Sunday, 26 August 2012

Hateful Sales People Targeting Women's Insecurities (Part 2)

Continuing from my previous blogpost, I reiterate that I have nothing personal against sales persons. I just detest the tactics they deploy and the things they say, targeting women's insecurities and fears in order to make a sale.

Having worked for (only) a decade and lived past the age 30 mark, one of the advantages of having your own source of income is that you have cash to spare on yourself. Over the years I have sought the 'expert help' for all womanly-related 'problems' as advertised in tv/newspaper/other media, ranging from Slimming to facial, from head to toe beauty services and including health care, by health I don't include medical health care, these are more aesthetic health care, for beautification purposes more than anything.

Here, I'd like to share some personal experiences of sales people I have encountered so far, I shall use abbreviation and not their full names in order to 'protect' their privacy, if they have anything left to call 'private':

Example 1: Slimming Centre MF - In am attempt to push a 6k package, my mother who accompanied me there was roped in to help me pay for the balance my new credit card cannot cover. It was 2 years before my wedding (we decided on a wedding date very early as an auspicious date is very popular and reservations had to be made early). My first encounter with such pushy sales tactics began at the age of 24++.

Example 2: Slimming Centre MF: Upon nearly using up my package, the persuasive sales/consultant pushed another package, half the original price of the first package I signed up. This continued for 2 whole years until the year I got married, in total, I have paid up in monthly installments (all paid up within a year) to this MF centre, a total of over 20k. I am not ashamed of this as I did benefit some, and it is my own money, I paid back my mom after the first sign up. So I guess no regrets here.

Then, since my main motivation to slim down was for my wedding, after 2007, I went back at least twice and that's it. Once was to claim my 3-times-free sessions during my birthday in Oct 2007, and my sweet consultant Teresa and I brought my mom along for a mother-daughter pampering session. The second time post-wedding was also with my mom as I bought her a two-time package.

Example 3: MF Slimming - Then in 2010, I received a birthday card from MF and enclosed are the similar 3-times-free treatment in conjunction with my birthday. My consultant Teresa has since left so I went to the same centre anyway and the new manager attended to me.

She refused to let me claim my 3-times-free treatments unless I sign up for another 6k package targeting my upper body part especially my arms, since I am 'top-heavy'. She didn't even wish me Happy Birthday as it is still my birthday month and I told her I am redeeming my free birthday treatment.

She launched into a sales pitch and made me strip down to my inners and took my measurement and tried very hard to make me sign up. I told her I am saving up to undergo fertility treatments then she said by slimming down it will help to have babies. Then I said I'd prefer not to touch my abdomen area as some of the slim wraps are really cold and not conducive for the womb, as in Asian medication, it is believed a warm womb is most fertile.

Then she recommended just targeting my arms (what happened to her earlier speech about losing fat all around he belly to increase chances of conceiving?), really BS and I was too nice. I should have just retorted and pulled all the weaknesses from her sales pitch and throw it back at her. I left with a sour taste in my mouth and threw away my free birthday gift voucher as she refused to add the 3 sessions into my account. I vowed if I ever go back, I shall turn on my voice recorder and post it up on YouTube to show just how ridiculous the arguments are. Be forewarned, MF.

Example 4: Still on MF Slimming, I received a phone call a few months after Oct 2010, it was early 2011 and a telesales/consultant spoke in "broken English" and said I haven't been there since 2007 and my "treatment is has expired", I said coldly that I have just been there last year a few months back. She asked when, I said in Oct during my birthday. She said "Bye" and hung up, I was like "huh?"

Very very bad impression.

Message to MF management, your customer relations and public relations are in dire need of improvement. The reason I stayed that long with MF is because of one person, my lovely consultant Teresa Chan. It has gone downhill since then and you are just like any other outlets who are out to fleece women (and men) of their money. Your treatments are still one of the most effective though, with a good core, if you brush up on your PR and CRM, you should regain your reputation and market share.

I have changed my mobile number and won't step in a MF outlet until I feel I wish to be subjected to such 'treatment' again, I still have some unused treatments left.

Example 5: Slimming Centre LWM. With a name of a Western country, you'd think it is Western-owned, however it is more name than substance, the boss is a Chinese from China. For all their products that originate from China, I found it outrageous it is so expensive.

I went through the first 'free trial with free product to bring home'.

The consultant had a big mole (beauty mark) on her chin and talked a lot. After a half-hour sauna session, I had a second slim wrap which involves being wrapped up like a tortilla/spring roll in aluminium foil blanket and being steamed for about half an hour.

I nearly fainted in this second session as I became dehydrated and felt faint, to make things worse, the consultant forgot about me.

By the time she came to me, I was very dizzy and told her I felt like I am about to faint. She got worried and poured me many glasses of drinking water and made me drink them, I think about 3 or 4 glasses at one go. She even tried to inject a sense of humour to the situation and said: "I actually forgot that your time is up and left you for too long" and she giggled. It's NOT FUNNY!

After the final part of the slimming session involving machine, I rushed through the post-treatment consultation. My weight has dropped about 2lbs/1kg but I put it as water loss, remember my dehydration in the second session?

I conjured up some excuses that I need to rush and quickly signed all the necessary papers to prove I've redeemed my treatments and in my rush, I forgot my free slimming products to bring home. No loss as I am lazy to apply body lotion anyway at home! My first and last time at LWM! They called after that but I refused to be 'bought' again.

Example 6: Mole and beauty marks - this happened in 2003 when I went to China on a press junket when I was still a reporter.

I was privileged enough to extend my trip for a good three days after official 'work' was over, and with two other journalists, we travelled down to Shenzhen from Guangzhou to take advantage of the special free accommodation at Shangrila Hotel (the sales director was our fellow countryman).

In these two amazing cities, we toured with buses as the other two journalist friends are Chinese literate (I only speak Chinese and not literate, I am almost blind in reading and writing Chinese words). We visited a shopping district twice.

In the first visit to the shopping district, one woman attracted me, she was promoting a herbal beauty product that is said to lighten dark pigments and eliminate moles. I have always been self-conscious when people pointed out the moles on my face. Just magnify my profile pix and try to count them. :)

I thought about it in the following days and when my journo friends suggested we visit that shopping district again, I was really excited as I decided I wanted to try the product.

Since it was nearly a decade ago, I forgot the price of the product but it shouldn't be too expensive as I only just started working not too long at that time, so it should be under USD100 to be considered 'affordable' for the 2003-me.

To cut a long story short, I was completely vowed over by the sales pitch by that woman who coincidentally had a mole under her eye (I forgot which eye). I paid up and brought the bottle home. I religiously use it after toning daily, and hoping to see my moles disappear, or at least lighten them.

A week went by, then a fortnight, and finally the bottle was depleted in a month. Nothing happened.

I was crushed. Lol, I can laugh about it now but back then I was in denial and kept pumping the empty bottle in hope there are something left and maybe, just maybe that last drop will do the magic the promoter claimed. I was barely 23, and after leaving my early 20s, I hope I am considered no longer so gullible.

On the other hand, I was lucky nothing bad happen to my skin. Some were conned by bogus products and had irreversible damages on their skin. Consider it a lucky escape and an expensive lesson learned.

Example 7: Skin - Facial: I only had a few basic facial sessions at the hair salon at the home of my mother's friend before my mid-20s. They only cost USD10 each one-hour session to clean my face with the regular extraction. My sis had breakout problems in her teens and I followed her there as mom paid for my session anyway, so that's about it.

Then just before my wedding, I had a free facial session at a huge chain of skincare franchise.

I signed up for a package worth nearly 3k for 10 sessions. I was vowed by the half-face-proof of how my skin was firmed up on one side after applying the product during the facial treatment session.

That begins my long journey with NYSS.

Five years on, I still have 6 sessions remaining and I am dreading each time I drag my feet for my facial.

They will try to make you part with your money in each visit.

There was once my consultant took a photo of my face stripped bare with eyes closed during treatment without my consent and saved it into the computer despite me asking her to delete it as it was really unflattering, she said "why should it be deleted, you look just fine", I guess being plump has its merits, since I have a chubby face, the shot was really 'fat' and was never used for commercial purposes (advertisements), but still I felt violated.

Anyway, in the past one year, I have, 9 out of 10 times successfully managed to dodge the sales tactics to buy more home products/treatment sessions, etc. That one moment of weakness is when they knew me too well and checked when my last installment of the last purchase will be up and attacked me in that month.

I am a woman and our love for beauty is inborn.

Example 8: Hair - This is when I accompanied my mom to her first consultation which is supposed to be free and comes with free home products and free first trial.

My mom was losing hair at the crown of her head and the thinning was aggravated by work stress a decade ago.

I hated the manager's guts.

The conversation went like this:

Manager: I recommend you invest xxK to return your hair to its former glory.

My Mom: But it's so expensive.

Manager: We have 0% installment for 12 months with credit cards. Which card do you have?

My Mom: But still...

Manager: Do you want to look beautiful? Don't you want your husband to see you as beautiful? Are you not scared he will leave you if you are unattractive with a balding scalp?

I WAS FUMING MAD but bit my tongue as I saw that my mother really wanted to give the treatment a shot. Her mind was already made up the moment she saw the newspaper advertisement.

Nearly 10 years on, she still goes to the same outlet (changed branch once to follow her young consultant), and I lost track of how much $$$ my mom has paid YNH.

She is still working so I guess it is alright.

I still hate that manager's guts for playing with my mother's insecurities and fears that first time. My mom told me the manager left after a year, good riddance. She seems happy with her current outlet so whatever makes her happy, I guess it's okay.

Example 9: This is a summary of the few healthcare product sellers I have encountered over the years.

Offers free health checkups including blood pressure measurement. The tag line FREE always attracts people.

Launch into a sales pitch and present some common problems of humans nowadays. Tap into the fear of death and fear of illness and pain. One such salesmen even threaten 'cancer' if we leave it untreated. Then they present to you 'the solution' which is prevent it before it happens.

In the form of capsules/caplets or pills, these products are your 'savior' and defense against all your fears. You are now saved and healthy. Sounds familiar?

I have this urge to draft and print out an 'agreement' and make my so-called beauty/health consultants to sign and agree not to launch into a sales pitch and pressure me to part with more money with each visit. I bought the services in the first place to allow some 'relaxation', not to add more pressure to my life. Oh well.

Hubby said this is their job and the best way is to avoid going altogether. That isn't solving the problem either

I have cut the number of calls from the outlets I have stopped frequenting by changing my number last year.

For the few I still go to, I just wish to stop but I still have unused sessions.

I just have to resist their coercion and persuasion each time and that doesn't really aid my relaxation.

They will try to use all sorts of tactics and lines like - if you can stop aging right now in your 30s, why not stop it now and don't let it age more into your 40s?

Hey girl, you are younger than me so easy for you to say. Wait till you turn 30, 35, then 40 and 50. Aging is inevitable!

I think I shall go to my next session with this attitude and will demand to see my consultant first and NOT after so I can warn her not to launch into a sales pitch or else I will leave half way through and will change/transfer branch/outlet.

The way they make me feel is: "OMG, that's such a horrible condition, your eyes, poor poor eyes, you MUST USE OUR EYE PRODUCT (worth 3k for 10 times of use) or else it will be too late!"

It is way overpriced and I refused. I knew logically they just want to make a sale. However, they shook my self-confidence and later that night I was looking into the mirror and checking out my eyes, patting them. Hubby said: "See! They've got to you! Don't let them get into your head!"

When I told hubby I am fat, he said he doesn't mind and love me all the same.

When I told hubby the facial girls said I look old or my skin is sallow, he said you don't look old, I am older than you!

When I told hubby I am balding like my mom, he said no, you still have a lot of hair on your head, stop thinking that.

Thank you hubby for pulling me back to reality and keeping my purse intact.

I cannot change these sales people, it is their job and gotta make a living. I can change the way I react though and I am sure I am one customer to remember. :)

Pix is a wall decor of one of the health outlets we visited.

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