Friday, 7 February 2014

Counter Encounters

I am not the most confident of people, especially around folks I don't know, and I hate being pestered when I'm shopping so visiting makeup counters can be a bit of an ordeal for me. It first started when I was a teenager and visited one particular counter, birthday money in hand, to invest in some quality skincare. Unfortunately the consultant lady left me in no doubt as to what she thought of a 15yr old darkening her counter and I left empty handed and thoroughly disillusioned. I've actually avoided that particular brand ever since, although I'm sure she was an exception rather than the rule. 

Fast forward half a lifetime and I've had many much more pleasurable experiences (including in the John Lewis Southampton beauty hall, pictured) but I've encountered a few more less than friendly people too. So here are my top tips for dealing with the makeup dragons of this world!

The Pushy Penelope - this sales assistant really, really wants you to buy stuff, preferably as much as possible and irrespective of whether you want it or if it suits you. She will usually pounce on you within seconds of your arrival at her counter and won't leave you alone. Her tactics can be quite overt ("you should have this...and this...and this") or more sneaky (while ringing up your desired purchase she casually says "oh you'll want this as well" and reaches for the extra product). The best way to deal with Penelope is to be firm and stick to your guns - if all you want is that single pan eyeshadow then say so. If she gets too pushy just walk away - chances are there's another counter for that brand somewhere close by.

 The Ignores You Ingrid - Ingrid is the opposite of Penelope and refuses to acknowledge your existence no matter what. You could be dancing naked around her counter and she would still look right through you! The best tactics to break Ingrid's icy facade are to either loudly say how much you would like to purchase a product but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a sales assistant around (this works particularly well when her manager is around) or to approach another sales assistant, and explain that you would like some information on a product and you assume she must be the expert as her colleague has nothing to say. Never underestimate the embarrassment factor!

The Rude Rachel - you're happily swatching away and all of a sudden a presence behind you asks if you actually intend to buy anything today. Enter Rachel! She's impatient and rude and makes it clear she would prefer you not clutter up her counter actually looking at the products. Remember here that you're the customer and you have the choice over whether you spend your hard earned cash with her or not. Politely inform her that yes you would like to make a purchase but not before you've had chance to choose what you want and either ask for her advice (if you want it) or ask her to give you a few minutes. Knowing that she probably is going to get a sale will generally make her back off but if not then tell her you were going to but don't appreciate being rushed and will check out a different brand instead.

The Snobby Sarah - she makes it quite evident that her brand's products are far too expensive, posh or exclusive for the likes of you, a mere mortal, to be thinking of buying. My 15yr old encounter was most definitely with a Sarah and I encountered several in my student days when I wasn't dressed up smart for client meetings or court (I'm not a raving criminal - I did law). Her catty comments make you feel about 3" tall and 6yrs old. The key to avoiding a Sarah is all in the approach. If you act like you're sufficiently rich and important (aren't we all, even if just to our mums?) to belong at her counter she will generally assume you do. I'm not suggesting you put on fake airs and graces or come off just as high and mighty, but a little confidence goes a long way and if you are a young person avoid going in a big group as this will unfortunately make you a prime target.

Now I'm not for a second suggesting that all beauty counter sales assistants fall into one of these categories. The vast majority are really lovely, polite, helpful and friendly and make your beauty shopping even more fun. Where you are served by one of these lovely ladies be sure to thank her!

Have you encountered one of these makeup dragons or are you lucky enough to only meet Lovely Laura's?

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