Shopping For Tile: A Tale Of Snobbery & Comeuppance

In and of itself what happened when I went shopping at the fancy tile store, where we bought all of our tile for this house when we had it built years ago, was no big deal.

I’m not unfamiliar with snobby sales clerks in the big city.

But this particular indifferent, snobby sales clerk, who I shall call Gumdrop, was sixty years old, if a day, and she went out of her way to ignore me.  She said “hello” when I walked into the store, then before I could reply she went back to looking at her smart phone.

I did not exist.

# # #

I started walking around the lovely, well-organized, upscale tile store, hoping that when Gumdrop finished not helping me, she’d help me.

I dream.  What can I say?

Eventually, after I’d explored the drawers, shelves, and wall displays of tiles on my own, I went over to Gumdrop and forced her to listen to me.  I told her we were going to replace the tile around our fireplace in the family room, a room that is open into the kitchen.

Did she have some suggestions?

# # #

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# # #

Without a single word, and this is where it gets interesting, Gumdrop took me to one small display of khaki/tan ceramic tiles, and said “this.”

She didn’t ask about our color scheme, the size of the room, the scale of the fireplace.  She didn’t ask about our style preferences.

She just told me to buy what she was pointing at.

# # #

In what I can only describe as a delightful irony of ironies, the inexpensive ho-hum tile that Gumdrop pointed to is what we have on the floor in the laundry room.

The floor, people.  THAT’S THE TYPE OF TILE SHE ASSUMED WAS APPROPRIATE FOR ME TO HAVE AROUND THE FIREPLACE IN MY HOME.

I mentioned that I was familiar with the tile she was pointing at because I walk on it every day.  Then I asked her to show me something else.

She did this while grumbling that I could easily pull out any of the tile displays from the wall.  And I agreed that I could, but I wasn’t going to.  That was her job.

So do it, Gumdrop.

# # #

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# # #

I believe it is at this point that it began to dawn on Gumdrop, who works on commission, that she might have screwed the pooch with me.  Suddenly she was inquiring about the details of our project, but I was no longer interested in dealing with her.

So, mentioning that money was no object but obviously there was nothing in this store for me, I politely left the store, discouraged that I’d bothered to drive to a fancy tile store in the middle of an industrial district on a snowy afternoon, to be snubbed.

Humph.

# # #

But ultimately the joke is on Gumdrop and the fancy tile store because my small little fireplace project was just the beginning.  Yep, we’re going to be redoing our 14′ x 12′ master bathroom sometime in the next few years and there’ll be lots of tile involved.

Oodles of it, which up until this incident I would have purchased at the fancy tile store.  But now?  Not going to happen.

Big mistake, Gumdrop.  Big mistake.

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

51 thoughts on “Shopping For Tile: A Tale Of Snobbery & Comeuppance”

  1. SSSOOOO FUNNY!.. I’ve been going through the SAME thing..and I also always “drop” the fact that a major master bathroom project is looming ..no one cares. I finally figured it out.. to get attention at the fancy tile store you have to show up with your interior designer…or at least someone posing as one. 😜

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cindy, I knew that there’d be other stories like this one! I wasn’t entirely surprised by how this sales woman behaved, but considering I was the only customer in the store you’d think that I could have gotten a little help.

      I LOVE your idea of having a friend pose as an interior designer to help me gain respect. You inspire me– and I know just the friend to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My sister does it and she is GREAT at it. She really knows how to get her snob on, it’s quite something to watch. One time the owner of a store asked if she was my interior decorator and she said..”now you know, it’s interior designer, not decorator!” Of course she is neither, but it was such an impressive evasive maneuver…HAHA

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Pathetic when you feel you have to dress up to buy construction materials.
    Yet if you had been mid 20’s – 30’s shown up in white dusty cut offs or jeans (hair trendily tied up) and marched in with an aggressive hurried attitude, that woman probably would have been tripping you with service.
    I’m beginning to wish stores/offices would strap employees arms flat to their sides to they can’t work the cell phones – and maybe teach them some basic product knowledge…customer service may be simply to difficult a concept for some understand?
    Cheers for the new (dusty) projects. New tile does work wonders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. philmouse, you said it! I was nicely dressed, but in middle-age, middle-class, middle-of-snow-storm attire; that is, NOT dressed to impress. Plus I was patient and pleasant. Those two personality quirks get me into more trouble than you can imagine. [Well, you probably can imagine it.] As for using a cell phone while working a sales floor, so rude. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As you’ve just pointed out, the sales person can make or break a deal. I could partially forgive her if it was extremely busy and she was being pulled in several directions at once, but it sounds like you were merely interrupting her time on social media.

    I once walked out of a car dealership because of the sales person. I found his vaguely condescending attitude offensive. I drove to another dealership and bought the exact car he had been showing me from another sales person. Take THAT, poor customer service!

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    1. joannesisco, this sales woman was glued to her phone while I was the only customer in the place. And you know, if she’d come over and told me something like “sorry, I was on hold with Time Warner” OR “my niece just had her first baby and the pics are so sweet” I would have immediately forgiven her. But no such thing happened.

      Kudos for walking out of the car dealership. Some of those car sales people are so stupid and arrogant, that the only way to get their attention is to go away.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can only echo what others have said and remark upon the Overall Poor Customer Service everywhere lately. We have all but given up on even getting contractors to SHOW UP to give an estimate. Time and time again, they simply call and say, “Um, looks like we can’t make it,” or “He has asked me to reschedule” with no reason whatsoever as to why. And this is in Northeastern Ohio, where everyone is crabbing (still) about the Economy and Jobs.

    It is Everywhere: in stores, at doctor offices, on the telephone. And cable/ISP companies excel at lousy customer service. Civility and Courtesy are rare anymore, and it’s Just Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nance, you’ve nailed it. Overall Poor Customer Service is everywhere I need to be. I know what you mean about trying to get anyone to show up to give an estimate, let alone being able to do the work after you hire them. I think the thing that bugged me about this snooty sales clerk was that she’s old enough to know better, to remember back when. YET she chose to not be courteous. *shakes head in disgust*

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  5. My own need would compel me to write a letter to the manager/owner of the store and let them know what a fantastic employee they have…so much so that your business is being taken elsewhere from now on…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, I thought of that, but the last few times I’ve written a letter to complain, I’ve received ZERO response back. I decided to talk about the situation here, if for no other reason than to vent a little bit… and get some feedback! But you make a good point– and have a wonderful slant on how to write the letter. 😉

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  6. Same exact thing happened to us at a local tile store. They had beautiful displays which is why we went there. I was there on 3 different occasions and no one helped me. One time there was another customer they were fawning over. The other 2 times I was alone but the clerk was busy doing paperwork. My husband and I went in one more time and got the owner. Very helpful. Found what we wanted but by then there was no way I was buying it from them. I went to the store on the other side of town and bought it there. That tile store is gone. I wonder if the owner ever figured it out. They catered to high end builders and since we didn’t have a builder referral we were considered crap.

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    1. Kate, wow! Another story of a snooty tile store experience. You were so kind/optimistic/deluded to try as many times as you did to work with the fancy tile store people. I love that you went to the competitor’s store once you figured out what you wanted. My guess would be that when the snooty tile store went out of business, they were clueless about what did them in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was about the displays. The other store didn’t have as many displays. I figured if I could find what I want and get the info, I could buy them anywhere. We also put a mural in back of our range. They were pips about that too so I ended up ordering from an artist on-line and it was fabulous.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. nrhatch, I don’t like those attitudes either, but the longer I live in the big city the more accustomed I’ve become to being looked down upon. At this point, my expectations about how people will behave are nil and I find that I’m less upset by the rudeness. I don’t know if this progress for me, or not. But what is, is.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I have that feeling, too.

          [Of course, the rest of this story is that while I was over in the industrial district to shop for tile that I needed, I decided to swing by a fancy hardware store to look around for fun. In that store, 2 sales clerks chatted with me & showed me mdse knowing I was just in there goofing off. So, kindness does still exist around here, in the most unusual places.]

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  7. That post made me proper laugh out loud! And “she might have screwed the pooch”..? Fantastic turn of phrase. Sweet revenge by taking your dollars elsewhere. Love the Tweet. Did you Tweet the store?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Polly, “screwed the pooch” is one of my husband’s sayings. It can be so appropriate, yet relatively polite, in many situations. I tried to tweet the store, but they aren’t sophisticated enough to have an account. Plus, I really don’t want to give them a second chance. There are lots of other tile stores around here, some of which are even conveniently located.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Gah! A few times I’ve had jewelery store clerks point me to their “affordable” earrings, a move that’s led me to walk straight out the door (and inspired me, in part, to write my IDGAF post). The idea you can tell what one is able and willing to spend on attire is … man, a great loss of commission is probably the only part they’re equipped to grok, at that point!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deborah, I understand about the jewelry stores. I won’t go into most of them any more for the reason you mention. I agree about making assumptions about “wealth” based on clothes, especially when I’m looking to buy building supplies! That being said, I had on dark jeans and a sweater with leather shoes, a wool coat and a decent old leather purse. I didn’t look shabby, just suburban & not trendy, I guess. Whatever. Gumdrop lost the commission, this time and forever.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I should clarify that my kind of jewelry store is the kind that sells sterling silver backed earrings, not the lavish, precious gems sort! Earrings (along with My Little Pony dolls) are a treat to myself, so I’m often on the lookout for new ones to replace ones that inexplicably disappear. 🙂

        Even so, here in Los Angeles, there’s this idea that image is everything. If you walk into some shops with less than a couple thousand dollars of clothing on your person and/or are the wrong clothing size, you couldn’t possibly one of the elite worth bothering with. It’s mind-boggling to me after all these years, but fortunately still rare to face this overtly. Still not rare enough that I don’t prefer to buy my earrings in Oregon, where there’s seldom a presumed correlation between how you choose to present yourself and what your’e likely to be able to afford.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Deborah, that’s fascinating. I’m not surprised to learn about how things go in LA, but sorry that you have to put up with it. I realize that lots of people are shallow enough to believe that how you look means what you’re worth, but around here in the midwest we’re so polite that such thoughts/behaviors are usually kept to oneself. Unless you happen to be Gumdrop!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Gumdrops…I will never chew you the same way again. I will gnaw.
    We live in a big city and I dare not go to the part of where I KNOW me purple locks will not be joyously helped.
    You’re post is perfectly written. I do (enter laugh of evil genius here) hope you go back to visit Gumdrop. For selfish and low class reasons, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bitsofheaven, good point about gnawing on gumdrops! Chomping down on one could only make me feel better about this stupid experience. I suspect that if my hair had been purple, this woman would not have even bothered to say “hello” when I walked into the store. I only went there because years ago the place had been so helpful and cool. But now, not so much… *shakes head in tired way*

      Liked by 1 person

  10. If Gumdrop should ever get released from her duties for not meeting her sales quota, we could always use more motivated individuals like her at my Mecca. Who knows, it might be a boost in salary for her as well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. evilsquirrel13, you’ve made me laugh. I imagine at Mecca, Gumdrop’s work ethic wouldn’t be questioned, but the place would offend her sense of aesthetics. Unless, of course, there happened to be an opening in the smart phone dept…

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      1. Oh, she would love that! Not only would she have to occasionally do her job and retrieve phones from the lock-up cases, but she’d also be fetching video games from that case, grinding keys at the Automotive counter, and maybe even have to mix a batch of two of paint on those nights when she’s the only clerk left on her side of the store. Oh yeah, and there’d be the “Can I get Gumball from the Connection Center up front to check?” pages four or five times a night…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sounds perfect for her. I bet the paint mixing would remind her of the good ole days in the fancy tile store, back when she could ignore people and their silly demands on her time. 😉

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  11. HAH!
    Long ago, I worked at a bank. It was there that I learned one cannot judge the balance by the appearance. False assumptions can bring such disappointment to salesclerks. Tsk. Poor Gumdrop.

    Good luck with your project 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. joey, beautifully explained. Gumdrop, I fear, was all about the false assumptions. Wonder how she keeps her job… don’t really care, I suppose. I’ll just stay away from her and the fancy tile store. Lesson learned.

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    1. Allie P, well, that’s lousy. What’s wrong with people? The thing is there’s not much to do about the snobbery except leave the store, tell everyone you know, and then never go back.

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  12. I got the snobby sales lady at an up-scale clothing store once. I was like, “You’re a sales clerk at a clothing store! You’re not rich!” I didn’t say that, of course. I only thought it. But for reals!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ParentingIsFunny, I’m right there with you in your response to that sales clerk. I don’t get why some people need to put on airs– especially when it’s their job to help you. But it happens…

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  13. And my mother wonders why I will go to the more expensive, but much more personal hardware store 5 minutes from my house instead of the cheaper chain store 10 minutes away. NO ONE has ever been rude to me or anything less than helpful at my local place. I am also not shy about calling up a place where I’ve gotten great or awful service; I ask to talk to the manager and either compliment the employee or give an honest critique. I feel much more powerful when I do so!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, I understand why you frequent the store with the employees who are nice to you! The thing about the fancy tile store is that years ago we went there and they were great, but time and managers change places. I want nothing more to do with this store, so I won’t even give them the opportunity to make things better. No letter. No phone call. No return. *meh*

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  14. Interesting story and comments. It sounds like most of us have gone through this at some point. My first time was at a fancy store in downtown Kansas City. I remember how devastating it was – I was a teenager at the time – to have it be clear that I didn’t look like what they expected from a customer. This was pre-Pretty Woman. Come to think of it, I guess that’s how the scene in Pretty Woman came about – it is probably pretty universal for those of us not in the 1%.

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    1. Zazamataz, snobbery is everywhere. Funny how all of us remember all the details of when it happens to us. The experience threatens your sense of self, I guess– and these comments sure do confirm that it’s not soon forgotten.

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  15. LOL. Go you. I can’t stand when salespeople are rude like that. They are not the hostess at a chic restaurant designated to only let the “cool people” in. It’s a tile store. I love your responses and how you handled it. : )

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    1. Kourtney, you said it with the hostess attitude. Why would Gumdrop not want to sell tile to me? Because I wasn’t dressed to her satisfaction?! I was buying building supplies for pity sake…

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    1. We can only hope that’s where Gumdrop ends up. But in my experience, her kind usually manage to do just enough to not get fired. She’ll be there until the store falls down around her, I’d guess.

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