DEAR MISS MANNERS: I seem to be unable to come up with a polite, conversation-ending response to aggressive sales associates in stores who push you to open the store’s credit card. I understand that they are directed to ask by the store management, and I also know they are usually incentivized to do so.
This weekend, a salesperson was harassing the older woman in front of me who was paying cash for a large purchase -- at her husband’s direction, she explained (uncomfortably) to the clerk. The clerk responded that her husband didn’t need to know she opened the account! Without missing a beat, she next pressured me to open an account too, to save $6.
The salespeople do not know anything about the customer standing in front of them. For all they know, that person knows she will be declined for more credit.
I make a decent living, manage my finances well and consolidate my purchases to a single credit card that provides the most benefits for me. None of this is their business, they aren’t owed any explanations about my decision, and they should accept a “no.”
I have tried politely saying ”No, thank you,” and “No, but thank you for asking.” I’ve restated that I plan to use the card I first indicated. I’ve joked about how too much debt helped get us into a recession. I’ve responded rudely to the pushiest of clerks on occasion, knowing Miss Manners would never approve. However, they -- and the stores they work for -- remain undeterred, aggressive and insulting.
Any other suggestions, Miss Manners, for stopping these rude intruders?
GENTLE READER: Pushy salespeople (who are in turn being pushed by their employers) rely on the common misunderstanding that it is rude not to engage the person in front of you in conversation.
At a social gathering, this is true. At a department store checkout counter, with impatient shoppers standing behind you, it is not.
So long as they keep you talking, they believe -- as do you, apparently -- that you will eventually run out of excuses and accede to their demands.
Do not give up. Miss Manners does not have additional suggestions because none are needed. Even the pushiest clerk will grow discouraged after the third or fourth tight-lipped repetition of “Thank you. No.”