Author Topic: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag  (Read 14780 times)

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PastryGoddess

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #105 on: August 26, 2013, 10:28:17 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. 

Yvaine

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #106 on: August 26, 2013, 10:32:22 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.

miranova

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #107 on: August 26, 2013, 10:37:56 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.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 10:42:19 PM by miranova »

Yvaine

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #108 on: August 26, 2013, 10:39:28 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.

miranova

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #109 on: August 26, 2013, 10:44:39 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.

Yvaine

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #110 on: August 26, 2013, 10:47:45 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.

Psychopoesie

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #111 on: August 26, 2013, 11:01:19 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



miranova

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #112 on: August 26, 2013, 11:03:51 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. 

Slartibartfast

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #113 on: August 27, 2013, 12:57:58 AM »
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  :-\

Jones

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #114 on: August 27, 2013, 01:28:21 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 :/

whatsanenigma

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #115 on: August 27, 2013, 01:49:00 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.

veronaz

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #116 on: August 27, 2013, 01:54:02 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.

Sharnita

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #117 on: August 27, 2013, 02:05:15 PM »
If that is exactly what she said.

Shoo

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #118 on: August 27, 2013, 02:10:55 PM »
If that is exactly what she said.

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

PastryGoddess

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Re: Oprah Winfrey claims sales assistant refused to let her see a handbag
« Reply #119 on: August 27, 2013, 02:34:37 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?