We all know that in America, the customer is always right. But in Israel, the sales person is always an expert.
An example: while my sister spent a year in Israel, her laptop computer mysteriously stopped charging. My father, visiting from the US, decided to buy her a better power adapter. Laptops have a converter in that power brick, so mostly you just need to buy a converter for the American plug, but my father decided to buy something more heavy duty.
When he went into an Israeli electronics store, on the other hand, the sales guy (being an expert) knew what my father should buy better than my father did. He insisted that my father didn't need a massive power adapter and was fine with the little plug adapter. In fact, he refused to sell my father the massive adapter-- despite the fact that it was more expensive!
In Israeli stores, I've often seen sales people push less expensive products because they're the "right ones to buy." Maybe it's some kind of reverse-psychology sales ploy, but more often it's because the sales people pride themselves on giving good advice-- and aren't pleased when customers don't take this advice.
Another reason why the Sales Person is Always Right in Israel is that more often than not, the sales guy in a little shop actually is the shop owner. They build relationships with their customers, like the guy in the Tambour hardware store across the street from us who actually came to help dredge out our bathroom when the sewer overflowed. Or the guy from the kitchen supply store down the street who sells homemade fig brandy underneath his counter. Or the manager of our local grocery store, who my husband's aunt pulled aside before Passover to ask when would be the best day to do her shopping. And actually, I think one reason American tourists often think Israelis are rude lies in the fact that, to the Israelis, the Americans are rude-- the Americans don't say "shalom" when they exit or enter a store, they don't appeal to the Sales Person for good advice, and they act as if they're entitled to good service rather than honored when the Sales Person decides to bestow it.
I got very good advice from an Israeli before I came to Israel: when you're dealing with a sales person or some other kind of Israeli professional, you must balance a little bit of kissing up (solicit good advice) with enough toughness to convey that you aren't a sucker (point out flaws, question prices). When you do it right, the sales person often cuts you a good price.
Have any of you had adventures in Israeli shopping?
My husband and I (and our cat Zeus) made aliyah to northern Israel in April, 2008. In Israel, we adopted two street kittens who have proceeded to make up for kittenhoods of deprivation by growing remarkably fat and shiny. In October of 2011, we welcomed our first daughter, Nitsah. Moving to a new country demands both a sense of wonder and a sense of humor. In this blog, I'll try to share both! DISCLAIMER: I actually can't tell you how to be Israeli, because I'm still working on it myself. But at least we can muddle towards Israeli-ness together!