How did dishonesty become the best policy?

That looks great on you. You can wear that colour with anything. I’ve got that one myself at home.

How many times have you heard these above claims from a retail salesperson when shopping? How did it become the norm for most salespeople to blatantly lie through their desperate teeth?

Admittedly, sometimes these things are what we want to hear. A quick confidence booster from a good looking stranger is like a pep talk from life coach.

That said and let’s not sugar coat it, more and more sales people have targets to reach to keep their jobs, as well as commissions that are paid on a sale-to-sale basis. Most likely the compliment you just received was faux foreplay, and the likelihood of an ulterior motive will soon show its ugly head.

Most likely the compliment you just received was faux foreplay, and the likelihood of an ulterior motive will soon show its ugly head.

I can honestly admit how bitter I get when reflecting on a purchase that has been spontaneously forced upon me. Buying something I didn’t need, an ill-fitting garment, or a bad quality product that only lasts a year or two leaves me feeling guilty and betrayed. I usually don’t ever go back to that shop where the “incident” occurred… EVER.

Influenced sales may temporarily boost the takings of business on a short-term basis, but in terms of brand loyalty, perhaps compulsive purchasing is not a strategy that any business should be encouraging (for so many reasons!).

While shopping for an office chair recently, an attentive salesman noticed my jumping from chair to chair, propping arm ups to suit, fake typing and pulling levers up and down, back and forward to get the right fit.

“I’m looking for a chair that I can sit in for more than 8 hours a day,” I said.

Hands on hips he told me with a stern but considerate voice “What you need is to not be sitting for 8 hours a day”. He went on to tell me how dangerous sitting in an office chair for lengthy periods of time is and how I should be standing, or looking at buying a kneeling chair instead.

Caught off balance by his honesty, I walked out of that shop with empty arms.

I felt a refreshed sense of loyalty to that particular franchise store.

I’ll go back there when I need some printing paper, or folders, or pens. I’m so impressed, I’ll tell this story to my friends, and even write it into this blog post.

When I buy “things,” I ask myself: Do I really need it? Is it good quality? How long will it last me? Who made it?

Do we have a right to ask salespeople these questions? Should they answer truthfully? I personally think a “hell yes!” is in order.

Perhaps it’s time that retailers gave their customers a little more intellectual credit by training their staff to give helpful, honest answers which show that they are not only being ethical in their practices but also thoughtful in minimising waste and building a sense of trust and loyalty with their soon to be repeat shoppers.

Perhaps we do have a right to ask those annoying questions… and when it comes to the type of answers that display transparency in really good business conduct, perhaps honesty is the best policy.

Katie Gannon

After running an ethical fashion label for 5 years, I started this blog in 2007 after learning first hand about the importance of sustainability in fashion design. I am a passionate environmentalist and wish to promote individuals and organisations around the world working on innovative design. I have a BA in Communications / Media as well as a Cert IV in Clothing Production, and run my own graphic design company at

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