The other day I witnessed some in-store behaviour that surprised me. An immaculately dressed woman was arguing about a sale item she HAD to have – but with an extra discount because there was a pulled thread. I’d heard her Opening Statement to an attendant earlier & then a vicious Argument at The Bar to the woman at the register. She was brutal, she was mean and her expression reminded me a bit of Gollum when he was trying to grasp The Ring.
The reason her behavior shocked me so much was we were in a fast-fashion store where things are so cheap, they defy logic. These emporiums fascinate me – I’m like a passenger on an adventure ride, taking in all the sights. I’m certainly not immune to the lure of the cheap but I do try to avoid the traps so I’m not tempted & this was the first time I’d been to a shopping mall in years. I remembered back to when I used to go to Myer with Nan who’d worked as a seamstress most of her life. She had an acute awareness of the effort that went into manufacture & on almost every shopping trip, at least once, she’d grab the corner of a garment, look at the price tag, flick the item back & say “ye couldn’t make it for that” – she’d grown up in an era when making clothes yourself was the cheaper alternative. Geeze I miss her.
The woman behind the register took the verbal assault well & made some great points about the New Low Cost System. She started gently (no further discounts/it’s available in another colour/another size) & then ended with some punchy logic – it’s more beneficial for the store to keep hold of a faulty item than discount it because it’s a manufacturing issue & gets sent back to a 3rd party. Once it’s sent back, the product is reviewed for possible recall. So this is new – a result of the Fast Fashion juggernaut that’s rolled in to re-calibrate everyone’s idea of ‘value’. The individual item has almost no worth – isn’t that the opposite of logical?
The customer’s face was contorted with frustration. She shouted her protests with the four season technique of Disruption, Logic, Sympathy, & Threats – “you’re trying to sell me a faulty item with no discount! my job is on the line because of how long this is taking! / I really want to buy this dress, why won’t you sell it to me? I only came in for this one thing/ you’re wasting my time! Who is your manager? I want to speak with Mini!”
The pervasively poisonous emotions & anger that you’d imagine would come in handy if your life was at stake were being used for such a strange battle – a further discount on a beautiful dress on sale for $39.99. Sometimes I think that Logic, in this world of privilege, needs a bit of an audit.