So, I was called in for work on a Saturday, which normally happens during the fag end of production and it looked like it was going to be a dull time at work, but around mid afternoon, I get a call from my sister, who was, at the time, at a popular watch store, close to where I work. I'll refrain from taking any names since my previous visits to the same store have been pleasant and this shouldn't reflect on their reputation otherwise.
Anyway, since I was almost done with my work for the day, I decided to meet my sis and her husband (lets call him AB) and help them choose a watch for her.
When I reached the store, my sis had a bunch of watches lying in front of her, but at the same time, AB was also having a look a prospective watch. At the time the salesman was showing him a automatic chronograph from Maurice Lacroix. As soon as I set foot in the shop, AB asked me if it was a good deal at Rs. 1,65,000 ($3,300) after a 50% disc. Now, I have no issues with ML, in fact I really admire some of their models, but I told him that for that price I'd personally go for an Omega(maybe a Planet Ocean), since he was more familiar with the brand and plus I personally thought it was a better choice. At the very mention of the name, the salesguy arrogantly proclaimed that ML was way above Omega as a brand and that it was the obvious choice. He went on to explain that a team from their watch store had traveled to Switzerland and visited some museum there. At the museum they had an entire room dedicated to ML, whereas Omega was allotted a small corner somewhere. Before I could say anything he started telling me how expensive some of the ML tourbillon were, to which I replied that all tourbillons are expensive, and one shouldn't confuse the value of the brand based on the value of their watches. I also asked him why was it that ML were being discounted as much as 50% while the Omega's were at a max 18-20%.
He then went on to tell me the order of the watch companies. He mentioned Patek, Glashutte, Breguet and then thought about it for a few moments, and then mentioned Panerai. I told him politely that Panerai, though a great brand, came lower on the list, to which he immediately replied, "Oh yeah, I forgot it's a 'fashion brand' !" Not in a mood to argue, I dropped the conversation and decided to change the topic.
A little while later I started looking at the Tag F1 on display. I told AB that it was in my wish list, and that I had spoken to one of the guys in the head office, of the very store we were in, who had graciously offered me a 25% discount whenever I waned to buy one. This seemed to really piss of the sales guy who said that there was no way the discount could be greater than 20% and that he'd require hard evidence to believe that I had spoken to the person at the head office. Now, I'm fine with that, since a lot of people can simply waltz in and lie about it, just to get a higher discount, but his whole attitude was that of arrogance. Whenever I negotiate a discount, I keep the nature of the conversational friendly, but this guy was clearly not in the mood for that.
AB, not liking the tone of the guy, mentioned that I and my brother (CF), owned several watches and had our own blog. The guy immediately asked me what I thought were the top brands, to which I replied the usual PP, VC, AP, etc and not surprisingly, he hadn't heard of AP and VC. Not wanting to take pride over his lack of knowledge, I dropped the topic again and asked him to kindly make the bill for the watch that my sister had selected (a Rado Couple).
Now, when my sister had called me up initially, she mentioned that the watch she was getting was for Rs. 35,500 ($710) after discount, but when the time came to prepare the bill, the salesguy comes back to the counter and says that he had miscalculated the discount, and that the price of the watch was Rs. 38,500 ($770). Again, this is understandable, since as humans, we tend to make mistakes, but he made a feeble attempt to aplogise for the error, which is simply not acceptable from the staff of such a reputed high end watch store. This really put my sister off, and she walked out of the store. AB, not wanting to ruin the day any further, decided to just settle the bill and walk out. Just before we exited the shop, the salesguy tells us that he is in a greater position to offer us a discount than the guy who 'just sits in an office some where' since in the end, he was the one dealing with the customers. He told us that he'll beat any discount the guy at the head office offered us. We thanked him for his time and walked out, with my sister totally disappointed and me red in the face, since I had suggested them to buy the watch from that store in the first place :/
AB, though not in the market to buy a watch right now, is definitely a potential buyer for a high end watch sometime in the near future and because of this experience, he's likely to give this store, and potentially any of their other branches, a skip. I do hope this was a one off incident, and will definitely pop in another time to see if there's a positive change.
I like a spirited conversation with a watch salesperson, and most times, it's fun sharing information, and that's the attitude a salesperson should have. Everyone has a bad day, but one needs to be able to keep their cool while dealing with customers. As they say, a smile can go a long way :)