visit. I wanted to understand the store and what they offer. When I went in, I happened to be in the neighborhood as I had to drive my daughter to an event at UIC and was killing time. I spoke to the sales person straight away and explained what I was doing and then began asking questions about the store. He was quite happy to help me and provided a solid history of the store and what I could find there. He walked me around and discussed the brands and asked me what I liked and questioned me gently on my own personal style. We had a pleasant exchange, and I received a great tour and good information which I would not have received had I poked around on my own. On the way out, I asked for his card. He glady produced it and told me the days and hours he worked. I said I would be sure to ask for him in the future. What it takes is confidence to understand sales people are there because they enjoy clothing and they (hopefully) enjoy serving people. They don't expect each exchange to end in a sale----today.
 

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everyone is just browsing until they actually buy

First off, manhandling merchandise with plans to purchase elsewhere is plainly unethical. If you might buy there, it's fine.
Whenever I'm shopping a place that exceeds my budget, I usually state up front that I likely won't be buying today and that they should tend to any other (potentially profitable) customers first.
Once you've tried on something that is absolutely faultless, simply explain that you wish to look elsewhere before deciding, thank you very much.
 
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