February 23, 2016

Buying socks - Who’s taking their job seriously?

Both these conversations are from my personal experience of buying winter socks in both Portugal and The Netherlands. On both occasions I was in the same shop (Decathlon).


[Me]: ‘Hi, do you speak english?

[Assistant]: ‘Yes, of course! Hello.

[Me]: ‘I need some warm winter socks.

[Assistant]: ‘For normal use or for a particular sport?

[Me]: ‘Mainly for walking my dog.

[Assistant]: ‘Very well. How long are your walks?

[Me]: ‘About 10km per day...

[Assistant]: ‘Do you walk in the city or the countryside?

[Me]: ‘Mostly in the forest.

[Assistant]: ’At what time of day?

[Me]: ‘Does it make a difference?

[Assistant]: ‘Yes it does, if you walk early in the morning or late at night, it’s colder than during the day...

[Me]: ‘Good point. Afternoons and at night.

[Assistant]: ‘And what type of shoes do you wear?

[Me]: ’This kind of stuff’ (I show him the hiking boots I’m wearing)

[Assistant]: ‘Do you have a colour preference?

[Me]: ‘Not really.

[Assistant]: ‘Very well. For your case I would recommend these...’ (takes a pair from the shelf)

(before I could ask why, he goes on...)

[Assistant]: ’These are made from smartwool, which comes from New Zealand. It’s the same wool that’s used in Ugg Boots. It’s a special kind of natural wool that does not make your feet itch or feel uncomfortable, and they are made with thousands of fibres that contain little air bubbles, so they actually regulate the temperature of your feet. The air bubbles also allow your feet to breathe so they don’t get smelly, and at the same time they prevent moisture. They are very warm - mountain climbers use them - and are best suited to be worn with trekking boots like yours, because they are quite thick and don’t fit well into normal shoes. They are padded around the toes for extra warmth, and also around the heel to prevent them from wearing too fast. They are also quite long, so you can pull them up and keep your leg warm, and they have a special elastic that will prevent them from dropping down, but that's not too tight so it won’t feel uncomfortable. They’re a bit expensive, but once you try them you will never want anything else...

(I thank him and buy two pairs)


[Me]: ‘Excuse me, I’d like to know the difference between these socks and these’ (I point both of them out to the shop assistant)

[Assistant]: (puts on a slightly daft and clueless face) ’Well, these are red, and those are black.

[Me]: ‘Yes, thank you, but the red ones are 14 Euros and the black ones are 12,50. I’d like to know the difference between them...

[Assistant]: (thinks a bit) ‘The difference is 1,50 Euros...

[Me]: ‘I can see that, I mean what makes the red ones be more expensive?

[Assistant]: ‘It’s the price, it’s higher.

[Me]: ‘Yes, but why? They’re the same brand, the only difference seems to be the color, so how come the black ones are cheaper?

[Assistant]: ‘Because it’s a different color.

[Me]: (giving up and turning away) ‘Okay, thank you...

[Assistant]: ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?

(I just wander off without buying anything)

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