Recently I had to make a purchase. I can’t really say what I bought as it would be a giveaway to where this person works and I really don’t want to do that to a business. But after reflecting on the sales approach by the business’ salesperson, I don’t think that I will be shopping there again.

I entered the business looking to replace something in my home. I had already made my mind up that I did not want a traditional piece, but something that was more 21st century. The store had limited options that fit my criteria but enough for me to discover something I liked.

A salesperson approached me and asked if I could be helped and what I was looking for. I explained to him the requirements I needed and explained why I wasn’t looking for the others that they had showcased. The salesperson brought me to the item I would end up purchasing to start. I took a look at it and tested it out (making up my mind already based on the price and its look).

This is where the salesperson went from helpful to disrespectful.

After seeing that I was satisfied with the first option, I got the “Oh, wait why don’t you take a look at this one,” spiel. It was no coincidence that the item that the salesperson took me to was six times the price and did not fit the prior description I stated. I figured the person worked on commission and I wasn’t in a hurry so I listened to them run down the specs on the item.

I explained to the salesperson again that it did not fit my specifications and I was happy with the other item and wanted to purchase it. That is when I was taken to another item and explained why my choice was not a good one. Still going through the motions, I explained again that I liked the first item and was ready to purchase it.

Next came the small talk while we rang up the item and saw if they had another in the back that wasn’t the display model. The salesperson discussed a lot about their background and why they were such a great salesperson. “I really don’t work at this location, but I am brought in specifically to help sales,” they said. It wasn’t that hard to make the sale as I was in need of a replacement item and they had one, simple enough.

What really struck me was what he said next. “Hey, where do you work?” I explained that I worked at the local paper. “Really, you guys still have one? Is it a weekly? No, five times a week. “Really? Well newspapers probably won’t be around much longer… .”

That was really insulting. I couldn’t believe that someone would openly criticize someone’s line of work if they were trying to make a sale. I didn’t counter with “Well, I am shocked you guys are still open considering your corporate offices had to ‘reconfigure’ themselves in the last six months (all the best zingers are thought of after the initial event).”

Despite his statements being wrong, I wondered who trained them in? The customer is always right adage must not have been in their playbook. Or maybe the person was sick that day? You can never tell. I stayed cool to the fact and finished my purchase.

I could have returned my item, but what is the point? Some other options are also not beacons of hospitality and customer service. But you really can’t blame the community as this salesperson was sent from Bismarck to “help out sales.” The other person working at the place could have easily got the commission.

It is interesting when you meet people who are as clueless as this salesperson. I assume other lines of work have had things said to them, “So, your a doctor. Is your handwriting really that bad?” “Oh, your a lawyer.  Did you ever catch that ambulance?” “A teacher aye? Must be nice to get summers off.” I would say that if I was in one of these professions, I probably wouldn’t respond kindly to the salesperson.

I now know that I won’t be purchasing anything from that business again. Customer service can go a long way in business and sometimes it may be the reason a business doesn’t go a long way.

Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears Friday.


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