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  1. #1

    Default Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    I'm a total newbie when it comes to buying fragrances. The only fragrance I've bought with my own money is Gap's So Pink. There's always sales people comming up to me asking me if I want help, is this always expected? I'm kind of nervous when sales people keep asking me if I want help, and with such expensive perfume around, I'm kind of paranoid that they either think I'm gonna shoplift or I don't have enough money to spend on perfume. I often relent and have them help me, showing me fragrances that are around certain sales desks they seem to occupy.

    I remember going into Sears, and this aggressive (at least I think she was) started to show me fragrances around one counter, insisting that I should really try some icky floral Hugo Boss scent. Kept complimenting me and only showed me fragrances on one counter. I asked about two fragrances (one was an obscure Nina Ricci scent my mother once bought a long time ago), she took me directly to L'air du temps (she didn't bother to listen or to help me find this fragrance) and told me it was an old lady smell and didn't even direct me to any other Nina Ricci scent. I asked about L'eau D'Issey, and she looked confused and pretended she never heard of it. I later found that the Miyake Issey counter was only a few feet away from her counter.

    Today, I was at another department store (The Bay in canada) and I told the sales lady I didn't want a limited edition scent, so she showed me Escada Sunset ( I think that was what it was called) and I later found out on this site that it was limited edition. I asked her if she knew what the scent dried down to and she couldn't tell me, and she was heavily recommending this scent to me.

    In general, I don't like sales people on commission because I always feel like they don't have miy best interests at heart. I always feel bad when I leave the store not buying anything because the sales people don't seem so friendly anymore when I tell them I'll think about buying it and come back another day. What should I do when encountering these sales people and does anyone know if they're on commission?
    Last edited by Jenny ondioline; 9th June 2007 at 05:09 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Most of them are, yes.

    The scents they're pushing are the ones that the management is trying to push, due to advertising deals or other kinds of corporate arrangements.

    Unfortunately, that's what you're going to get in Department Stores: mostly ignorant people pushing what they're told to push (and told to push HARD, too), combined with part time employees that usually couldn't care less about you, not to mention what you wear or are looking for

    However, I've found Nordstrom's to be the opposite, at least here in St Louis. I LOVE my Nordie's and LOVE their SAs that work in their fragrance departments. They are truly amazing. If you have a chance to go to one, do so. They will impress you.
    Last edited by DrBubba; 9th June 2007 at 04:41 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrBubba View Post
    Most of them are, yes.

    The scents they're pushing are the ones that the management is trying to push, due to advertising deals or other kinds of corporate arrangements.

    Unfortunately, that's what you're going to get in Department Stores: mostly ignorant people pushing what they're told to push (and told to push HARD, too), combined with part time employees that usually couldn't care less about you, not to mention what you wear or are looking for

    However, I've found Nordstrom's to be the opposite, at least here in St Louis. I LOVE my Nordie's and LOVE their SAs that work in their fragrance departments. They are truly amazing. If you have a chance to go to one, do so. They will impress you.

    Oh yes I love going to Nordstrom too. I have a friend at everyone in the MD area LOL! They send me cards and they call me when they think something I might like comes in. They have the perfume event when you can come in after the store closes and get samples and talk about perfumes and try out as many scents as you want.
    Diva is fartin in your perfume mist before you walk through it!! Walk slow and let it marinate......

    Divatologist....Breaking perfume rules since 1969
    I smells goooooooooooood! Don't believe me? Come smell me!!

    "The Divatologist Perfume Application Method" is now available!!! Learn It, Live It, Love It Click Here! Many Compliments Await You!

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  4. #4
    Mattybumpkin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Good question!

    I've always wanted to confirm, I thought they were.
    "I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Since you are in Canada, you could try Sephora, or a Shoppers DrugMart with a ... beauty bar, or whatever they call it. That should give you a better chance to sniff in peace. If they ask if you need help, just tell them you are fine for now, but you will be sure to let them know if you have any question.

    I don't know about Sears or The Bay. Sephora doesn't pay by sales though. It will vary store to store, and will probably be quite different than in the U.S.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Quote Originally Posted by Divatologist View Post
    Oh yes I love going to Nordstrom too. I have a friend at everyone in the MD area LOL! They send me cards and they call me when they think something I might like comes in. They have the perfume event when you can come in after the store closes and get samples and talk about perfumes and try out as many scents as you want.

    Heck yes!

    I get thank you cards in the mail after EVERY visit whether I buy something or just stop in to look around and say hi, I get phone calls letting me know about private events, I get calls asking me HOW I AM DOING! Every time I attend an event, I get 6-8 SAs coming up and thanking me for attending and telling me how "It just isn't an event without you here!". Heck, when I just go in to look around, they all make a point to come up and say hi if they see me. They listen, they treat me AMAZINGLY well, and have NO issues if, when I'm around and someone asks them a question they don't know the answer to, saying "DrBubba is here and HE will probably know...we'll ask him!" I've experienced things at a department store that I never thought possible, thanks to Nordstrom's. One of the last times I was there, they had servers walking around offering people drinks (soda, beer, wine, booze) and fingerfoods (REALLY good, gourmet quality food)...I was flabbergasted.

    The "women" at Neiman Marcus treated me like something they found on their shoe.

    The "Nordstrom's Customer Service Handbook " is a 5 x 8 inch card that says "welcome to Nordstrom" and then moves on the rules: "Rule #1. Use your good judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time."

    That's it.

    I wish more people handled things that way,

    Anyway...I'm babbling now...THIS is just why I'll never shop for fragrances at a "normal" department store.
    Last edited by DrBubba; 9th June 2007 at 07:38 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    I was in Macy's last week and they were pushing hard all of the new stuff, especially if it came with some kind of kicker prize like a bag or other extra. Armani Attitude, CK Summer, Eternity Summer, some new Nautica, Muggler, even after I said "no thanks" they just kept bringing them back up. I left and went elsewhere.

    I want to try the scents they have that I choose, not be badgered into trying what they want me to try.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    If the people in my area are on commission, most of them sure don't seem to show it.

    Most of the mid-level department stores (Macy's, Lord & Taylor, etc) have sullen salespeople if there are even salespeople there. If they don't have the fragrance I'm looking for, they rarely (if ever) suggest something else.

    It took an upscale trip to Saks to get a salesperson that knew her stuff and offered good suggestions. It was expensive, but worth it since they actually put forth an effort.

    Will give Nordstrom's another try, I keep hearing good things about it.

  9. #9
    Scentronic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Not only commission, but CRACK!

    Most of them don't seem to know anything at all about fragrances, and if they are a representative of a company, they will say or do just about anything to keep your attention focused on their products...including lying/making things up, insulting you and/or your intelligence, and putting forth the attitude you speak of, where you almost feel as though they will think you are shoplifting if you don't let them give you their sales presentation.

    There is no best strategy to deal with these people, as they are all different. Sometimes simply telling them that you would just like to look at things for awhile before you try anything is a good way to gently suggest that they back off, at least for the mean time.

    I find that the good customer service comes from the higher and lower- end stores... the higher being places like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks, and the lower being places like Perfumania (brick and mortar stores), and other outlet-type stores. It is the middle ground, like Macy's (in particular, it seems) that they either don't know what they are selling, or are repellent with their attitudes. You'll get a few crazy old rich guy's wives pushing product in Saks and the like, but they seem to be friendlier and calmer than the freaks at Macy's, and know when to draw the line for the most part.

    Bottom line: the internet is where it's at anyway!

    1) Learn about something that appeals to you on Basenotes
    2) Obtain small amount to try via trade, sample swap, decant sale, etc
    3) Decide whether you like it enough to buy
    4) Find a much better, commission-free price on the internet from a reputable seller providing fresh, genuine product
    5) Give the finger to the crazy nazi woman forcing her garbage on you (optional).
    Lately I've been wearing:
    Windsor, Bois de Santal, Original Santal, Elixir, Douro, Endymion, Reflection, Arcus, Marwah

  10. #10

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    I was jumped on in Harrods by a woman trying to sell airbursh foundation. I told her to try it on the back of my hand and I was damned if I could see anything. I told her I needed more coverage. "But you have great skin!" she said.
    Yes, because I'd covered all the blemishes and thread veins with a sturdy mousse foundation from Boots No 7!

  11. #11

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    When an SA attacks me in a department store asking if I have tried whatever she/he is peddaling that day I always say no, do you have a sample I can take with me. I was told not long ago that they ( perfume co.'s) don't send them samples. I told that woman that I only buy my perfume from Nordstroms where they are more than happy to make as many samples as you want....she just looked at me very confused. There is one SA that works in our Belk that I avoid at all cost....this woman could sell ice cubes to an eskimo!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    The answer to this question is NO.

    Department stores employ sales reps from diverse fragrance houses. For instance, L'Oreal (responsible for Armani, Ralph Lauren, Cacharel, Victor and Rolf etc) will put a SA in a store to promote lines from the L'Oreal portfolio. Beauty Prestige International will place a SA who will promote 'their' scents (namely Gaultier, Miyake, Narciso Rodriguez and the like).
    ALL BUT A FEW sales reps are employed in this manner. They are paid a wage (as with any other profession), but they will almost always attempt to refer you to a brand which their house represents. This is because their knowledge is greater for these scents, than other houses releases.

    No-one works on commission any more - however sales incentives are offered (eg: If there is a launch or refocus on, for example, Versace fragrances, the SA's from the company representing Versace will need to sell a particular quota in order to win a prize or cash reward). These incentives are not that regular, however with the number of houses represented (and therefore SA's on the floor promoting their lines), it can easily be understood that many customers feel overwhelmed.

    The key to avoiding awkward stand-offs with assistants is to observe the following:

    1. 90% of the time, they WILL offer scents from their houses. This is because their knowledge of these particular scents is GREATER than for others. If you feel you are being unduly swayed to purchase something you're not completely sold on, simply ask the question "aside from the fragrances in your company's portfolio, what else can you show me?"

    2: Always be polite and DONT expect the worst from your SA! Many customers go into stores with the outlook that they are going to be "poached and preached to", and build a defensive wall around themselves. This wall is impossible for even a GOOD SA to penetrate.

    3: Keep in mind there ARE good SA's who do wish to help, despite their loyalties to their companies. Seek them out, and hold on to them for dear life.

    4: External PROMOTIONAL companies hire staff to promote a wide range of products from alcoholic beverages to events tickets to perfumes. Often fragrance houses will hire promo staff from these companies during a launch or promotion... keep in mind THESE people have almost NO knowledge of the scent, nor the industry. This is not through ignorance, rather lack of training. Dont get mad when they fumble or give you shoddy information. You can spot them a mile away... just move on to a SA who appears to know what theyre talking about. Chances are when the promo person's shift is over, they are unlikely to return to that store for that function.

    Bottom line: keep a clear head. There is always a degree of "scent snobbery" - its a part of the fragrance culture... but don't be a bitch just for shits and giggles.
    It will get you nowhere.

    Hope this epic has been of some help in clarifying the "pushy assistant" mentality.
    Last edited by Sorcery of Scent; 14th August 2007 at 01:08 PM. Reason: typo

  13. #13

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Gee, thanks for that D.!
    I didn't know half of that info. Very good!!
    Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all. W.SOMERSET MAUGHAM

  14. #14

    TaoLady's Avatar
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    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    ...you can almost always count on Dmitri to be level headed and genuinely in the know. (As I remember he is/was in the business at the retail level) I especially appreciate the level-headed part......
    "The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering." Lao Tze

  15. #15

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Yes they almost always are on commission. I agree with everyone who loves Nordstrom. They are the only good dept. store to go to. I have found out that a lot of fragrance SA's (sales associates) do not really care about the job. They are not learning about their products enough and they are not researching fragrances. I asked someone once what were the notes in Chanel no.5 and she told me "We do not know because they don't tell us what is in them anymore. All I can say is it is a soft floral." and she was quite rude about it, too! Chanel is a very old and very classic fragrance, so it is not hard to find out what the basic notes are. I knew what was in it, I was just testing her. So basically, don't look to SA for help. You can talk to them casually, and if they seem to pushy do not trust them to lead you in the right direction. Learn on your own and then go shopping.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Department store sales people, are they on commission?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sudsy View Post
    Gee, thanks for that D.!
    I didn't know half of that info. Very good!!
    Quote Originally Posted by Taolady View Post
    ...you can almost always count on Dmitri to be level headed and genuinely in the know. (As I remember he is/was in the business at the retail level) I especially appreciate the level-headed part......
    Thanks Suds and Tao Lady! Im glad it was at least a little bit enlightening...

    My wife, my mother, my sister and I all have worked or are working at a retail level with fragrances for a combined 31 years, and we know first hand the delicate nuances from the 'other side' of the counter. Whilst working with several major fragrance powerhouses, I like to think that I remained objective as a sales consultant despite my loyalties to my company. Fragrance is ultimately a personal choice so you can only enlighten *NOT lead* a customer to something that they may enjoy... and if that scent lies beyond the portfolio of your own company, then so be it.

    I think much of the trouble these days is that reliable, honest SA's are few and far between. Only those truly passionate about the product and the industry can remain objective and truly assist someone in making the right choice for THEM.
    When perfumery is seen as a 'job' instead of a 'career', the battle is already half lost!

    Now everyone go out and hug their nearest trustworthy SA.
    *Awwwwwww, now that feels all warm and fuzzy now, doesnt it?*

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