Salespeople in Singapore

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a movie star?  Always dealing with paparazzi, fans, and never being able to finish a sentence to a companion without being interrupted?

If you’d like that experience, may I suggest being obviously foreign and going shopping in Singapore?  Sales people don’t just show up and offer to help you…they follow you.  If you linger at an item (like oh, a printer) they begin to do a HARD SELL on that particular printer.  They will keep talking after you say “no thanks.”  If one sales person gives up on you, another will swoop in, hoping to get you to buy whatever the first person failed at getting you to buy.

Honestly, the beggars in India could take a lesson from Singaporean salespeople in persistence (and we were once followed down a street by a group of beggars, who also waited outside the store we went into to escape from them).

For all I know, working retail in Singapore could be a straight commission job, so the sales people have the ultimate motivation to get you to buy.  But as a customer, it very quickly reaches the level of harassment.  It turns me off.  It makes me not want to buy something, especially given that many stores do not have a return policy…buyer’s remorse is not a fleeting thing here.

It’s not that the phenomenon doesn’t exist stateside.  Victoria’s Secret, for one, has incredibly aggressive salespeople.  Which is a reason I stopped shopping there.  But for the most part, it has been my experience that if you make it clear to a salesperson that you aren’t interested in help that they go away.  Here I’ve looked a salesperson in the face as he was blithering on about a printer AFTER we made it clear that we weren’t interested in help, and said “No one is listening to you,” only to have him keep giving us the hard sell.

Now, to be fair, it isn’t all stores.  Just try to find someone to help you in Toys R Us, for example.  Or Mustafa…you can walk around for DAYS in Mustafa (especially as it’s open 24/7/365) and not find a salesperson to help you.  But Courts or Best Denke (the local equivalents of Best Buy), a clothing store, electronics stores?  You walk in and from their perspective, IT’S ON.

I will also say it would be far less annoying if they actually knew what they were talking about.  But when we bought out tv and, more recently as we’ve looked at a new printer, it becomes quickly clear to me that they are reciting product guides.  Ravi will ask them a question about the blah-blah and they have no idea.  But from R’s perspective (as someone who knows things about electronics) it’s an important and valid question.  It’s something that people who review tv/printers/dvd players for a living talk about in their reviews and he wants to know how the blah-blah on this measures up.  Or, by comparison, when I’ve tried to figure out sizing for my daughter…they only know that she’s 2, so she SHOULD wear size blah.  It’s great that she SHOULD wear size blah…she’s small for her age, so is she 1 or 2 sizes smaller than you think she should be?  How do the sizes compare to US sizes?  If I know her height and weight, can you help me figure it out?  Nope.  Which is, among other reasons, why I don’t tend to buy many clothes for Elanor here; if you can’t help me figure out the right size, then why should I pay an inflated cost for your clothing?

Shopping was always a big thing for me in the US.  But between the price increases and the aggressive salespeople, while I spend a lot of time in shopping “districts” and shopping malls…I spend very little of it in stores these days.

This entry was posted in general places, Shopping, Singapore. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Salespeople in Singapore

  1. bookjunkie says:

    I really don’t like shopping here either…I don’t like being tailed by salespeople who make me feel like I am a shop lifter!! Usually when I get too bothered by persistent sales people I just walk away. I’d rather pay more and buy from a place with great polite service than from stores that hard sell and give you a grouchy look when you don’t buy.

    It was funny how to pointed out that Mustafa is the other extreme 😉

  2. Nancy says:

    Only marginally related to your post, but a hint from when I shopped for my two oddly sized children when they were young: I would bring a top or pants of theirs that I knew fit them really well and could use it to “size” items in the store. Then I could tell if the waist was going to be way too big or if the pants or sleeves too long or short. Let me know if you try that, how it works for you!

    • Crystal says:

      Nancy-that’s a good idea! I will have to try it (once she actually settles into her new size…she’s currently mid-to-end growth spurt on me at the moment)

  3. Dawn Perlner says:

    Wait…”aggressive salespeople” is the reason you stopped shopping at VS? I’ve never noticed “aggressive salespeople” at VS, and there are so much *better* reasons not to shop there (overpriced, uncomfortable, perfumed store, unflattering unless you’re a size 2). If it were only “aggressive salespeople” they do have an on-line store (with more of a range of sizes available than they have in the store).

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve never walked into a VS without at least two clueless 20soething saleswomen trying to shove their item of the moment on me. It’s incredibly irritating. I also have stylistically outgrown their stuff…if I wanted PINK written across my ass, I’d be at least 12-14 years younger than I am. They have my size…I just don’t like the store in large part because of pushy salesgirls.

      Honestly, I just switched to FOH and was much happier, back in the day (or if I just want a 1/2 time use bra–like a strapless or something to fit a specific top/dress…or a cheap push up bra). Now I actually buy grown up bras at intimacy (Copley Sq Mall in Boston for non-locals), where they women actually know how to fit you, the various sizing quirks of the different styles/companies and I’ve found the quality of the bras to be worth the extra cash.

      • Dawn Perlner says:

        Personally, I don’t fit into “normal” sizes as I’m “petite,” and find that even in stores that have good petite sections, such as Gap, they don’t carry them in the actual stores. Which means you can’t take advantage of sales and whatnot. 😦

        As for VS, I remember being pretty lost in VS stores once upon a time (though I admit I haven’t shopped there in years either). I had to flag down a saleswoman and even then she couldn’t really answer my questions. I’d definitely agree with “clueless twenty-somethings.”

        As for bras, I really can’t tell the difference between cheap & expensive bras. I generally get the cheapest one I can find and even if it’s slightly off size-wise I can just adjust it myself (the bras I buy usually have two or three settings for clipping in the back and adjustable straps).

  4. rose_coloured says:

    I understand your frustration. I had the same thing happen to me in Korea. Although they would get the message that I wanted them to piss off. But I also had a language barrier in trying to express that sentiment.
    The ridiculous thing for me was that it wasn’t hard sell all the time. I would be in a make-up store and pick up a lipstick and check out the colour and the salesgirl would say “lipstick”. Thanks, that’s very helpful. Because obviously we don’t have lipstick in my country and I was wondering what it was.

    • Crystal says:

      While that’s a funny story to hear (you made me snort) I can definitely see how irritating that could get, and how quickly.

  5. Alaine says:

    Its funny that you should write a post about the Singapore salespeople. Culturally, in Asia, a pushy salesperson means good customer service and being ignored literally meant they didn’t care about you. I know this b/c I have parents that do business in Asia and grew up that way.
    I spent some time working in retail between jobs here in the US and noticed the difference. Always appear available and ask if they need any assistance, if not, back away but within an earshot away so that you can be available when they do ask a question.
    Perhaps instead of being “turned off” by the push salespersons, politely tell them that you will ask for them with questions after you are done looking at the products. If that doesn’t work, just ignore them. They may not get the hint but at least you can be rest assured that they reason why they are stuck on you is b/c they want to show their hospitality and ambassadors for their country.
    Oh Cross-cultural misunderstandings can be so frustrating!

    • Crystal says:

      Believe me when I say I’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work. The only thing that has worked is telling them plainly to go away…and even then it only works for about 5 minutes. It really is a tremendous turn-off.

Comments are closed.