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Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

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boog33
oakville ontario
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Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

We were treated like dirt at this Tiffany & Co store on Rue de le Paix in Paris and wonder if other travelers experienced this atmosphere at the high end Paris stores or whether this was an anomaly.

My wife is a Tiffany and Co. fan and whenever we travel we buy something from their local store. It is a nice gift and something to remember the city. We have done it in London, New York, Chicago and Toronto.

We entered the Tiffany in Paris and went to the basement to purchase the silver jewelery and where one girl was waiting. she never approached while we browsed which was fine, but then approached another client who entered after us and offered her assistance and then spent the next 20 minutes showing him a dozen items. He had no idea what he wanted and we were set to buy. She glanced at us several times and when we started to ask for assistance turned away. We were followed by a security guard the whole time even though we were well dressed.

When we finally stormed off we complained about lack of service to the female Manager at the entrance who could only say, "Oh, that's too bad. " no offer to assist or apology. We never had this treatment in any other Rue de le Paix stores.

travelnutty
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1. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

Could be some 'cultural differences' things going on... did they know the other customer? did you or the other customer greet the staff upon entering? 'Customer service' in France can be sometimes baffling.

Don't take the security guard thing personally... even some Monoprix stores have one.

Edited: 11 May 2013, 12:41
Janettravels44
Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

I can't overemphasize enough the greeting the shopkeeper on entry. If you didn't do so it is viewed as extremely rude and boorish. On the other hand some French shopkeepers are boorish to customers. On our last visit in the fall we purchased a couch and a chair -- very high end at Roche Bobois. Our experiences with them were generally excellent and we never entered the store which we did several times before buying these expensive pieces without being greeted and offered assistance. The person greeting us would then fetch the person we were doing business with.

On the other hand, we stopped at a furniture store in the 6th which has a couch very much like what we were looking for for our guest room; not only did they not get up and greet us, but when I sought them out to see the rather clever canape lit, they feigned not understanding what I was asking about. While my French is terrible -- my french friends all indicated that my pronunciation of canape lit was fine -- and what the heck else would I be asking about in a store that sells couches.

So you might have misstepped but you migiht also just have drawn a total twit.

Euromanic
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3. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

Unfortunately, what you experienced was typical French customer service. In France, customer service means "the customer serves." It is a serious and long-standing problem in France that affects not only retail sales but also contract negotiations and multinationals.

There's no such thing as a high-end store that treats customers like dirt. If a store treats anyone badly, it's not a high-end store, no matter what fantasies it might entertain to the contrary. And it doesn't matter how you are dressed, because the best stores know that the way you are dressed means very little.

NiceIrlande
Ireland
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4. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

I wouldn't worry about it too much, it's just ignorant on their behalf. I have said it many times, for a nation who are obsessed with politeness (bonjour, monsieur, madame, vous etc) they have a hell of a lot to learn about basic manners.

grndma
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5. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

Their loss. You saved your money. ....

Have you managed to survive without whatever it was you were going to buy.

You win, they loose!

Denise

Love from England

kerouac2
Paris, France
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6. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

Well, you will be able to shop in a bigger Tiffany store next time, as they have purchased one of the Quick hamburger restaurants on the Champs Elysées and are transforming the 3 levels into a megastore.

LeBiscuit D
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7. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

This sort of thing happens all the time in California, although perhaps not at Tiffany (where they are a tad over-eager to sell you stuff and tend to interrupt your browsing too frequently).

And, I must say, I didn't find every single London establishment to be filled with helpful, mannerly people either. So I don't think it's a French thing.

Some of the nicest, most welcoming places we go here at home are, I guess, "low end" places (maybe they know they have to be nice as there's not such a huge mark-up on their items).

Tiffany, NYC, was a whole 'nuther story though (and while we did eventually get questions answered by a knowledgeable gentleman, we were made to feel as though we should hurry and that we were wasting our time). Eventually, items were purchased at their online story (someone in the family is a Tiffany fan) but I wouldn't say that I've had even treatment at Tiffany's. Certainly, it did not live up to my romantic expectations (and now, neither daughter will shop there, as they consider the L.A. staff to be beaufs.

To contrast that story, I have a weakness for all things Balenciaga. There is now a Balenciaga store in L.A., and it tolerates me. But, the shop in Paris was so génial (and they got some business from me) I usually avoid Balenciaga L.A. and just go to Barney's where there are enough salesgirls that I can usually find one who will help (although they are unknowledgeable about the products). In Paris, the woman who helped me was delighted that I knew the colors, got out all kinds of things I would never have seen otherwise, and then took me into the back because everyone in the shop was excited that the new red had arrived in the stores and was comparing it to the former red (seeing so much Balenciaga red in a shade I'd never seen was so fun). I left the store without buying anything that day.

So in this case (and if you don't believe me, go over to the Purse Forum, where it's well known that by airmail or in person, the Paris shop is a warm and welcoming store, whereas some others are not), it is the opposite.

Parisians are not perfect, but they are in general mannerly (or elsewhere in the world), just as to be expected. They often do rise to give a seat to an older person or a pregnant woman, they help each other with strollers, they attempt to return lost objects, etc.

I think, when entering a store or a new area of a store, it is customary to greet the clerk, but if you do not then continue interacting, yes, the next person who comes in gets to begin interacting and gets to interact until they are done. That's pretty much what I would expect here - I would not expect to be able to interrupt some other customer's shopping (no matter how indecisive they are) if I had not used my own turn to be equally indecisive. Of course, it would have helped to speak the language in this instance, to get and keep the original interaction going ("We are looking at X, could you help us?") Then, OP would have been the one using up the clerk's time (which I realize is something of a no-no in some places, but really, in upper end boutiques, it's not).

They should have called another clerk to help you when you were ready, of course (but perhaps austerity has crept up on Tiffany's? Remember Hermés making Oprah so mad by insisting on closing even when she wasn't done shopping? - that might not happen here, ha).

kerouac2
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8. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

My nephew is the manager of a Tiffany store in California. One thing that is certain is that he wears a suit every day, because a number of the customers probably would not appreciate his full sleeve tattoos.

Euromanic
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9. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

Oprah wanted the store to open for her, she did not arrive during business hours and then stay late, as I recall. Oprah is nobody outside the U.S., so the locals didn't know who she was.

Parisians and French people do indeed have manners, it's just that they don't apply those manners to business, particularly retail sales. The French notion of manners in a shop is that you must wait until the salesperson is done talking to her friend on the phone before you will be served.

From what insiders have told me, many "high-end" stores in Paris don't pay commissions, because they are too cheap. Instead they have a profit-sharing arrangement that is lucrative for employees but far inferior to what they'd get in commissions. I don't know if that's a factor or if it is common elsewhere. It's very hard to fire people in France. Without commissions or the threat of being let go, salespeople have little motivation to do their jobs correctly unless it happens to be in their nature, and for most people, it's not.

JenniB83
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10. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris

I don't think this type of behaviour is exclusive to the French. You can go in a great many 'high end' store in any city the world over and there is a fair chance you will come up against snobby behaviour from one of their assistants. You can't deny that some shop assistants think that only a certain class of people should be shopping in that store. It happens. It should have gone out with the Victorians but it never did. I've come across it in London myself.

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10. Re: Poor service at Tiffany and Co., Paris
11 May 2013, 18:04

I don't think this type of behaviour is exclusive to the French. You can go in a great many 'high end' store in any city the world over and there is a fair chance you will come up against snobby behaviour from one of their assistants. You can't deny that some shop assistants think that only a certain class of people should be shopping in that store. It happens. It should have gone out with the Victorians but it never did. I've come across it in London myself.