Sales Ethics at Malls in Nairobi

A slightly warm bright afternoon of a friday in the month of February. I decided to take my mother for shopping owing to her requirement of footwear. My daughter and I decided to take her to the well spread out  Junction Mall all the way from Parklands area.

The half an hour drive to Junction Mall appeared worth it to begin with, as we entered and walked into the very welcoming electronic stores. My mother who was on a visit from India wasn’t very interested in the electronics hence we moved on to fetch her some footwear.

Angelo on the ground floor had some shoes on a discounted sale which were placed on a table outside the store. It didn’t give a very exciting feel about shopping but having purchased shoes from there in the past, we decided to enter the store anyway to have a glance. There was one sales attendant cum cashier sitting behind the cash counter. She was probably too busy in her dreamy world and didn’t lift an eyelid to look at us, prospective clients.

I must say, I didn’t feel like shopping there due to the attitude but I didn’t want to give my mother any such impression, so I went up to the lady to say a courteous “Hello”. It was then that she greeted me back and got up from her comfortable chair. Needless to say, she had to be forcibly pushed into attending to our needs as I demanded she help my mother into trials and fittings of the footwear she selected.

Well, all wasn’t so bad, I thought to myself when finally mum liked the fitting and style of the flat wedged sandals. My daughter meanwhile had taken fancy to some fancier looking shoes and to my surprise, though she was trying them out, the sales girl didn’t even blink towards her. The retail sales ethics seemed apparently lacking here. The younger lot who should be ideally focused on enhancing the business, live in big disillusioned world of distractions, I felt.

Disinterestedly, she threw in the pair of sandals in the plastic carry bag and took the payment and off were we having said a word of thanks to her. But, once again, the politeness of being gracious was lacking at the other end.

Anyway we moved ahead to look for some more shoes and walked into Mr. Price where there was bigger variety but lesser quality. Having made a quick glancing tour we walked out and moved towards a store called Wide Shoe on the second floor. That turned to be a big disappointment as well as neither was mum’s requirement of soft leather, back strapped wedged footwear available, nor did they have the sizes that they claim to have.

Who would have thought buying a few pairs of shoes could be such a task. Anyway, the helpful sales attendant cum cashier lady suggested we try our luck at Clarks or Sketchers within Nakumatt. Back to the Escalator and the walk towards the other end of the Mall and we reached Clarks. The staff was reasonably polite but didn’t seemed much interested in selling. However, the sandals were available very sparsely and once again we were challenged by lack of sizes and colours.

A move to the next store Sketchers appeared to be good at first as mum finally saw some good walking shoes in the sports shoes section. Sketchers that has a lovely range in Dubai has a decent range in Nairobi too. the Sales girl attending to mum was unmistakably not keen on selling her wares. Neither did she help my old mum with her trials, nor did she pick out various pairs upon explaining the type of shoe we wanted.

Finally after trying out a lot of wrong sizes and designs, when mum finally settled on something, we were told neither the size , nor the style we wanted was available. I wondered, if all this disinterest in selling had to do with my brown skin colour. Obviously, the Mall has a significant clientele which consists of the fair skinned and dark skinned people. The brown skin people I guess were no one’s priority hence we were met with the kind of disinterest in attending to us as clients.

Tired and disappointed, we decided to refresh our mood and feasted on the delicious slurps at Planet Yoghurt. Our last destination before we walked out was the Bata store. They too like most other stores didn’t have much to offer in the flat heeled wedge sandals but did have a better stocked range of walking shoes. Mum debated between two different styles of the shoes that the sales girl mentioned were priced at 2,300/- a pair. Since both the styles were of same price range, mum decided to settle for the darker coloured pair in a particular style. She asked if she could get a grey coloured and was told a blunt NO.

To my shock I was told to pay kshs 2,999/- for that pair of shoes which were told to be selling at 2,300/-. Very conveniently the cashier and the sales girl told me that they had made a mistake in giving me the price earlier. Was it a gimmick? Was it  bias to the skin colour? Was it genuinely a mistake? I was visibly annoyed and refused to pay the higher amount but they insisted and I thought finally mum had liked something so I landed up paying 3,000/- for the pair of shoes. I felt cheated.

Whatever happened to the sales ethics and pleasing the customer? The new generation sales teams seem shameless, unapologetic, unmindful and unwilling to prove their capability. I guess all they are interested in is the cheque that goes in their pocket every month and while the store owners cannot be present at each branch of their stores, they play the game of being the mice at play while the cat is away.


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