Oprah victim of racism or sales tactic?
Posted by John Wright in the News, section.
Oprah was in Switzerland recently and claims she was the victim of racism but maybe she was only a victim of a sales tactic that she interpreted as racism
When I read about Oprah being the victim of racism in Switzerland I was expecting something bad but I couldn’t imagine what that was. I read the BBC News article and here is the short version of the story. Oprah, who is according to celebritynetworth.com is worth $2.7 billion, was in an upscale shopping store for handbags. The sales agent told Oprah that one of the bags was “too expensive” for her. You can read the original article here:
Maybe this agent is used an aggressive sales tactic that you might encounter at a high end store and seems to be a popular one used in Switzerland as they have some of the most expensive products and tastes. That sales clerk could have possibly not known who Oprah is as they probably don’t watch American television but who knows. So when I read the article my first thought was that this agent didn’t know Oprah but probably judged by her clothes, jewelry and attire that she was loaded and could definitely afford the most expensive handbag in the store. If it was a white woman then there would be no issue or claims of racism. I could be that the sales clerk just wanted to use this sales tactic on Oprah knowing that she could afford that expensive handbag and to get her to prove the sales clerk wrong that she is rich and can afford it.
I don’t deny that racism happens all over the world but I think for Oprah to call the racism card on this might have been a bit harsh and that the sales clerk may have been trying to help Oprah make a purchase in the manner where Oprah shows how rich and powerful she is by buying the most expensive handbag in the store, netting the clerk the largest commission possible.
Now the sales clerk is going to have probably a permanent label as being a racist and may lose their job over this and in some cases people receive death threats. If this really isn’t about racism and more of a sales tactic, then in order for that agent to save their reputation, they must admit they used this tactic. Of course those that have bought from this store might not appreciate hearing that they use this to trick people into overbuying the most expensive items.
I remember seeing on a television program this ‘tie aficionado’ from I think an American talk about his love for ties and shared his experience while shopping in a store from Switzerland. I can’t find that video but the guy talks about going into this upscale store in Switzerland and browsing a collection of ties. He said on his show that he was intending to buy 1 or 2 very nice ties. Sure enough his sales clerk approached him and offered the man an opportunities to see some of their other selection of ties that he could afford. On his show he was displaying the 6 expensive ties he bought and how he showed the sales clerk that he was wrong to judge him and that he could more than afford the expensive ties. Not only did he spend the most money possible, he was proud of it too! After watching this I felt embarrassed for the guy bragging about his new tie purchases and knew that he was tricked into overspending.
This tactic not only can cause buyers to overspend but it also immediately qualifies the buyer if they are likely to spend or not and can also save them time on buyers that might want to bargain on a deal. A simple comment in a high end luxury store like “it is too expensive for you” or “maybe you would like to see something else you can afford” can be effective on many levels. No store would admit to using a tactic like this and no sales rep would want to put their name to this trick unless they were writing a book about it.
Now Switzerland does have some reputation for racism that has made world headline news. Sure enough that bag was eventually bought at a price tag of $38,000, probably not by Oprah but the bag is probably famous and the store owner claims it was all just a misunderstanding as if English was the problem but it wasn’t otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to speak English to say you can’t afford this. Now the store is probably going to become more famous and make them even more money.
Recently revealed are comments from Oprah to Larry King admitting she was tempted to buy the entire store! “I wanted to create a Pretty Woman moment and come back and buy everything and say, ‘Big mistake!’. But then I thought she’d get a commission, to let’s not do that”.
Maybe nobody will talk about or discuss if this was a sales trick or sales technique used in luxury retail stores. Oprah has one of the biggest audiences in the world and when she says something, people listen and discuss. In the case where she wasn’t allowed in a luxury store in Paris, this seems a more obvious racism issue but in the case of this bag it is up for debate. I bet the sales clerk enjoys telling people ‘this bag is too expensive for you’ as she gets to insult her rich customers she may not like and probably generates fast easy high commissioned sales in the process.
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