As someone who’s been on both sides of the retail counter; I have much respect for the retail salesperson. It’s a thankless job sometimes and the pay can be peanuts. it’s no doubt that retail salespeople work hard for their money and the situation is compounded if they are paid based on sale commissions. It’s a tough job; but sales must be made. What is a salesperson to do?
It may sound wrong but, a small lie or omission will go a long way to securing a deal. These are some of the most common lies retail salespeople tell you and what they most likely, truly mean.
1. “This is the last piece”
The ‘last piece’ lie speaks to your inner kiasu and fuels a sense of urgency. This statement is usually made a little after you have already shown some interest in the item but are not running to the till just yet. It is the soft push of someone already on the edge of the consumer precipice. There is possibly a storage facility full of the same item or if not; a supplier on hand to supply more when necessary.
What it really means: The last piece lie is most likely told to push you to buy something the salespersons knows you already want but are struggling to make a decision on . Sometimes; it’s also used when the item you are interested in is damaged or imperfect. By telling you there is no other like it; if you want it bad enough, you will buy it anyway. The problem with using this lie too often is the”boy who cried wolf syndrome”: no one is going to believe you when it’s actually true!
2. “You’re my first customer so I give you the best price”
Usually told by street vendors whom you haggle with and the odd small business owner. Whilst this may be true often enough – you know you’re being taken in when it’s 2pm on a busy weekend. Some variations of this include “you’re a nice looking girl/boy; I give you good price,” or “I know you come here often so I give you good price”.
What it really means: A little bit of harmless flattery; it’s usually meant to stop you from haggling further and possibly ensure you don’t get to the competitor’s stall. Is it really the best price they can do…? That’s one of those well-guarded industry secrets although my money is on: probably not.
3. “Today is the last day of the sale”
A lot of places do advertise start and end dates for sales but many don’t. For the places that don’t; don’t be surprised if you’re told every day you walk into the store that that particular day is the last day. True story: over Christmas our writer noticed a good sale going on at a store in a popular mall. She wanted to get presents anyway and grabbed a handful of items that were on sale. The salesperson added deftly, “Don’t you want a little something for yourself too? After all, this sale is ending in 2 days.” So she bought a few extra things. Cut to the future three days later and not only is the sale still going on; prices are slashed even lower! Seeing she had been taken; she casually asked another salesgirl when the sales would be over. Would you know it? She said within the next three days.
What it really means: This one, much like the ‘last piece’ lie appeals to your emergency switch. If you don’t act now; prices will rise! And just like our writer, you buy just a bit more than you intended. It also helps the outlet make more money off an item by selling it at a less discounted price. You’ll notice sale mechanics work on levels. Some items are slashed 30%, some 50% and some 70%. The 30% item will eventually need to be slashed further if it doesn’t sell within a certain period meaning the longer you wait for a sale to progress – the cheaper prices will get.
4. “Your skin/hair/eyes very puffy/oily/dry. You should buy this.”
Men, unless you frequent salons and skincare outlets a lot; you can probably sit this one out. Back in the day, your stylist/ beauty therapist and makeup counter lady was the expert you sought when your hair or skin was feeling less than wow. Today, she’s more likely to be making things up to get you to buy more products you don’t really need. Be wary of the salon stylist who’s always trying to sell you a treatment or the beauty therapist who insults you covertly.
Of course, we’d like to take a moment and shout out to the fabulous stylists and beauticians who really are looking out for you! We know you exist; but like meter-less cabbies and doctors who prescribe antibiotics for a flu; the overbearing beautician is giving you a bad name.
What it really means: I need to sell you a product. Any one will do. So I am going to pretend you have really oily scalp and dry skin on your face.
5. “This item is imported.”
Less of a lie but more of a twisting of truth; the ‘it’s imported’ statement is to make the item appear exclusive and hard to get. Also, there are still quite a few Malaysians who are impressed by items imported from the USA or UK but not so much China or Taiwan. Salespeople know this; that’s why they stop at ‘imported’ and unless you ask “from where?” they are unlikely to mention it if it is an Asian country. Again, from personal experience, our writer purchased a cosmetic product supposedly from France. Upon reading the label she found the item was made in Malaysia and shipped to France to be labelled and then sent back to Malaysia for sale!
What it really means: The item may be imported but a good chunk of what’s on our shelves is imported. Saying an item is imported doesn’t actually make it any better or more exclusive but it does give out the impression of being so. Of course, if you’re a shopper who doesn’t care where an item comes from as long as it’s made well, then this is no problem for you!
But all in all; we love you, salespeople all the same!
All that said, we know salespeople work hard for the money. Standing for 8 hours and dealing with all kinds of customers isn’t easy. Sure, we may laugh at some of the funny lies we’re told to make a sale but all in all; we know you’re just trying to do your job as best you can. But trust us when we say; we’re probably going to buy anyway!
Have a good shopping weekend guys!