Rude Bella Pierre salesman

So there I was, barrelling through the V&A Waterfront shopping mall, arms weighed down by carrier bags containing the most unglamorous of purchases – household cleaning products. I had been battling insomnia for a few nights in a row, wasn’t wearing any make-up, was running late … too much to do, too little time to do it in, and too little money to go around.

Suffice to say, I was in my own little bubble, dealing with life’s issues as I made my way to my car.

Suddenly, some fellow steps in front of me. Young, good looking, charming, very engaging. ‘I can get rid of those wrinkles for you,’ he says. This is not usually how I like to be ripped from my thoughts. I half stop, look quizzically at him … ‘Sorry, what?’

‘All those wrinkles around your eyes. I can take them away,’ he says.

‘Now HOW is that supposed to make me FEEL BETTER?’ I almost shout at him. Actually, maybe I did shout. ‘Some guy stopping me in the middle of the shopping centre, in front of everyone, telling me about my wrinkles?’

I mean, good grief! I am a woman of a certain age. Of course I have wrinkles around my eyes. I also laugh and smile a lot. I’ve had crinkles around my eyes since I was a kid. Okay, so on that day they were more worry lines than laughter lines … but was I interfering with him?

The fellow, along with being fairly good looking and charming, is also incredibly thick-skinned. He pokes his fingers at my face. ‘All these lines,’ he says again, leading unwilling, very resistant me to his kiosk.

‘I’m not buying anything,’ I say firmly.

‘No, no, I am not selling anything,’ he says in his attractive Israeli accent.

‘I’ve seen your product. I’ve bought before, and I know you want to sell me something. I’m not buying.’

‘No, I not sell,’ he insists.

My arms are lengthening with each minute I’m standing there, the plastic handles are cutting into my fingers. I need to go. I have to fetch a child from school, finish some work …

The man is undeterred. He will have his way. He starts slopping lotion on my face. My hands are holding the bags, I can’t push him away. Then he takes me by the arm and leads me to a chair, makes me sit, even while still holding onto the heavy bags. He starts putting more lotion around my one eye.

‘What is this?’ I want to know. But he babbles on about my lines, my wrinkles, my sagging face that needs to be lifted. Now, look, I know there are women who go on television programmes and take this kind of criticism in full international view. But I never signed up for that. I was just trying to make my way home. Sort out my finances. Clean that kitchen. Fetch my child from school.

And, no, I am not enjoying being told about how deep the lines around my eyes are!

More lotion is slapped on.  ‘But I am not buying,’ I keep saying. ‘I am sure your product is wonderful. I have bought something here before. But I am not buying today.’

Mr Rhino Hide pushes on. Fetches a mirror. Shows me the miraculous difference between the skin around the one eye and the skin around the other eye. My wrinkles around the left eye are shorter. They have been eradicated – permanently. The Dead Sea product has not only cured the ones that were there, but is also preventing the future ones from scarring my face. And this stuff can lift my face! Drag it up from where it hangs from my cheekbones.

‘Yes, very nice,’ I say. ‘But I am not buying it.’

He puts the two products in front of me. One thousand rand each. He is confused, aghast even, that I am not pulling notes from my pockets and immediately buying these two products. Two thousand rand (that’s about $266) without even thinking. No!

‘Why not?’ he demands. ‘Look. Everyone is buying.’

But, magpie that I am, I am intrigued by some small plastic pots containing wonderfully colourful powders. Mineral eye shadows, they are. ‘How much are they?’ I ask. He won’t tell me. First he must paint my hand, demonstrate the versatility of these magical eye colours.

They’re pretty.

‘Don’t wipe it off,’ I ask. ‘I want to show my daughter. She’ll like this.

He grabs my hand and wipes the colours off.

‘No, you don’t show her,’ he says. ‘You buy for her now. Choose the colours.’

My mouth drops open. He can’t be serious. He pulls a stack of colours from a jar. I must buy this for her.

‘How much?’

‘R1 000.’

‘No, I am not spending R1 000 on eye shadows, thank you. And I am not buying anything today. But how much do they cost individually?’

For some reason he just won’t tell me. Keeps pushing me to choose some colours. But I don’t want to choose colours while I need to be somewhere else, and have shopping bags dragging at my arms. I simply want to know the price, and if the price is right, and when I have time, I will come back and select a colour or two … in my own time. It’s my money, my time, and I’ll decide when to spend it.

He starts becoming more aggressive. I am not selecting a colour, and this is infuriating him. He pulls four pots randomly from the shelf and smacks them down on the counter in front of me.

‘Here. Take these for your daughter,’ he says. ‘R800.’

‘No thank you. I’m not buying today. But if you give me your business card, I will come back and choose some colours when I have more time, and I will ask for you.’

‘R700!’ he says.

‘Really, no. Just give me your card. I don’t want to buy right now.’

‘R400 for all four!’


His voice becomes louder and his arms start to wave about. ‘R200!’

Now, there is nothing wrong with the price – certainly not at this stage; he is practically giving it to me. But why am I standing in an up-market shopping centre and being forced to buy a product that I don’t want, necessarily, by some guy who thinks he is standing in some open market where one barters for goods? Is he going to pull chickens from behind the counter next and try to swap them for some pumpkins?

‘Please just give me your card, and I will come back when I have more time,’ I try again.

Suddenly his whole demeanour changes. His face is expressionless. He turns away from me and walks into the kiosk. I stand there, having put my bags down, waiting for him to come back with his card. He starts to clean the counter. I think he’s just doing a quick clean-up, he’ll be with me in a moment. I smile. I wait.

Then it becomes clear that he has cut me off. He is completely ignoring me. The man is treating me like a stray dog! I am speaking to him, asking him if I must wait, he is half a metre away from me, and he makes as if I am not there at all!

I stand a few moments longer. This is not possible. The man is in sales. He has invaded my space, ignored my resistance, put lotions and colours on me, buffed my nails. He has bullied me and insulted me. And I have stayed friendly and polite.  I have said that I liked his product, I have asked for his card, I have said that I will choose something when I have time, knowing full well that the fabulous offer of four items at R200 all together will have been missed. And he is treating me like a dog!

I pick up my bags, look at him again. No. He has definitely cut me off! I turn and walk away. The man is a rude pig!

Bella Pierre at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa … you will not see a penny from me. Not ever!

I tried to phone the owner of Bella Pierre, but reached his voicemail. I left a message saying that I had just had the rudest encounter with a member of his staff and would be happy to speak with him if he were interested. I never heard from him. Clearly he endorses this kind of behaviour. Clearly he is unaware of the fact that there are many, many, many beauty products on the shelves, many equally as good as his product, some even better, and that you simply cannot treat people this way –  even if you’re not trying to sell them something.


~ by ReluctantRunner on December 4, 2009.

2 Responses to “Rude Bella Pierre salesman”

  1. Well I for one am gratified to find that our service industry is all ready and trained to deal with the tourists in 2010. Nothing like a bit of intimidation and harassment to endear them to our country.


  2. never buying dead sea salts for my hands from them again … !

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