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.