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  1. #1

    Angry A major rant on London pharmacies

    FOR THE POLITICALLY CORRECT, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!

    I absolutely love hunting for gems in the myriad of pharmacies available, throughout London, and often find many discontinued gems. Most of them are not bottle-worthy, upon sniffing, but it's the thrill of finding and testing them that I love so much. However, there's been this one reservation that's always put a dampner on the whole experience.

    For those who know London reasonably well, it's common knowledge that most (if not all) of the pharmacies are managed and/or owned by Indians. Why did I mention this fact? Well, please read on...

    Today, I visited one of my local pharmacies (I hadn't been in there for over a year and was curious as to what they had in stock). Among all the new releases I saw Tabu, Heritage (original formulation) and (at least) ten bottles of Yohji Homme EDT (sealed). There were some other stuff that I can't recall at the moment but I was definitely enthralled by what was on offer (even though there was no guarantee that I'd purchase anything). The pharmacy was short-staffed, which meant that I could grab the odd bottle and apply a spritz to my arm without being hassled. Based on this, I was planning on spending a few moments really getting to know some of the more obscure stuff.

    Then, all of a sudden, a man walks up to the part of the counter where I'm sniffing away and just stands there. He's not a security guard, nor a SA, so I assume he's one of the owners. We have a pleasant conversation for a couple of minutes about the fragrance that I've just tried on, but I'm slightly unhappy that I may now have some 'company' whilst testing the other testers on display.

    Since one of the testers is at arms length (and I've already picked up a couple of testers from this area already) I reach for it. As soon as the tester's in my hand, the guy's face drops and I can see him trying to take the bottle off me. I slightly jerk my hand, with a 'I'm okay, thanks' vibe in my body language. He then proceeds to state that IT'S AGAINST STORE POLICY TO USE A TESTER BOTTLE ON MY SKIN BUT IT'S OKAY TO SPRAY THE STUFF ONTO A CARD! WTF?!?! I then tell him (very sternly) that, as I am holding a tester in my hand (which doesn't cost the pharmacy anything) I'm perfectly within my rights to test the fragrance as I so please (provided I'm not taking the piss with the number of spritzes I use) and then go on about skin chemistry issues. He then mutters, "I'm not going to bother arguing with you." What a f***ing arsehole!

    A few seconds later, I've already spritzed my arm, a couple of female SAs suddenly materialise on the shop floor and I'm already half-way through the door (but not without first telling those female SAs what an arsehole that guy is). Although I'm left fuming for a few minutes, I eventually shrug it off and go about the rest of my day as normal.

    Now, the reason for this story is due to the fact that this experience is the last straw for me, regarding these pharmacies. Most of the fragrances they stock, which interest me, are usually accompanied with a tester of some sort. If they're not then I accept that. However, EVERYTIME I'm in one of these pharmacies, and want to use one of the testers, one of either two things happen (and the person serving me is always from the same ethinc group):

    1) They're very reluctant to hand over the tester and offer to spray for you, and when they do spray it's only HALF A SPRITZ! Only 50% of the time will they give me another half-spritz after politely asking.

    2) Either the tester is within arms reach or you're able to take the tester off of them. At this point, there seems to be a sense of panic in their eyes and, if you spritz more than once, there's a high possibility they'll make a negative comment about it. For example, I found a pharmacy that had ONE sealed bottle of Guerlain's Coriolan left in stock (50ml) - the tester was about 80% full. After one spray on my wrist, I decided to add two spritzes to my neck and was then rebuked for doing so! Eh?! Now what are the chances of them getting more bottles of Coriolan in stock? Yeah, exactly!

    Now, based on what I would consider to be a strong correlation, what I want to know is WHY? Why are they so stingy with the use of their testers (and no, this has nothing to do with fear of something stealing them - that's an excuse for those who love constantly sticking their heads in the sand)? Is it because they plan to sell on the testers at a later date (and want the bottles as full as possible)? Does this only happen in London or has other English Basenoters experienced this elsewhere in the UK?

    Anyway, sorry for the long rant but it was only a matter of time before posting such a thread.
    Last edited by Trebor; 26th December 2007 at 03:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Scentronic's Avatar
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    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Next time, take your whole arm, and in one swift motion, knock all of the testers on to the floor, hopefully breaking some. Then scream, "fu(k you, you pathetic cheapskate!" and bolt out the door.
    Lately I've been wearing:
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  3. #3

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    WHY? because these ppl (regardless of their ethnic origin) are idiots. Ok, I know they're not perfume enthusiasts, know nothing about perfume art and so for them it's just another product like diapers or detergents.. But c'mon fella you don't need to be a genius to realize that if you want to sell me anything you better let me try it first, it's my money I might be spending here and those are FREE TESTERS.
    I never had such experience but if this happened to me I'd probably lose it and tell the guy to f** off.

    btw, that pharmacy, pls can you tell exactly where it is in London?

  4. #4

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by phibess View Post
    WHY? because these ppl (regardless of their ethnic origin) are idiots. Ok, I know they're not perfume enthusiasts, know nothing about perfume art and so for them it's just another product like diapers or detergents.. But c'mon fella you don't need to be a genius to realize that if you want to sell me anything you better let me try it first, it's my money I might be spending here and those are FREE TESTERS.
    Well, I totally agree that people, regardless of ethnic origin, can be idiots in general. HOWEVER, every single time I've been denied proper use of a fragrance tester has ALWAYS been from this ethnic group. Now, don't get me wrong but this thread is in no way intended to start any controversy - I've spent the best part of a year resisting posting such a thread (for obvious reasons). However, after my recent experiences, I've simply had enough.

    I think it's only fair that such a business practice be exposed for what it is: bad customer service. In fact, the times when I didn't face such a problem over testers, in a pharmacy, was when I was being served by someone from a different ethnic group. So, go figure.

    Btw, the pharmacy in question is situated (somewhere) in East London.

  5. #5

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    That was not nice of him. Here in Thailand, some sellers sell testers when the sealed box is sold out. But I guess many sellers worldwide have experienced cheap people using testers and would NEVER buy a bottle, never ever. Surely he didn't include you in that group since you know a lot about fragrance. Therefore, this guy is a minger.

    I really wish you were Vicky Pollard. He would have stood in awe, mouth open, and shot himself after Vicky left the shop.

    Look at this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcqUn79eGL4

    'You got to pick and mix in the bag' should be changed to 'You got to spray, just once, on the card.'
    Current Top 5

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  6. #6

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebor View Post
    Now, based on what I would consider to be a strong correlation, what I want to know is WHY? Why are they so stingy with the use of their testers (and no, this has nothing to do with fear of something stealing them - that's an excuse for those who love constantly sticking their heads in the sand)? Is it because they plan to sell on the testers at a later date (and want the bottles as full as possible)? Does this only happen in London or has other English Basenoters experienced this elsewhere
    In Canada, I have noticed a similar issue, not as profound as your experience, but a definite turn off. If it is a cultural issue, where the SA's and owners think you are stealing from them, then it is up to them to face reality and the potential for lost customers. You're using 'their' money with 'their' fragrance samplers.

    In my experience, I've seen some downright rude and even hostile SA's and shop owners. So, I wondered: what makes an SA so rude and hostile to a guy wearing a suit who wants to try a fragrance? Bad day? GF/BF problems? Boss riding their arse?

    You have hit on one of my hot-button irritations: extremely poor customer service. If someone treats me like sh*t, I let them know riight then and there that it is not acceptable.
    Green Dragon

    Aliquando et insanire iucundum est.

  7. #7

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Ethnic groups aside (!), I too have found horrendous service-staff at pharmacies. This time in Australia.
    My mother and I have both worked in the fragrance industry, and were pretty well known in fragrance circles as we made a pretty formiddable team in the department store floor.
    (Without tooting our own horn, we managed to consistently satisfy customers AND storm the sales targets)...

    On one particular occasion, I took my mum to a huge pharmacy in the main mall on our lunch break. Some of you have seen the miniature collection we have accrued in the "Just starting Out" forum, so we are always on the lookout for more. A few days earlier, I had spied a Lalique mini set that I wanted to show her. We entered the store, passing a woman "spruking" (ie: enticing customers to come in by speaking through a microphone into the mall), looked at the coffret for a few moments, and then took a look at the rest of their scents. Moments later, the woman we had passed approached us with her arms folded across her chest. We smiled and said "Hi" as we continued to peruse the selection of fragrances. Then, this effing cow opens her mouth and says "I know who you two are!"... followed by "how dare you come in here and price-match our fragrances!".
    Mum and I stood aghast, tester still in hand, with our mouths forming a perfect 'O'!
    I took one look at this person and answered at the top of my voice "How dare YOU insinuate we are here for any other purpose other than to buy, you STUPID WOMAN!" My mum chimed in and said "We have often referred customers to your store whom are unable to find a specific scent from our portfolio... but today we were here to buy". The woman (whom we later learned to be the manager) replied "Get out of my store!"

    Needless to say we were flabbergasted! We left, quite in shock and really didn't know how to respond. We were simply horrified at the treatment and injustice of it all.

    I am a strong believer of "what goes around comes around"... and this chick is gonna get it tenfold, beyoootttch!

  8. #8

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimitri View Post
    Ethnic groups aside (!), I too have found horrendous service-staff at pharmacies. This time in Australia.
    My mother and I have both worked in the fragrance industry, and were pretty well known in fragrance circles as we made a pretty formiddable team in the department store floor.
    (Without tooting our own horn, we managed to consistently satisfy customers AND storm the sales targets)...

    On one particular occasion, I took my mum to a huge pharmacy in the main mall on our lunch break. Some of you have seen the miniature collection we have accrued in the "Just starting Out" forum, so we are always on the lookout for more. A few days earlier, I had spied a Lalique mini set that I wanted to show her. We entered the store, passing a woman "spruking" (ie: enticing customers to come in by speaking through a microphone into the mall), looked at the coffret for a few moments, and then took a look at the rest of their scents. Moments later, the woman we had passed approached us with her arms folded across her chest. We smiled and said "Hi" as we continued to peruse the selection of fragrances. Then, this effing cow opens her mouth and says "I know who you two are!"... followed by "how dare you come in here and price-match our fragrances!".
    Mum and I stood aghast, tester still in hand, with our mouths forming a perfect 'O'!
    I took one look at this person and answered at the top of my voice "How dare YOU insinuate we are here for any other purpose other than to buy, you STUPID WOMAN!" My mum chimed in and said "We have often referred customers to your store whom are unable to find a specific scent from our portfolio... but today we were here to buy". The woman (whom we later learned to be the manager) replied "Get out of my store!"

    Needless to say we were flabbergasted! We left, quite in shock and really didn't know how to respond. We were simply horrified at the treatment and injustice of it all.

    I am a strong believer of "what goes around comes around"... and this chick is gonna get it tenfold, beyoootttch!
    Wow, I couldn't believe such a cow existed. Does she have a right to say that to you? Can you take legal action against this? In my country, a pharmacies like Boots can never say that to a customer. What type of pharmacies is that? Self-owned (private pharmacies)? From what you wrote it sounds like a middle-sized one, or above.
    Current Top 5

    1. Creed Aventus
    2. A*Men Pure Malt
    3. L'instant Extreme
    4. Nasomatto Duro
    5. CDG - Kyoto

  9. #9

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Stop being a bunch of Primadonnas. Many small business owners have a tough time staying afloat as it is, so don't expect the extras you would in a boutique or luxury chain. Yes, they are being overly cheap, but you don't have to shop there, and playing out the racial factor is petty and childish.

  10. #10
    Scentronic's Avatar
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    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    As far as I see, there is no reason to include any racial issues in this discussion of poor customer service. Every racial group has the capacity to be as rude as the next.

    That being said...

    I would NEVER let an SA, manager, or even store owner (private or chain) talk to me like that. This too, is one of my serious hot buttons. I would have literally dropped the tester I was holding, intentionally shattering it, and actually raised my voice, almost to the point of yelling at this bitch. I would have used profanity and tried to drive as many customers out of the store as I could, keeping in mind that security is probably on their way. There is absolutely NO excuse for this type of "service". Sorry, call me tempermental if you'd like, but there is NO way I'd tolerate that. I would have scared the shit out of her.
    Lately I've been wearing:
    Windsor, Bois de Santal, Original Santal, Elixir, Douro, Endymion, Reflection, Arcus, Marwah

  11. #11

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Like with quarrels between spouses, arguments of this sort are rarely simply one person's (or ethnic group`s) "fault," but result from an intersubjective communication situation (miscommunication in this case) that results from previous experiences (or inherited stereotypes).

    So my first question would be: what ethnicity are you and is there a history of ethnic tension between "your" group an Indians that may lead to prejudiced interpretation of your behavior on the side of a disproportionately large amount of Indian pharmacy owners? Obviously they are assuming you want a free ride (I'm thinking along the lines of Korean store owners and African-American customers in the inner city US).

    Another possibility could be that Indian shop owners for whatever cultural reason are not accustomed to the concept of the tester (plus the ignorance about the difference of testing on a card or on skin) and thus think anybody spraying multiply on skin is taking a free ride. Maybe it's considered unhygienic applying it to your body (irrational, but that's beside the point)

    Is there an aversion against freebies in Indian culture(s)? I know there is in Germany. You want something, you pay for it (perfumeries here are still comparably stingy with samples)

    The obvious thing to do is ask about this in a calm manner.
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  12. #12

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    This sounds more like a rant on a particular ethnic group than a london pharmacy chain. Its perhaps not directly related to fragrances but I will post some observations. I haven't had such an experience yet, but I do have a lot of indian friends. India is a huge country and has a lot of different groups - perhaps you are dealing with (hindu) south indians, who (from what I have observed) might come off as stingy and are able to do a lot more with less. They are mostly well educated with good incomes but don't like to flaunt it. They are usually not big spenders and excel at savings, but are very hospitable people and I have never felt shortchanged when I have been invited over to their house (lots of food, big parties, etc). But then most of these things can also be said about the founder of IKEA.
    -

  13. #13

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by danielhepster View Post
    Stop being a bunch of Primadonnas. Many small business owners have a tough time staying afloat as it is, so don't expect the extras you would in a boutique or luxury chain. Yes, they are being overly cheap, but you don't have to shop there, and playing out the racial factor is petty and childish.
    I agree many small business owners are having a tough time staying afloat. Does that mean that 'extras' are trying a sampler before you buy it? I don't shop where I am treated poorly.
    Green Dragon

    Aliquando et insanire iucundum est.

  14. #14

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by danielhepster
    Stop being a bunch of Primadonnas. Many small business owners have a tough time staying afloat as it is, so don't expect the extras you would in a boutique or luxury chain. Yes, they are being overly cheap, but you don't have to shop there, and playing out the racial factor is petty and childish.
    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp View Post
    This sounds more like a rant on a particular ethnic group than a london pharmacy chain. Its perhaps not directly related to fragrances but I will post some observations. I haven't had such an experience yet, but I do have a lot of indian friends. India is a huge country and has a lot of different groups - perhaps you are dealing with (hindu) south indians, who (from what I have observed) might come off as stingy and are able to do a lot more with less. They are mostly well educated with good incomes but don't like to flaunt it. They are usually not big spenders and excel at savings, but are very hospitable people and I have never felt shortchanged when I have been invited over to their house (lots of food, big parties, etc). But then most of these things can also be said about the founder of IKEA.
    As much as I've made myself clear about my intentions, regarding this thread, there'll always be the odd individual who will attempt to drag my name through the mud (especially when the topic is a sensitive one). But, then again, I've reached a point where I really don't give a flying f***. At the end of the day, my thread is based on nothing more than various experiences over a two-year period. I've never been rude to any of the staff and, most of the time, have attempted to spritz my skin just once with every bottle I picked up.

    danielhepster: For someone who's posted less than ten times, you really seem to have some nerve! Maybe you're just being cocky, maybe you've just had a bad day... ahhh, whatever! However, I think you've forgotten (or haven't even realised) that testers are usually given to sellers for free. Yes, it didn't cost them anything! As for the racial factor thing, I'm getting pretty tired of people not wanting to embrace both the negative and positive sides of any ethnic group. It's like as soon as you mention a negative characteristic, you're automatically a racist! Racism is about hate and ignorance - I've been treated poorly, as a customer, by a certain ethnic group when testing perfumes. If there's any racism in this story, it's certainly not originating from me...

    zztopp: Maybe they are South Indians but, due to their poor customer service, I've never bothered asking. With regards to the accusation about 'ranting on a particular ethnic group', you've been far more careless with your choice of words than I have with mine. I've already explained how I came to my conclusion, as well as my reluctance to mention it here. Sometimes the truth is not always easy to swallow and I think you've just shown that through your post. Oh, and another thing - just because a particular person treats you well doesn't mean that they'll treat another person exactly the same way. But I'm pretty sure you're already well aware of this. And, yes, this is relevant to the forum because it deals with one's right to freely use fragrance testers. I'm sorry if the subject matter has hit a raw nerve...
    Last edited by Trebor; 26th December 2007 at 07:41 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebor View Post
    zztopp: Maybe they are South Indians but, due to their poor customer service, I've never bothered asking. With regards to the accusation about 'ranting on a particular ethnic group', you've been far more careless with your choice of words than I have with mine. I've already explained how I came to my conclusion, as well as my reluctance to mention it here. Sometimes the truth is not always easy to swallow and I think you've just shown that through your post. Oh, and another thing - just because a particular person treats you well doesn't mean that they'll treat another person exactly the same way. But I'm pretty sure you're already well aware of this. And, yes, this is relevant to the forum because it deals with one's right to freely use fragrance testers. I'm sorry if the subject matter has hit a raw nerve...
    No it didn't hit any of my raw nerves and there were no derogatory terms in my post. But if my post did shed any light (perhaps refracted through my personal prism) on the matter and prevents further finger pointing at any ethnic groups then I think I have succeeded.
    -

  16. #16

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    I don't see this as an "ethnic" thread in any way shape or form. He is just stating how badly he has been treated and "as a matter of fact", the treatment has repeatedly come from a particular group. That may or may not have anything to do with the treatment but IMO, it's an aside and absolutely not the reason for the initial post.
    Trebor has been repeatedly treated badly and he is venting. No one deserves to be treated like this and I suppose the only recourse he has is to never shop at these places again. No doubt he understands this but is quite frustrated and would like some closure and/or an explanation. I wish I could give a better explanation other than saying that there are just too many a$$h*@es in the world.
    There doesn't seem to be any middle ground in customer service anymore. Either it's 5 star or garbage like Trebor received. I'm tired of taking my chances hence the main reason e-tailers with great customer service get my business. It's is a shame because hunting for the forgotten gems used to be a nice way to spend an afternoon.
    Eric

  17. #17

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebor View Post
    danielhepster: For someone who's posted less than ten times, you really seem to have some nerve! Maybe you're just being cocky, maybe you've just had a bad day... ahhh, whatever! However, I think you've forgotten (or haven't even realised) that testers are usually given to sellers for free. Yes, it didn't cost them anything! As for the racial factor thing, I'm getting pretty tired of people not wanting to embrace both the negative and positive sides of any ethnic group. It's like as soon as you mention a negative characteristic, you're automatically a racist! Racism is about hate and ignorance - I've been treated poorly, as a customer, by a certain ethnic group when testing perfumes. If there's any racism in this story, it's certainly not originating from me...
    How is my only posting a handful of times relevant? If you consider someone who questions you cocky, I might suggest you get a grip on reality. Calling you out on your silly crybaby rant has nothing to do with how I choose to spend my time on this site.

    And yes, associating a negative characteristic on an entire ethnic group is definitionally racist. The fact that you unapologetically use your anecdotal stories to smear an entire group is indicative of your willingness to perpetuate stereotypes. Get over yourself.

  18. #18

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Gents,
    To make a quick post about a significant subject, I want to observe that it's good to air some thoughts and see all the range of reactions to them. Even in frustration I think people think over what is thoughtfully said to them.

    Some threads don't want to be trainwrecks, but some threads head down their own tracks and mess things up as they do. When I thread becomes a trainwreck I'll step in and close it if not delete it.

    I want all of you gents to know about that.
    Best,
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  19. #19

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by danielhepster View Post
    How is my only posting a handful of times relevant? If you consider someone who questions you cocky, I might suggest you get a grip on reality. Calling you out on your silly crybaby rant has nothing to do with how I choose to spend my time on this site.

    And yes, associating a negative characteristic on an entire ethnic group is definitionally racist. The fact that you unapologetically use your anecdotal stories to smear an entire group is indicative of your willingness to perpetuate stereotypes. Get over yourself.
    I don't have a problem with anyone questioning my views, in fact I such a thing quite stimulating. However, what I don't like is someone who attacks me without even reading/taking on board all the points I made. Now, that's someone who's lost all grip with reality.

    As I mentioned before, NO-ONE is perfect - we all have dark/negative sides. Pointing out the possibility of one in a particular group is not racist - it's a possible fact. That doesn't mean that one should respect them any less - if nothing else, one further realises that this is not a perfect world.

    As for perpetuating stereotypes, I never made any firm stereotypical statement - I saw a correlation, communicated it and asked for any possible explanations. Hardly the approach of a racist!

  20. #20

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by KiatBkk View Post
    Wow, I couldn't believe such a cow existed. Does she have a right to say that to you? Can you take legal action against this? In my country, a pharmacies like Boots can never say that to a customer. What type of pharmacies is that? Self-owned (private pharmacies)? From what you wrote it sounds like a middle-sized one, or above.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scentronic View Post
    I would NEVER let an SA, manager, or even store owner (private or chain) talk to me like that. This too, is one of my serious hot buttons. I would have literally dropped the tester I was holding, intentionally shattering it, and actually raised my voice, almost to the point of yelling at this bitch. I would have used profanity and tried to drive as many customers out of the store as I could, keeping in mind that security is probably on their way. There is absolutely NO excuse for this type of "service". Sorry, call me tempermental if you'd like, but there is NO way I'd tolerate that. I would have scared the shit out of her.
    I'll be the first to admit that I've played the scenario over and over in my mind, trying to think of how I might have responded, had I not been floored by the immediate injustice of it all.
    I got angry, I shouted, and then I went into a state of incredulous shock that practically rendered me numb. This was a privately owned store that had just been bought out from a large Chemist franchise. As far as I know, it still sits in prime real estate in the Hay Street Mall, in Perth, Western Australia.
    This being said, I used my position in the industry to relate this story to as many colleagues, state managers, store management and customers as humanly possible (and now, some 4 years on, Im still writing about it. lol)!!
    But I maintain, that no matter the "perfect" comeback that I might have imagined 100 times over, that wretched woman will get her "come-uppance" one day... in the hereafter!

  21. #21

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    All of us have received ice-cold service from snobby SAs, regardless of their race, but I can see where Trebor is coming from and I don't feel that he is being racist at all. Different ethnic groups have very different ideas/concepts of customer service, some I would say are absolutely sub-par; some offer great customer service while others have no problem answering their cell phone while taking your order.

    Here in Toronto, most perfume shops/pharmacies are owned by either Indians or Eastern Europeans and there is a stark contrast in the level of customer service you will receive from both. In my experience, the Eastern European perfumeries feature SAs who are much more helpful and knowledgeable about their products, allowing one to sample, ask questions, etc., without feeling overly rushed or hassled. Indian perfumeries, in my experience, are very different. One store in particular would not (NOT!) let me sample an item on my skin, but insisted on spraying the bottle directly into the cap!!! What?? And unless you are certain you will be purchasing something, you had better not even inquire about a scent. Another shop takes the inquired about item directly to the cash register.

    I don't see any of these observations to be racist, but instead insights into living in a multicultural West.
    Last edited by Nicolas V; 26th December 2007 at 09:50 PM.
    You are not your perfume.

  22. #22

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    I agree. Many times those from an Eastern culture have no idea what customers expect in terms of customer service in the West, and that includes being able to sample fragrances from testers. Returns and exchanges are also viewed very differently in many Eastern cultures. Sometimes these differences do not go away when someone emigrates -- this is sad, because such differences can and do cause hurt feelings on both sides.

    I think of a Williams Sonoma experience a few years back when an East Indian woman came in dressed in a gorgeous sari. She was visiting relatives here in the States. She was becoming increasingly frustrated as the saleswoman tried to explain to her why she would NOT receive any discounts on the Chantal cookware, no matter how much she bought. Frame of reference (going either way, culture to culture) can make all the difference in the world.
    Last edited by tvlampboy; 26th December 2007 at 09:58 PM.

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  23. #23

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Don't get mad - get even. If you don't like the service spend your money somewhere else.

  24. #24

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas V View Post
    I don't see any of these observations to be racist, but instead insights into living in a multicultural West.
    Amen to that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Just Patrick
    Don't get mad - get even. If you don't like the service spend your money somewhere else.
    That is EXACTLY what I decided, within seconds of walking out of the pharmacy. It just saddens me that I could have discovered an obscure gem (and they would have also received some business in return).

  25. #25
    DeeOlive's Avatar
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    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    As an anthropologist, I'd like to point out that people from India are not a "race" (actually race is a social construct - not a biological reality but that is a discussion that will take us far off thread), and East Indians comprise many different sub-ethnic groups. I shop in many venues, owned and staffed by a veritable United Nations, and have found no correlation between quality of service and the ethnicity of the staff - good and bad across the board. I would just like to utter a word of caution re drawing conclusions that tar an entire group of people based on the actions of a few individuals. Your sample - is anecdotal - and not scientific (your "n" is not large enough), and there may be more variables that have influenced the conclusions you have drawn than meet the eye.

    As a person who has often been on the receiving end of bias from SA's - who make assumptions about my perfume preferences (and bank book) based on my phenotype, I have been driven to buying online, where it is much simpler and the only color that matters is the green of my credit cards. Do I assume that all SA's are making those judgments - no. Has it happened frequently enough to make me uncomfortable - yes.

    (Note that I am describing them neither by gender or ethnicity or phenotype). I've voted with my purchasing power and gone elsewhere. They lose commissions and I am no longer uncomfortable.

    As an aside - I do find when ordering over the phone - if I order with a French accent, I get more samples than if I speak American standard English (this is anecdotal as well - but I'd sorely like to test it scientifically)

    Bias/preferences/ethnocentrism - all come into play in the daily politics of human interaction. We all have them - and we all exhibit them at one time or another. Basenotes draws its membership from an international community and I think that it is probably better to not encourage stereotyping.
    The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions.
    Chanakya

  26. #26

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Well done for stating your observations. If you had just made a general comment about poor treatment by sales staff, people wouldn't know what you really meant. Political correctness (specifically fear of being labelled racist) lets some groups engage in and get away with poor behaviour. By bringing things out into the open, hopefully eventually a harmonious outcome will be reached.

    I note that when I posted here about the snobby nitwits in Sephora in Paris two and half years ago, no one accused me of being anti French.
    Renato

  27. #27

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by DeeOlive View Post
    As an anthropologist, I'd like to point out that people from India are not a "race" (actually race is a social construct - not a biological reality but that is a discussion that will take us far off thread), and East Indians comprise many different sub-ethnic groups. I shop in many venues, owned and staffed by a veritable United Nations, and have found no correlation between quality of service and the ethnicity of the staff - good and bad across the board. I would just like to utter a word of caution re drawing conclusions that tar an entire group of people based on the actions of a few individuals. Your sample - is anecdotal - and not scientific (your "n" is not large enough), and there may be more variables that have influenced the conclusions you have drawn than meet the eye.
    I agree with the above. We have all been in situations with poor customer service. My experience has been that it is a multicultural phenomenon. Yours may have been different. As someone who works with racial/cultural issues and tension in a prison daily, I have strong opinions about how we approach and talk about these differences.

    With most cultural differences, I find that education is always a better approach than emotional reaction. Maybe you could spend a short time education this gentleman (or other folks in the future) about your experiences in different stores. Let him know how valuable a service it is that stores allow customers to test fragrances freely. Ask him his views about testing fragrances in his store. Ask questions. Give him some feedback. Be open to his point of view. Whatever his response, even if he is a close minded, you may feel more empowered, and less bitter, than you do now.

    You posted here about how rude and inconsiderate he is. He may be posting in his chat room about how rude and ignorant his white customers are. And you both may be correct. I don't mean that in an accusatory way. I actually thought your initial post was well done and not inherently racist at all. I'm just offering the relativist perspective.

    -Slim
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  28. #28

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimPickins View Post
    I agree with the above. We have all been in situations with poor customer service. My experience has been that it is a multicultural phenomenon. Yours may have been different. As someone who works with racial/cultural issues and tension in a prison daily, I have strong opinions about how we approach and talk about these differences.

    With most cultural differences, I find that education is always a better approach than emotional reaction. Maybe you could spend a short time education this gentleman (or other folks in the future) about your experiences in different stores. Let him know how valuable a service it is that stores allow customers to test fragrances freely. Ask him his views about testing fragrances in his store. Ask questions. Give him some feedback. Be open to his point of view. Whatever his response, even if he is a close minded, you may feel more empowered, and less bitter, than you do now.

    You posted here about how rude and inconsiderate he is. He may be posting in his chat room about how rude and ignorant his white customers are. And you both may be correct. I don't mean that in an accusatory way. I actually thought your initial post was well done and not inherently racist at all. I'm just offering the relativist perspective.

    -Slim
    Thanks for your comments, Slim. The person that I had the disagreement with actually had a London accent (so, I'm assuming he was born in the UK). Therefore, with regards to misunderstandings about levels of customer service, there was no excuse there. I'm no longer bitter about it now but I was for the first 15 minutes or so - after all, I was just freely sampling (within reason) a few tester bottles before he made the experience unpleasant. Btw, I'm not white...


    Quote Originally Posted by Renato
    Political correctness (specifically fear of being labelled racist) lets some groups engage in and get away with poor behaviour. By bringing things out into the open, hopefully eventually a harmonious outcome will be reached.
    I think that's the whole point of this thread, even if it means putting my neck on the line.


    Quote Originally Posted by DeeOlive
    Bias/preferences/ethnocentrism - all come into play in the daily politics of human interaction.
    True but, everytime I have a point of view, I must back it up with some scientific evidence (surely that would take more than a lifetime alone to achieve?)? I'm sorry but REAL LIFE isn't like that...
    Last edited by Trebor; 27th December 2007 at 01:15 AM.

  29. #29

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Just Patrick View Post
    Don't get mad - get even. If you don't like the service spend your money somewhere else.
    Yes! On point. That is what I do. If you get poor service, go somewhere else and don't get miffed! Someone will alway be willing to provide you with a good experience when buying scents. They usually are the the sucessful ones in business more than 5 years...
    Green Dragon

    Aliquando et insanire iucundum est.

  30. #30

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Renato View Post
    Political correctness (specifically fear of being labelled racist) lets some groups engage in and get away with poor behaviour.
    Oh yes, all these sneaky Indians would get away with far worse if not for we members of more virtuous races keeping our eyes on them! We'll be heroes for discouraging these deplorable tendencies by drawing attention to their obviously inherent negative traits. Let's pat each other on the back!

  31. #31
    Dependent pluran's Avatar
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    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies



    What you think and what you feel and what actually manifests is always a match-no exception.

  32. #32

    Default Re: A major rant on London pharmacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebor View Post
    I saw a correlation, communicated it and asked for any possible explanations. Hardly the approach of a racist!
    Come on... what kind of explanation could you possibly be hoping for?

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