Thursday, February 4, 2010

Can I Ask You A Question?

"Excuse me...can I ask you a question?" I stop, momentarily confused. A question? Me? So I say yes because I don't want to be rude and I feel bad.

First mistake.

I stride through the mall, invincible. I've just scored a $79 sweater at Banana Republic for $29.99. I am thoroughly enjoying myself. But my time is almost up, and I'm working my way toward the exit, when my path is blocked by a pretty Israeli girl who ask me a question.

Apparently, "can I ask you a question" is a popular tactic used by kiosk sales people. You know...the ones that practically run you down as you walk by, and trap naive shoppers. But I didn't know it then. And I'm not one of those naive women, anyway. I'm a hard sell. I just walk by quickly while looking the other way.

"Can I see your hand?"


Second mistake.

I let my guard down. Just for a minute. Before I know it, I'm trapped with a handful of Dead Sea salt scrub. She tells me to follow her, and I do, because I'm not sure what choice I have with my hands full of that stuff.

Third mistake.

I have to admit...after the scrub and then the body butter, my hands feel great. Softer than ever. I want some of that. So I say, "It feels great, but what do you have for my face?"

Mistake number four.

The face peel, demonstrated on the inside of my arm, followed by the moisturizer is even better, if possible, than the body scrub. I've got to have this stuff. I absolutely need it.

" much?"

"Well, normally, the scrub sells for $120. But you get a special JP (Jewish Price) only today. I'll give it to you for $80."


"BUT this jar lasts 8-12 months. You only need to use a little bit. And the body butter (also $80) is so thick. You won't find anything like it anywhere. One jar is a 12-18 month supply."

I do some quick mental calculations, while looking around. And right there, in plain view, is another moisturizer. Anti aging.

Mistake number five.

"You don't have wrinkles. But those lines on your forehead...they'll disappear. This one also lasts for 12-18 months. The other moisturizer is for day. This one's for night. I can make this $80, too. JP."

Hmm...let's see... $80 for the body scrub, $80 for each moisturizer, $80 for the body butter and $60 for the face peel. Total of $380. No way.

"No, I'm sorry. This stuff is great, but it's too much."

"I'll tell you what. Don't take the body butter. Just use your own lotion. It's fine. I'll give you the face peel for the crazy price of $40. If you buy the body scrub ($80) and the face peel, I'll throw in both moisturizers for $80."

"I'll take it."

I walk to my car, rationalizing.

I've spent $20 on moisturizers before. And how long do they last? A couple of months? These were $40. I actually got a great deal.

Yeah...but what about all the other stuff...?

The face peel? It's amazing. It's almost like a facial. And the whole bottle cost less than one facial! And besides...I deserve it!

But you just spent $200. You know what you could have done with that?

Yeah. I know.

By the time I reach my car, the lump in my throat has settled permanently in the pit of my stomach. Two hundred dollars.... Ouch.

But I learned an important lesson.

When I go to the mall, I go to shop for things I want. I'm sure the mall kiosk people think they can convince me that I want what they're peddling. But I can assure you.

They will fail.

Because I am smart. And frugal. If it's not on my list, I'm not buying it.

I will turn my head, or pretend to talk on the phone, or pretend to be listening to whatever my daughter is rambling on about, or pretend I'm looking for a store, or pretend I'm looking for my keys.

I am shrewd.

It's three and a half weeks later. I can almost see the bottom of the scrub jar. The stuff is great. Really. I absolutely love it. But I'm about 3/4 way through and it's barely a month.

Sure I deserve it. I also deserve a diamond necklace. But I'm not going out to buy one anytime soon. And when this is gone, I won't go back and get more.

Well....maybe just the scrub.

And the face peel.

To those guys that hire the sales people at the Dead Sea products kiosk, on the slim chance you're reading this....hang on to Avital. She's good.


  1. Interesting! It takes Herculean fortitude to shake these peddlers off. You're stronger than most of us, Mystery Woman!

    I'm the perfect victim. I actually went to get a 29 dollar oil change, and was successfully upsold into buying 225 dollars worth of fluid flushes and other worthless services. For a car that was only two months away from end of lease!

    They ought to give courses in school called "How To Say NO, Effectively and Clearly!." That would be more useful in life than knowing the ins and outs of the Matrix Tableau I was forced to regurgitate...

  2. If your policy is to always say NO, no matter what, it's easier than if you analyze it on a case-by-case basis. Each case can be analyzed and rationalized. No means No.

    That is why I can either eat zero Hershey Kisses or 20, but basically nothing in between.

  3. That's funny, I made the first two mistakes last time I went to a mall in New York. Next thing I knew she grabbed my hand and started lecturing me on how guys need to take care of their skin too. This led to me trying to explain why the fact that she's jewish doesn't make it ok for me to touch her, but at least I got out of there without buying anything.

  4. Lol. Love your style and frank honesty.

    I got pulled into buying stuff like that, too, once. They're gooood, those Israeli salespeople...

  5. Wow! I went through this sh*t, less than a week couldn't have brought the point out in a better way...that mud with the magnet(which was too expensive)but ended up with the scrub, cream and peel which makes my face red and heated like crazy..scrub has settled and all the oil on surface, any help with that? tried mixing it, doesn't help)besides mine was an Israeli dude who's underlying intentions i couldn't quite determine..asking me to touch his hands and feel how soft they

  6. well written..

    Oh I'm the same way...
    I feel guilty saying no to salespeople.

    But when they become pushy...that's my way out..some aggressive instinct inside makes me push back..and makes it easy to leave.

  7. Anonymous...

    I can totally see that happening to me. Is it just that I can't say no, or am I so easily convinced?


    I'm not sure I like that policy. Sometimes I really WANT to say yes.

    Bored Jewish Guy...

    They normally have the gorgeous women go after the guys and the men (also gorgeous) go after the women. But this is New York, and I looked obviously frum, so they knew enough to send the woman after me.

    Rabbi Lars...

    Thank you.

    Corner Point...

    They're good, and VERY well trained, probably. I wonder if those other non-Israeli kiosk sales people are just as good. Like the ones that offer to tear out your eyebrows right in the middle of the mall.... I'm not about to find out, though. I'm SMART now!


    The oil is always on the surface. You're supposed to mix it well every time you use it.


    That's the problem. It's easy to say no when they're pushy. She wasn't pushy at all. She was really sweet. By the time she relieved me of all my money, we were friends...first name basis! lol

  8. There's a whole movement in Baltimore now to be mekarev the kiosk workers. With love, of course.

    It doesn't say how much they ended up buying. :)

    I'm like you- I get roped in by persuasion.

  9. I just don't carry a credit card. Ever. They drop your hand like a hot potato when when you tell them that you have 13 dollars and 45 cents, and is there anything that you can get for that?