29

When I go shopping (I am not doing that often, only sometimes when I really need some new clothes), I'd like to take my time, look at all available stuff, and thinking about what I need and what not, or what I'd like to wear, etc.

In most of the shops, you can feel free and you can take your time, especially with big store chains (for example H&M, CA, ZARA etc).

In some other shops (here I mean smaller, not really well known), in most cases I find myself being annoyed with some sellers (in my case all were women), asking the same question: if I need help, or if they can give their opinion.

It is really nice that they ask, but I find it a kind of control, or annoying sometimes, and I prefer to be alone to think well without being disturbed.

My question is how to react in this kind of situation? I mean how to tell them that you prefer being alone rather than being asked every 5 minutes without being rude?

PS: I am living in Germany, but I'm from Tunisia.

  • 1
    Maybe some of the answers here can help a little. The culture might differ, but maybe the answers can already give you some ideas :-) – A J Jul 17 '18 at 11:50
  • 3
    How do you usually react, what have you alraedy tried and why doesn't that suffice? Does the same person ask often, or are these multiple, different people? – Tinkeringbell Jul 17 '18 at 11:51
  • 2
    @Tinkeringbell sincerly, in the first I tried to ask to leave me alone with a big smile, but seems it is repeating always, then I tried to not give an answer, which is too rude .. the most of time the same person – Moslem Ch Jul 17 '18 at 11:58
  • Related question on German SE: Natural way to deny help from a shopkeeper – Wrzlprmft Jul 23 '18 at 9:43
47

A simple "Danke, ich bin nur am schauen" or "Ich schau nur, danke" (Thanks, just looking) should suffice.

This tells them you're just looking, and most will not bother you after.

You could add "Ich melde mich" to tell them you'll be the one initiating if you need anything.

  • 12
    +1 .. I like this way, the problem I am new here and my german is not good yet, that is why I didn't think about something like that – Moslem Ch Jul 17 '18 at 11:58
  • 10
    As a german native speaker the continuous present form sounds a bit clumsy to me, but this might be due to regional dialects (see here). "Danke, ich schaue nur" would be a bit more standard german. – Paul Kertscher Jul 17 '18 at 12:35
  • 13
    @PaulKertscher Well I'm swiss so my judgment of the German language is invalid anways ;) – Mafii Jul 17 '18 at 12:37
  • 7
    @PaulKertscher: As a Rhinelander, "am schauen" is sowas von correct;) (see "am-Progressiv") – Cliff Jul 17 '18 at 12:44
  • 11
    Well if the problem is the language then we have german.stackexchange.com – Juan Carlos Oropeza Jul 17 '18 at 14:21
20

Appreciate their offer and tell them you´ll get back to them when you have any questions.

Seller: Do you need help?

You: Oh thank you - currently I'm fine, but if I do need help, I'll tell you! (Dankeschön, aber ich komme zurecht. Wenn ich Hilfe brauche melde ich mich nochmal!)

This not only acknowledges their effort, but also sets the expectation of who has take action to engage again - so they'll refrain from asking again after some minutes.

Note: Some stores pay bonuses to their employees for successfully selling - that´s why they sometimes put their mark on the price-tags. The seller then has an interest to get involved with the client. If they ask a second time, be a little bit more forceful.

No really, I am fine. Again, If I have any questions I know where to find you! (Nein danke, Ich komme wirklich zurecht! Ich melde mich dann wenn ich was brauche!)

(Reference: Experience in shopping in Germany for all my life)

8

I'm going to leave this here, based on a comment you wrote underneath Mafii's answer:

+1 .. I like this way, the problem I am new here and my german is not good yet, that is why I didn't think about something like that link

If your German isn't that good yet, you are probably still struggling with your Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills, BICS for short.

I've worked retail for several years, in the Netherlands (I also shop for clothes regularly). Over those years, I've met people that are just learning Dutch, or for who English is a second language. Sometimes, their response seems to suggest that they didn't really understand my question, because it didn't really make sense as a reply to the question, or they spoke so soft and accented that I couldn't really understand them. These things often led me to repeat my question, just to make sure the customer understood what I was asking, and I understood correctly what the customer was replying. I'd say in a little over half the cases, the asking again was 'correct', in that I either misunderstood the customer, or the customer misunderstood me. So, the clerk may not just be asking because they get a bonus if they sell you something, they may have just not understood you correctly or want to make sure you understood them.

Besided the sentences that Daniel and Mafii suggested (which do seem like correct ways to tell store clerks you're just browsing), try to mind your body language as well. I often let that help me decide whether or not to ask again when dealing with non-native speakers. Try to look confident when replying, and also when browsing the clothes. If you do take some time to decide, try not to look too confused. Stand up straight, focus on the product you're deciding about (maybe hold it in front of you and go look in a mirror, for example) or keep browsing the rack, speak with a confident voice (not too loud, but articulated and certainly not too soft either), make eye contact when speaking.

You'll probably notice that once your BICS improve, you're able to react and understand the store clerks better, but even then your body language will still play a role in keeping them at bay.

3

One thing that is often overlooked is that depending on the store the person who sells you an item may get a bonus for that. That is why in some shops the sellers won't leave you alone, because they want to get that bonus or in some cases even have to fulfil a quota. I found that sometimes it helps to address that problem directly: "I just want to look, thank you - But if I find something, I will come to you, what's your name?" Sometimes I get even more direct: "Thanks, I don't need help. But you can tell me your name, I will come find you so you can sign my tags."

If you want to be nice to that seller, you can actually bring your items to them when you're done. They will put their initials on the price tags. Then when you go pay, that seller will get their bonus for having sold you those items.

1

If you're looking for a simple answer, wear headphones. When they come up, smile and kinda wave them off (maybe adding a "thanks, but I'm just browsing for now") and go back to what you were looking at. It's most powerful if you look away and put in the earbuds before they really have a chance to counter.

The only solution at that point is for them to physically touch you or to walk away, and 99.9% of the time, people choose to walk away.

1

Being from Germany myself, I've always went with a "Danke, ich komm zurecht" (something down the lines "Thanks, I can manage it myself" for you non german speakers) which seemed to work like always :D

But a "Ich schaue nur" as others suggested works well too.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.