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  1. #1

    Post Store testing etiquette

    I've been to a few different stores, mostly dept stores, to sample fragrances over the years. However it is never something that I enjoy doing because of the attitude I seem to get from SA's.

    There is one store I went to last month and sniffed about 6-7 bottles, the sales associate obviously didn't know much about fragrances but still lingered trying to 'help' me. Eventually I noted to her that I wasn't a huge fan of any of the ones I tried except for one which I didn't mind. Fast forward another week and I went back to ask for a sample of the one. She greeted me with a very condescending "oh you're back.... good for you." Then looked at an SA that was nearby and sarcastically said right to her, "this guy was here the other week and tested out this and that (named a bunch of the actual ones I tried). but didn't buy anything"

    That is why I dislike testing things at the store because of attitudes like that. I'm extremely polite always so it's nothing to do with my own attitude. I'm wondering if there's a certain etiquette such as, if you sniff a certain amount of bottles they expect you to buy one of them?
    I eventually left that store, I had planned on buying one of the bottles from her eventually but after she said those things I just sprayed another bottle for good measure and then left.

    I will make note that I am from Canada (Vancouver), and I have also been to a few stores in the US. There is a startling difference in the attitudes of fragrance SA's in the US. They actually love to have you spray and test several things, and will do their best to help even if they aren't always the most knowledgeable.
    Last edited by UrbanCoyote; 4th June 2012 at 04:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Basenotes Institution 30 Roses's Avatar
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    Default Re: Store testing ettiquette

    Sorry you encountered this attitude from what was clearly a poorly trained SA. Her comment in your presence to the other SA was beyond rude. I'm afraid I would be having a conversation with her supervisor after that.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    She sounds like she is pretty bad at her job. if she had any sense she would have happily greeted you and said she remembered you and helped you out again.
    Its not just a Canadian problem. You sort of have to slip in and out of dept stores pretty fast or you are bound to have some sort of bad experience.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    As long as you did not shoplift, your actions were perfectly correct, and hers were not. I would have asked to speak to her supervisor so that additional training in basic courtesies, which apparently was warranted, could have been explored.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Now I'm curious to know which department store this is, but I had similar changes in attitude in certain SA's.....
    I don't think you were doing anything wrong, and I think SA's actions were quite inappropriate. I would also be having a talk with her supervisor.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Sadly, for some people, working at a perfume shop or counter is just a job. They don't actually care much about perfume - if they did, they'd be so much more welcoming and enthusiastic about helping you find something you love (or at least leaving you alone to smell until you have questions).

    And I also don't believe it's just about training. What people lack in training they can make up for in attitude. What you encountered was an attitude problem that had nothing to do with you.

    Like heperd says, though, it happens everywhere and bad experiences are common. I find it frustrating that I often know more than the SAs and have to make a conscious decision to play dumb, ignore them, or actually try (gently) to correct them. Like the poor OJ counter girl at Harrod's yesterday who stared at me blankly when I asked if there were any chypre-type perfumes in the collection, and who defensively insisted that the pomelo in OJ's Osmanthus is an "Egyptian herb" despite my telling her that it's a citrus fruit. At that point, you can't even have a productive conversation with someone.

    Honestly, it just makes me that much more grateful for shops like Les Senteurs, where the SAs are friendly, interested in the subject matter, and extremely knowledgeable. And there are really good SAs out there in department stores too. I think that those of us who love perfume should try our best to support good shops and SAs by buying from them whenever possible.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by UrbanCoyote View Post
    She greeted me with a very condescending "oh you're back.... good for you." Then looked at an SA that was nearby and sarcastically said right to her, "this guy was here the other week and tested out this and that (named a bunch of the actual ones I tried). but didn't buy anything"

    That is why I dislike testing things at the store because of attitudes like that. I'm extremely polite always so it's nothing to do with my own attitude.
    You're too polite.

    I'd probably have said "Am I obligated to buy something? Call your manager, you're rude."

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  8. #8

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    I hate rude and snobbish SA's, fortunately I have not encountered many of them.

    What I dislike is SA's who are pressurising and those are quite common. I've only encountered one person who said go away and see how the fragrances develop on your skin. Most seem to expect you to buy after you spray instead of seeing how it is for the rest of the day.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    I wish the Dillards here had something worth buying because there is one guy who is so nice and let you sniff anything without bothering you that i really would like to purchase from him. i go in there every couple of months just to see if the new Whatever Sport is maybe worth buying. Every time ive gone there I there he seems to have guys that are repeat customers buying from him. Other SAs should take notes from people like him.
    Its like an upward spiral. Youre nice to customers, you sell more, more money, happier, nicer to customers, sell more..............

  10. #10

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    So there are no unwritten rules like, spray certain number of testers then out of courtesy buy one? The SA's don't pay for the testers so I don't see why they should care. That wasn't the only time I've encountered attitude, just the worst.

    Yeah, for a moment I did consider asking for her supervisor, I guess I should have! At the time I just felt like going somewhere else and having her lose the sale - her own loss. (assuming they are under commission)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    No way, no rules at all. You are never obligated to buy anything. I wouldnt buy something just out of courtesy, only buy if you actually like one. I always tell SAs that I only buy after testing because i have made mistakes before buying right away.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Some SA's can be a bit in your face and pressure you into purchasing something. I'm just firm with them and test and ignore them if they try the hard sell.

    Some bad in store etiquette is those people who go in and spray about a dozen sprays of a particular fragrance. It's like because its free they are going to bathe in the stuff and I find it crass and disrespectful to others. I mean do you really need several sprays of Aventus.lol

  13. #13

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Always remember to not expect too much from people that work in shops and that once you leave they will still stand in a shop and peddle, well, whatever they peddle. How anyone could think that they can act snobby whilst working at e.g. a perfume counter...beats me.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    When I am testing, I know exactly what I want - usually with a list on a slip of paper. A good SA will engage in some sort of conversation and then just hover, and supply with more spritzes.

    After the SA gives me a sample from my best choices, I feel a slight, ever so slight, obligation to go back to that store and eventually buy. But, the same thing could be easily be available on line, or in form of a decant of TPC.

    Actually, the SA is at a disadvantage. But, that comes with the territory ... So, poorly trained (in both perfumery AND diplomacy/sales techniques knowledge) will get desperate and start to push. And that is what really turns off a prospective customer.

    A while ago, I was in the CREED BOUTIQUE in NYC. Absolute courtesy ... knowledge ... and charm. Sure, that charm was not completely honest, but it surely made me remember the visit. Another good place is the CARON Boutique in NYC. Courtesy and the magic of all those urns.

    In a large department store, don't expect to find anything other than quick dismissive behavior, bright lights, infumigated air, and the vow NOT TO SHOP THERE.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hunter View Post
    Some bad in store etiquette is those people who go in and spray about a dozen sprays of a particular fragrance. It's like because its free they are going to bathe in the stuff and I find it crass and disrespectful to others. I mean do you really need several sprays of Aventus.lol
    How true. I'm always amazed to see people in shops hosing themselves down with the testers. The other day a woman in Selfridges took an Estee Lauder perfume from the display, held the sprayer about an inch from her neck, and sprayed about nine times. I always wonder if people doing this are too cheap to buy perfume, or can't afford it, or what.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Rüssel View Post
    Always remember to not expect too much from people that work in shops and that once you leave they will still stand in a shop and peddle, well, whatever they peddle. How anyone could think that they can act snobby whilst working at e.g. a perfume counter...beats me.
    How incredibly superior of you.

    I expect people who work in shops to be just as professional and conscientious about their jobs as anyone else in any other profession or job. It doesn't always happen, I admit. But good shop assistants, as lowly as you may think they are, are in fact priceless. And snobbishness isn't an attractive quality in anyone.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    I can say that from department stores Dillards, Sephora, Macy's, Belks and store such as Perfumania and the like I have never run into a problem with a SA's attitude. The only problem that I have is that they will try too hard sometimes and get me to sample 15-20 fragrances that I am not even interested in....I can't even say they(as in all the stores I named) but Perfumania is NOTORIOUS for this.

    I have had to tell them before that I don't like to get olfactory fatigue from smelling too many fragrances and that I am looking for a certain smell.

    Now this side perfume shoppe in my area customer service sucks. Especially from this guy. He will let you sample fragrances but only if you show genuine interest in possibly purchasing the fragrance rather than just testing. For instance I went in there maybe a month ago and he had bottles of Aventus. I asked if I could get a whiff and he took it out of the box and told me not to spray. I'm like how can I smell if the atomizer has not been primes sprayed or anything!?!?!

    I'm assuming he did this because they didn't have a tester and being that Aventus is so expensive he didn't wanna waste a spray on a possible non-buyer. The thing that kills me is the fact that the area I live in to my knowledge does not have fragrance collectors. I have NEVER EVER noticed anyone at fragrance counters EVER. So essentially he is losing money as I am one who will buy if I like yet he is not even willing to let me sample. Add to the fact that he has fragrances going for retail value he has a Bond no.9 Brooklyn 1.3oz going for $174.00...are you crazy. I got a 3.4oz from Scentmonkey for $154.00.

    I may go in there today for him to tell me the price he is selling Aventus for just so I can make him aware of the fact that not many people in my area are even into fragrances let alone Niche and that he should seriously consider lowering his prices for definite buyers such as myself. I will also make him aware of how much these fragrances go for online and that he is essentially losing money.

    Who knows I may report back with you guys that I got Aventus at a super deal. Lol
    Last edited by frostyicy; 4th June 2012 at 12:38 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    If an SA is that incredibly rude then I'd think about reporting her to the floor or store manager. Sorry to hear you had such an unpleasant experience.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by frostyicy View Post
    I can say that from department stores Dillards, Sephora, Macy's, Belks and store such as Perfumania and the like I have never run into a problem with a SA's attitude. The only problem that I have is that they will try too hard sometimes and get me to sample 15-20 fragrances that I am not even interested in....I can't even say they(as in all the stores I named) but Perfumania is NOTORIOUS for this.
    Ugh I hate this. Recently went to a department store where a lady was very knowledgeable and was guiding me towards what I wanted. She then told me to go next door to a different store and try out a few that she named over there. I went next door and started to get help from a lady that didn't know much about fragrances but she was trying and was nice so I let her. A minute later her manager (I'm assuming) budged in and started spraying various "top selling" colognes on me, clearly not even considering what I was looking for. After a couple of those I just said nevermind I guess you don't have what I'm looking for and walked out. Unfortunately I reeked of spicebomb and some very soapy citrus thing afterwards (no offense if you like either of those scents, but I didn't).

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    You should feel free testing whatever you want as long as you are just "testing." I have a long commute one day a week and on the way home stop at a mall with several stores that sell perfumes and test things. Some stores it took months before I bought anything, others I still have not bought anything from. If anything, the SA's urge more testing than I really want to deal with.

    The set up in Sephora makes testing a lot easier than other places because they have testers for everything all in one place and you don't have to ask an SA for help. Perfumania is a bit of a pain because everything is behind counters and often you can't even read the labels without asking for help. Generally speaking, though, the main problem is that the SA's know less than I do but this is typical for most things, not just fragrances.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Kagey View Post
    How incredibly superior of you.

    I expect people who work in shops to be just as professional and conscientious about their jobs as anyone else in any other profession or job. It doesn't always happen, I admit. But good shop assistants, as lowly as you may think they are, are in fact priceless. And snobbishness isn't an attractive quality in anyone.
    There are no good shop assistants, Kagey.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Just tell them to piss off and when you need their help you will ask : )
    Sounds like someones having a case of the Mondays

  23. #23

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    I can usually spray from 20-30 tester bottles on paper strips whenever I go to the fragrance store, without being coerced to buy anything.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Rüssel View Post
    There are no good shop assistants, Kagey.
    If that's the attitude you take with people, then I'm not surprised you think so.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    I've fortunately never had anything like that happen to me... yet. I don't really see the point of having somebody hover over you while you're testing perfume—it's not like they can decide for you whether you like something or not. The most common and annoying experience I've had is when the SA offers to help, and I tell them "No thanks, I'm okay. I'll give you a shout if I need something", and then they continue to hover around me, and continue to interrupt me to offer their assistance every 30 seconds.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    I moved to Germany 4 years ago and the sales/customer service mentality is literally non existent. It is the exception rather than the rule (at least in the area where I live) to walk into a store and be helped.

    That said - it's fantastic when I want to test scents, because I can stand there for an hour smelling away until I'm dizzy and I'm left completely alone.

    As the customer, you should always be in the right. You don't have to cop attitude from anyone behind the counter. I'd have contacted the manager and explained why I'm telling everyone I know never to patronise their store again.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    UrbanCoyote, what store was it?

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by UrbanCoyote View Post
    I've been to a few different stores, mostly dept stores, to sample fragrances over the years. However it is never something that I enjoy doing because of the attitude I seem to get from SA's.

    There is one store I went to last month and sniffed about 6-7 bottles, the sales associate obviously didn't know much about fragrances but still lingered trying to 'help' me. Eventually I noted to her that I wasn't a huge fan of any of the ones I tried except for one which I didn't mind. Fast forward another week and I went back to ask for a sample of the one. She greeted me with a very condescending "oh you're back.... good for you." Then looked at an SA that was nearby and sarcastically said right to her, "this guy was here the other week and tested out this and that (named a bunch of the actual ones I tried). but didn't buy anything"

    That is why I dislike testing things at the store because of attitudes like that. I'm extremely polite always so it's nothing to do with my own attitude. I'm wondering if there's a certain etiquette such as, if you sniff a certain amount of bottles they expect you to buy one of them?
    I eventually left that store, I had planned on buying one of the bottles from her eventually but after she said those things I just sprayed another bottle for good measure and then left.

    I will make note that I am from Canada (Vancouver), and I have also been to a few stores in the US. There is a startling difference in the attitudes of fragrance SA's in the US. They actually love to have you spray and test several things, and will do their best to help even if they aren't always the most knowledgeable.
    Don't feel you did anything wrong.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    There will always be quite a difference between shops, I think. Most Sales Assistants I've come across are doing their best, many aren't given enough training, obviously, but that is the fault of the store. There's always the odd one who is just terrible, but I think that's in any type of situation. I agree with nathan.k about the hovering SA, oh, I just can't stand that! It may be store policy? but no, doesn't work for me at all.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    BTW don't you love when a SA tells you that the fragrance you like does not fit you?!

  31. #31

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    'Good for you'??? Wow. I would have to complain to her supervisor for that probably. And ask for 10 samples as compensation, at least 10. And I would never buy anything there, ever. I mean, unless they gave me a complementary bottle for being so lame. Maybe I still wouldn't be back after that! Lol!.
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  32. #32

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Never experienced this sort of problem. For instance, I was in Ulta tonight for probably an hour with my girlfriend testing many different fragrances. I even had a pen to initial the test strips so I could remember what I liked afterward, too. And even from the onset coming into the store, I received one greeting and asked if I needed any assistance and I said, "No, thank you. I'm just looking." Afterwards, I didn't feel as if any of the store associates were growing tired of my semi-long stay, either - no lingering or "the look" from SAs.

    In the end, I spent over two hundred dollars on fragrances in their store so I'm sure they sensed then that I was giving serioius consideration to the scents rather than merely being there to waste time. Moreover, a month beforehand I had been in Ulta for nearly half an hour and didn't make a purchase but sampled five or so fragrances and didn't get any unpleasant feelings from the SAs when I had left without buying anything.

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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    If you have a Sephora near you, I highly recommend checking them out. I can't believe how friendly the sales people are there. They kind of remind me of the Apple Store. I get the feeling they don't care if I buy anything or not... in other words, I feel zero sales pressure there. They just seem to like what they do and they're happy to help. So, if you're friendly and open to suggestion, Sephora is the way to go.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Was it Holt Renfrew?
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by swix View Post
    If you have a Sephora near you, I highly recommend checking them out. I can't believe how friendly the sales people are there. They kind of remind me of the Apple Store. I get the feeling they don't care if I buy anything or not... in other words, I feel zero sales pressure there. They just seem to like what they do and they're happy to help. So, if you're friendly and open to suggestion, Sephora is the way to go.
    Sephora is great! one near where I live - they dont pay attention to guys.

  36. #36

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Wear your ipod next time, and ignore them.

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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    i live in california and the sales associates out here are the worst...

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    Default Re: Store testing ettiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by 30 Roses View Post
    Sorry you encountered this attitude from what was clearly a poorly trained SA. Her comment in your presence to the other SA was beyond rude. I'm afraid I would be having a conversation with her supervisor after that.
    I always do that. It's their job to make a good assistence.

  39. #39
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by blackrain View Post
    Sephora is great! one near where I live - they dont pay attention to guys.
    Some times the guys pay attention to guys. I walked out of there one time with about 15 samples and custom blends that this guy made me. i was flattered.

  40. #40
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    In SEPHORA they will leave you alone, you may as well be in a supermarket. You examine, you choose, you go and pay.

    In the CARON Boutique, in New York City, there is a lady who will take a personal interest and will aim to find a perfume for you, or better said, you "play" with samples and have a pleasant experience. A true perfume experience. And I walk out surrounded with a cloud of that perfume we tested. Now I am hard pressed ... should I order that very perfume on line? Often, they have very good and authentic CARON offers on FragranceNet and FragranceX. Oh dear! The nice sales girl will not know, but I know. And, in the future, when I need a perfume fix, I mean a good conversation, how can I go back and never buy there? So, I have not been back yet.
    There are no answers, only choices. (Stanislav Lem)

  41. #41

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Ursula, depends on the branch of Sephora, or perhaps the geographic area.

    Over here in this country they'll literally swarm you. Each SA representing his or her brand, all cackling at the same time.

    I think its a military tactic. Overwhelm you till you buy something then move on to the next prey lol.

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  42. #42
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    I have never had any luck testing at stores where I am at. Therefore I have ordered samples and bought bottles directly online.

  43. #43
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by CapriDog View Post
    I have never had any luck testing at stores where I am at. Therefore I have ordered samples and bought bottles directly online.
    I agree. I've made so many bad purchasing decisions based on testing in store. It's very difficult to properly assess a fragrance in that environment. There is no substitute for full wear testing. Usually, if I sniff something that seems interesting in a store, I'll get a sample if possible and wear it later under normal conditions. Nordstrom and Saks are great this way - they'll happily make samples. Well, at Saks they do it if they think you'll buy. Sephora as well, of course, but the range is pretty limited there.
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  44. #44
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by rubegon View Post
    Sephora as well, of course, but the range is pretty limited there.
    That's definitely the drawback.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
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  45. #45

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    What a HORRIBLE attitude. Unfortunately I think this demeanour is what commissioned based sales can sometimes encourage? I've worked in sales and retail on and off for 19 years and have seen colleagues throw away potential customers like this time and again. Had she but realised what an ivestment OP was for her, I'm sure she would have spent a lot more time and energy cultivating them and earning their trust, as a good SA will always do.

    I had a guy in London, who worked on the beauty counter in a big dept store and he would always shower me with samples, remember my likes/dislikes/needs and have a chat. Even stopping me if I was going right by him to another dept. I spent a fortune with that guy, often buying more than I had expected to! Sadly, I don't see that as much in dept store fragrance counters, where the experience is often far less consultative. I much prefer my experience in little independent places, tucked away, wherein you can often find the most knowledgable and friendly SA's who can take the time to build a relationship with you.

    As mentioned the internet offers alternative avenues too, with many perfumers and houses offering sampling programmes.


  46. #46
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    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    It is really the personal touch that counts. There is so much competition. Thousands of new releases constantly. So, it behooves the perfumer to make it personal. Andy Tauer includes a little card, with the words, "Enjoy".

    I am digressing from the original topic, of the experience in a store. First of all, inside the store, the air is already infumigated with fragrance, so how can I possibly sniff true notes rendered either on paper or on my skin? A sample, to test for many hours, is the only way to go.

    So, the perfume houses who make a nice coffret with 6 or more samples, do themselves a favor.
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  47. #47

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    I couldn't agree more - I always have to take home and try before I buy. The temperature changes of going in and out, the scented air (as you say Ursula) the way a fragrance develops and reacts with your own smell, the longevity, the possibility of a skin reaction... so many variables that cannot be answered by sniffing ten cardboard cards in a five minute period. Most smaller concerns, such as Yosh Han, Ormonde Jayne and Ineke have got such a great sampling system.


  48. #48

    Default Re: Store testing etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Ursula View Post
    In SEPHORA they will leave you alone, you may as well be in a supermarket. You examine, you choose, you go and pay.

    In the CARON Boutique, in New York City, there is a lady who will take a personal interest and will aim to find a perfume for you, or better said, you "play" with samples and have a pleasant experience. A true perfume experience. And I walk out surrounded with a cloud of that perfume we tested. Now I am hard pressed ... should I order that very perfume on line? Often, they have very good and authentic CARON offers on FragranceNet and FragranceX. Oh dear! The nice sales girl will not know, but I know. And, in the future, when I need a perfume fix, I mean a good conversation, how can I go back and never buy there? So, I have not been back yet.

    You do Know that sephora's SA are paid hourly/salary and not on commission= there's your answer! They have great SA but there always a bad apple in the bunch regardless if they're working via salary or commission or hourly.....Cheerios
    "Thank GOD for the nose, for without it we would not be enjoying these beautiful created Scents" also Remember "Balance is everything and the key to appreciating "

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