Category Archives: Sales Tactics

False Familiarity

I recently flew to Toronto for a week on business, and our hotel had a pool but I had forgotten to pack swimming trunks. I stopped into a local mall and at one of the big name clothing stores found a pair of shorts that I wanted to try on. When I went to find the change rooms, I was met by a sales representative from the store. “I’m sorry, what was your name again?” she asked. I had not given her my name. I just landed in Toronto for the first time in my life several hours ago. We have never spoken before this exchange. When I told her my name, she quickly replied with a warm smile, “Oh, now I remember. Right this way please.” Once secluded  within the walls of the small change room I thought to myself, “I’ve never met this woman before in my life – why would she claim to remember my name as though we were old friends? Is it possible I might have known her from somewhere else and I’ve simply forgotten her? After all, I’m working in a city not my home, maybe she used to live elsewhere and our paths had crossed somewhere?” As I was trying on the shorts I overheard in the hallway the voice of the same woman engaged in the exact same conversation with another patron. “What was your name again?” … “Oh right, now I remember.” The light bulb clicked on. I have never met her before, and neither has the guy she’s talking to now. She is merely inducing a method of establishing a false sense of familiarity to boost her sales quota, and/or using a form of loss prevention whereby the reasoning might be that if the salesperson knows your name you are less likely to try to leave with unpaid merchandise. It’s no different than stores like 7-Eleven installing bells on their doors and requiring their staff to greet every visitor who enters because the theory is that  acknowledgement of their presence makes less likely shoplifters.

In retrospect, perhaps I should have called her on it, but I was in a hurry and it’s much easier to rant about it later. The swim shorts do look nice though…