Monday, August 25, 2008

You Talk, I Answer About Sales Clerks, Kids & Money

A recent post about the teen sales clerk who befriended my 10-year-old daughter sparked a few comments. The conversation continues with my responses to the various comments. Feel free to leave feedback.

The short summary:

Telling My Daughter the Truth about Her New 'Friend,' The Salesclerk!

I had to tell my daughter the truth. At the risk of hurting my baby's feelings, I had to tell her that the cool teenager in the 'tween-age clothing store was not really a friend. The 16-year-old salesclerk --so cute, so charming -- was more interested in my 10-year-old daughter's wallet. I hope I did the right thing.

Evelyn said...

Oh you absolutely did the right thing. It's one of those life-lessons we never want our kids to experience, but an oh-so-necessary one. And who better to teach it than you to help her understand it ... instead of learning from the "school of hard knocks" later on. The more tools we give our kids when they are under are wings, makes it much easier for them to fly on their own when that time comes.

Thanks Evelyn:
I appreciate your feedback. Sometimes, it's hard judge when we're providing our kids with the right tools and when we're turning them into hardened cynics. I appreciate your vote of confidence.


Penny said...

Honestly, salesclerks in stores DO NOT make commission unless they work in shoes. Clothing stores do not pay commission to people that sell tshirts and skirts. So, I think that while it was good to tell your daughter that the girl wasn't her friend -- you also have to look at the sales clerk and realize she's probably just a nice girl that likes to help out tweens because she is probably bored out of her mind. Seriously, I used to work at a clothing store and if you never help customers it's pretty boring.

Thanks for your input. The sales clerk's behaviour could be attributed to kindness, boredom, a strong work ethic or the need for approval from her manager. Her motives may have been admirable.

But I felt a pang of concern because my daughter's wish to return to the store and spend money seemed driven by a need to please the nice teen sales clerk who had spent time with my daughter.

I had to say something. I was very kind to the sales clerk. I smiled, but I felt the need to draw some boundaries for my 10-year-old daughter.

Thanks so much for your feedback. It was great to get the other side of the story and I thank you for reading my blog and writing a comment!


pam munro said...

The lesson is that people can be friendly and even charming and not necessarily be your friend - There was no harm in acknowledging a friendly salesgirl - there are too many snooty ones and fresh-faced enthusiasm should be encouraged - but she is acting in her salesgirl capacity - which you should make clear to your daughter -

Hi Pam:

I agree with you very much and thank you for your comment!

Anonymous said...
I think you absolutely did the right thing. It is a hard lesson to learn but one that is best learned early. I think you chose your words VERY well. Think of it this way - in a few years she may be talking to a car salesman who wants to talk her into extended warranties and all kinds of extra bells and whistles for a car. You want her to be cautious of who she gives her money to. WELL DONE!

Thanks Anon!
Your comment means a lot to me. And you're right about future negotiations with car salesman and other vendors. Too often, we are steered and pushed toward trinkets and services that are not in our best interest. Even at the cosmetics counter, I sometimes feel a temptation to spend more money when the sales associate is especially nice. Thanks for stressing the importance of caution and discipline!

Kristen said...
A great story and a great lesson in being a savvy consumer for your daughter. I own a store for tweens (boys and girls), and it was interesting for me to hear the emphasis the salespeople there put on showering the kids with attention. Our customer service is mostly geared to the parents. Any kind of hard sell is offensive to me, but to kids? Wildly inappropriate.

Your perspective as store owner is very valuable. It's good to hear that your sales approach is marketed toward the adults and not kids. At this store, however, the older teen girls aimed their pitch right at the kids and, like you, I found that tactic to be offensive. Thanks for your comment.


Lauren said...
I think your actions and explanation to your daughter were dead on accurate. Even as adults we get caught up in slick marketing and advertising. Buy this and you will look like me, use that and your life will be wonderful.The cute 'tween clerk was overtly operating the same way. Kudos to you for recognizing it, and then taking the "teachable moment" to educate your daughter!

Chaucey said...
I think you did the right thing. I think a lot of people haven't learnt this lesson and end up overspending because the salesperson has been so nice to them. I read about this is in a marketing book where the concept was called reciprocity.

Thanks Lauren & Chaucey:
Great comments with thoughtful insights about marketing and "teachable" moments. Thank You! Thank YOU!

Thanks to all for writing!

Here's how to buy my new book:

@ Barnes & Noble
@ Borders


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the importance of "customer savvy-ness" comment. And I completely understand the need to teach your child boundaries when it comes to her money. Thanks for the link!

Frugal Duchess said...

Thanks Penny....I appreciate your comments!!

Take care,

MVanity said...

It's very true that the way the clerk acts is partially based on what her higher-ups expect. I was hired about a month or so ago at a 'tween clothing store, and I've come to find it not so much my cup of tea. We're supposed to "make friends" with the girl and adult, or the girl[s], and try to sell them as much stuff as we can, by talking to them, or even looking at what they have, and bringing more stuff that matches/accessorizes/looks similar, and show it to them and so on. I find it uncomfortable, personally, because while I love kids, and enjoy talking to the few people who are very friendly and start conversation, I'm only supposed to be friendly enough to make the sale and make more sales while doing it, and that in itself makes me feel fake, seeing as we're supposed to make the store feel like a second home to the girls, but yet simply see them as consumers and a goal of how much money we can get them to spend?... and I personally would get quite irritated with a sales person bringing me loads of stuff, and always have been that way, so I have a hard time seeing how so many people could like someone following them&&constantly foisting things on them.

Just my rambling thoughts after a exhausting day at work.