Showrooms, salesmen and strange phenomena

I have noticed some strange phenomena that happen with salesmen in showrooms.  Despite all my research, I have never been able to arrive at a satisfactory answer.  Perhaps it is the acoustics, or the lighting, or something else. If there are any physics grad students reading this, I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Phenomenon 1:  Ventriloquism

Consider this.  We go to a car showroom and start looking at cars.  I have done a lot of research and have a few questions to ask.  So I fire away my carefully thought out questions at the car salesman.  The salesman answers all my questions well, but for some strange reason, he keeps looking at R while answering my questions.  It happens every time. I ask a question, the salesman turns to R and answers it.

I wonder why he is doing this.  Does he think R is somehow speaking in a female voice without moving his lips ?  Or am I actually a closet ventriloquist ?  I puzzle over this and stop asking any more questions.

This has happened before, I think.  I remember going to buy a television in India, along with a male friend.  I was trying to decide between two models and asking several questions.  The salesman answered all my questions in great detail, all the while addressing my friend.

I notice the reverse never happens.  When my friend, or R, asked a question, salesmen never looked at me to answer it.  Perhaps it’s the lighting then.  Do I become invisible in showrooms – somehow merge with the background, maybe?

I also wonder, if I am really a ventriloquist, why does my power only work in showrooms ?  I would love to be a ventriloquist everywhere.  For a start, I’d like to be able to talk to R’s mom in his voice.  Should be interesting.

I know you are pooh-poohing all my research and saying this happens because salesmen don’t think women are the “deciders”.  Somehow I don’t think that is a good explanation.  It must be the acoustics.  Or the lighting.

Phenomenon 2: Sizing up people, and the sizing down effect 

We went to a TV showroom the other day and ran into a salesman.  I could see that I was showing symptoms of ventriloquism again, so I busied myself looking at the various plasma eye candy.

Then I was struck by the second phenomenon that always occurs in showrooms – the strange effects caused by the lighting.   Salesmen look at customers and see really small, insignificant people.   Customers look at salesmen and see tall, grand Greek Gods.

We were fortunate to find a salesman who knew all about large-screen TVs.  We knew he was an expert as soon as he informed us he’d just bought a 103” LCD for his brother-in-law’s home theater.  We were very comforted to know this, for obviously he was not in this business for the commissions.

This salesman not only had the stature of a Greek God, he also had the hauteur to match.  Of course, we could see his time was very precious, so without wasting a moment, we confided that we wanted a large-screen TV.

“Just the TV?” he asked us.  Was that a smirk on his face ?  No,  just an effect of the lighting.  “You don’t want our home theater and Blu-Ray package, and in-wall speakers in all the rooms ?”

Now, we were starting to feel slightly guilty and embarrassed.  So in a small voice we informed the salesman that we really only wanted to decide between an LCD and a plasma TV.

“You cannot go wrong with either one”, our salesman informed us.  The smirk seemed to become more pronounced, but I am sure it was just the lighting.  “I can never see any difference between my own LCD and plasma TVs.   You know, I have 4 large screen LCDs and 1 plasma TV at home.”

R and I looked at each other.  It struck us what unworthy customers we were.  Here we were, making twenty calculations before buying one large-screen plasma TV.   And this salesman had 5 large screen TVs?   No doubt he also had a boat and eight cars.   How do we find the courage to tell him that we actually thought the prices were too high and were looking for deals ?

And did we really deserve to be waited on by such an aristocrat for our measly purchase ?  No wonder he was showing visible signs of impatience.

No, it was definitely not right on our part to subject this great man to the task of trying to sell us one pathetic plasma TV.  Surely he had better uses for his time.   Thinking this, we made our way to the door, hoping to try our luck at the next TV store. But is there any showroom without a Greek God?

Perhaps I should just stick to online shopping.


17 thoughts on “Showrooms, salesmen and strange phenomena

  1. This has to make it to the top of ‘Top Funny Posts’. And then leave the next couple of slots free before putting anything else there. My laziness is my excuse for my atheism when it comes to these Greek Gods and I prefer the agnosticism of online shopping, yes even for a large 103″ TV.

  2. LOL at the ventriloquism. That is so true. When we went looking for a corporate apartment this summer (for my wife who is a consultant and needs one during the week), I noticed the same thing. Even though she would say it was for her, they would talk to me. After the second time it happened, I would just keep quiet and turn to look at her. It usually worked.

    Re. the Greek God phenomenon, I usually do all my research online and either buy online, or go to the store only to pick up. As the CEO of my old company used to say, “the US is over-supplied and under-serviced.”

  3. If I am not mistaken, wasn’t this post expanded by one of your previous twits?

    Anyway, the differences between LCD and plasmas (aspect and contrast ratio) are rapidly diminishing however one of the primary differences i.e. weight still remains. If you want to wall mount, the TV that is, then LCD is your best bet.

  4. ArSENik: I can see you like my attempt at mordant wit 🙂

    BPSK: R was also doing some of that, to his credit (keeping quiet and looking at me). After all, I had done all the research. But this salesman just blithely ignored me 😦

    Re. buying online, we found that there were a lot of in-store deals for TVs not available online.

    Patrix: Yes, it’s the same guy I twitted about. After meeting some more condescending salesmen over the weekend, I decided to blog about them.
    Right now, we are thinking plasma TV with tilt mount. True, it’s going to be much heavier than an LCD, but it’s going to be above the mantel so should be fine, I guess. But we’ll probably wait – the deals seem to get sweeter each day 🙂

  5. trust your own eyes, mine say lcds trump plasmas on picture quality every time. plus they’re more reliable. i’ve been through the process twice and landed lcds both times.

  6. hahah…really great observation! happens all the time with us too…my hubby is great on finding facts about things before buying, so we end having more info on hand…but when we go to shop, I always find I am never answered!..once I even said that to the salesguy and he looked shocked. Maybe just realised that I was there!..:)

    Its nice to know that the header is your creation…it looks beautiful..good job!

  7. Next time you are shopping for jewelery with your SO, you will be happy to note that jewelers completely ignore the male and talk only to the female.

    So, if it’s electronics, beer and cars…

  8. tabula rasa: I agree, LCDs are getting better on all counts, but we are looking 58″, so I guess it has to be plasma.

    Srivalli: Good to know I am not alone..I was wondering of it was just me 😛

    A cynic in wonderland: That’s my point – how does he assume R is paying ?? Or that he is the one to convince ?

    Kamini: Hey thanks 🙂 But you really never know. Maybe he will write a book telling us how he wasted years trying to serve ungrateful customers 😉

    km: Oh, I didn’t know this 🙂 Perhaps I should drag R to all the jewelery stores just to get the “special” treatment 😛

  9. lucky you — i’d *never* be allowed to get a 58 🙂 (or is that r who’s lucky?) anyway, technology is advancing as quickly as prices are dropping, so you should be able to take home whatever you want very soon indeed.

  10. Ha, ha!!I think the salesman thought that you were well informed and would not be fooled into buying a car on pep talk alone.May be he felt that R being a man would empathise with his effort of convincing a lady.

  11. Great post! Enjoyed it!

    Here’s my 2 bits worth of observation that would perhaps be better unsaid, but what the hell

    Looks like Mumbai is a lot better than ol’ Mericka. When the babe and I trot around the myriad shops and malls here, “shishter”always gets the attention. Typical conversation

    “Shishter, you are wanting good saree, no? Come, come, look, no money for looking, no?” Then, looking at me, “He is with you?”

    “You are wanting dress for baby or baba? how much years? This man with you?”

    “Shister, this samsung TV besht, no even one problem many years. Even then good service department.” I interject “Commission jyaada dete hain kya?” Salesman, giving me the once over, “He is with you?”

    As you might have guessed from the above, my sex is in the sub-prime category when it comes to the great shopping districts of Bombay. Or perhaps its just me. Perhaps she’s had “Doofus” tattooed across my forehead when I was sleeping. Perhaps I have a persecution complex

  12. tabula rasa: Yes, R is the “lucky” one. Buoyed by his success at convincing me to agree to steady screen size increases all the way up to 58″, he now spends all his time trying to make a case for a 63″ 😮

    padma: Well, he didn’t do that too well either 🙂 While I have low expectations of car salesmen in general, this one took the cake 😦

    dipali: Thanks 🙂

    narendra shenoy: That was hilarious 😀 I am glad they know whom to convince 😛 While the dresses part might be expected, I am glad they realize whom to sell the TV to 🙂

    Incidentally, I was doing some research on home theater systems. I find frequent references to the “Wife Acceptance Factor” (WAF) . I am amazed that salesmen here have never heard of this.

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