The death of snooty service

Luxury stores sucking up to customers

The haughty, often dismissive service associated with high-end retail has become yet another recession casualty reports the Wall Street Journal. Sales associates at Neiman Marcus, for instance, are being encouraged to be “more patient” with customers, says a company spokeswoman. Those who still darken the doors of Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman and the like report salespeople are solicitous and, more shockingly, sometimes even smile. One man says that his choice of a pair of brown loafers at Fendi discounted to US$430 from about US$720 elicited “effusive praise” from three employees and a handwritten thank-you note from his salesperson. Both salespeople and customers report that this seismic shift in the shopping dynamic has proven alienating. Salespeople have quit over directives that they send a minimum number of thank-you notes a week. And one customer was so rattled by the overweening helpfulness of a saleswoman at an Anne Fontaine boutique in New York that she began to view her as pathetic and “only bought what she originally intended to buy in the first place.”

The Wall Street Journal

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