When wine customers misbehave

Could be in the More Saturday Retail Funnies thread as well…



Non paywall version

Is Posner truly put off with someone pronouncing a French wine as he knows the French would pronounce it (a thing you can do without speaking French, after all) or does he know enough French to know that they are not pronouncing it correctly but in the manner of Inspector Clouzot? I find this a very odd complaint, either way.

So is it misbehaving to ask the sales staff if they’ve tasted the wine? I am guilty.

Sometimes a customer at MCF Rare Wine in Manhattan will actually pick up a bottle and ask proprietor Matt Franco if he’s tasted the wine. The fact that the store is quite small, with only 100 or so bottles on the shelves, doesn’t seem to register. Some people will even add, “Is it any good?” Shouldn’t the fact that Mr. Franco has culled his selection to such a tiny number signify that these are wines he likes?

What an asinine complaint. If you can’t, or won’t, have this conversation with a customer then you need to quit. Such a question is (1) not only reasonable, but (2) is also usually a conversation starter for hand-selling the customer on wines that fit their specific needs and preferences.

The French accent complaint is just slightly less ridiculous — if one is aiming to actually have proper pronunciation, how else should one pronounce a French word than with a French accent? [scratch.gif]

Wonder how he thinks Pouilly Fuisse should be asked for.

No kidding, a totally stupid complaint, a bit elitist too. I don’t speak French (John Morris will chuckle here), so I’m sure some of my pronounciations are terrible. I try, and if someone helps me pronounce it correctly, that’s fantastic for future reference.

Well, if he were Peter Sellers, perhaps he would say Poolay Fwasuh. I’d still prefer that to the numbers of ways I’ve heard it mangled by English speakers.

I don’t see the problem in asking a merchant if they will take less to make a sale as long as it’s on specific bottles and with a reason. I wouldn’t do it for everything I intended to purchase. I have done it on off vintages that languished on the shelf or specific bottles that I can buy elsewhere for less but prefer not to. I have also had merchants offer me a lower price on things that I am looking at while browsing the store to motivate me. I was even offered a discount if I would increase my purchase so that I would take all of the store’s remaining inventory of a particular wine. So if both sides are willing to negotiate, I don’t see an issue.

Yes some fair complaints there, though I certainly don’t agree with Daniel unless those feeble attempts at French are delivered in a haughty ‘look at me you pleb’ kind of manner. I’ve had staff try to bullsh*t before, and it’s likely I’ve done it at some point. Sometimes it’s worth calling misplaced pomposity, other times it’s not worth it, or can be handled subtly to avoid embarrassing the person.

The sexism is shocking if not that surprising, and I rather appreciate it when the staff treat me with respect, so they deserve respect themselves. A friend used to own a wine shop, and a famous sports commentator came into his shop, bought some wine and said something along the line of “carry my wine to the car boy”. The response was along the lines of “f*ck off, carry your own wine if you’re talking to me like that”. They patched it up and I think both apologised in the end.

Which leads onto the mobile phones / headphones. Yes I agree it is very disrespectful. It doesn’t take much to complete the call outside the store. I do endeavour to say “Hi / Hello / Good morning” when I walk into a store, I may not want any help, in which case I ask if it’s ok to browse and the conversation may end there. It doesn’t take much effort to be pleasant and respectful.

I applaud the ‘score free shops’ and it is a way for them to distinguish themselves from those that have points shouting shelf talkers. I recall once in my early days asking if they minded me looking at the Jeremy Oliver guide I had with me, and they were ok with it, but said they would have objected if it was Parker’s guide (back when he was very influential, and they didn’t appreciate his influence).

Dogs in the store? Most would assume that this wasn’t allowed, barring dogs for the blind, and would ask first if they wanted to take the dog in. It is usual to tie a dog to railings etc. here if the owner needs to go into a shop.

The “Is it any good” question would probably have got me initiating a conversation along the lines of what the customer liked, and if the wine matched their tastes, then yes it may well be good. Most people (excluding most here) are still so uncertain / intimidated by wine, that they want someone else to tell them what they should like.

A good article IMO.

I think anytime you’re in SERVICE and you write a laundry list of “complaints” about customers, It’s a flawed premise.

In any service industry, there will always be rude/oblivious folks and I think that comes with the territory. If you don’t like or want to deal with people then maybe a brick and mortar store isn’t for you and online sales should be your thing.

Seems like the article could have been said in a few sentences: Be courteous and don’t get presumptuous and you’re good.

I thought it was pronounced Pussy Footy

I thought it was a great article, if not nostalgic for some of the reasons I left retail. It’s frustrating as a retailer, and speaks to a high level of pessimism that clients carry (certainly not all) when walking in to any retailer, no matter what type of retailer it is.

I wrote Lettie and told her that I was pretty surprised that no one mentioned a specific type of client that I found totally frustrating. They were mostly commonly buying totally inane wine, like $9 non-descript Pinot Grigio, but they would doubt every recommendation you made simply because “they never heard of it”. Once that line came in to play, I found it a no-win situation, would say something humble like, “I’m sorry, I’m just not sure what I have that you might know, but you can look in this area for things you may recognize based on what you are looking for”, wish them a nice day and move on. I hate to put it this way, but that person is in no way a loyal client to any store, and was not in the future of pretty much any store. It comes across as snobby, as you have to say you cater to everyone, but this is one of those cases where you will simply never win, and never get enough return on the investment.

Then it wouldn’t be an article, it would be sound, sage advice to the masses :wink:

What’s interesting about your comment is that only recently has it really become a service industry. It’s really something of the last 20 years as a huge brand explosion has created a need for added service. I will disagree with you that it’s a flawed premise, having been on the retail side for over 16 years, it’s really quite common that people walk in with a “glass half empty mentality”. They think whomever is helping them is out to screw them in some odd, twisted way. The rude ones say the glass is smashed and their is water to clean up.

I think we have a winner in the search for the “firstest” of the first world problems contest!

Those shops are in serious need of some velvet ropes and a bouncer outside to check people’s bonafides before they can bring in their phony accents and ‘idiotic’ questions and ruin the lives of the proprietors and staff.

Aside from the dogs and sexism that was absurd. You are willingly in a retail environment and these are the customer issues you complain about? Maybe close the door and sell thru a slot if these simple items bother you. Oh and of course these 100 or so selections are good, I selected them. How full of yourself do you have to be. Oh you want to browse without being bothered, how dare you not give me a chance to convince you to buy something. Oh and for the Posner thing, that doesn’t surprise me. I’m sure he was born knowing French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Greek, Russian and every dialect of every region in Antarctica.

I wonder how many of these people know how ridiculous they sound considering the perils of a police officer, a fire person, a first responder??? Heck even the AAA driver changing their flat tire on the freeway at night. How about an inner city high school teacher? The people who climb up on electric poles to make sure your lights stay on. The person who makes sure you have running water and can flush your BS away later. Most importantly how about the people who protect the lives we lead in the armed forces?

I’m sorry for the rant but this ugly pretentious side of this hobby/life is the absolute thing I can’t stand and it embarrasses me.

Oh and misbehaving FFS? How about when a convenience store clerk is shot?

Daniel and I have had our differences, maybe it is my English accent!

does it only come out when you pronounce english wines? [snort.gif]

You just took the ridiculousness to a whole nother extreme.