I was working in Milan a couple of weeks ago when I ran out of shower gel, so I excitedly popped downstairs to the neighborhood Farmacia to do a little shopping, as buying international beauty products just so happens to be my one of my favorite hobbies. (I mean, obviously.)
The utterly gorgeous Duomo is literally right around the corner from the scene of the shame.
What happened once I got inside was a bit disheartening, to say the least.
At first, the smiling sales associate and I engaged in the confusing albeit typical stumbling-over-English-and-Italian conversation, where she tried to ask what exactly I needed, and I ended up acting out a series of hilarious scrubbing-in-the-shower motions. After the longest 90 seconds ever, we were finally on the same page, so she briefly excused herself to bring me an assorted deliciously scented selection to choose from.
She returned with five of body washes, each more expensive than the last. The cheapest one rang up at 24 euros (approx. $31), while the most expensive of the crop would have set me back 45 euros (approx. $59).
(For the record, I’ll sit in my own filth before I shell out that kind of money for body wash. I’ll never be that damn dirty. Who spends SIXTY dollars on 12 ounces of soap?! Some of these companies are bat-shit crazy and they shan’t get an ounce of my sympathy when they inevitably go belly up.)
Somehow I successfully informed her that her picks weren’t acceptable options for me, as they were far too pricy. She stormed off and returned seconds later with only one bottle, which she slammed on the counter and haughtily remarked, “This one is only six euros. Just six! Do you want this one?!” (In pretty good English, to boot.)
I was so shocked and taken aback, I actually bought it.
Partially because I needed it of course, plus I presumed this was the cheapest she had. I mean, I didn’t want her to have to go back a third time. Also — and I can’t stress this enough — she kind of made me feel like I had to buy it.
I’m not sure what it was about me that set her off — be it my aversion to overspend on soap, the fact that she didn’t make a big sale, or that she had to make a second trip — but I left that pharmacy feeling… guilty. For being an American tourist? For being a budget soap shopper? For not being able to speak fluent Italian? Either way, shopping shame-induced guilt is not a feeling I’m at all very familiar with. (I choose my choice!)
As you can probably tell, buying that $8 bottle of body gel is a decision I’m still struggling with, two weeks later. Part of me wants to go back next time I’m there and tell her to Chew. This. Ass., while the other part of me says forget it and start packing a backup bottle of Dove.
Have any of you ever experienced anything similar? Has a sales associate ever guilted you into making a purchase?