Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Etiquette of the Rich and Famous => Topic started by: Rockie on August 13, 2013, 02:05:12 PM

Title: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Rockie on August 13, 2013, 02:05:12 PM
http://www.contactmusic.com/in-depth/oprah-winfrey-zurich-racism-row-sale-assistant-claims-absurd_3811387

Basically, Oprah went into a store and asked to see a handbag. Sales assistant refused to show it to her claiming it was "too expensive" and kept trying to show her other less expensive bags even when Oprah asked again to see the first bag. Oprah simply thanked her for her time and left. The sales assistant claims it did not happen that way, she did offer to show her the handbag she asked about, and that she was not trying to be racist.

It's possible that it's all a big misunderstanding (the sales assistant did say, "I spoke to Oprah Winfrey in English. My English is OK but not excellent, unfortunately."). Though if it's as Oprah described, I do think it was rude of the sales assistant to refuse to let her see the original handbag and to try and presume whether it was "too expensive" for her. Suggesting other similar handbags would be fine, but refusing to let her see the original handbag even when asked more than once and making assumptions about her financial situation is not.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: VorFemme on August 13, 2013, 06:45:51 PM
Assuming Oprah Winfrey can't buy any handbag that she wants - up to and including one of platinum chain links set with tiny diamonds & fire opals that comes with its own armed guard prepaid for the first year.....means that someone didn't recognize who they were waiting on.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on August 13, 2013, 06:56:22 PM
I was thinking along the same lines.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Oh Joy on August 13, 2013, 06:58:39 PM
My Mediterranean DH actually mentioned this to me last night, in the context of Americans traveling abroad and not understanding that things will be different.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: KenveeB on August 13, 2013, 07:15:14 PM
IF it happened the way Oprah described, then the clerk was rude. No matter what you privately think about a customer's ability to afford something, it's your job to present the customer with what she requests. However, given Oprah's other overly dramatic stories in the past about being refused to be waited out of racism (like the Hermes incident, when they just refused to kowtow to a famous person being a SS), I'm more inclined to believe the clerk's version of what happened.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 13, 2013, 07:47:30 PM
I am not sure. The store sounds elitist but there are people who want to shop in that kind of environment. They don't want to buy a purse that Sharnita A. Middleclass has put her hands on so they do want management to be selective about who gets their hands on the bag.

I kind of doubt Oprah would have objected had they recognized her as the elite but declined to show it to me after (correctly) recognizing me as one of the common folk.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Hmmmmm on August 13, 2013, 08:01:07 PM
I read the clerks version and it seems plausible.

I've had clerks and others let me know one item is a better value over a different one, which is what the clerk claims she was trying to do.

But with limited English I can see it being misinterpreted.

My DD and I were at a place last year and a clerk with limited English skills kept telling us "No, No, this one better for you." We were looking at some handmade jewlry and she was trying to indicate the quality of the stone was better in a different one over the one we initially was looking at.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 13, 2013, 08:17:37 PM
I'm not saying it as an insult. The fact of the matyer is that she patronizes a lot of places and products that "regular" people can't afford. The fact that those places and items are exclusive and elitist haven't stopped her from being customer, any.more than it has stopped the rezt of the.rich.and famous. I don't actually object to that but it seems silly not to ackowledge that she is a part of it herself. The big sin on the store clerk's part wad the failure to recognize her as part of the elite.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yvaine on August 13, 2013, 08:47:25 PM
I'm not saying it as an insult. The fact of the matyer is that she patronizes a lot of places and products that "regular" people can't afford. The fact that those places and items are exclusive and elitist haven't stopped her from being customer, any.more than it has stopped the rezt of the.rich.and famous. I don't actually object to that but it seems silly not to ackowledge that she is a part of it herself. The big sin on the store clerk's part wad the failure to recognize her as part of the elite.

There's a pretty big difference between:

(a) "This place is expensive, so most of the people who go there are wealthy; people who aren't rich mostly don't bother."

(b) "This place actively does not want anyone middle-class or lower to even touch the merchandise, AND Oprah likes it that way."
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 13, 2013, 09:09:49 PM
I think that in certain cases she and a lot of the very wealthy are. When you want Hermes to open for you, when you are looking at a $40,000 purse and considering buying it, there is a bot of elitism there. You certainly don't believe or expect everyone can or will get that accesd. You are enjoying special treatment your money/fame/status afford you. Does that mean she or they do it 24/7? No.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: FoxPaws on August 13, 2013, 10:35:09 PM
Ever since Oprah made a big stink claiming racism because a shop wouldn't open up after hours just for her, I have to take any further claims she makes of the same nature with several large grains of salt. When I originally read about this, my first thought was, "language barrier."

Apparently, $77 billion can't buy crocodile bags, common sense, or benefit of the doubt. Oprah needs to get over herself.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: KenveeB on August 13, 2013, 10:39:45 PM
Oprah's released a new statement basically saying "never mind, I wish I'd never brought it up." Except there's no way she wouldn't have known the attention an accusation like this from Oprah would bring. Sounds like she wasn't expecting the clerk to fight back and wants to try to ignore it now.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: rose red on August 14, 2013, 07:53:04 AM
Oprah's released a new statement basically saying "never mind, I wish I'd never brought it up." Except there's no way she wouldn't have known the attention an accusation like this from Oprah would bring. Sounds like she wasn't expecting the clerk to fight back and wants to try to ignore it now.

Not that I think clerks should treat anyone badly (we've all been there :(), but right from the beginning, she kept playing it off like it didn't matter, it was what it was, it's just an incident, no big deal, etc.  But I'm skeptical she didn't know a thing like that will be big entertainment news.  Even when I first saw her tell the story, I thought she failed at being breezy because she gave *just* enough detail for me to know she wanted revenge (for lack of a better word).
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: DottyG on August 15, 2013, 12:16:25 PM
I read the clerks version and it seems plausible.

I've had clerks and others let me know one item is a better value over a different one, which is what the clerk claims she was trying to do.

But with limited English I can see it being misinterpreted.

My DD and I were at a place last year and a clerk with limited English skills kept telling us "No, No, this one better for you." We were looking at some handmade jewlry and she was trying to indicate the quality of the stone was better in a different one over the one we initially was looking at.

Having been in a situation where Oprah prevented me and my staff from getting to our own offices because she had arrived in the vacinity (insert trumpet fanfare here), I'm with the clerk.  I lost pretty much any respect I had for her that day.

Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: ydpubs on August 15, 2013, 12:32:14 PM
Being from Chicago and knowing quite a number of people who either worked for her or encountered her in person, I do not believe anything she says. I do not think she is a nice person at all and I do believe she was being retaliatory and lying about the incident.

The running joke about Oprah:

If Oprah is standing in a forest and there are no cameras around to record her, would she do anything nice?

Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on August 15, 2013, 12:33:42 PM
She always annoyed me by the way that she'd have guests on but would hardly let them talk.  She's ask questions but then interrupt their answer. 

"Oh it was a tough movie to make wasn't it?"
"Well it was a grueling schedule for sure, and-"
"Isn't that the worst when you have a schedule like that?  So tell me, how do you truly feel about the message of this movie?"
"Well I feel-"
"Because I think it's a wonderful message!"

Might as well just say they're there to give her something to talk to.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: MommyPenguin on August 15, 2013, 01:03:04 PM
From articles I read on it, it sounds like the clerk said something more along the lines of, "Well, there's this other bag that is basically the same but for a better price!  You should take a look at this one!"

And, honestly, for her to claim it's *racist*?  If anything, even if it was exactly as Oprah had said, it was classist, not racist.  Didn't the exact same scene happen in Pretty Woman, something that we quote all the time?  We've had a zillion stories about it.  Claiming that something that *does* happen to people plenty, happened to her *because she was black*, seems the height of looking for racism.  And a bit suspicious, given that she's promoting a movie about racism.  I think it's all hype.  I'm inclined to believe the clerk, and I don't think any racism was intended.   Besides, Zurich doesn't have the same history of racial tension that we do here.

I think Oprah may be backpedaling because people tracked down where the incident happened and what she tried to make a general "racist incident that happened to me once" became a specific accusation, and she realized that her accusations could really hurt an innocent woman's career.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: KenveeB on August 15, 2013, 01:04:07 PM
She always annoyed me by the way that she'd have guests on but would hardly let them talk.  She's ask questions but then interrupt their answer. 

"Oh it was a tough movie to make wasn't it?"
"Well it was a grueling schedule for sure, and-"
"Isn't that the worst when you have a schedule like that?  So tell me, how do you truly feel about the message of this movie?"
"Well I feel-"
"Because I think it's a wonderful message!"

Might as well just say they're there to give her something to talk to.

She would also very piously announce that she wasn't going to have Political Candidate X appear on her show, because she's Not Political. Then she'd have Political Candidate Y on four times, go to rallies, and announce how wonderful that candidate was constantly.  ::) Just admit you're political and choosing who to support, it's your right. Don't try to act like you're all above it and then dive into the middle.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 15, 2013, 01:15:06 PM
Without getting into any discussion of Oprah's history or personality, I can't think of any reason a salesclerk's response to "Can I see that purse please?" should be anything other than "Yes, let me get that for you."   Insisting on showing something that is a 'better value' is really not the clerks call, and as a customer and as the clerk's employer I'd be pretty annoyed at that behavior.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 15, 2013, 01:30:51 PM
I don't think it alwaus will be "yes". If I go ask to test drive a Bently the amswer is unlikely to be "yes". It is likely to be "Thank you for you interest, may we kindly direct you to dealership down the road"

There are some businesses that are exclusive. There are some products that are exclusive. There are some restaurants and clubs where "normal" people can't get in for months (if ever) but the name Oprah gets a prime table as soon as the request is made.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 15, 2013, 01:35:50 PM
I don't think it alwaus will be "yes". If I go ask to test drive a Bently the amswer is unlikely to be "yes". It is likely to be "Thank you for you interest, may we kindly direct you to dealership down the road"

There are some businesses that are exclusive. There are some products that are exclusive. There are some restaurants and clubs where "normal" people can't get in for months (if ever) but the name Oprah gets a prime table as soon as the request is made.

I think bringing in other comparisons is going to seriously cloud this issue.  She wasn't asking to test drive a Bentley, she wasn't trying to get reservations at a restaurant booked months in advanced.    She was in a store asking to get a closer look at a purse that was for sale.

If the clerk decided that the purse was too 'exclusive' for Oprah Winfrey, then the clerk made a serious mistake and should be making groveling apologies.    How can we possibly excuse the Clerk's behavior in this matter?
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 15, 2013, 01:46:38 PM
Because I think there are items, purses included, that   are meant to be exclusive. The problem in that case would be failure to recognize that Oprah belonged to the most exclusive customer base, not being exclusive. It's a purse that costs more than a lot of cars - I am not surprised to learn that they don't show it to everyone.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yvaine on August 15, 2013, 01:57:07 PM
I don't think it alwaus will be "yes". If I go ask to test drive a Bently the amswer is unlikely to be "yes". It is likely to be "Thank you for you interest, may we kindly direct you to dealership down the road"

And I would think that business was wrong to do that. How do they know whether you can afford the Bentley or not, just by looking at you? They don't. They'd be stereotyping based on things like how you were dressed. And a rich person could dress down just as easily as anyone else. They have a legal right to not show you the car, oI think, but it's bad business practice and it's rude.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 15, 2013, 02:00:06 PM
Because I think there are items, purses included, that   are meant to be exclusive. The problem in that case would be failure to recognize that Oprah belonged to the most exclusive customer base, not being exclusive. It's a purse that costs more than a lot of cars - I am not surprised to learn that they don't show it to everyone.

That is a huge problem! If you are going to sell a $$$ purse to only the 'right' people than you'd better be darn sure you can identify the 'right' people.   If you can't, than you are bad at your job - _and_ rude!     

I just don't see any other possible conclusion.   
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 15, 2013, 02:41:29 PM
In general, there are a variety of cues on both sides that would probably signal that the customer is "exclusive enough". Perhaps a language barrier prevented Oprah from giving the xies  and/or the cashier from picking up on them. Realiztically these places/products/systems exist. Realistically Oprah has voluntarily participated at least occassionally.She certainly isn't the only one, she won't be the last. I am sure this cashier is not the first to be imperfect as far as the sustem goes, and yet people are still willing to participate.

Oprah had a beef because Hermes would not open just for her but it didn't make her say "I guess that the exclusivity thing isn't all it cracked up to be". Now if it is an imperfect system, ss systems tend to be, it is one she has opted in to. There is no evidence that there.were race based issues.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 15, 2013, 02:52:19 PM
In general, there are a variety of cues on both sides that would probably signal that the customer is "exclusive enough".

But it's completely beyond the pale to imagine that skin color could be one of them?

Quote
Perhaps a language barrier prevented Oprah from giving the xies  and/or the cashier from picking up on them.

If the clerk doesn't expect to encounter wealthy, English speaking Americans than he/she is extraordinarily bad at their job.

Quote
Realiztically these places/products/systems exist. Realistically Oprah has voluntarily participated at least occassionally.She certainly isn't the only one, she won't be the last. I am sure this cashier is not the first to be imperfect as far as the sustem goes, and yet people are still willing to participate.

Oprah had a beef because Hermes would not open just for her but it didn't make her say "I guess that the exclusivity thing isn't all it cracked up to be". Now if it is an imperfect system, ss systems tend to be, it is one she has opted in to. There is no evidence that there.were race based issues.

I don't care about Hermes and I don't care about Oprah particularly - I care about etiquette and this clerk failed at it.  Nothing in Oprah's checkered past changes that.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yvaine on August 15, 2013, 02:54:57 PM
I don't care about Hermes and I don't care about Oprah particularly - I care about etiquette and this clerk failed at it.  Nothing in Oprah's checkered past changes that.

This. I don't care if Oprah is or isn't a nice person and I don't care that she really is rich--I would feel the same way if Jane Smith went to that store and was treated like that. It may have been racist, it may have been classist, but either way I think it was rude.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 15, 2013, 02:56:38 PM
You can also imagine it is height, weight, religion, age, nationality, dietary preference. It is definitely wrong to make accusations based on those imaginings.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yvaine on August 15, 2013, 02:58:43 PM
You can also imagine it is height, weight, religion, age, nationality, dietary preference. It is definitely wrong to make accusations based on those imaginings.

Well then, we can criticize Oprah for perhaps jumping to a hasty conclusion about why she was getting bad service, but that doesn't negate the fact that it was bad service.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: SleepyKitty on August 15, 2013, 03:08:19 PM
I don't care about Hermes and I don't care about Oprah particularly - I care about etiquette and this clerk failed at it.  Nothing in Oprah's checkered past changes that.

But, to me, the reason why we're discussing Oprah's past is because she and the clerk presented two radically different stories. In the article, the clerk says she offered Oprah bags that were similar but less expensive and then "I even asked her if she wanted to look at the [original] bag." In which case, not only was the clerk not rude, but she was actually doing her job well - looking out for the customer's best interest and offering the customer other products.

So, if Oprah's story is factually accurate, yes, the clerk was rude. But, due to the language barrier and other aspects that have already been brought up, some of us are pointing out that there's a very good chance that the clerk wasn't rude because she didn't actually do what she was accused of.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: ydpubs on August 15, 2013, 03:16:47 PM
I don't care about Hermes and I don't care about Oprah particularly - I care about etiquette and this clerk failed at it.  Nothing in Oprah's checkered past changes that.

But, to me, the reason why we're discussing Oprah's past is because she and the clerk presented two radically different stories. In the article, the clerk says she offered Oprah bags that were similar but less expensive and then "I even asked her if she wanted to look at the [original] bag." In which case, not only was the clerk not rude, but she was actually doing her job well - looking out for the customer's best interest and offering the customer other products.

So, if Oprah's story is factually accurate, yes, the clerk was rude. But, due to the language barrier and other aspects that have already been brought up, some of us are pointing out that there's a very good chance that the clerk wasn't rude because she didn't actually do what she was accused of.

Yes. And my earlier comment about her should have included the fact that I speak from someone who worked in the service industry and how she behaved. It was not pleasant at all, this is why I would side with the sales clerk.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: lowspark on August 15, 2013, 03:22:13 PM
If the store is selling bag #1 at (let's say) $100 and whenever a customer asks to see it, the clerk says, "oh you don't want that, here's a bag that's just like it for $75", how is the $100 purse ever going to get sold? Doesn't make sense.

On the other hand, if the customer asks to see the $100 bag and the clerk wants to suggests additional bags for the customer to look at, the clerk is then showing several items of merchandise for the customer to decide between.

I've gotten the "you can't afford this" treatment before. I can't imagine what they based that on aside from the brief moment they've had to assess me based on my looks. Maybe it was the way I was dressed or the way I wore my hair, I dunno. But I can well imagine that Oprah was wearing expensive clothes, and was, to use a French expression, tiré ŕ quatre épingles. So aside from her clothing/hair related appearance, what else could she be judged upon at a glance?

Since the two stories vary so much, we'll never know what was really said. But I just can't imagine how this clerk makes her money if she doesn't show the merchandise when asked.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 15, 2013, 03:52:39 PM
I agree lowspark - even with the clerk's version of the story, it isn't clear why her response wasn't just "here's the bag you are interested in."

If a customer comes in and asks to see a item, a salesclerk should have a _very_ good reason for saying anything other than "Of course, let me get that for you..."    Maybe clerks who sale $$$ handbags don't always say that - but that doesn't mean they aren't always rude.   Rudeness abounds, and I'm not giving this clerk a pass just because people don't like Oprah. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: CreteGirl on August 15, 2013, 03:59:44 PM
As the store's owner, I would be beyond livid that my employee blew a chance to sell a $38,000 purse.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: PastryGoddess on August 15, 2013, 08:42:42 PM
I agree lowspark - even with the clerk's version of the story, it isn't clear why her response wasn't just "here's the bag you are interested in."

If a customer comes in and asks to see a item, a salesclerk should have a _very_ good reason for saying anything other than "Of course, let me get that for you..."    Maybe clerks who sale $$$ handbags don't always say that - but that doesn't mean they aren't always rude.   Rudeness abounds, and I'm not giving this clerk a pass just because people don't like Oprah. 

This so this. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Psychopoesie on August 15, 2013, 09:06:58 PM
Pod lowspark.

I can't really see any logical reason for the salesperson to redirect the a shopper's attention to a less expensive bag except a judgement that the shopper can't afford it. An exclusive shop where they actively try to steer all their customers to less expensive items? I don't think so.

This judgement can happen for a number of reasons. If I was the shopper, it would most likely be because I'd be dressed like the budget traveller i am. In Oprah's case, that judgement was most likely based on race.

Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: KenveeB on August 16, 2013, 07:08:22 AM
Pod lowspark.

I can't really see any logical reason for the salesperson to redirect the a shopper's attention to a less expensive bag except a judgement that the shopper can't afford it. An exclusive shop where they actively try to steer all their customers to less expensive items? I don't think so.

This judgement can happen for a number of reasons. If I was the shopper, it would most likely be because I'd be dressed like the budget traveller i am. In Oprah's case, that judgement was most likely based on race.

From the article, the clerk said, "I wasn't sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection. I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do." And she also said the bag Oprah was interested in was "like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags." A clerk offering alternatives and trying to show a variety of options? Oh, no, the racist horror.  ::)

It would be rude to refuse to show someone a bag they're interested in. But there's nothing rude in offering alternatives, and "oh, if you like that, this is very similar" is completely normal salesmanship.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 16, 2013, 07:25:41 AM
And I would think tje logical reason to redirect people from a bag that costs more than many vars is that while a lot of customets look at the purse and handle it very few seem to seriously consider buying it.  We aren't talking about a hundred dollar purse, we are talking about a purse that costs more than many people make in an entire year. It is not some crazy.assumption tjat it is out of tje price range of your average person -it's meant to be.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Psychopoesie on August 16, 2013, 10:35:27 AM
Pod lowspark.

I can't really see any logical reason for the salesperson to redirect the a shopper's attention to a less expensive bag except a judgement that the shopper can't afford it. An exclusive shop where they actively try to steer all their customers to less expensive items? I don't think so.

This judgement can happen for a number of reasons. If I was the shopper, it would most likely be because I'd be dressed like the budget traveller i am. In Oprah's case, that judgement was most likely based on race.

From the article, the clerk said, "I wasn't sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection. I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do." And she also said the bag Oprah was interested in was "like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags." A clerk offering alternatives and trying to show a variety of options? Oh, no, the racist horror.  ::)

It would be rude to refuse to show someone a bag they're interested in. But there's nothing rude in offering alternatives, and "oh, if you like that, this is very similar" is completely normal salesmanship.

I'd be more inclined to see the situation as one where a salesperson was simpling offering options if she'd included the bag Oprah had asked for (more than once, according to Oprah's version).

Of course, it's not rude to offer alternatives in addition to the item the customer has requested. For example, if I wanted to try on a pair of shoes & the salesperson brought out that pair and some others, saying "she thought I might like these too".  Or if the pair I wanted wasn't available in my size - suggesting some similar pairs that might work for me. That would be a fairly normal, pleasant sales interaction. That doesn't seem to be what happened here.

I realise it can be tricky to show when there's been a more subtle version of racism at play - the situation is usually more ambiguous than simply using a derogatory name, for example. That's how I read this one though. I respect that other posters have different readings of the situation.

As to Sharnita's point above, I agree it's not unreasonable to assume that the bag is out of most people's price range. It's certainly out of mine. However, there doesn't seem to have been a blanket prohibition on showing the bag to customers because it was too expensive (as far as the store owner mentioned anyway). So it still seems a bit odd to me.

Somewhat ironically for this discussion, I read somewhere that Oprah is now saying that she wouldn't have paid that much for the bag either.  ::)








Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 16, 2013, 11:03:38 AM
(Putting all the “I can’t stand Oprah, I’m sick of Oprah, I have no respect for Oprah” sentiment aside):

If I ask to see an item, I want to see THAT item.  I don’t need for a clerk to show me other items unless I ask.  If I look at the item, ask the price, and decide it’s not worth what they are asking or that I’m not that crazy about it, I might ask to see something else or just say “No, thanks” and leave.  It’s not up to a clerk to decide what a customer can afford, and the clerk was out of line to refuse to lat a potential customer take a look at it.

I saw the bag (on TV) – they can keep it.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 16, 2013, 11:56:31 AM
The thing is, if 100 or more non-serious customers handle the $40,000 purse before the serious buyer comes in it might be in less than pristine condition - which is all it could take for the one serious buyer to decide to take their money elsewhere. 

Just like the Bently - if a bunch of people like me test drive it to see what it is like to drive a Bently, then it is not as valuable to an actual buyer.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 16, 2013, 12:07:20 PM
But who is to decide whether a customer is non-serious? ???  This was not a shop frequented by poor people who had nothing else to do.

If they don't want people looking at an item, they should remove it from display.  Many (most) people make a purchasing decision after touching/examining, sitting in, trying on, driving an item.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 16, 2013, 12:19:10 PM
That is the question and that might be where the language barrier comes in on both sides.  There are probably ways to indicate that you are a serious buyer and to weed out lookie-lous.  It sounds like the store needs to train better but it also seems possible that because of the language barrier there was some nuance that was missed on Oprah's part as well.  (Of course if she is now saying she wouldn't buy a purse that expensive maybe she was giving those indications in the first place?)
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 16, 2013, 12:23:01 PM
Oprah didn't say she wouldn't buy a purse that expensive; she said after finding out the price (of that purse) she wouldn't have bought it.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yvaine on August 16, 2013, 12:24:59 PM
That is the question and that might be where the language barrier comes in on both sides.  There are probably ways to indicate that you are a serious buyer and to weed out lookie-lous.  It sounds like the store needs to train better but it also seems possible that because of the language barrier there was some nuance that was missed on Oprah's part as well.  (Of course if she is now saying she wouldn't buy a purse that expensive maybe she was giving those indications in the first place?)

I doubt there is a secret code for "I really am rich, so let me put my rich hands on that purse!", though I've never been rich, so I don't suppose I'd know.  ;D Some of our busiest threads at ehell have been the ones about salespeople making assumptions (even without a language barrier) and turning out to be wrong when the guy in dirty overalls is a millionaire or whatever.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 16, 2013, 12:32:34 PM
That is the question and that might be where the language barrier comes in on both sides.  There are probably ways to indicate that you are a serious buyer and to weed out lookie-lous.  It sounds like the store needs to train better but it also seems possible that because of the language barrier there was some nuance that was missed on Oprah's part as well.  (Of course if she is now saying she wouldn't buy a purse that expensive maybe she was giving those indications in the first place?)

I doubt there is a secret code for "I really am rich, so let me put my rich hands on that purse!", though I've never been rich, so I don't suppose I'd know.  ;D Some of our busiest threads at ehell have been the ones about salespeople making assumptions (even without a language barrier) and turning out to be wrong when the guy in dirty overalls is a millionaire or whatever.

There are all sorts of things written about "code switching" so I think that while it might not be "secret" it probably is subtle and rare enough that only certain people need to know what you say when you want to look at an accessory that costs as much as the gross income many people might make in an average year. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 16, 2013, 12:37:46 PM
That is the question and that might be where the language barrier comes in on both sides.  There are probably ways to indicate that you are a serious buyer and to weed out lookie-lous.  It sounds like the store needs to train better but it also seems possible that because of the language barrier there was some nuance that was missed on Oprah's part as well.  (Of course if she is now saying she wouldn't buy a purse that expensive maybe she was giving those indications in the first place?)

If a language barrier is preventing your clerk from selling handbags to rich Americans, you have a serious business problem.   Where does the clerk imagine most of the wealth in the world is concentrated?
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 16, 2013, 12:45:46 PM
I don't think Americans are the only people who buy really expensive handbags.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Magnet on August 16, 2013, 12:47:15 PM
Meh, much ado about nothing.

I agree with Mommy Penguin that this whole story sounds like a contrived re-make of a Pretty Woman scene.

I understand that high end stores don't want their merchandise pawed by people who have no intention of buying it.  Skin oils can mar exotics.  I also understand that high end stores always employ sales clerks who speak English and are trained to be overly solicitous.  I also don't think that everyone in the universe has to recognize Oprah.  I'm sure this sales person believes she was doing her job.  Her job is to sell and protect the merchandise. 

Nothing wrong with being an elite.  If there is, then why strive to be better? What if you actually make it to the top?  I don't begrudge Oprah a dime she has made.

Speaking of which, couldn't Oprah have sent an assistant who speaks fluent Hermes?

Back to the original statement, much ado about nothing. 

 

Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: KenveeB on August 16, 2013, 12:56:05 PM
I'd be more inclined to see the situation as one where a salesperson was simpling offering options if she'd included the bag Oprah had asked for (more than once, according to Oprah's version).

Except she did. (If you believe the clerk's version over Oprah's, at least, which I whole-heartedly do.) She said that she showed her that bag and offered options of other similar ones. Sounds like what you're supposed to do. At least at a high-priced store where I'd expect a high level of customer service. I go to Target, I don't expect anything other than "here's what you asked for". But at high-priced stores, I'd expect more attention and offering of options. I'd actually think that someone who responded to "can I see that" with nothing more than "here" as trying to shoo me away instead of bothering to spend time on me.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 16, 2013, 12:58:45 PM
I don't think Americans are the only people who buy really expensive handbags.

I never said or implied that they are the only people who do.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 16, 2013, 01:05:44 PM
I see no reason to automatically believe the clerk (anymore than to automatically believe Oprah).

But there is no way that clerk was going to admit snobby treatment of a customer, especially a customer of a different race. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 16, 2013, 01:19:46 PM
I'd be more inclined to see the situation as one where a salesperson was simpling offering options if she'd included the bag Oprah had asked for (more than once, according to Oprah's version).

Except she did. (If you believe the clerk's version over Oprah's, at least, which I whole-heartedly do.) She said that she showed her that bag and offered options of other similar ones. Sounds like what you're supposed to do. At least at a high-priced store where I'd expect a high level of customer service. I go to Target, I don't expect anything other than "here's what you asked for". But at high-priced stores, I'd expect more attention and offering of options. I'd actually think that someone who responded to "can I see that" with nothing more than "here" as trying to shoo me away instead of bothering to spend time on me.

From the article

Quote
suggested the bag which Winfrey was so interested in was "like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags."

The clerk admits that she initially suggested other bags to Oprah when asked about the bag in question.   IMO, at this point the clerk has already failed at her job.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: KenveeB on August 16, 2013, 01:39:07 PM
But she never says that's ALL she did. She also said at another point that she did offer to show Oprah the bag she asked about.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Twik on August 16, 2013, 05:13:11 PM
I don't quite see the point of saying, "I am not judging your ability to pay, but instead of looking at that Maserati, perhaps you'd prefer to test-drive this lovely Ford Focus?"
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 16, 2013, 06:11:37 PM
No idea but it might very well work this way - you call and indicate you want an appointment to test drive a Mazerati. If you are not recognized as one of the elite they promise to call back about you appointment, they check on you to make sure you can afford the car and then they call you back with an appointment time - or not. They really don't want thoysands of people who can only afford a Focus coming in to test drive their Mazeratis so they can say they have driven one.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: LeveeWoman on August 16, 2013, 06:18:17 PM
It's just an amazing coincidence that many are talking about this right as her new movie is coming out.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Twik on August 16, 2013, 07:03:27 PM
No idea but it might very well work this way - you call and indicate you want an appointment to test drive a Mazerati. If you are not recognized as one of the elite they promise to call back about you appointment, they check on you to make sure you can afford the car and then they call you back with an appointment time - or not. They really don't want thoysands of people who can only afford a Focus coming in to test drive their Mazeratis so they can say they have driven one.
[/i]
What about Oprah would say, "not wealthy enough to afford a $38000 purse, but cool for a $20000 one?"
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 16, 2013, 07:15:28 PM
If you know she is Oprah Winfrey and know who is then gou would be correct. I would not abree that every other human on the face of the earth is obliged to know those things. None of us was there to hear exactly how either woman expressed herxelf. We do know they each had their own language limitations.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 16, 2013, 07:27:11 PM
It's just an amazing coincidence that many are talking about this right as her new movie is coming out.

No, actually it's not a coincidence at all, and certainly not amazing.  She was talking about the movie Lee Daniels' The Butler (which is not "her" movie; she is one of many famous people in it - such as Jane Fonda) and during the course of the interview Nancy O'Dell of "Entertainment Tonight" asked Oprah to give an example of an incident where she felt discriminated against.  The movie does address discrimination, among other things such as the civil rights movement.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: hyzenthlay on August 16, 2013, 07:40:31 PM
If a language barrier is preventing your clerk from selling handbags to rich Americans, you have a serious business problem.   Where does the clerk imagine most of the wealth in the world is concentrated?

I'd guess that, in Zurich, rich Americans are only a small percentage of the ludicrously expensive purse market. My parents live in Santa Fe and there are any number of nationalities that vacation there and are ready to spend large amounts of money on artwork. (Europe at large is about as wealthy as the US, and touring Arabs, Asians, and Indians to name a few obvious groups tend to be very wealthy.)

Showing a single item only as requested is poor salesmanship, and it's not the way you effectively push luxury items. Showing several objects (especially if people tend to look at the glassed in one and say 'no thanks') is good salesmanship.

Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: DottyG on August 16, 2013, 11:00:54 PM
It's just an amazing coincidence that many are talking about this right as her new movie is coming out.

Yeah, I was struck by the timely convenience of the sudden publicity, too. ;)

Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yarnspinner on August 16, 2013, 11:59:52 PM
Have seen a couple of articles which claim the bag was intended as an accessory for her outfit for Tina Turner's wedding--where the owner of the Zurich shop was also a guest.  If that article was to be believed, the clerk is a five year employee of the store, speaks Italian as her native language and DID in fact get the bag down for Oprah with the comment that she could show her other bags that were less expensive. 

Since Oprah DID in fact indicate that Hermes of Paris would not allow her in after closing time because of her race and since, in 1994 she stated that the Texas ranchers took her to court (which really was a ludicrous move on their part) because of her race (and not because she was someone who had impugned their product) I am seriously wondering if she IS one of those folks who sees bias everywhere and decided to see it in Switzerland as well. 

For the record, I am a hefty white woman who doesn't always dress up to shop and I have been followed through high end botiques, too, where I absolutely would have bought something if the clerk wasn't watching me like a hawk.  I have been on buses where older women snatched their purses away and eyed me suspiciously.  Never occured to me to make a case of it.


Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Calypso on August 17, 2013, 12:52:25 AM
Sorry for the sidetrack, but having seen pix of the bag (and noticing that it wasn't made of solid emerald  8) ), what could possibly excuse charging that much for a nice but not incredible purse?

For example, it would be worth it, for me, if, say, it had been hand-stitched by Leonardo da Vinci.....
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: PastryGoddess on August 17, 2013, 02:30:03 AM
That is the question and that might be where the language barrier comes in on both sides.  There are probably ways to indicate that you are a serious buyer and to weed out lookie-lous.  It sounds like the store needs to train better but it also seems possible that because of the language barrier there was some nuance that was missed on Oprah's part as well.  (Of course if she is now saying she wouldn't buy a purse that expensive maybe she was giving those indications in the first place?)

If a language barrier is preventing your clerk from selling handbags to rich Americans, you have a serious business problem.   Where does the clerk imagine most of the wealth in the world is concentrated?

Collectively Asia actually has the highest concentration of millionaires in the world.  I believe the US has the most of any one country
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: LeveeWoman on August 17, 2013, 05:06:02 AM
Sorry for the sidetrack, but having seen pix of the bag (and noticing that it wasn't made of solid emerald  8) ), what could possibly excuse charging that much for a nice but not incredible purse?

For example, it would be worth it, for me, if, say, it had been hand-stitched by Leonardo da Vinci.....

I think it's made of crocodile.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: demarco on August 17, 2013, 06:12:35 PM
It's just an amazing coincidence that many are talking about this right as her new movie is coming out.

Yeah, I was struck by the timely convenience of the sudden publicity, too. ;)

Yeah.  I think it's all about garnering a big opening weekend at the box office.  The Zurich story has all the elements designed to get and keep attention, the Pretty Woman aspect, the race angle, and the five figure handbag.  Something for everybody. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Winterlight on August 18, 2013, 03:06:31 PM
As the store's owner, I would be beyond livid that my employee blew a chance to sell a $38,000 purse.

This!
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: gramma dishes on August 18, 2013, 05:50:38 PM
Sorry for the sidetrack, but having seen pix of the bag (and noticing that it wasn't made of solid emerald  8) ), what could possibly excuse charging that much for a nice but not incredible purse?

For example, it would be worth it, for me, if, say, it had been hand-stitched by Leonardo da Vinci.....

...  and autographed.   ;D
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Slartibartfast on August 19, 2013, 12:37:25 AM
Pod lowspark.

I can't really see any logical reason for the salesperson to redirect the a shopper's attention to a less expensive bag except a judgement that the shopper can't afford it. An exclusive shop where they actively try to steer all their customers to less expensive items? I don't think so.

It's a sales strategy - and it works for some people.

You: Can I see that expensive [purse/car/necklace/whatever]?

Salesperson: Oh, no, that's only for special customers!  We don't want just anyone buying it, you know!  Wouldn't you rather see something . . . less exclusive?

You:  Hey, I'm special!  I'm exclusive!  Here's my eleventy-billion dollars; I must have that purse/car/necklace/whatever!

Lots of "boutique" clothing stores do this - they don't sell anything in plus sizes (so "ugly people" won't wear their clothes), they harass shoppers who don't fit their target demographic (young/pretty/thin/rich), they purposely price things much higher than their operating costs would dictate, etc.  And by doing this, they give their clothes an extra cachet.  There is a segment of the population who will buy them because they want that identity - if only young/pretty/thin/rich people wear Brand X, then if you wear Brand X, people will know you're one of the cool kids!  You're young enough/pretty enough/thin enough/rich enough to hang with the exclusive crowd!

It's annoying as heck when you're on the outside looking in, of course - how dare they say I'm too old/plain/overweight/poor to represent their brand? - but those brands don't particularly care about annoying me  ::)
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: DottyG on August 20, 2013, 01:43:06 PM
Sorry for the sidetrack, but having seen pix of the bag (and noticing that it wasn't made of solid emerald  8) ), what could possibly excuse charging that much for a nice but not incredible purse?

For example, it would be worth it, for me, if, say, it had been hand-stitched by Leonardo da Vinci.....

Basic economics - supply and demand.

Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: miranova on August 25, 2013, 08:16:50 PM
I really don't think that businesses that sell extremely expensive products have ANY obligation whatsoever to let anyone who asks handle them.  If they did, they'd be spending their entire day showing purses and cars to people who have no ability or intention to actually purchase them.  I think it IS good business to make sure someone is really serious before allowing them to handle very expensive merchandise, and I think people who are used to making these kinds of purchases know that and are prepared to prove that they are serious buyers.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: ydpubs on August 25, 2013, 08:52:12 PM
I really don't think that businesses that sell extremely expensive products have ANY obligation whatsoever to let anyone who asks handle them.  If they did, they'd be spending their entire day showing purses and cars to people who have no ability or intention to actually purchase them.  I think it IS good business to make sure someone is really serious before allowing them to handle very expensive merchandise, and I think people who are used to making these kinds of purchases know that and are prepared to prove that they are serious buyers.

This. I agree 100%.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: LeveeWoman on August 25, 2013, 10:25:46 PM
Shame on her, and her promotion of her film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRIF4_WzU1w
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Psychopoesie on August 25, 2013, 11:02:09 PM
Shame on her, and her promotion of her film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRIF4_WzU1w

I'm not sure i understand why there's a link in the previous post to Martin Luther King's I have a dream speech.

Admit I was sort of expecting a link a video showing some sort of interview with Oprah that supported the view that she was using the issue with the handbag to promote the film she was in.

Haven't seen it myself but I thought the film was about civil rights. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: lowspark on August 26, 2013, 07:42:58 AM
I really don't think that businesses that sell extremely expensive products have ANY obligation whatsoever to let anyone who asks handle them.  If they did, they'd be spending their entire day showing purses and cars to people who have no ability or intention to actually purchase them.  I think it IS good business to make sure someone is really serious before allowing them to handle very expensive merchandise, and I think people who are used to making these kinds of purchases know that and are prepared to prove that they are serious buyers.

But exactly how are the sales staff making that determination? And what are the customers expected to do to prove that they are serious buyers?
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 26, 2013, 10:24:41 AM
Lowspark, I think the customer probably sets up an appointment. That way the business cab check out their financials and on the flip side the customer knows they.will get enough time and attention.

What doesn't seem reasonable is expecting that the employee will recognize their magnificint persona.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: PastryGoddess on August 26, 2013, 11:10:58 AM
Lowspark, I think the customer probably sets up an appointment. That way the business cab check out their financials and on the flip side the customer knows they.will get enough time and attention.

What doesn't seem reasonable is expecting that the employee will recognize their magnificint persona.

That may be the case in some stores, but it wasn't the case in the store that Oprah went to.  A store like that has a guard at the door and usually the merchandise is not displayed or is on another floor.  If you are open to the public, then you are open to the public. 

I also find it interesting that Oprah never identified the name of the store she went to.  The clerk and owner of the store outed themselves publicly
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 26, 2013, 11:27:07 AM
Lowspark, I think the customer probably sets up an appointment. That way the business cab check out their financials and on the flip side the customer knows they.will get enough time and attention.

What doesn't seem reasonable is expecting that the employee will recognize their magnificint persona.

That may be the case in some stores, but it wasn't the case in the store that Oprah went to.  A store like that has a guard at the door and usually the merchandise is not displayed or is on another floor.  If you are open to the public, then you are open to the public. 

I also find it interesting that Oprah never identified the name of the store she went to.  The clerk and owner of the store outed themselves publicly

Seriously, I think people are going to ridiculous lengths to try to make the store's behavior OK.  Sure there is a risk inherent in selling handbags worth more than most cars - if you go into that business than you are going to have to make yourself comfortable with those risks.

The store could only show the bag to buyers who called in advance, who'd set up an appointment, who's submitted to a credit check, etc. but they _don't_ because they know they will loose a huge number of potential buyers that way.  Again - risks/rewards.  Just like in any business.

So of course they look for subtle cues to see if a buyer can _really_ handle the handbag.  And their subtle cues don't, unfortunately, take in to account a large woman of African-American descent who happens to be one of the richest women in the United States.  They screwed up - seriously, horribly, screwed up and alienated someone who could have bought every handbag in the place.

And they were rude.  Again we can try to justify the rudeness because they have merchandise to protect, but they were still rude.

It's an interesting story because of all the different factors, but none of the angles really excuse the store's behavior.  From an etiquette angle, they were wrong, and from a business angle they were wrong.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Winterlight on August 26, 2013, 11:29:34 AM
Lowspark, I think the customer probably sets up an appointment. That way the business cab check out their financials and on the flip side the customer knows they.will get enough time and attention.

What doesn't seem reasonable is expecting that the employee will recognize their magnificint persona.

That may be the case in some stores, but it wasn't the case in the store that Oprah went to.  A store like that has a guard at the door and usually the merchandise is not displayed or is on another floor.  If you are open to the public, then you are open to the public. 

I also find it interesting that Oprah never identified the name of the store she went to.  The clerk and owner of the store outed themselves publicly

Seriously, I think people are going to ridiculous lengths to try to make the store's behavior OK.  Sure there is a risk inherent in selling handbags worth more than most cars - if you go into that business than you are going to have to make yourself comfortable with those risks.

The store could only show the bag to buyers who called in advance, who'd set up an appointment, who's submitted to a credit check, etc. but they _don't_ because they know they will loose a huge number of potential buyers that way.  Again - risks/rewards.  Just like in any business.

So of course they look for subtle cues to see if a buyer can _really_ handle the handbag.  And their subtle cues don't, unfortunately, take in to account a large woman of African-American descent who happens to be one of the richest women in the United States.  They screwed up - seriously, horribly, screwed up and alienated someone who could have bought every handbag in the place.

And they were rude.  Again we can try to justify the rudeness because they have merchandise to protect, but they were still rude.

It's an interesting story because of all the different factors, but none of the angles really excuse the store's behavior.  From an etiquette angle, they were wrong, and from a business angle they were wrong.

Agreed. Also, as PastryGoddess points out, the store outed themself. She never gave their name. So if they're having problems, it's their own issue, not Oprah's.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 26, 2013, 11:38:01 AM
Lowspark, I think the customer probably sets up an appointment. That way the business cab check out their financials and on the flip side the customer knows they.will get enough time and attention.

What doesn't seem reasonable is expecting that the employee will recognize their magnificint persona.

That may be the case in some stores, but it wasn't the case in the store that Oprah went to.  A store like that has a guard at the door and usually the merchandise is not displayed or is on another floor.  If you are open to the public, then you are open to the public. 

I also find it interesting that Oprah never identified the name of the store she went to.  The clerk and owner of the store outed themselves publicly

Seriously, I think people are going to ridiculous lengths to try to make the store's behavior OK.  Sure there is a risk inherent in selling handbags worth more than most cars - if you go into that business than you are going to have to make yourself comfortable with those risks.

The store could only show the bag to buyers who called in advance, who'd set up an appointment, who's submitted to a credit check, etc. but they _don't_ because they know they will loose a huge number of potential buyers that way.  Again - risks/rewards.  Just like in any business.

So of course they look for subtle cues to see if a buyer can _really_ handle the handbag.  And their subtle cues don't, unfortunately, take in to account a large woman of African-American descent who happens to be one of the richest women in the United States.  They screwed up - seriously, horribly, screwed up and alienated someone who could have bought every handbag in the place.

And they were rude.  Again we can try to justify the rudeness because they have merchandise to protect, but they were still rude.

It's an interesting story because of all the different factors, but none of the angles really excuse the store's behavior.  From an etiquette angle, they were wrong, and from a business angle they were wrong.

Agreed. Also, as PastryGoddess points out, the store outed themself. She never gave their name. So if they're having problems, it's their own issue, not Oprah's.

I agree.  And no amount of "I can't stand Oprah" rhetoric will change those facts.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: lowspark on August 26, 2013, 11:47:02 AM
Lowspark, I think the customer probably sets up an appointment. That way the business cab check out their financials and on the flip side the customer knows they.will get enough time and attention.

What doesn't seem reasonable is expecting that the employee will recognize their magnificint persona.

That makes sense if that's their business model. But clearly, that isn't their policy at this store, or Oprah would have had an appointment and none of this would have happened.

So that brings me back to my question:
Exactly how are the sales staff making that determination? And what are the customers expected to do to prove that they are serious buyers?

It also brings me back to what I said in an earlier post. I'm guessing that Oprah didn't walk into this store (or any other) wearing torn up dirty jeans and a cheap t-shrt. I bet she was dressed to the nines in expensive clothing and probably also carrying a fairly expensive purse for that matter.

So, again, what did the salesperson base her decision on this (or any) customer's buying ability?
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: MommyPenguin on August 26, 2013, 11:48:35 AM
My understanding is that the store didn't out themselves; Oprah gave enough detail (I believe the city, and the store is the only store of that kind in that city) that her fans figured it out.  I could be wrong, but that was how I'd heard it.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Shoo on August 26, 2013, 12:22:36 PM
And seriously?  Have you ever seen Oprah without all her make up and wigs on?  She does NOT look like she does on TV.  She is unrecognizable.  I can see someone not recognizing her if she came in not made up.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: PastryGoddess on August 26, 2013, 12:48:46 PM
I went back and looked at the interview.  It wasn't clear if she was in incognito mode or full on OPRAH mode.   Also, Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and is the stomping ground for the rich and famous in Europe.  Trois Pommes is one of many high end shops near the Bahnhofstrasse shopping area. 

The shop was rude full stop

http://www.etonline.com/news/136849_Oprah_on_Being_a_Recent_Victim_of_Racism/index.html
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Shoo on August 26, 2013, 12:53:42 PM
Okay, maybe the shop was rude.  But racist?  Please.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: KenveeB on August 26, 2013, 01:07:01 PM
And again, the store was rude IF you believe Oprah's version of events. If you believe the store's version -- "she asked to see a bag, I offered to show her the bag and suggested other similar options" -- then it wasn't rude at all. That's where "I can't stand Oprah" comes in, in whether you believe her story at all or believe she made the entire thing up out of whole cloth in order to tell a "discrimination" story to promote her new movie. Given her history and the very significant fact that she's completely backtracked and doesn't want to talk about it at all as soon as the store disputed her story, I think she made the whole thing up.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: TurtleDove on August 26, 2013, 02:00:43 PM
Okay, maybe the shop was rude.  But racist?  Please.

Agreed. From everything I have seen and heard about this, I am not even sure the shop was rude.  I do think, however, that Oprah did people a major disservice by crying "racism" here.  I do not see that at all, and I think Oprah's actions here diminish the real struggles of people who face actual racism.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: PastryGoddess on August 26, 2013, 02:35:06 PM
racism is not always overt and in your face.  It can be a tone, a comment, a look, a feeling, etc. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: goldilocks on August 26, 2013, 02:43:54 PM
This reminded me of something that happened here years ago.  A famous actress wanted to move to my town (she had grown up here), and chose a house in a community that was so exclusive the existing owners actually had to vote before you were allowed to buy your house.

She was not voted in.  The reasons given had to do with their fear of "hollywood" types invading the neighborhood.

Anyway, I found it ironic that she wanted to move into a community that was so exclusive they could bar any potential neighbors, and then was upset when she was the one barred.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: artk2002 on August 26, 2013, 02:49:38 PM
This reminded me of something that happened here years ago.  A famous actress wanted to move to my town (she had grown up here), and chose a house in a community that was so exclusive the existing owners actually had to vote before you were allowed to buy your house.

She was not voted in.  The reasons given had to do with their fear of "hollywood" types invading the neighborhood.

Anyway, I found it ironic that she wanted to move into a community that was so exclusive they could bar any potential neighbors, and then was upset when she was the one barred.

From the late, great, Groucho Marx
Quote
I sent the club a wire stating, "PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER".
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: turnip on August 26, 2013, 02:58:05 PM
Okay, maybe the shop was rude.  But racist?  Please.

Agreed. From everything I have seen and heard about this, I am not even sure the shop was rude.  I do think, however, that Oprah did people a major disservice by crying "racism" here.  I do not see that at all, and I think Oprah's actions here diminish the real struggles of people who face actual racism.

Do you honestly think that a black woman born in 1954 in Mississippi to a single teenage mother has a overly-simplistic understanding of racism?   I'm thinking she's seen plenty of all kinds, and is aware that the subtle can be just as damaging as the overt.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: TurtleDove on August 26, 2013, 03:03:14 PM
Okay, maybe the shop was rude.  But racist?  Please.

Agreed. From everything I have seen and heard about this, I am not even sure the shop was rude.  I do think, however, that Oprah did people a major disservice by crying "racism" here.  I do not see that at all, and I think Oprah's actions here diminish the real struggles of people who face actual racism.

Do you honestly think that a black woman born in 1954 in Mississippi to a single teenage mother has a overly-simplistic understanding of racism?   I'm thinking she's seen plenty of all kinds, and is aware that the subtle can be just as damaging as the overt.

I am saying that I don't think this instance was one of racism, unless Pretty Woman was also an instance of racism.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Goosey on August 26, 2013, 03:04:12 PM
If it happened as Oprah said, it was definitely class-ism.

If she decided that she was the wrong class because she was the wrong color, then definitely racism.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: PastryGoddess on August 26, 2013, 03:44:58 PM
Okay, maybe the shop was rude.  But racist?  Please.

Agreed. From everything I have seen and heard about this, I am not even sure the shop was rude.  I do think, however, that Oprah did people a major disservice by crying "racism" here.  I do not see that at all, and I think Oprah's actions here diminish the real struggles of people who face actual racism.

Do you honestly think that a black woman born in 1954 in Mississippi to a single teenage mother has a overly-simplistic understanding of racism?   I'm thinking she's seen plenty of all kinds, and is aware that the subtle can be just as damaging as the overt.

I am saying that I don't think this instance was one of racism, unless Pretty Woman was also an instance of racism.
What does Pretty Woman have to do with anything? ???  Oprah is not white nor is she a down on her luck prostitute, at least, I'm pretty sure she's not  ;)
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: TurtleDove on August 26, 2013, 03:48:02 PM
The way I understood the situation, if anything the sales clerk implied that Oprah could not afford the bag.  Not that she was not allowed to see the bag because of her race.  In Pretty Woman, the sales clerk implied the Julia Roberts character could not afford the items in the store.  Not that she was not allowed to shop there because of her race.

I didn't see anything that indicated, to me, that race played a role.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Judah on August 26, 2013, 03:50:07 PM
Okay, maybe the shop was rude.  But racist?  Please.

Agreed. From everything I have seen and heard about this, I am not even sure the shop was rude.  I do think, however, that Oprah did people a major disservice by crying "racism" here.  I do not see that at all, and I think Oprah's actions here diminish the real struggles of people who face actual racism.

Do you honestly think that a black woman born in 1954 in Mississippi to a single teenage mother has a overly-simplistic understanding of racism?   I'm thinking she's seen plenty of all kinds, and is aware that the subtle can be just as damaging as the overt.

I think that it's very easy for someone who is used to experiencing racism to attributes classism, snobbery, and rudeness to racism when it's really just classism, snobbery, and rudeness.  The kind of rudeness that Oprah encountered in that shop is the same kind of rudeness experienced by white people all the time. It's happened to my very white husband.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: padua on August 26, 2013, 04:40:34 PM
I don't think Americans are the only people who buy really expensive handbags.

I never said or implied that they are the only people who do.


my guess is also along the lines of her receiving this treatment because she's american. i was in switzerland for a couple months right after we started sending troops to iraq and my swiss buddy had to convince a few storekeepers to service me. my buddy didn't seem too put off by it- she said it's their store so they get to decide who to do business with.

on the other hand, who knows?
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 26, 2013, 06:00:10 PM
Quote
In Pretty Woman, the sales clerk implied the Julia Roberts character could not afford the items in the store. 

In Pretty Woman the sales clerk was snotty to Julia Roberts because she looked like a prostitute (which is exactly what she was). 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: ydpubs on August 26, 2013, 06:39:48 PM
And again, the store was rude IF you believe Oprah's version of events. If you believe the store's version -- "she asked to see a bag, I offered to show her the bag and suggested other similar options" -- then it wasn't rude at all. That's where "I can't stand Oprah" comes in, in whether you believe her story at all or believe she made the entire thing up out of whole cloth in order to tell a "discrimination" story to promote her new movie. Given her history and the very significant fact that she's completely backtracked and doesn't want to talk about it at all as soon as the store disputed her story, I think she made the whole thing up.

Precisely. I am going on my unfortunate and extensive knowledge of prior bad acts on Oprah's part.

I don't just hate Oprah, like an irrational hatred just because it suits my fancy. I don't hate her. I dislike her. There are not many people on this Earth I truly hate. I rather resent the implication by some that I am just on some crazy hate Oprah campaign.

My dislike of her is based on my first-hand knowledge, accounts from co-workers employed by her and friends who bumped in to her around Chicago of how she treats service people or anyone she thinks is beneath her in general.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: gramma dishes on August 26, 2013, 07:51:59 PM
Quote
In Pretty Woman, the sales clerk implied the Julia Roberts character could not afford the items in the store. 

In Pretty Woman the sales clerk was snotty to Julia Roberts because she looked like a prostitute (which is exactly what she was).

I honestly don't think the salesperson in Pretty Woman cared diddly squat what the Julia Roberts character did
to earn her money.  They just didn't think she had the money to buy their clothes, so they were exceedingly rude to her.

Funny how quickly they changed their demeanor toward her when they realized she could have bought anything in the store, though she was STILL a prostitute.  But it was too late.  They had shown themselves for what they were and she was quite happy to spend her (actually his) money elsewhere.

Of course there were plenty of people who didn't like the movie, but for most who watched it whether they liked it or not, that part was nearly universally satisfying.  :)
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 26, 2013, 08:11:35 PM
Quote
I honestly don't think the salesperson in Pretty Woman cared diddly squat what the Julia Roberts character did
to earn her money.  They just didn't think she had the money to buy their clothes, so they were exceedingly rude to her.

Vivian/Julia looked and acted tacky.  If she'd pulled several thousand dollars out of her boot they still would have waited on her but with gritted teeth.  (In fact...I'm trying to remember..didn't she thrust a wad of cash and say "Hey, I've got money!" ??)  They didn;t want her near them of their store.

Yes, after the Richard Gere $$ makeover they were nicer.  We all know money talks, to an extent.  But, (to use another analogy) a drug dealer in an Armani suit is still a drug dealer.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Psychopoesie on August 26, 2013, 08:39:26 PM
Btw if anyone's curious about what Oprah was wearing when she went to the store, it sounds like she dressed smartly but not ostentatiously.

 'I was the only person in the store. I had dressed myself up extra special because I know that things can get very snobby in these kinds of stores.

'The employees first check out what clothes you're wearing. Therefore I chose a Donna Karan outfit - and even washed my hair even. So nobody could mistake me for a homeless person who got lost in the store.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2392778/Oprah-Winfrey-insists-WAS-victim-racism-Swiss-store-nearly-called-Jennifer-Aniston-tell-her.html#ixzz2d84obFC2

“I didn’t have anything that said ‘I have money.’ I wasn’t wearing a diamond stud. I didn’t have a pocketbook. I didn’t wear Louboutin shoes. I didn’t have anything,” said Winfrey on the red carpet. “You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/celebrities/oprah-winfrey-expresses-regret-over-media-storm-surrounding-switzerlands-flap/2013/08/13/4d10c496-03fa-11e3-bfc5-406b928603b2_story.html
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Jones on August 26, 2013, 09:02:42 PM
It's a total she said-she said. From the clerk:

“She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag,” she recalled to the paper. “I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags. It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag.”http://consumerist.com/2013/08/13/swiss-shop-clerk-denies-telling-oprah-she-couldnt-afford-38000-handbag/

Also, from the Daily Mail link in Psychopoesie's above post:
[Oprah]'I said: "Okay, thank you very much!  But I really want to see the others."  She still kept showing me the cheaper ones.(I can totally see a miscommunication there, "the others" could mean several different things to a native English speaker, much less an English-as-a-second-language speaker)
Another quote from Oprah:
'The woman said "no, no" and tried to explain something. But I was no longer listening. I just said: "Thank you very much, you're probably right that I can't afford it."
Say what? She didn't even listen to what the lady had to say, which could have been a plausible explanation?

For what it's worth, I can totally see that happening; someone expecting a clerk would "read her mind" by gesturing at some bags and one in particular, the clerk obliquely mentions that yes, the bag is like the one she's holding currently, would she like to see it and other bags? Oprah uses the phrase "other ones" or "other bags" and the sales clerk is off gathering "cheap" bags.

***
As a side note, because I'm on ground I'm not entirely comfortable with. The sales assistant is from Italy, I don't think they have the same problems with racism as America does, do they? Anti-Semitism, yes, but I don't know that I've read about any other racism. I will admit I'm not a specialist on any sort of recent Italian history, though.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: miranova on August 26, 2013, 09:20:19 PM
“You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”



And here is where she loses me.  Since when is it a constitutional right to touch whatever you want that doesn't belong to you?  Businesses are perfectly allowed to make judgment calls about when/how/under what circumstances they will hand over $40,000.  This isn't about defending the store as I really couldn't care less about them and would never shop there anyway.  I just get (probably irrationally) irritated when people claim rights that don't actually exist.  It's not Oprah's god given right to walk into a private business and demand anything.  She just comes across as so self important.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: PastryGoddess on August 26, 2013, 09:28:17 PM
It's a total she said-she said. From the clerk:

“She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag,” she recalled to the paper. “I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags. It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag.”http://consumerist.com/2013/08/13/swiss-shop-clerk-denies-telling-oprah-she-couldnt-afford-38000-handbag/

Also, from the Daily Mail link in Psychopoesie's above post:
[Oprah]'I said: "Okay, thank you very much!  But I really want to see the others."  She still kept showing me the cheaper ones.(I can totally see a miscommunication there, "the others" could mean several different things to a native English speaker, much less an English-as-a-second-language speaker)
Another quote from Oprah:
'The woman said "no, no" and tried to explain something. But I was no longer listening. I just said: "Thank you very much, you're probably right that I can't afford it."
Say what? She didn't even listen to what the lady had to say, which could have been a plausible explanation?

For what it's worth, I can totally see that happening; someone expecting a clerk would "read her mind" by gesturing at some bags and one in particular, the clerk obliquely mentions that yes, the bag is like the one she's holding currently, would she like to see it and other bags? Oprah uses the phrase "other ones" or "other bags" and the sales clerk is off gathering "cheap" bags.

***
As a side note, because I'm on ground I'm not entirely comfortable with. The sales assistant is from Italy, I don't think they have the same problems with racism as America does, do they? Anti-Semitism, yes, but I don't know that I've read about any other racism. I will admit I'm not a specialist on any sort of recent Italian history, though.

In the original interview Oprah asked 3 times to see the purse. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yvaine on August 26, 2013, 09:32:22 PM
“You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”



And here is where she loses me.  Since when is it a constitutional right to touch whatever you want that doesn't belong to you?  Businesses are perfectly allowed to make judgment calls about when/how/under what circumstances they will hand over $40,000.  This isn't about defending the store as I really couldn't care less about them and would never shop there anyway.  I just get (probably irrationally) irritated when people claim rights that don't actually exist.  It's not Oprah's god given right to walk into a private business and demand anything.  She just comes across as so self important.

There's nothing to do with the Constitution or "rights" in any of this. It isn't law, and I don't think Oprah is trying to claim it is; it's a matter of customer service. And theirs was kinda bad.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: miranova on August 26, 2013, 09:37:56 PM
“You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”



And here is where she loses me.  Since when is it a constitutional right to touch whatever you want that doesn't belong to you?  Businesses are perfectly allowed to make judgment calls about when/how/under what circumstances they will hand over $40,000.  This isn't about defending the store as I really couldn't care less about them and would never shop there anyway.  I just get (probably irrationally) irritated when people claim rights that don't actually exist.  It's not Oprah's god given right to walk into a private business and demand anything.  She just comes across as so self important.

There's nothing to do with the Constitution or "rights" in any of this. It isn't law, and I don't think Oprah is trying to claim it is; it's a matter of customer service. And theirs was kinda bad.

She said that anyone "should" be allowed to see the purse.  Anyone.  No qualifiers of any kind.  Sure sounds to me that she thinks that everyone has the "right" to handle other people's property at any time.  What else does "should" mean?  We can have reasonable differences of opinion on whether or not it was bad service, but I don't see how we can argue that businesses don't have the right to make some judgment calls on very expensive merchandise and how they will handle them.  For her to say that they should allow anyone to touch something worth $40,000 tells me that she has no understanding of theft prevention whatsoever.  Kohl's doesn't allow me to take shopping bags into the dressing room and we are fine with that as theft protection but this shop "should" allow anyone acting in any manner to touch this purse?  I don't see the logic.  Of course I would think it wrong to not allow someone to touch the purse based solely on race, but there is zero evidence of that.  Maybe they demure for awhile to all customers.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yvaine on August 26, 2013, 09:39:28 PM
“You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”



And here is where she loses me.  Since when is it a constitutional right to touch whatever you want that doesn't belong to you?  Businesses are perfectly allowed to make judgment calls about when/how/under what circumstances they will hand over $40,000.  This isn't about defending the store as I really couldn't care less about them and would never shop there anyway.  I just get (probably irrationally) irritated when people claim rights that don't actually exist.  It's not Oprah's god given right to walk into a private business and demand anything.  She just comes across as so self important.

There's nothing to do with the Constitution or "rights" in any of this. It isn't law, and I don't think Oprah is trying to claim it is; it's a matter of customer service. And theirs was kinda bad.

She said that anyone "should" be allowed to see the purse.  Anyone.  No qualifiers of any kind.  Sure sounds to me that she thinks that everyone has the "right" to handle other people's property at any time.  What else does "should" mean?

Should in an etiquette sense, not a legal sense. We say "should" on here all the time about stuff that's got nothing to do with the law.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: miranova on August 26, 2013, 09:44:39 PM
“You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”



And here is where she loses me.  Since when is it a constitutional right to touch whatever you want that doesn't belong to you?  Businesses are perfectly allowed to make judgment calls about when/how/under what circumstances they will hand over $40,000.  This isn't about defending the store as I really couldn't care less about them and would never shop there anyway.  I just get (probably irrationally) irritated when people claim rights that don't actually exist.  It's not Oprah's god given right to walk into a private business and demand anything.  She just comes across as so self important.

There's nothing to do with the Constitution or "rights" in any of this. It isn't law, and I don't think Oprah is trying to claim it is; it's a matter of customer service. And theirs was kinda bad.

She said that anyone "should" be allowed to see the purse.  Anyone.  No qualifiers of any kind.  Sure sounds to me that she thinks that everyone has the "right" to handle other people's property at any time.  What else does "should" mean?

Should in an etiquette sense, not a legal sense. We say "should" on here all the time about stuff that's got nothing to do with the law.

Yes, and I understand it in that sense.  I just don't see how protecting something extremely valuable is rude.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Yvaine on August 26, 2013, 09:47:45 PM
“You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”



And here is where she loses me.  Since when is it a constitutional right to touch whatever you want that doesn't belong to you?  Businesses are perfectly allowed to make judgment calls about when/how/under what circumstances they will hand over $40,000.  This isn't about defending the store as I really couldn't care less about them and would never shop there anyway.  I just get (probably irrationally) irritated when people claim rights that don't actually exist.  It's not Oprah's god given right to walk into a private business and demand anything.  She just comes across as so self important.

There's nothing to do with the Constitution or "rights" in any of this. It isn't law, and I don't think Oprah is trying to claim it is; it's a matter of customer service. And theirs was kinda bad.

She said that anyone "should" be allowed to see the purse.  Anyone.  No qualifiers of any kind.  Sure sounds to me that she thinks that everyone has the "right" to handle other people's property at any time.  What else does "should" mean?

Should in an etiquette sense, not a legal sense. We say "should" on here all the time about stuff that's got nothing to do with the law.

Yes, and I understand it in that sense.  I just don't see how protecting something extremely valuable is rude.

Then you have store security and alarms in case a customer grabs something and makes a run for it. But if you won't let a customer simply look at a piece of merchandise, why are you even having a store? The goal is to sell stuff.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Psychopoesie on August 26, 2013, 10:01:19 PM

*snip*

***
As a side note, because I'm on ground I'm not entirely comfortable with. The sales assistant is from Italy, I don't think they have the same problems with racism as America does, do they? Anti-Semitism, yes, but I don't know that I've read about any other racism. I will admit I'm not a specialist on any sort of recent Italian history, though.

In response to the side note, race remains a current issue in Italy (and other European countries). As an example, here's an article about racist attacks on Italy's first black minister, Cecile Kyenge. Italian football has also been in the news over racist attacks on players.

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/28/world/europe/italy-politics-racism

http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/jul/30/italy-racism-cecile-kyenge-esterofilia

http://www.gazzettadelsud.it/news/english/58314/Soccer--Racism-rears-head-before-season-start.html

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/soccer-italian-league-hands-10-game-ban-player-135118730.html


Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: miranova on August 26, 2013, 10:03:51 PM
“You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”



And here is where she loses me.  Since when is it a constitutional right to touch whatever you want that doesn't belong to you?  Businesses are perfectly allowed to make judgment calls about when/how/under what circumstances they will hand over $40,000.  This isn't about defending the store as I really couldn't care less about them and would never shop there anyway.  I just get (probably irrationally) irritated when people claim rights that don't actually exist.  It's not Oprah's god given right to walk into a private business and demand anything.  She just comes across as so self important.

There's nothing to do with the Constitution or "rights" in any of this. It isn't law, and I don't think Oprah is trying to claim it is; it's a matter of customer service. And theirs was kinda bad.

She said that anyone "should" be allowed to see the purse.  Anyone.  No qualifiers of any kind.  Sure sounds to me that she thinks that everyone has the "right" to handle other people's property at any time.  What else does "should" mean?

Should in an etiquette sense, not a legal sense. We say "should" on here all the time about stuff that's got nothing to do with the law.

Yes, and I understand it in that sense.  I just don't see how protecting something extremely valuable is rude.

Then you have store security and alarms in case a customer grabs something and makes a run for it. But if you won't let a customer simply look at a piece of merchandise, why are you even having a store? The goal is to sell stuff.

It's not the only item in the store.  It is mostly there for shock value, and to make people who shop there pine over it and feel exclusive just by shopping in that store.  Very few people actually purchase THAT purse.  Hence you don't let people handle it all day, because it would get ruined before someone actually truly wants to buy it and not just look at it or hold it.  I'm sure they sell as many as they want to with no issue whatsoever.  If they wanted to sell more, they could easily do so by just dropping the price. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Slartibartfast on August 26, 2013, 11:57:58 PM
As a side note, because I'm on ground I'm not entirely comfortable with. The sales assistant is from Italy, I don't think they have the same problems with racism as America does, do they? Anti-Semitism, yes, but I don't know that I've read about any other racism. I will admit I'm not a specialist on any sort of recent Italian history, though.

I don't know about Italy specifically, but national attitudes can definitely affect people's subconscious first impressions and how they're based on race.  Here in the US, people with darker skin are statistically more likely to have a lower income and a lower education level than people with lighter skin are.  There are local pockets where that's different, of course - being of Asian descent in Chinatown versus in Silicon Valley, for example - but in terms of raw numbers the difference is there.  And that carries through into people's perceptions, despite affirmative action and open-mindedness and embracing diversity and everything else.  So I would assert that most Americans would have a different impression of a dark-skinned and a light-skinned shopper even if they wore the same clothes.  Many Americans would then try to correct for that bias, of course, but that doesn't mean the bias isn't still there.

That's not necessarily the case in other countries, where the socioeconomic makeup is distributed differently among races.  I was struck by how, when I was in France, the people in the rattiest clothes on the subway seemed to be in about an even racial distribution with everyone else.  That's definitely not the case where I live  :-\
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Jones on August 27, 2013, 12:28:21 PM

*snip*

***
As a side note, because I'm on ground I'm not entirely comfortable with. The sales assistant is from Italy, I don't think they have the same problems with racism as America does, do they? Anti-Semitism, yes, but I don't know that I've read about any other racism. I will admit I'm not a specialist on any sort of recent Italian history, though.

In response to the side note, race remains a current issue in Italy (and other European countries). As an example, here's an article about racist attacks on Italy's first black minister, Cecile Kyenge. Italian football has also been in the news over racist attacks on players.

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/28/world/europe/italy-politics-racism

http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/jul/30/italy-racism-cecile-kyenge-esterofilia

http://www.gazzettadelsud.it/news/english/58314/Soccer--Racism-rears-head-before-season-start.html

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/soccer-italian-league-hands-10-game-ban-player-135118730.html
Oh ok thank you for the information. For the life of me I couldn't think of any major racism incidents for that culture, the couple I could were quite far back; apparently I have sheltered myself :/
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: whatsanenigma on August 27, 2013, 12:49:00 PM
I'm wondering if the first handbag the employee gave Oprah was identical to the really expensive one in terms of basic materials and layout, but less expensive due to not having as much bling or something like that. 

In that case, I would think the employee's actions were perfectly fine.  Maybe the really expensive handbag takes a little while to get out of its display case, or down from being really high up, something like that. (Because I would imagine that anything that expensive is protected in some way, more so than the regular merchandise.)

 And if the bags are basically the same, then Oprah could have been going ahead and looking at the first one to see if it met her requirements in terms of what it can hold, etc., while the employee got out the more expensive bag and similar ones.  If the inside of the bag was too small or didn't have a good zipper or whatever other things would make it a bag Oprah wouldn't want, then that would have had the additional benefit of saving wear and tear on the really expensive one-no one would have had to touch it at all. (I'm thinking of the other comments in this thread about keeping expensive merchandise in good condition for the eventual buyer.)

Especially with the obvious language barrier, I suspect this was more of what was on the employee's mind, rather than deliberately trying to keep merchandise away from someone.  But for sure, I think, it's a confusing situation and we will probably never know all of the truth.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 27, 2013, 12:54:02 PM
I'm wondering if the first handbag the employee gave Oprah was identical to the really expensive one in terms of basic materials and layout, but less expensive due to not having as much bling or something like that. 
 
In that case, I would think the employee's actions were perfectly fine.  Maybe the really expensive handbag takes a little while to get out of its display case, or down from being really high up, something like that. (Because I would imagine that anything that expensive is protected in some way, more so than the regular merchandise.)

 And if the bags are basically the same, then Oprah could have been going ahead and looking at the first one to see if it met her requirements in terms of what it can hold, etc., while the employee got out the more expensive bag and similar ones.  If the inside of the bag was too small or didn't have a good zipper or whatever other things would make it a bag Oprah wouldn't want, then that would have had the additional benefit of saving wear and tear on the really expensive one-no one would have had to touch it at all. (I'm thinking of the other comments in this thread about keeping expensive merchandise in good condition for the eventual buyer.)

Especially with the obvious language barrier, I suspect this was more of what was on the employee's mind, rather than deliberately trying to keep merchandise away from someone.  But for sure, I think, it's a confusing situation and we will probably never know all of the truth.

If any of these situations applied, I think it would have been mentioned.  As far as a language barrier, the sales clerk had no problem saying "No, you can't look at it; it's too expensive".  That's pretty clear.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Sharnita on August 27, 2013, 01:05:15 PM
If that is exactly what she said.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: Shoo on August 27, 2013, 01:10:55 PM
If that is exactly what she said.

Yes.  And that's a pretty big "if" in my opinion. 
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: PastryGoddess on August 27, 2013, 01:34:37 PM
Asking once and being denied is one thing.  Asking multiple times to see an item and being told no, it's too expensive for you.  Not OK.  It doesn't matter whether it's Oprah or not.  The sales assistant was rude and no form of verbal or mental gymnastics will overcome that. Oprah is a public figure who generates strong feelings.  That being said, rude is rude.  No one deserves to be treated rudely.

How many stories have we seen on here where people, mostly women, go to car dealerships and are rebuffed because the salesmen don't think they are serious. That purse cost the same amount as a car. I haven't seen a single poster say that the car salesmen are in the right to treat potential customers like that, so why is it ok for a retail salesperson to treat someone that way?
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 27, 2013, 01:39:17 PM
Quote
I haven't seen a single poster say that the car salesmen are in the right to treat potential customers like that, so why is it ok for a retail salesperson to treat someone that way?

Good point. Maybe because it was Oprah and the implication was that it was racial.

I don't think people are saying it was necessarily okay to be rude, but that it couldn't have happened the way Oprah said and if it did there must be a good excuse.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: gramma dishes on August 27, 2013, 01:49:56 PM
If that is exactly what she said.

Yes.  And that's a pretty big "if" in my opinion.

Agreed.  And the salesperson in question says that is not what she actually said.
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: gollymolly2 on August 27, 2013, 01:58:07 PM
As a side note, because I'm on ground I'm not entirely comfortable with. The sales assistant is from Italy, I don't think they have the same problems with racism as America does, do they? Anti-Semitism, yes, but I don't know that I've read about any other racism. I will admit I'm not a specialist on any sort of recent Italian history, though.

I don't know about Italy specifically, but national attitudes can definitely affect people's subconscious first impressions and how they're based on race.  Here in the US, people with darker skin are statistically more likely to have a lower income and a lower education level than people with lighter skin are.  There are local pockets where that's different, of course - being of Asian descent in Chinatown versus in Silicon Valley, for example - but in terms of raw numbers the difference is there.  And that carries through into people's perceptions, despite affirmative action and open-mindedness and embracing diversity and everything else.  So I would assert that most Americans would have a different impression of a dark-skinned and a light-skinned shopper even if they wore the same clothes. Many Americans would then try to correct for that bias, of course, but that doesn't mean the bias isn't still there.

That's not necessarily the case in other countries, where the socioeconomic makeup is distributed differently among races.  I was struck by how, when I was in France, the people in the rattiest clothes on the subway seemed to be in about an even racial distribution with everyone else.  That's definitely not the case where I live  :-\

Please don't make these kinds of broad statements about how most Americans think. I find that statement disturbing and not at all true of "most Americans."
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: veronaz on August 27, 2013, 02:16:09 PM
I agree, gollymolly2.  The (bolded) is reminiscent of South Africa under apartheid.  <shudder>
Title: Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
Post by: cass2591 on August 27, 2013, 03:11:07 PM
I think we're done here.