no_way_outHOW MANY times do you find yourself having to dodge forceful product sales persons in shopping malls, at traffic lights and other public places where you’d rather be left alone?

Do you quickly roll-up your window when you see pamphlet distributors and sellers of all things as you approach traffic intersections or, when in a shopping mall, cross over to the other side; or pretend to be looking at something in a window display; or busy on the phone? What story do you tell them in order to escape their clutch if they manage to trick you into stopping?

READ: Dealing with tele-pests

Now, imagine the same sales person catching you like a canned lion, while lying half-naked on a bed in one of those darkened massage rooms in a Spa, wearing only a swimming costume underneath a Spa bathrobe.
If you go for a Spa treatment for the same reasons that I do, you’d be trying to disconnect from the outside world, focusing on yourself and the movement of the gentle hands going up and down your body. Your eyes would probably be closed and your thoughts would be far away when you suddenly get woken up by the voice of the masseuse telling you about how dry or oily your skin is and what products you should be putting on it on a daily basis in order to protect it from excessive moisture, from drying-up or cracking.

Inevitably, you’ll be told that every single one of the products you’d have used prior to this encounter was not the right one for your skin and, in fact, that it would have aggravated the quality of your skin. Every other product sold by every other sales person is also wrong in one way or another.

The only products that will respond to whatever your skin needs are right there, in this specific Spa, and can only be bought from them. The difference doesn’t just lie in the branding, you’re told; it’s the quality of research and the nutritional content of their products. Such discussions are unwinnable. The best way to hope to shut her-up so that you can redirect your thoughts to yourself is to argue less or to agree more. Pretending to be falling asleep doesn’t help; at least it did not help me.

This is the experience I had at a local Spa, last week. After finally managing to set-up time to use the voucher that I received a few weeks ago as a birthday gift, I got my office to call and set-up an appointment for me. I arrived ready on the said morning, armed with my swimming costume and a mind ready to be divorced – at least for a few hours – from my daily routine.

I was received by a lovely lady who explained their procedures before she directed me where to go and change into my costume and bathrobe. Having done that, and as I was waiting in the designated waiting room to be called for my first treatment, the same lady came and pulled me aside to explain that there was a problem; someone had had omitted to book all the treatments stipulated on my voucher, that I’d have to return another day for the two remaining treatments.

This was obviously not my preferred arrangement, but I agreed. I then got directed into the floating pool, where I spent what seemed like 20 minutes of sheer undisturbed bliss, followed by a shower and the massage session; the spoiled session.

Almost during the entire massage session, and despite my attempts to ignore her and focus on distressing, the masseuse spoke to me about facial products. The discussion seemed innocent, at first, a normal part of the process to explain to me what she was using for the facial and why.

She wanted to know what products I used and if I had used facials in the past; I told her about my Clinique for Men. Then it became clear that she was on a sales mission and was gunning to get me to purchase products from her. Clearly, she needed the commission. I thought the timing wasn’t right and that she was coming on too strongly.

I first moved into ‘single syllable’ answer mode; when this failed to discourage her from talking I tried to shut off, but even this did not work. For the entire session, instead of focusing my thoughts on myself I found myself tense, wadding off a crescendo of a strong sales pitch.

When she finished, she left the room to give me a chance to get off the bed and cover myself, then returned shortly, armed with about six or seven bottles that she thought would be good for me to buy. In total, they amounted to almost R2000.

I made sure to give my feedback and advice to the lady who received me before I left – after spending some R660 on the only two products that I agreed, under duress, to purchase.

A subsequent emailed response from the Spa’s Events Manager read like this: “Product recommendations make out an integral part of our treatment protocol as we are a very result-driven spa. We believe that the results of a treatment should be continued at home and always try to give the best homecare advice possible. This however is never intended to be a sales pitch and should be handled with care”.

Take a guess; what do you think that experience would have done to the reputation of that Spa in my eyes?