Excuse Me, Sir! May I Ask You a Question?

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First off, happy Thanksgiving from Labelscar!  As we all know, today officially ushers in the 2008 holiday shopping season, despite the fact that many stores have been sneaking up holiday decorations here and there since Halloween, or even before that.

Every November and December, we get excited about the prospects of the holiday shopping season, but this one is particularly important as it may make or break some very large-scale retailers.  Sears, for example, is counting on shoppers between now and Christmas to shell out big time, or they’ll be in some serious trouble.  Sears is far from alone, as many other large chains like Circuit City are all feeling the ill effects of the slow economy.  The problems aren’t even confined to retailers either.  General Growth Properties, owners of 200 regional shopping centers in 45 states, announced they were a billion dollars in debt earlier this month and might be having trouble keeping the doors open and the lights on.  We’ll keep a close eye on what’s going on, but in the mean time, make sure you spend your money wisely at your favorite retailers, else they get sunk in ’09.   

As we join the millions out pounding the mall tiles this weekend, we wanted to highlight a growing problem in malls: obnoxious kiosks.  We’ve actually intended to write about them for some time, and we thought the upcoming holiday shopping season combined with an excellent article in the local paper exposing their nonsense was a good opportunity. 

kiosk6.jpgIf you aren’t familiar with the setup, it goes a little something like this.  You’re walking down the concourse of a mall, whistling dixie (or a different appropriately-happy tune), when you pass by a kiosk set up in the middle of the mall with one or two employees eagerly hovering near it.  They might even be crouched or hidden at this point, and that’s fine.  It’ll add suspense.  They’re almost always foreign (and we’ll try to address that in a bit), and before you realize it they’re approaching, wait, invading your personal space.  “Excuse me!” one of them eagerly blurts, as she holds her hand out as if she is going to actually touch you, “I have a question for you!” 

If you’re new to this sales tactic, you might freak out and jump or something.  If you’re a nice enough person you’ll probably also respond and get sucked in for a bit.  At this point, we feel sorry for you. 

If you’re a seasoned veteran to this ploy, as many are, you may simply say “no thanks” and they’ll sometimes go away – but don’t count on it.  I’ve read and experienced personally numerous accounts of super-aggressive sales tactics employed by these individuals, including (but not limited to) following you down the concourse up to 20 feet while repeatedly drilling you with questions and trying different pitches, and even making strange noises like clicking or hissing to get your attention. 

One of these individuals who was selling aromatherapy packs/pillows popped out from somewhere once (I swear he came from the ceiling) and began violently punching his pack/pillow/whatever 6 inches from my face while saying something like “How does it smell?” in some non-standard english accent.  I had to move to get out of the way.  And at a mall in Orange County, California, a man selling those heely-roller wheels that go on kids’ shoes was wearing his product and would quickly zoom around the corner of his cart when he saw someone coming, not only scaring the hell out of the person, but causing a mildly dangerous situation in the process.  No good.

kiosk4.jpgMost of the time I’ve found the best tactic is to ignore these people completely.  They usually give up fastest if you don’t give them any attention at all; sure, they might call after you for a bit - “Sir!  Sir!!  I have a question for you sir!” – but if you don’t make eye contact or pretend to not even notice them they usually find other prey rather quickly.

Others have not been so lucky.  A girl in Madison, Wisconsin came home crying after being sucked in to aggressive sales tactics at a Hair crap kiosk there (see below), and it took her dad 30 minutes to get her money back.  Another woman was having her hands rubbed by a Moroccan man at one of the skin care kiosks and he creepily hit on her, asking for her number.  Yet another woman was accosted by a man at a toy kiosk when he attempted to operate one of the toys on her person without warning, causing her to jump erratically and dangerously into a group of dwarves, killing them.  I may have made that last part up.   

So really, what gives?  Why is this harassment even allowed, and what (if anything) is being done about it? 

In the early days, there were fewer kiosks, existing for a variety of reasons, in malls and none of them seemed to employ these shady sales techniques.  Growing up in the 80s, we remember the days when mall kiosks sold earrings, watches and various foodstuffs, and none of them had people jumping out at you clicking and hissing.  

kiosk3.jpgEarly mall concourses had a variety of non-retail aesthetic accoutrements, including conversation pits with seating, ample foilage including trees of all kinds, and elaborate fountains.  There were even nonstandard features in some malls like aviaries, monorails and hanging gardens.  Wow.  All of these features were the result of an early (mid-century) vision of what malls were supposed to be: community gathering places with an emphasis of place-making within new suburban communities.  Retail was the focus, but early developers sought to build artful, planned masterpieces to give malls a more wholesome sense of place than a sterile place of commerce.  As these malls ‘replaced’ downtowns in suburban fringe areas, developers wanted them to be as aesthetically beautiful as they were functional, because people viewed them as community centers and they provided culture to a vast landscape of bland, suburban sameness.  See Victor Gruen for more on this.

Today, many enclosed malls are sterile, soulless husks of their former selves, where maximized profits per square foot have replaced aesthetics.  As renovations have taken place during the 1990s and more recently, the trees, fountains, and foliage have been removed and replaced with wall-to-wall kiosks in order to meet this end.  In fact, from 1997 to 2003 the amount of retail carts in malls has doubled, from 900 to 1,800.  In addition, these carts can account for 10 percent of an entire mall’s sales, which is more significant than we thought. 

To be fair, many kiosks do not employ these shady techniques and never have.  In fact, kiosk2.jpgmany of the early kiosks, like Piercing Pagoda, Watch Station, Sunglass Hut, as well as many of the modern ones hawking blinky Jesus portraits, computers, real estate, Crocs, pet stuff, belts, toys, jackets, and even Starbucks have never employed obnoxious sales schemes and do the old-fashioned “wait for the customer to come up to you” which seems to work out for them just fine. 

In fact, there are only a small handful of the types of kiosks who do annoy us.  Many of them are really selling the same, or similar, products and operate under the guise of different names, and here’s a list of the most popular offenders:

  1. Dead Sea.  Possibly the worst offender in terms of overall harassment are the Dead Sea people.  They operate under several guises, like Seacret Sea, and sell mostly skin/nail care products marketed to be special because they’re from the Dead Sea.  Often they use beautiful Middle Eastern women as salespeople and will pester both men and women who are walking through the mall.  At least one of the Dead Sea carts is a scam and marketing products actually from Texas, and not the Dead Sea. If you have a Dead Sea kiosk story be sure to share it in the comments.      
  2. Cell Phones.  The cell phone kiosks began popping up like hotcakes about 10 years ago and today, every major cell provider usually has at least one kiosk in every major mall throughout the country.  Many of them don’t actually call out to people walking through the mall, but some of them will.  Personally we’ve been asked if we a.) have a cell phone (who doesn’t?) and b.) whether or not we need to switch plans or upgrade a phone.  The cell phone people have been less annoying lately though, at least to me.  Maybe they finally got the memo that nearly everyone has a cell phone, and most people are locked into contracts and can’t just hop between providers at the drop of a hat.  Also, the cell phone people are not recruited overseas, unlike the others mentioned below. Does anyone still find the cell phone kiosks to be annoying today?
  3. Hair crap.  These kiosks sell everything from curling irons to straightening irons, and extensions; and more disturbingly, they use their demonstration products on everyone without cleaning them.  Sounds real sanitary.
  4. The blanket people.  These clever individuals are usually holding a blanket, purse, sweater, or other soft or texturally pleasing item and they will pop out (again, from the floor or something) and try to get you to touch it. 
  5. Massage stuff.  This one might be the creepiest, because these people will often “demonstrate” their massage toys on you with little to no warning as you walk by.  Try not to fall down or into other shoppers as you either freak out or become lulled by the massage, or both.

There are other types, too, and again feel free to tell us about them in the comments. 

kiosk1.jpgSo who operates these kiosks, anyway?  At first glance, many people notice the employees of these carts are foreigners of vague Middle Eastern/North African descent, many of whom speak with varying accents and clearly aren’t American.  In fact, these kiosk operators are specifically and strategically recruited overseas by firms wanting to sell their gadgets and make a quick buck at the malls.  Young Israelis are targeted in particular due to the time off they often take after their required military service, which takes place following high school.  In many cases, they are also working illegally on a tourist visa and have been deported for this.  In addition, others have also been deported for suspected involvement in espionage against the USA.  

This overseas recruitment and illegal activity is perhaps the most surprising and alarming component of this situation, establishing a so-called “Cart Culture” in malls throughout the United States consisting mostly of eager young Middle Eastern men and women seeking to make a relatively significant amount of money when compared to similar options back home.  In fact, many of the Cart Culture participants do stick together and seek housing arrangements and social lives together because of their shared backgrounds.

This situation, too, may also be telling of why the aggressive, annoying business practices are employed by many of these individuals, simply because they are not familiar with our own retail culture.  Of course, the cell phone kiosks, which annoy many people, do not recruit overseas and still practice these aggressive tactics.  However, in many other countries, aggressive sales tactics are used at bazaars, souks and street fairs because that is the cultural norm.  In addition, similar pricing practices as street fairs and souks are utilized at these carts, such as bargaining, which are often employed by the carts. 

kiosk7.jpgAt an American shopping mall, buyers are used to a fixed, visibly marked price on all items for sale as well as having to approach the shopkeeper, or at least enter his store prior to being approached.  Our culture frowns upon cold-selling pitches by retailers in public, and we deem them annoying and uncouth most of the time.  We respect the more culturally appropriate retailers who do not employ aggressive tactics and who instead wait for the shopper to approach before beginning a sales pitch.  We Americans have a place for the “cold sales approach” – in flea markets and at state fairs, and once we’ve entered a specific store, but not ever walking through the main mall concourse. 

But isn’t the purpose of a mall to sell things?  Why are we so bothered by being approached in a mall by a salesperson?  To us, the main mall concourse belongs to the public realm of space and we consider our intentions in that space to be in-transit and not related to a specific retailer or the selling process, unless we go in a store or approach a retailer on our own.  Even though we are inside a mall, a place devoted to selling, being approached in the main concourse space is inappropriate and annoying, akin to being approached while walking down the sidewalk, while driving our cars, or solicited at home by a door-to-door salesman.  To us, the presence of the carts isn’t any more annoying as a billboard on the highway or an advertisement in a store window, but as soon as we are bothered in what we deem is a public space we get upset and feel our personal space has been violated. 

So what can we do to curb this problem?  We don’t think the solution is to lash out at the poor kiosk employee.  For reasons mentioned above, they are entrenched in the Cart Culture, and it wasn’t created by them; they’re just here trying to make some money.  If anything, they’re almost as much of a victim of it as the poor lady who fell on the floor after being surprised by a massage spider.  We think the best thing to do might be to continue writing letters and complaining, and letting mall management know that this type of harassment is not acceptable in our shopping environment and we will take our business elsewhere.  Shopping malls are teetering on thin ice as it is, and the economy isn’t helping things, so our voices are even louder than ever now.  At least one mall, Natick Mall in Massachusetts, forbids aggressive sales tactics. 

Another solution might be to reconsider how the carts are placed in the mall entirely.  Instead of assembling a linear barrage of them along the mall corridors waiting to attack each and every person who walks by, maybe establish a separate area for them and set it up like a bazaar or a fair?  Many state fairs and large conventions have exposition halls filled with vendor stalls separated by rows, and in no way are they unpopular.  If the carts go there, then the people who go to visit them would be inviting themselves to the cold sale and won’t be as disgusted by it as they would just walking through the mall.   

Make sure you leave your opinions on these kiosks/carts, your experiences, and any and other specifics you want to discuss in the comments section.  Keep an eye on them the next time you go to the mall, but maybe watch what you wear.  I think we can get some interesting dialogue going on this topic. 

 

 

 

131 Responses to “Excuse Me, Sir! May I Ask You a Question?”

  1. About what you said, in regards to malls becoming soul-less husks looking to maximize their profits. Malls have ALWAYS been looking to maximize their profits- it’s called Capitalism, a truly wonderful system. We’re dealing with these kiosk problems now because malls AREN’T maximizing their profits- they’re failing left and right. They’re doing everything possible now to eke out a profit; they now have major competition from places they never had 30 years ago- THAT’S why they’re doing so poorly, and will continue to. They’re just not ready to exit stage left for good, yet.

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  2. Ugh!!! Just the other day I witnessed some pretty obnoxious stuff going on at a Verizon kiosk. And the salespeople looked pretty damn American to me! A teenager was walking past the kiosk with a group of her friends. The man at the kiosk asked her a question, and the teen said coldly “I have Verizon. Thanks.” The salesman then said, and I quote, “Show me the proof!”. And he didn’t say it in a joking manner. The people at this kiosk have also harassed me at different points. I’d tell them I use Virgin Mobile as my carrier as I was walking past and they’d start yelling stuff like “Does it have this or that feature?” AS I’M WALKING AWAY!!!!

    Hell, I’ll even tell you where the kiosk is! It’s at the Square One Mall in Saugus, MA, near the Sears. STAY AWAY!!! They are the rudest people on this planet.

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    sandra Reply:

    i cam’t see any post from someone who had tried those dead sea cosmetics.i’m a happy customer and love their products. i got read of acne with their mask. merry christmass guys and stop being so snobish and mean to kiosk people!!!

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  3. Yeah, the cell phone places aren’t part of the overseas recruitment, they’re all Americans. I actually haven’t been pestered by them in a while, so that’s no good. Maybe I’ll walk by them slowly and egg them on, ha.

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  4. I’ve heard of the Dead Sea kiosks people. They sell those cream and skincare sets and they ALWAYS yell their pitches for people to stop at their kiosks. I myself have been pitched at to see what kind of products they have. I
    m polite and declined as such and they backed off, but some people are’nt as courteous and will tell them and I quote :”I don’t want your crap! Thank you!” So yeah it’s very annoying how some of thsoe kisoks are. BTW this was at Great Lakes Crossing in Michigan, I thought they were a local kiosk, scary to see them nation wide. :o

    I do like the holiday oriented kiosks though. The ones that sell holiday candles and X-mas trinkets are always neat to look at and they don’t harass you as you walk by or anything.

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  5. I can’t stand the Dead Sea kiosks. I fell for the pitch a few times because of the beautiful women, but the products are crap and their pleasant demeanor quickly disappears when you call them on their manipulative behavior.

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  6. i am so glad to have my nice cup of coffee today on this black friday and read this piece!!!!! i thought i was the only one that noticed these annoying islands of retail thru my mall!! i understand everyone has a right to make a living but there is no need for the harrasment and obnoxious yelling or making shoppers uncomfortable. i love this site and job well done!

    have a great black friday everyone!

    -mdoll

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  7. I had an issue with a Verizon sales person at a kiosk at the Palisades Center in West Nyack NY. He put in the wrong codes in the computer system, (a common practice)by Verizon employees. When the contract came in the mail, it was all screwed up. I called the kiosk manager who fixed everything in about 2 minutes. While talking to the manager on the Phone she asked me who the sales guy was, as I’m discribeing him she wispers “he just walked by me.” It was clear by that comment the sales person has caused problems like this before.

    Make sure you read everything when buying a new cell phone or updating a contract, the providers will screw you if you are not alert.

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  8. The one that gets me are the toy kiosks that sell cheap rip off toys and pirated video game consoles (the 150+ games in one box stuff).

    What makes it really sad is that management is taking money away from other stores in the mall when they allow these guys to set up for a couple months around the holidays. Obviously all they care about is the bottom line, but talk about being disloyal to stores that pay rent all year round.

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  9. Damn cart weliding bastards ,Let’s get em’
    *Riot sound effect*
    P.S
    Pramus Park mall is loaded with these bastards.

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    chip bell Reply:

    @Mr.D, thats what we need to do. A good flash mob protest against these ass holes aught to get things moving in the right direction.

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  10. Very good post and this has been on a lot of shoppers’ minds, I am sure. In NJ, we first started to see the kiosk introduced at the Rouse malls (Woodbridge’s “Raritan River Market” kiosks and Willowbrook’s “Minisink Market” kiosks come to mind).

    Today, malls have used every bit of available floor space to squeeze them in, including underneath escalators! I too am sad about the over-saturation of the kiosk and my favorite tactic is to either text someone or pretend I’m texting as I’m walking past….they leave me alone (even the blanket people)

    And finally, major kudos to Taubman for not having the kiosks…as a Short Hills shopper, I have never seen them there and hope this policy continues (I have also never seen them at Fair Oaks).

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  11. I wonder if malls are really dead? One small-market mall is advertising that it offers an alternative to shopping in the cold at an “open-air mall”. This is to counter the lifestyle center we have in our area, which was “supposed” to be an alternative to the dying two-story mall in our town. No, malls won’t be in but big and affluent markets but lifestyle centers won’t supplant them totally- especially the “upscale” units. Mine will probably have a Sears or Penney (it has Belk already) coming soon if my money is right. Who is to say we may not have an indoor galleria of smaller shops?

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  12. I’m proud to say when I was a child, kiosks were nonexistant. Then, by the late 90s, well here they come! Now, all the malls have them including the classier Westfarms (a Taubman-owned mall). As far as ownership of these kiosks, I wouldn’t know but they aren’t cheap to operate (though tacky like the merchandise they peddle) but they often get any 20-something “caucasian” or perhaps someone of Indian descent to run the place at most of the malls I frequent.

    My brother handled a kioskian rather well and it left an impression on me as it was a very Larry David moment. A young lady asked him “Can I ask you a question?” my brother exclaims “You just did!” in his playful yet pompous tone. It was a wonderful moment, not cruel or mean-spirited. She wasn’t thrilled at his response, but then again, that’s what you get when you depend on young women to target young men to get attention just to sell some crap hand cream.

    I take my brother’s tact now; just have fun with them (If the situation calls for it, “I’ll take you instead of the hand cream!”) without being a jerk!

    I’m no anti-capitalist, but why does a mall need eight $12 sunglass vendors who sell most of the same old garbage?

    Nice article, Prange Way.

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  13. The most bizarre experience I have ever had at a kiosk was when a salesperson came up to me (as I was walking by) and asked me if he/she could see the palms of my hands. (Obviously, I refused.) This experience happened to me at least a couple of times. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the kiosk, or what they were selling.)

    Also, while this is a bit off-topic, I certainly do find it to be rude and annoying when salespeople come up to me while I am browsing through a department store. (If I wanted to ask a question, I would go and see them.) Even worse is how they look at you suspiciously if you have been browsing around for a while and still have not bought anything. While I realize on the one hand that these salespeople have to be vigilant against potential shoplifters, this type of treatment makes me feel as if I am a criminal.

    Also, I have a question for Prange Way (or anybody else who could answer it): could you please identify the malls where each of these kiosk pictures were taken? (It looks like the very first picture in this article was taken at the Willowbrook Mall, and that the third picture could very well have been taken at Crossgates Mall.)

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  14. Kiosks seem oddly uneven in practice. For every busy Dell Computer kiosk, there’s a cell phone provider or a seller of crappy t-shirts with no customers. The concept actually isn’t that new. I can recall seeing these in the late 70s at some malls. They seem to have gotten a lift with the many (often long overdue) makeovers of existing malls during the 90s.

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  15. I live in the Denver metro area and have never seen a kiosk manned by foreigners. Unfortunately, American vendors are every bit as annoying and don’t have the cultural barrier to blame it on. Typically I can avoid most unpleasantness by avoiding eye contact at all costs. If someone follows me,
    an artfully snippy “no” to a question seems to suffice.

    The cell phone people are damnably persistent, so then I must resort to stone-faced lies. I once walked past two cell phone kiosks placed next to one another, telling one that yes, I had Sprint, and the other that yes, I had AT&T. (I have Verizon.) If I’m in a nasty mood, I wait until the vendor asks me if I have any grievances with my service provider and tell them that yes, I have several, but that my provider is the company operating the kiosk.

    Only once have I ever resorted to any sort of aggression, when I was as as startled as one can possibly be in dealing with kiosks:
    My local Your State or City Here Mills mall (those five-mile-long outlet malls that are divided into Neighborhood One, Neighborhood Two and so on and whose developers have never heard of a second story) has had a kiosk for several years now which sells hermit crabs. (If they all live together, in a mall, no less, can they still be called hermit crabs?) It has long been a favorite with children, and so its employees have never needed to forcibly approach anyone, as it draws the twelve-and-under set, and therefore its parents, like magnets. One day, however, as I was walking past, the woman manning this particular kiosk inexplicably felt the need to place a hermit crab on my arm. Because I was employing my usual gambit of making no eye contact as I blew right by, this scared the hell out of me. I blindly flung my elbow out, and it connected squarely with the poor woman’s nose. As for the crab, it fell off my arm and onto the floor and was trampled in the ensuing commotion. I felt terrible for both the woman and the crab, but at the same time wondered just where the hell she got off in trying such a thing!

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  16. Prangeway,

    This article couldn’t be any more timely. I just returned from White Plains checking out black Friday. My first stop was Macy*s witch looked somewhat busy. As soon as I came out of Macy*s & enterd the Galleria a woman at a kiosk tried to stop me & asked “Sir can I ask you a Question?” I gave a quick look & just kept right on walking, all the while thinking about the article posted here & how funny the whole thing was.

    Crowds started to thin out as the day war on but I couldn’t get this woman off my mind.

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  17. Recently at Westfield Oakridge, a guy from one of the cell phone kiosks got out in front of me, spouting his sales pitch. I tried to keep going, saying that I wasn’t interested. Then he stopped right in front of me, preventing me from going any further. I said, “You are blocking my way.” Then he finally backed off. I’ve had similar experiences at Westfield Valley Fair, too.

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  18. I was in Freehold today and they have them. I overheard the Dead Sea Scroll girl getting overly passionate about the product. For some reason in Freehold, they leave me alone. And “Caldor Rainbow,” I like your style re: the CYE response!

    I was rather surprised how manageable the crowds were today. Usually I go to Short Hills on Black Friday as they don’t get crowded until 12 and except for Macy’s and Bloomingdales, are open at 8. (and there are no pushy kiosk salespeople). I didn’t feel like driving too far so I went to Freehold and was expecting a horde of people, but it didn’t get crazy until around 11:30ish. Also, in the morning, it didn’t seem like many people were out in the other stores as Route 9 was much more quiet than a usual Saturday afternoon. Leaving the mall, that was another story.

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  19. Hoo boy, and I thought I only got this sort of thing happening at larger malls.

    Well that’s no longer the case for me. Now they’re trickling down to the smaller centers.

    Seems that Simon is so desperate that they’re putting these kiosks even at B-level malls now. (of which my hometown Fond Du Lac’s, Forest Mall would fall into). A mall once filled with planters and a large fountain at Center Court, now lined instead with these cheap-o looking carts. Was walking down the concourse, just browsing for gift ideas and what-not and I’m within earshot of a lady who asked me if I was interested in whatever it was she was hawking. (I forgot). Said “no thanks’ and moved onwards.

    Like some others, I’m also all for capitalism. Competition is a good thing, but if I’m walking down the concourse and I’m being hounded by these folks to ‘look at this’ or ‘try that’, or (the ever-so-popular) “Does your cellphone come with such-and-such?”….it actually drives me away more than pulls me to look at their wares. This isn’t a Mideast Asian bazarr, or one of those indoor “flea markets” (the likes of which I’ve hit several in Chicagoland) doggone it. This is AMERICA, the US of A.

    Someone brought up another point too, it’s not just out in the common area. It’s within the stores as well. Now I understand in more ‘urban’ areas, they probably do this for security reasons (suspicious of new customers, not wanting people to steal stuff), but some people are just so aggressive with the “How May I Help You’s” or “Can I help you find anything’s” to the point where I will just turn and leave without giving them so much as a dollar of my hard-earned cash. When FYE (prev. Sam Goody, prev. Musicland ) was a tenant at my mall, they were notorious for this. I recall times I got asked by their workers some 3-4 times in one visit. UGH!

    Best Buy, I only get bugged once, maybe twice, but never more, and they’re not pushy about it. Mo local BB’s employees (along with all those at other locations) have all pretty much been on the helpful side….the rare occasion I need it.

    *Sigh* To return to a time when there were seating areas and big foundtains…that would be bliss.

    Why can’t this economy cripple these vendors who supply these cheap carts instead of the big guns who occupy inline space at a mall?

    I won’t stop going to malls during the holidays, I just try my best to avoid being roped in by these carts.

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  20. My mother used to work for a research company at South Shore Plaza. They were located in the basement but her job was primarily in the mall itself, asking people as they walked by, “Would you like to take a survey?” She hated it, and only did it for a short time, but I don’t think that company exists anymore. It’s not really relevant to the discussion at hand, but the whole pushy-kiosk-salespeople thing makes me think of her time doing that.

    I’ve never seen anything as aggressive as what is described in the article (at some point, wouldn’t you make a scene just to get out of the situation? I mean, you’d be embarrassing the salesperson way more than yourself), but I agree that things are getting a little out of hand. The cellphone guys seem to be the big annoyances at the malls I go to, but I’ve learned to keep to the far outside and they tend to stay away. What really bugs me is the skin/hair care people. I’m a single 20-something male who usually wears a NASCAR jacket when I’m out during the winter…do I look like someone who’s worried about soft skin? Please, profile me! I don’t mind not being your customer, and you’re just wasting your own time anyhow. I’ve learned that “no thanks” and walking away is the answer.

    The kiosks here in MA that boggle my mind are the “random celebrity pastel portrait” carts. They never bother you, but who out there is paying $50 for a crayon drawing of Rod Stewart?

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  21. I work part-time in a mall store and I am sick of being accosted by the guys at the cell phone accessory kiosk in my mall. They are located right in front of the food court and it is nearly impossible to get past them.

    Today I had a cell phone accessory literally shoved into my face. I politely pushed the employees arm away, saying no thank you and that I did not appreciate having things shoved in my face. They threatened to call security. Is this the experience malls want customers to have?

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  22. I really hate kiosks, they junk up this place and sell useless crap. I remember Yorktown Mall circa 1995 set up a “kiosk court” around the former Wiebolts/future Von Maur anchor before they cluttered up the place. The cell phone people at Cherryvale are the worst!!! They don’t leave you alone (I told the Verizon guy he sucked and never switching to them). The holiday toy places are pretty bad too. Last Year at Eastland in Bloomington, this guy with the inflatible UFO things lost control of one and hit a lady upside the head. Not all are bad, just some. This time of year a kiosk sets up at Eastland with fresh roasted nuts, the aroma fills up the mall (they are also at Northwoods in Peoria this year).

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  23. Anyone notice how kiosks from the 80′s were square islands where the counter surrounded the employee area…and hence the employee was behind the counter and not in the mall proper. The transaction was conducted over the counter and they really didn’t talk until you walked up. Suddenly, in the 90′s, the kiosks became islands of merchandise shelves where the clerk is out with the customers. To me, this is when I noticed an increase in this aggressive behavior.

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  24. On the kiosk topic I have 2 stories.
    Sharpstown Mall in Houston has a few remaining kiosks on the second floor that will drive you crazy if you happen to pass by. There are 3 in a row near the food court that sell gold and jewelry. They will yell at you when you are on the other side of the concourse and try to get you in. The other problem with them is they charge high prices and the mall contains a huge jewelry center that has lower prices. They have not gotten the memo that that mall is dying rapidly since Macy’s the last real anchor moved out and left Burlington as the last anchor there.
    The second story is about the Dead sea kiosk. At Willowbrook Mall in Houston a team of managers was sent from my company to do a project to compare and contrast stores. My project partner and I walked past the Dead sea kiosk and the Israeli woman pulled my partner in and did her demonstration. She was very aggressive and would not take no for an answer, then she tried to pull me in and I refused. At first she tried to be flirtatious with my project partner but when he said no her tone changed and became aggressive.

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  25. I have had several run ins with the Dead Sea kiosk workers at the Mall Of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, LA. They are almost all from Israel and they hire both women and men. They say exactly the title of this thread, I mean almost word for word. LOL!! They only have kiosks on the !st floor concourse, but there is a few in the center court on the 2nd floor. So sometimes I just avoid the first floor alltogether unless I absolutely want to go to a store there. Sometimes I even go in around about way by walking on the 2nd floor to the food court or each end of the mall and take the escalator down and just sneak into the store that I want to go. I have often felt like complaining to the management about the pushiness of these people. But then I do understand that they are just trying to earn an honest living, and I do not want to get anybody in trouble, but it is still so irritating. Now I have never got asked to look at anything at any other mall kiosk, like the cell phone accessories or cell phone stores themselves. I always thought the Verizon or Sprint kiosks were similiar to Sunglasses Hut and Things Remembered kiosks, and that they were just leased because the company did not feel the mall could support an in line store. Now I have NEVER been approached in other mall in south Louisiana that I shop regularly, which are Cortana Mall, also in Baton Rouge, Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, The Esplanade in Kenner and Northshore Square in Slidell, and they all have similiar kiosks. And another thing about Mall Of Louisiana is that it is a GGP mall, I wonder if this happens in GGP malls more, or if it is really the on site management and it really does not matter which company owns the mall. Because none of the other malls I mentioned above are owned by GGP.

    And in most malls in south Louisiana there is a kiosk that sells reprints of drawings of old buildings and different types of strucutres like water towers or bridges from almost every major Louisiana city like New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport, to very small towns which are too numerous to mention here. Those drawings are the same in every mall, but I don’t know where they come from exactly. And there is usually an older man working this kiosk I always find. These prints are pretty cool though, and have often wanted to buy one, but just never did.

    The other mall kiosks are not that bad, as tacky as kiosks are most of the time, some of the stuff they sell is okay. Like the Hickory Farms, the calender stores. or the kiosks selling the remote control airplanes they have at Christmas time at some malls.

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  26. Yes, the mall isn’t as pleasant an experience as it once was…

    When I was a kid in the early 90′s, we used to live in Lancaster, PA, and went to the Park City Mall all the time. I do not really remember kiosks at all. Perhaps there were a couple, but the ones I remember were the Auntie Annes Pretzel kiosks, and Orange Julius. For the most part, there was a lot more foliage, and there was also the big fountain in the center (info center is there now). It was an awesome experience to be at the mall at that time, and I loved it! When we moved to Reading, even the Berkshire Mall back then didn’t have as NEAR as many kiosks as they do now.

    The first kiosks I remember seeing pop up were the shoddy toy ones. The ones that had the pirated game/console/all-in-one wonder toys. Those were actually REALLY big in the last couple years, then a lot of them got shut down for piracy, illegal immigration, etc… Now it would seem the Dead Sea people are taking their place!

    The Dead Sea people had some kiosks set up at Berkshire Mall already, and my dad actually got sucked into it. He bought a small tub of the green salt you wash your hands with. This was actually the first I had heard of them, and I really didn’t give it much thought for a while. My first personal experience with their tactics was in Park City Mall where I was with some friends. It was really funny, because the girl did everthing she could within her power to try and get us to buy the stuff. I told her that I already had the stuff, so she left me alone. She really tried working on my other friend though, and even dropped the price way down. He still wouldn’t buy, and it was funny because he was trying to get her number and everything, but she wasn’t falling for that. They tried to get me just this past wednesday, but I just walked past and said “no not today”.

    Overall over commercialization in the mall is getting really annoying, I mean yeah, I know they gotta make a buck, but the mall is meant to be an escape to utopia, not a trip to a bazzar. If there is too much of this (and there is in some malls), then people won’t bother visiting anyway.

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  27. I only get hassled by the kiosk/cart people once in awhile. Maybe only once did a cell phone dealer try to get to me.

    I don’t know if anyone feels the same way, but I miss the weekend sports collectible and craft shows malls had. They are still around to an extent, but cramming all those dealer tables in with the kiosks really makes things uncomfortable.

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  28. Oh, yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about…

    - My mother was harassed in The Galleria once for nail polish.
    - I was harassed in my local mall for fake snow powder.
    - Twice in 2004 I saw kiosks selling pirated NES games.
    - Radio control helicopters and cars are a big one too.

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  29. During the 2005 Christmas shopping season I remember visiting the Martinsburg ( West Virginia ) Mall. The mall ( no surprise ) had a bunch of kiosks but what struck me as odd was that most of those were run by the local radio stations…all trying their damnest to get you to listen to them…and those comments and how desperate for listeners…UGH !!

    WLTF Light 97.5 FM: they told me “…all women listen to us..they just love Delilah and John Tesh…you are woman…turn us on..you will fall in love with us !! I did and I didn’t.

    WEPM Sports Radio 1340AM: manned by this rather large guy who kept cussing out the other radio station in town ( WRNR )…not a surprise there no was it a surprise..the WRNR AM 740 kioski as they were cussing out WEPM. Oh WEPM was promoting the fact that Patsy Cline ( yes THAT Patsy Cline ) used to work for WEPM. How many younger people know who she is..well she has been dead for say what….40 years?

    WKMZ 95.9 FM: All those pics of the Greaseman and saying that his show was “family friendly”. Yes all of those sex jokes the Greaseman told during his show really does make it a “family friendly show”..not !!.

    Q102: The country station kept telling me I was “weird” because I had never listened to Chris Mitchell in the morning.

    WINC-FM had women in bikinis passing out pics of their morning dj ( a very overweight hairy guy ), WAZY-FM had their dj showing off his tattoos with 98.3 KISS-FM had one of their djs taking out his glass eye to show to anyone who was nearby.

    and no wonder they say “radio is dead”.

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  30. WTF?
    With these radio station promos.

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  31. My husband and I didn’t get it either and we were at that mall. Of all the
    kiosks scattered throughout Martinsburg Mall that year, I would say about 80% of them were for the local radio stations. Maybe it was some deal between them ( the radio stations ) and the mall itself or was it “radio day”, have no idea but whatever it was it didn’t work as the next year it was back for the usual type of kiosks one sees at a mall. ( cell phones, toys, vitamins, whatever ). Not a rado station is site.

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  32. What, no Mike & mike in the morning promos? What a shame. LOL

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  33. I loath aggressive salespeople in the mall as much as a telemarketer calling during dinner. Aggressive techniques are the lowest form of marketing and our culture has now been programmed to take “how are you today, sir” to actually mean “I have something to sell you.” Even Home Depot has people walking around aggressively selling services. I’m hard pressed to find someone to help me, but will be found by someone wanting to know if I’m a homeowner.
    We should demand our right to a harassment-free walk in the mall.
    Write letters to the mall management, mall owner, and managers of any inline store adjacent to the offending kiosk. They all need to know how aggressive kiosks affect you and your shopping habits. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    Scott

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  34. Post Oak Mall in College Station, TX is infested with kiosks. I am a student at Texas A&M and have noticed how much more numerous the kiosks are here vs at my hometown mall. Also, most of these kiosks are selling cheap cosmetics and body creams.

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  35. Here in Houston nearly every mall has those video game kiosks. Most of them have the helicopters and cheap imitation toys. I have 3 boys and they always get pulled in and I have to lure them away with a promise to go to a different store they like. Those kiosks are also in every flea market I have been to in Houston so it surprises me to see that malls do not keep a higher standard and stick to better merchandise. Some of our top malls here in Houston have these kiosks. At least here they are not as aggressive as the Dead Sea girls but I had an experience at one of the Sharpstown mall video game kiosks. The lady actually got mad because my 4 year old was playing the video game that a really small sign “do not touch”. What a way to sell a product.
    I do agree with the other posts here to talk with management, if enough people give feedback these kiosks will eventually go away.

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  36. damned stupid dead sea crap same thing happened to me over the weekend at chesterfield mall i was just trying to get to sears when those damned con artist did the same thing frankly i was scared i mean i was one second away from screaming PERVERT if that damned bitch did not get the fuck away from me right now, i swear i’m not going anywhere near there until they get rid of those con-artist

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  37. I hate the cart-harassment. I don’t mind carts because they fill the void, but if all they are going to do is harass and pressure you into making a purchase, the malls might as well put more plants and decor in its place.

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  38. It looks like regional malls should bring back landscaping and monumental water fountains.

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  39. Sam’s Club always has those people on the main aisle trying to get you to buy a sunroom. If I really wanted to go and get a sunroom, first off i would get a house first, then there are other places in town to get a sunroom. I am not in Sam’s to get a sunroom.

    Fox Valley mall is very annoying with kiosks and other things. as well. There used to be places to sit and relax after a long day of shopping. Not anymore. The Macy’s and Sears wings covered there seating areas and put in little kiosk parks. And most annoying is that the Carsons and Penneys wings have children play areas. Always there are little monsters screaming and you could hear them clear inside the respective stores. Fox Valley was a nice mall at one time. It is still considered a class A mall, but is quickly becoming a class B mall and lower.

    To sum it up, I avoided Fox Valley this weekend and went to Oak Brook Mall. There aren’t any kiosks there or any annoying kid’s play areas. Anybody that lives in this area, please put in your 2 cents.

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  40. Oh, and watch your kids, too, I get tired of stepping over your monsters you have created.

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  41. *In angry mob voice*

    Less carts more ‘scape!

    (No really bring back landscaping)

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  42. I cannot STAND those kiosk people — I used to really enjoy going to the mall around Christmastime, but, for the same reason I avoid the little ‘carny corridors’ at the state fair, I am more reluctant to head over there this time of year. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see Santa Claus leap from his security-laden Center Mall compound in a violent rage, intending to give the Kiosk Harassment Patrol a good roughing-up for souring the Mall Holiday Spirit.

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  43. I can’t agree more! It saddens me to see that malls are looking away from fountains and landscaping to these cart/kiosks. Woodbridge Center recently filled in the very large fountain by JCPenney (which hasn’t run since 2001) and has the train and carousel there…they also got rid of the very large palm trees that surrounded the fountain. The large center court fountain hasn’t run in two years. Over in Menlo, the large center court fountain hasn’t run since before last Christmas. GS Plaza, Livingston Mall, Rockaway Townsquare, Willowbrook, Cherry Hill, Newport Centre and Hamilton Malls have all recently gotten rid of most or all of their fountains. In the next batch of renovations (which we probably won’t see for another few years as the area malls are renovating), I really do hope they bring back the fountains and folliage. We’ll see.

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  44. I constantly frequent the Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg, PA, and I have to agree that those salespeople from the Dead Sea kiosks are pretty irritating. It seems that they are in every wing of that mall, so there’s really no way to hide from them. What’s worse is how they place those kiosks in high traffic areas, near the food court upstairs and the center court.

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  45. Someone mentioned the Taubman malls don’t do kiosks– ‘fraid that in michigan anyway, they do. GLC, 12 Oaks and Fairlane, anyway. Grr. Having worked in a major-city downtown I do alright in brushing by them, but still: leave me alone. I don’t want your crap.

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  46. I love this article its so true yea that dead sea crap is obnoxious indeed. the worst is in woodbridge center mall here in jersey they bug the hell outta you to buy that crap one time they tried to get to be buy it I ended up flirting with the chick working there hahaha I told her I wouldnt buy it and then she didn’t give me her # lmao. the other kiosk merchants dont bother me as much but this article is on point about the dead sea stuff ok it works but im not going to spend $100 on that stuff you could probably buy the same at walmart and pay $5 for it lol

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  47. mall guy I agree with you about the landscapes in the malls I could remember as a kid it was strictly trees some fountains now zoom to the early 90′s the kiosk is born the only one I really like was captron at the monmouth mall but now zoom to the 2000′s now you got theseannoying people who you really want to cuss out bothering you about buying something you dont even need I beleive this is the future of the shopping center pushy and annoying merchants

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  48. Yes, those Dead Sea folks hooked me too, a few years ago, in the very same Mall of La. location that Jamie B mentioned above. Have to admit that the attentions of an attractive young Israeli woman does wonders for separating one’s money from their wallet. I am $60 lighter and far wiser now. Well anyway, my mother got a nice present out of it.

    Can’t say that I have noticed a trend with these folks, since my mall visits are few these days. But I know what you mean. Too many kiosks in malls these days, to the point where it is hardly possible to navigate around them. The ones that particularly annoy me sell the backlit illuminated displays of seashore images that can be mounted on the wall. Just seems like people will purchase any worthless, unneeded knick knack nowadays. Well, maybe this depression will shake some of them out.

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  49. I’ve been posting about these on my LiveJournal for a while. I’ve always referred to them as the “Israel Pretty-boys and Pretty-girls”. The first time I noticed them was in fall 2002 right after Parkway Place Mall first opened here in Huntsville, AL. I noticed that back then, they always got extremely attractive young boys and women to peddle those products. They were selling those head massagers that you can place on your head and move and it will feel really good, as if someone is using the tips of their fingers to massage your scalp. It was obvious that they were using sex appeal and attractiveness to lure people. Young attractive people with accents are hard for some people to resist.

    In later years, they were selling that hand cream stuff and the hair stuff. Each year, in both malls here (Madison Square and Parkway Place), they’d setup, and sometimes, the same group of people would switch between the two malls on different days.

    Every time I talked to one of them (since I walk in the mall every day) they were invariably from Israel. Once I had an initial conversation with them, they wouldn’t try to sell me anything and would just speak or wave since they knew I was a frequent mall-walker. They’d be living in a hotel somewhere nearby and I’d notice that they’d usually only have 3 different outfits at most (3 shirts and 3 pairs of pants or jeans) that they’d wear over and over.

    The worst experience was a few years ago in Parkway Place. There was an extremely aggressive young woman working at the kiosk and she’d hit on me. I’d get away from her and later, I’d make my way up to the upper level and noticed her looking up at me from her kiosk. I’ve felt hit on by the guys too sometimes. I think they’ll use whatever they think will work if they can make a sale.

    This year, at Madison Square, one of these kiosks is situated in a place on the second level that is very hard to get by without getting the “May I ask you a question?” (standard line they’ve all been using for years — I hear it used on the person behind me nearly every time I walk by).

    This year, they don’t have very attractive people working in Huntsville, so I doubt their sales will be as good. :-)

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  50. Stamford Town Center, a Taubman mall has kiosks on the 4th level through out the mall. Thankfully the hallways are wide enough to get around them without being harassed.

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  51. I forgot to mention a similar annoyance that I encounter at Madison Square Mall in Huntsville, Al and other malls — the survey goons! They stand in places where it’s impossible to go around them without being asked if you want to participate in a survey. They used to stand at the bottom of the escalators at the east end of Madison Square so there was no way to avoid them, and now they stand in the lower level corridor near JCPenney.

    My strategy is to pull out my cell phone and hold it to my ear so it looks like I’m talking until after I get by them. It works. Another strategy is to walk behind someone else if possible so they get asked and while they do, go around them, avoiding the survey goon.

    These have been around far longer than the Israil pretty-boys and pretty-girls. I’d say as early as 1992 I’ve been encountering survey goons, but aggressive Israel pretty-boys and pretty-girls only since 2002.

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  52. A possible idea for better carts would be owned and operated by name brand companies, providing a miniature store. I am thinking along the lines of the within-store sephora type ordeal, only not limited to cosmetics. Some of the better carts seem to be Starbucks, and Hickory Farms. They mind their own business, plus sell quality items. Just some food for thought of coarse.

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  53. Two words:

    MP3 Player.

    This has successfully avoided all contact with kiosk people. They see I’m walking fast and wearing a headset, and couldn’t hear them if I wanted to.

    Unfortunately I’ve seen the increase as well, especially this holiday season. One person gave me an aggressive stare, but that was it. Kinda creepy, in fact. O.O

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  54. The last time I was in the mall, the Dead Sea guy — and it always seems to be guys around here (San Diego, CA area) — actually did grab my arm. I should’ve found someone and complained, but I was in a big hurry that day.

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  55. I had to grab my sisters arm and drag her away..the good looking men always get her, even after she has bought the products got them home and realized your nails dont get as shiny as that one nail they did, or your hands as soft as before…I agree with the MP3 player idead, avoid salespeople, don’t have to listen to screaming kids, and can breeze through your shopping and shop to your own beats! Black Friday wasnt bad for me except for Easton Town Center in Columbus, no parking, and they were handing out parking violation tickets left and right, took forever to park, got to Macy’s and they were sold out of most doorbuster items. Other than that the other stores I went to great experience, friendly people working and in lines, my first friday shopping! It was worht the deals! Happy Holidays

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  56. Reading this, it would seem that the problem isn’t kiosks per se, but the shadiness that inevitably accompanies work on commission. And all the pushy foreigners, and probably the cell phone people too, work on commission.

    The root of the problem isn’t the “bazaar” culture of the countries of origin of the people working the kiosks, as many of you have posited, but the fact that employees get paid by commission. Now, people who come from cultures where loud haggling is the norm are more suited to work on commission, but as a practice to maximize employer/employee exploitation it’s as American as apple pie.

    And yes, it’s sleezy. As much as we might dislike the big boxes, they’ve gone quite a ways towards making work on commission a thing of the past. Which in turn has led to complacency and dehumanizing employee efficiency programs.

    Great piece, great discussion, and Happy Holidays!

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  57. The only positive side to these aggressive kiosks is that it can be entertaining to kick back and watch them work on potential customers. My 6-year old daughter and I were eating lunch last week at the food court at King of Prussia Plaza and the Dead Sea kiosk or something similar is right across from the food court. We kicked back as she got a real world education in Aggresssive Selling 101 as the salesman would give dirty glances after people walked by him and if anyone stopped to talk, he would lay out the charm with the smooth talk, head bobs, laser eyes, exaggerated pouting, compliments, shoulder touches, probing questions, etc. It was easy to see how some people were getting sucked in — as I suspected some of the people he was working on there were getting more personal attention and compliments from him than they probably got at home with their spouses.

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  58. M.C Jumic,

    Your comments focus on the negatives of commission sales. While you do make some points regarding the selling style of commission salespeople, I have to disagree with your overall assessment of commission sales.

    When I was in college, I did sales at Nordstrom and the salespeople there work on commission. Working on commission gives employees the opportunity to grow a customer base, as well as to give the customer additional attention than one would get at a big box. The sky is truly the limit in how much one can make (and it helped that the Norstroms where I worked were consistently busy). Nordstrom isn’t the only department store to do commission sales (Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor) and actually, many Macy’s have converted to this and in those Macy’s locations, the customer service is ten times better!

    The major difference between commission salespeople in the department stores vs. the mall kiosks is probably training and development. As a part time employee, I was required to attend many seminars on providing service and effective, positive ways of selling. I doubt the mall kiosks have that much training and as a result of their overall aggressiveness and lack of tact, they do turn a lot of people off.

    Hopefully mall managers will get the picture.

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  59. A “marketplace” area wouldn’t be a terrible idea in a time when anchors are going dead in malls. Then, when the department stores stabilize again, they can kick them out for a new anchor. While these times are tough, a little innovation wouldn’t hurt.

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  60. Whenever I go to a mall these days I feel like I’m walking through some third-world street market. I wondered what had changed; your post explains why.

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  61. Ugh, one of these guys once tried to sell me stuff as I was rushing through the mall to catch the bus home. He followed me and kept yelling after me and I think tried to grab me by the arm. o__O

    Thing is, this mall (Millcreek Mall in Erie, PA) has a separate “bazaar” wing where people sell the same kind of stupid crap and yet still lets vendors set up in the main mall, where the aisles are fairly narrow and are always absolutely mobbed on weekends. Bleh.

    Also, that third picture is totally of my hometown mall. Logan Valley Mall represent. :P

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  62. I remember around 2003, informing mall management that the video game kiosk was selling a counterfeit product. The lady nearly spit her coffee all over her desk, but they weren’t ejected until two years later.

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  63. I wonder just how kiosks get approved for setting up in a mall. Do the people who run them have to pay a fee or something to set up? Are there background checks to make sure these kiosks are legit?
    I mean I understand that money is tight for malls and every little bit counts, but I still get taken back by how tacky and shady some of these businesses are (Dead Sea of course a big example of this). They just seam out of place in a regional mall and more suited to a flea market.

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  64. As one who paid for his college tuition operating kiosks, I have some background. First, the original idea behind kiosks was to offer small businesses a chance to “test the waters” with a particular marketing idea or product mix, with the hopes of growing and developing the business into an inline store. Some of my kiosks did, indeed, allow me to open inline stores.

    The kiosk contract is your standard contract full of codes of conduct and outlines particular parameters of operation such as mall hours and policies. It also includes the very powerful “use clause”, and this tends to be a bone of contention as different kiosk vendors oftentimes attend the same merchandise mart shows and try to launch the same ideas. Ultimately, they step on each other’s toes, which results in many quarrels.

    The rents at kiosks used to be more modest, but over time they have become less attractive. During the famed holiday season, which has been expanded by most malls to begin at the beginning of October and last until the end of January, rents oftentimes double or triple, and a large “percentage of sales” rent is also assessed. Furthermore, many malls now require a 50% payment of the holiday rental contract up front for the entire holiday season. This may explain some of the aggressiveness of the kiosks.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is an infiltration of “organized” marketing sectors, like the imfamous “Dead Sea Skin Care” people. These groups tend to be impervious to rejection of any kind. They do not care about offending the public to make profit, because their business plan is simply to exhaust one marketing idea until they cannot sell another single unit. They are not trying to grow a business or develop a brand. They are not trying to assimlilate into the corporate retail community.

    In my opinion, many malls are making a mistake. Restaurants began to “sample”, and that was one thing. That was the logic that was used to get malls to allow kiosks to approach people withe “demos”. But it isn’t the same passive marketing strategy as sampling. The malls are allowing their customer bases to be antagonized in a very soft market. Many shoppers will change their buying habits and hit strip centers as their shopping destination of choice. This is only my opinion.

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  65. Palisades Center in West Nyack is overloaded with kiosks. At least 40 exist throughout the mall. As I walked through yesterday I noticed that some kiosks have closed recently, some have closed a long time ago & never were rerented, while some never opened at all.

    It is a similar story with several inline store spaces, yet if you can believe it there are plans to expand the mall. Although on hold, there’s just no way it will ever pass muster with the community.

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  66. I loathe the way the Dead Sea people try to reach out to touch me and say, “Can I ask you a question?” It doesn’t matter how I’m acting. I can be talking on my cell phone, wearing sunglasses, looking purposely into New York & Co, or just have an utterly vacant look on my face. Next time I’ll definitely reply, “You just asked me a one.”

    I just want to pull a Cher (“Clueless”) and exclaim, “Ew! Get away from me!” as I push them off me.

    As for those sunroom or other home improvement kiosks I reply, “We rent, thanks!” Doesn’t matter but it works every time. HA!

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  67. Uh, how can they expand it? There’s no room other than the rest of the 4th floor that’s empty. If it gets any bigger, it’ll just be a nuisance to get around. It already takes forever to get up all 3 escalators, having to walk around instead of just turning right/left and going up/down another flight.

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  68. For the dead sea people..If I had more time on my hands, I’d get some cheap halloween makeup and make fake sores all over my hands, then let them intercept me and extend my hand to them and say, “Will it help my herpes?”. Then randomly send a few friends through with the same but slightly different disease/pitch over the next few days. Maybe have someone with a flipcam waiting in the wings filming the whole thing.

    Sounds like a youtube video in the making…

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  69. Dan,
    That is the funniest Prank Ever!!!

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  70. OMG–I was hoping somebody would post about this. I go to Paramus Park Mall, in Paramus, N.J., and I have been bombarded by these salesgirls at those kiosks every damn time I pass them. They go right into your face with their product and when you tell them “No!” or “Sorry!” or “I’m not interested” they get very hostile. Plus, when you see them again when you’re walking in the other direction–the same exact bullcrap! This only makes me dread going to the mall sometimes.

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  71. Thanks for the insight in kiosks CoryTJ. But I still think malls managers should be more selective on what kind of kiosks to allow in their malls or at least set rules for these kiosks on approaching customers.

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  72. I dealt with the Dead Sea hawkers at Collin Creek Mall in Plano Texas. Exact same MO, beautiful women, lots of sales pitch, strange accents. It’s a free market, so there’s not much you can do, but they sell their crap at over inflated prices. You can buy that little nail buffer for less than $5, the lotions that come with it probably are not worth more than $10. They turn around and sell it for $50. They also try and sell a jar of sea salt for $100, and its approximately a 12 ounce jar. You can get a huge tub of dead sea salt for under $20 at most health food stores. Come to think of it the woman at the kiosk was Israeli as well. I wonder if this is some sort of scam?

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  73. UGH…the Dead Sea people are the worst. I just had an encounter with one of them yesterday at the Berkshire Mall in Pennsylvania. The salesman absolutely would NOT let up, and it was extremely annoying. He was trying to sell me one of the nail kits, and I wouldn’t buy it. He actually offered to take another $10 off the price, since I was being such a tough customer. What an awful experience. I was in a hurry, and he was just completely in my face. I really feel like this is harrassment, and I think I am going to complain to the mall–not that I expect they’ll do anything. I have to go to the mall every week for my child’s dance class, and I really dread seeing these salespeople!

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  74. Much to my embarassment I fell major victim to the Dead Sea “scam” – twice. Once in Honolulu, the second time several months later in Edinburgh. I ended up spending just under $200 for products I didn’t even want at Honolulu. The salesguy literally stopped me and grabbed my hand for the demonstration. And I was suck a sucker mark. Even after agreeing to buy the products at that amount he was still trying to push more on me, asking if I had sisters, mother, friends to buy for them. And one product, which he stated as being $60, I later saw he charged me $10 more. At another store in the same mall at another occassion I saw the exact same line and products for a fraction of the cost and felt sick. In Edinburgh the salesgal stopped me (again) and I stupidly bought a product I didn’t want or need for 30 pounds/$60. I was and still am so angry at myself and will never buy anything from a kiosk ever. And what I learned is this – depending on their assessment of you, they will adjust – either inflate or decrease the price for what they think or know you will be willing to pay. Shady, criminal, lowlife bastards.

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  75. Oh, forgot to mention where these kiosks were – the one in Honolulu is called Organic Skin Care and the guy was a young Israeli (I know that because he told me). The one in Edinburgh I don’t remember the name, but it was a mall that was by the Edinburgh Thisle hotel and the gal also was foreign.

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  76. North East Mall in Hurst, TX has the usual proliferation of cart vendors. Most of them are OK, but there are several annoying ones. The other day I took my 2 year old to the playground there and had to walk past a cell phone kiosk (used to be Sprint, but it seems to be a generic multi-provider one now), and I got “Sir, may I ask you a question?” My response was no, but he then asked “Well why not?” I answered that with “Because I said so” and went on my way. For those familiar this is where it splits to go to the playground, Nordstrom, and Sears. Dead Sea is in the Dillard’s wing, but I avoid that by going in through Macy’s.

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  77. Don’t the existing fixed-location tenants consider the kiosks to be an unauthorized expansion of competition for dollars? I think the main players would object to both the annoyance and money-siphoning effect of the carts. Not a big fan of malls, myself – I live an area that still has downtown areas, northern NJ / NYC.

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  78. One thing we can look forward to is that in one week, most of these annoying kiosks will be shutting down after Christmas, and if not by then, by the end of the year, and will go back to where they came from until next Halloween.

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  79. Good most of those cart weliding bastards will be banqushied for a few months.
    P.S A little Off-Topic but there is this new movie that is a mall movie.
    It’s called Paul Blart: Mall Cop.It was filmed in Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts and South Shore Plaza in Braintree, Massachusetts(None of these mall are on Labelscar).It comes out on January 16, 2009.
    Just thought I give Prangeway and Caldor some Mall-Related Movies to maybe kill a few hours on and give them something to blab on(It’s a comedy and here is some trailers http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1114740/videogallery0.

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  80. Hahaha, West Orange Pavilion Mall.

    Mall Pac-Man: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/paulblartmallcop/mallmazegame

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  81. Great topic!

    I love screwing with the more obnoxious ones. The dead sea folks? I make sure my nails are nicely buffed even before I enter the mall. If stopped they will comment on them and I tell them I bought the buffer at K-mart for 99 cents. If they try to push other stuff I will let them demonstrate the stuff if I have the time. I have been asked what kind of work I do to which I explain I work from Immigration and Naturalization which causes them to either an aprehensive pause or get excited and think they want to be my long lost buddy. This of course is a lie (I don’t work for immigration). If they mention that the stuff comes from Isreal or they are isreali, I mention I can’t in good consious support sending my money to a country that bombs its Palestinian and Lebanese neighbors. I will not let them make the sale no matter how much they stroke my hand, make me say yes, or put the product in my mitts. After wasting their time for a while I will walk away.

    With the phone guys who ask about my plan. I lie again. I tell them work pays for my phone. That shuts them up.

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    S Reply:

    @Jeff,

    I’d like to go to the mall with you someday!!!!! You sound like a lot of fun!!!!

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  82. I’m SO glad to finally see a post here on Labelscar regarding those pushy (and frankly, annoying) kiosks and their employees!!! I believe there is a Dead Sea kiosk in the mall closest to me. Can’t say I’ve had any problems with the cell phone people. But definitely the ones that are pushing skin care products and hair styling tools (I’ve actually done this one a couple times). In the end, I really don’t care to sample those skin care products and get sucked it to buying any of them.

    Oh, BTW, has anyone ever noticed that these people are often so desperate to sell their products, that they will often haggle with you and attempt to lower the price of their product, in the hopes that you’ll eventually cave in and buy something.

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  83. Hello, I really enjoyed this post, though coming from Pennsylvania, I can’t say I’ve ever had someone approach me from a kiosk. Also, can someone tell me if the starbucks kiosk (picture #3) is from my very own Logan Valley Mall in Altoona, PA?

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  84. SCT February 2009

    CART BARKERS

    Specialty leasing kiosks have gotten a lot of attention lately, for good and bad reasons. A story in The Wall Street Journal drew attention to the trend of aggressive young Israeli salespeople operating kiosks in U.S. malls.

    Somewhat more motivated than their American counterparts, these Israelis are known for calling out to passing customers and hawking their wares loudly. Most of the workers are doing short sales stints to raise cash. Because they earn up to 30 percent commission, they can gross about $500 a day during the holiday season. And the trend is growing. According to the Journal, Israelis made up one-third of attendees at the cart-and-kiosk industry’s annual convention last year.

    Some shoppers find the approach off-putting, such as one 40-something woman who recalls resentfully that three separate kiosk operators at a Las Vegas mall shouted out to her that she had bags under her eyes and needed their Dead Sea salt scrub as she strolled through the mall in May. And some upscale retailers bristle at the behavior. Millard (Mickey) Drexler, president of J. Crew, asked landlords at the ICSC New York Deal Making & Conference in December to urge kiosk operators in their shopping centers to show some restraint. “Nobody wants to be accosted,” he said.

    But landlords are ambivalent, because they know the aggressive salespeople bring in big bucks for the center. Some have cracked down in recent months, with General Growth Properties forbidding workers from calling out to shoppers at its Natick Collection, in Boston.

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  85. Just want to add – for all of those who got gyped by these criminals but fortunately paid with a CREDIT CARD, do a chargeback. If enough people do this maybe they’ll get it through their greedy pushy little heads that selling through guilt, intimidation, coercion, guerilla tactics doesn’t pay. If enough chargebacks are filed they are in risk of losing their merchant accounts, on top of being out the inventory/purchase amt, chargeback fees.

    It’s high time people started playing hardball en masse with these scum.

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  86. The idea from one of the replies works. Once again while walking through our area mall I heard; “Excuse me sir, may I ask you a question”. The response “you just did” from me really put a frown on the lady, and she shut up. Awesome, but then I passed the damn Verizon kiosk that is just as aggressive. I hope these kiosks go away soon.

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  87. I disagree with the article stating that Seacret products are a hoax….anyone that would make that comment has NOT used the product AT ALL! My 87 yr. old grandmother actually turned my on to Seacret Nail Buffer!!
    And OMG what a product…I don’t care where it came from. It’s a WONDERFUL product and NO ONE has the right to smear their reputation!!! Try it, You’ll “Sea!” ha

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    Ashley Reply:

    @Gayelynn,

    Sorry, I know this is old, but you can get just as good of a nail buffer for about $5 at a drugstore.

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  88. And another thing as I’m sure many here already know about the dead sea kiosks – they will try to demolish your self esteem (which they quite good at) by picking at or finding ‘faults’ with your appearance. The guy who got me in Honolulu said I was beautiful but I wear too much makeup. Funny, other guys told/tell me I look like a model – but then they weren’t trying to get money from me.

    But these people will say and do anything to make a sale. Guaranteed they would find made up faults with even the most flawlessly gorgeous woman to sell their crap. These people are lowlives who have never since got and never will get another penny from me.

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  89. I fell for the charms of 2 young beautiful charming Israeli women. When they introduced themselves I kissed their hands. I left less $400.00. Help me!!

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    C Reply:

    @Mr. D,

    As I said in a previous post, bring the merchandise back and insist they do a return, if they don’t threaten to call mall management and security, I’ve heard that usually does it, but also be sure to make a fuss and stand your ground with these people. If you paid by CC do a chargeback.

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    Mr.D Reply:

    @C, OK I think the comment system on the site just messed up. I never said what was posted in the comment you replied to.

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  90. The Dead Sea thing is so annoying. I usually ignore them and keep walking but once, I was sucked in by cute salesguy and his “come hither” look. I feel. Within no time, I had spent over $100, but of course he threw in a “gift” for me. Long story short….he also threw in his phone number and I ended up getting to know him a bit. Total scam going on. They are taught exactly what to say and when to say it. They will pick you apart….compliment you and critisize you at the same time. They will talk of spoiling you. They will offer you ‘special deals” and free gifts. It’s all BS. They rape people and then they make fun of you and call you a sucker in Hebrew. And yes, they are all from Israel and 90% of them are illegal. What really stinks is that I love the products….it’s the sales pitch that turns you off. I like the prank idea from above. I’ve thought of a few myself just to waste their time. Time is money and they hate when they try to sell someone and the person ends up walking away. Remember that next time you’re bombarded by one. If you’re strong….and I mean really strong (they are VERY persuasive) let them try to sell you for a while and then walk away.

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  91. I was at Monroeville Mall last night and I happened to walk by one of their kiosks. Not surprisingly, a woman comes up to me and asks me if I’ve heard of Dead Sea products, and I told her that I have and that I can get that same stuff she’s selling me for three quarters the price at Walmart, and she quickly told me that I can’t find their products in any other store, then I explained to her that the stuff in the other stores don’t necessarily contain Dead Sea salt but that they still have salt in them and it works just the same. Anyway, that shut her up and I was on my way.

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  92. My main issue is with those who play with their wares in a mall – I found that frequently at the West Edmonton Mall.

    1: Person # 1 would operate a remote control car or helicopter. In the mall, sometimes in oncoming traffic. I once saw a salesperson chew out someone in a motorized scooter or wheelchair for almost running over his toy, even though it was the saleperson’s fault

    2: Person # 2 would use some stupid soccer ball on a rope. Lots of clearance but just once it could snap off or….

    3: Person # 3, hawking some cheap NES ripoffs, too busy to play his games for his customers.

    I’ve seen this mostly around Christmas.

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  93. During the holiday season, I’ve seen a lot of what Dizzy mentioned. The guy who would man the helicopter kiosk, all he would do at my mall is stand around and test his helicopter toy to passing shoppers, normally shooting it up toward the second floor. It got annoying after a while. I’ve also seen the kiosks with the game consoles featuring 100 or so different games.

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  94. I just got back from the mall and encountered a Dead Sea kiosk. Did a search on google and found this site.

    Yep, I was lured in by a beautiful woman at a kiosk. She ended up telling me she was from Israel and just out of the air force. She complimented me lots and demonstrated her product on me. Lots of pressure to buy but I told her no. I’ve gone to strip clubs and am use to telling beautiful women soliciting lap dances no.

    The next kiosk down I met an old friend who was selling jewelry. I told him what had happened and he said there was another Dead Sea kiosk a bit further down. Sure enough he was between Dead Sea kiosks. He was impressed I had gotten out there without buy anything. He sales approach was more laid back and he said he doesn’t approach people unless they stop and start looking at his jewelry.

    The things is I really liked the product they were selling, although there is no way I’m going to spend the $100 she wanted for it. I’m sure I can find similar products online for a lot cheaper. Someone mentioned Wal-Mart. I may look there.

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  95. it never ceases to amaze me how these kiosks continue doing business. i mean, i live in hawaii, for christ’s sake. we are flea market people, yes. but these kiosk operators put us to shame.

    at the queen kaahumanu mall, we have only two levels, and probably less than fifty stores, and somehow we have dead sea people, hair crap people, toy people, and verizon people.

    the other day, i was stopped by a verizon salesperson, and asked about what provider i use. when i promptly answered, “yours.” and started to walk away, he stepped in front of me, i told him i had somewhere to be, and HE GRABBED MY ARM. i promptly told him i could easily terminate my service, and take my business elsewhere. therefore, i recommended that he let go of me (i say this loosely, as my words were really not as kind.)

    now, ill admit that i rather like the “hair crap”, but i definitely dislike the people that sell it. i know i let my eyes wander to their product as i passed by, but i was interested! so, i tried a little experiment. this sweaty, hairy, heavily accented man with literally no respect for personal space began his tedious sales pitch, and i listened respectfully. the base price, he said was $250. i told him i absolutely would not pay that much. so he proceeded to have his lovely assistant straighten my hair. which i rather enjoyed. when he told me he’d give me a student discount, and drop the price to $150, i told him it was still too much, and that i wasnt stupid. he made up some more crap about how he would only be able to offer me this deal for ONE DAY, but hed take it down to $100. at that time, my hair was finished, (and quite beautifully done, mind you) so i told him that i was more informed than he gave me credit for, and that i had seen this same brand and model on amazon for around $50. he looked incredibly disappointed, but offered to match the price. i smiled, but said i wasnt interested. and i swear, he looked ready to spit on me..

    this, i hope, can act as a testament to anyone that falls into the clutches of these people. if youre not interested, say so, damnit. and if you are, be sure to talk them down as much as possible. theyre trying to make a profit, but you work hard for every dollar you spend, and theres no reason to overpay.

    good luck out there! =)

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  96. went to apple store pre thanksgiving
    was stopped by every person
    at every cart
    enjoyed the attention

    did not buy

    fascinated by this practice

    the heating pad, the aroma,
    the salt sea people

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    amgar Reply:

    Went to Turtle Creek Mall (Mississippi) a couple of weeks ago. I was walking down the main hall of the mall in a military mindset, eyes straight ahead, when a man came out of the left grabbed me and held me tight against him.

    I was startled. I didn’t understand what he said until I realized he wanted to look at my nails so I showed him my fingers. He said ‘beauitful’. Then he let go, held up a buffer and said “something”. I told him no thank you and preceded to walk away and he was not happy about it.

    I went back to the mall today. I wanted to look at the product he tried so hard to sell me (it is Christmas time). So I get sucked in by the Israeli lady who knocks the price down to $30. I felt the escape door close. I bought it, and later felt stupid about it. I feel manipulated. The product is also pushing atheism and evolution. I just don’t trust the product and I feel lied to, manipulated, and uncared for.

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    car Reply:

    @secret shopper,
    Great poem!

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  97. Here in Texas, the dead sea kiosks are everywhere. If i’m just cruising the mall, with no where to go, I’ll usually walk on the second floor (that opens up to the ground below). There are usually less of the kiosks upstairs.
    .
    Also, there is a place in the mall that has a large group of the annoying kiosk sales people. When I’m heading up to the area, I usually pull my cell phone out of my pocket and put it up to my ear and pretend i’m on a call. When they see the phone, they usually don’t try to talk to me. If they do, I just give them a dirtly look and point to the phone. That does the trick.

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  98. Yep, I’ve had experience with these people, but I guess there’s something in my carriage that says, “I am trained to operate automatic rifles” that keeps the DeadSea people away. ;) My friend did get sucked in though: we were in the mall in Burlington VT and it was in front of Victoria’s Secret- I laughed to hear people talk about the nail buffer, because that’s what she got! What *he* (the Israeli guy) would have gotten from me would have been a lot less…pleasant, as I am really against being touched without permission, especially to hawk some crap product.
    I’ve also dealt with cell phone people in the Walden Galleria (Cheektowaga NY), but they were easily deflected by “no thank yous”, but that was before the whole “ECONOMY” thing blew up on us.
    Now I’m in Nova Scotia, and those “Hair Crap” people are out here with their less-than-sanitary practices, and the malls are getting more kiosks all the time it seems. I would agree that the kiosk-ing is worse in the States though.
    The rates for kiosks are usurious though: no wonder they are so aggressive with their sales pitches. Most of the stuff they have is shite, except for the old school ones who have, as one person described, the ‘wooden box’ with the employee inside: mostly jewellery places, Sunglass Hut, Second Cup etc.
    It’s kind of fun seeing how many different ways you can tell someone who’s being inappropriately aggressive in their sales bitch to bugger off though: can make for some good sport when you’re low on cash but high in need for entertainment. ;)

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  99. This article is terrific and even a year later it’s still very much relevant. It will be relevant next year too, I guarantee it.

    I don’t shop at the mall much nowadays but when I went to Roosevelt Field (NY) to do some Christmas shopping, the experience convinced me never to go to the mall again, and I intend to email mall management and tell them exactly why—

    Because of the hyper aggressive and rude salespeople at the kiosks. I am not exaggerating when I say that I could not walk more than ten feet without a kiosk salesperson yelling at me or shoving their wares into my face (“touch this! it’s so soft!” “Miss! try this on!” “what phone service do you use?” “is that your real hair color?” “Can I ask you a question?”). Being touched or grabbed at by these freaks is a definite no-no.

    I agree with others that going to the mall nowadays is no longer a relaxing or even a fun experience. Sadly, the benches and rest areas full of plants and fountains to look at are long gone, but the endless harassment from the overcrowded kiosks serves only to drive me away from the mall. Malls have turned the shopping experience into a very stressful and loud third-world bazaar and it’s disgusting. This is America, not the Middle East. I want to go back to the days when we were allowed to shop in peace and given a small modicum of respect by salespersons.

    If malls think kiosks is saving them extinction they are sorely mistaken. In a few years everybody will have grown tired of the endless harassment and stress and will gravitate toward shopping on the stress-free internet. Net sales grow by the billions every year and it won’t slow down.

    Soon, the malls will be out of business, their giant empty shells polluting suburban landscapes, and they will have only themselves to blame for their own demise.

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  100. I not really like when salespersons follow me everywhere, but i understand – it’s a job. I bought some stuff from kiosks, i have a hair iron and some dead sea product… They try to stop me all the time in the mall when I walk next to them, even 5 times in the same day (because they not remember me) and all the time i acting nice, even if i want to ignore… why? because be nice and give somebody smile -cost u nothing and give u nice feeling. I hate miserable people, they all the time have “ass-face” and very rude with everybody around, because they unhappy by themself and nobody like them. It’s sooo funny how some people scare that those salespersons gonna ask them… Just say”no, thank u, appreciate for offer” and that’s it!!! Is it so difficult? And they smile u back and tell “thank u, have a good day”. And it’s make u feel better than if u say “i not interesting about your crap”… It’s discusting!!! Be happy and smile ;)

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  101. It appears to me, in some areas at least, that the kiosks have had their day. In the three malls I frequent the most, I’d say that a good 50 to 60 percent of the kiosks have been removed. In one mall (the most up-scale) they have been replaced by places to sit and relax! It appears that the volume of complaints in only two years has forced mall management to re-think their strategy.

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    C Reply:

    @Mike,

    I agree. Aside from the complaints, I’m sure word has spread wide about these crooks to the point where even if someone has not personally not be victimized by these conpeople, they’ve heard or know of one or more people who has. I know I certainly did my good part in bitching about these sleazebags to anyone and everyone!

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  102. Horrible, obnoxious people. I’d clean toilets before I took a job harrassing people. I actually like to waste their time by stopping right in front of them and then completely ignoring them. I’ll slowly fumble around for something in my purse, pretending I can’t hear them. They keep trying to talk to me as long as I stand there, which can let up to 10 other people escape them while they futily try to get me to listen. Drives them nuts! I consider it community service work.

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  103. they are so smart.. they make good money while u guys makin 400 /week… no wonder jews are the smartest ppl on the planet.. they own holywood.. vegas.. miami..the media.. tv.. google.. facebook.. cnn.. 90% of the real estate in the us..name it.. jews own everything on the planet! so dont hate appreciate….. xoxoxox

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  104. They used to be in our mall until just recently, good riddance I must say.

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  105. SeaCret and the Dead Sea keosk. These people at Rockaway Mall, Rockaway, NJ are the most obnoxious.

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  106. This is a good reason I haven’t shopped at a mall in over 10 years. I have no need to overspend on products I can get cheaper at a non-mall store and not have to deal with people in my way.

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  107. If any person, male or female, grabbed my arm or did anything else of that kind, I would summon the police and file an assault complaint. Perhaps if enough of us made a very, very loud stink, they wouldn’t do those things anymore.

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  108. Today at the mall an Israeli from one of the kiosks came out real far (if I’m not mistaken I think they’re only supposed to stay within a 3 foot radius of their kiosk) to accost a Japanese tourist couple, he walked alongside them for awhile. What an ass like all of them are. The malls really need to get rid of them, they are intrusive, cross boundaries, pushy, in your face, rude beyond belief. Like the saying goes when in Rome do as the Romans do and they are now in AMERICA and that don’t fly over here.

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  109. I cant believe this country is allowing all of you here to write this things, I am ashame to be part of this conversation i had mistakenly got into, this “opinions” that you share is what makes people hate Americans and their “superior behavior”, you should all be ashame in yourselves, you are the worst of this country, you are the people who complain about everything that bumps in your way on your way to your boring lives, discriminating, generalizing, and abusing the fact that you been born here (or probably not even). and Mr Prange Way, you should be prosecuted for condemnation of bad reputation, you should not generalize, and defiantly when you have no idea on the subject. This “kiosk” people generate so much work in the retail industry, a sector that no “American” will ever take on themselves, do you have a better job to provide them? and what is the big deal over a person that try to stop you for making is living, credit card companies had been doing this for years, fast food offers samples- no one seems to complain about that, it is the foreign people that disturbs your minds, how come they are allowed to do this? why cant they just do business like anyone ells? you know why because they make more money this way then anyone of you could ever dream, and by the way most of “this people” are very honest, very reliable, very nice and extremely hard workers, it is people like you that should be blamed, weak, and easy to convince, if you don’t want it- don’t buy it, but DON’T blame the sales person!

    GET A LIFE!

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  110. I LOVE Dead sea products but hate to buy them at the mall.
    Online it is much cheaper and they usually ship them for free… websites such as deadseasecret.com make it up to 50% cheaper and without any annoying non English speakers

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  111. Love ‘em, hate ‘em, kiosks crowd mall during season

    By RICHARD MULLINS | The Tampa Tribune
    Published: December 11, 2011 Updated: December 11, 2011 – 12:00 AM

    TAMPA —
    All that Mehmet Kurar wants is to sell you a remote-controlled helicopter.

    With military precision, he can hover a copter just over the trash can outside the Aeropostale store at Westshore Plaza mall, and fly circles around his kiosk.

    Technically, however, he’s not even allowed to approach a shopper and say, “Hello. Come look at my helicopter.” Mall rules say he can’t walk more than a few feet from his kiosk. He’s not even allowed to fly his helicopters in the hallway by Maggiano’s and Starbucks where more shoppers walk by.

    “Too many people there, the mall won’t let us fly there,” said Kurar, an engineering student from Turkey on his second day selling in Tampa. “If I fly, people buy. I don’t fly, I don’t sell.”

    The holiday season is the Super Bowl for mall kiosks like these, and lately, shoppers are navigating through an ever-more-crowded course of kiosks selling sea salt lotions, magnetic bracelets, hair straighteners, fairy costumes and even teeth-whitening services while you wait.

    Malls have a love/hate relationship with such kiosks because they can bring in substantial rental revenue and seriously annoy shoppers during the busiest time of year.

    Some shoppers like Ericka Atkinson of Tampa have a mental list of malls to avoid, simply because of the aggressive hawkers.

    “Just don’t make eye contact with them,” Atkinson said. “That just makes you look like an open target. There’s one right around the corner there, the hair straightener place; they are always very aggressive coming up to me.”

    On one hand, mall companies love such kiosks.

    “The small retailer like them has been the story of America,” said University Plaza manager Thomas Locke. “Whether it’s selling fruit on the corner of Hell’s Kitchen in New York 60 years ago, or you’re selling (remote-controlled) helicopters in a mall, it’s a way to get into business and start your own way.”

    Kiosks bring in extra rent to a local mall, and kiosks can quickly bring in hot products and open in just a couple of weeks. If they flop, there’s no empty storefront to refill.

    Individual malls regularly decline to say how much money they make off kiosks, but there are some hints.

    The Taubman company, which runs International Plaza, said last year that revenue such as sponsorships, “specialty leasing” such as kiosks, and temporary tenants represented 12 percent of its operating income, and that segment is up 500 percent in the past 12 years.

    The trade magazine Specialty Retail Report recently tallied $8 billion in gross sales of products from kiosks, carts and temporary retail spaces in 2010.

    “Kiosks have become absolutely critical to malls,” said SRR Publisher Patricia Norins. By her estimate, there could be 100,000 kiosks operating at any one time, with apparel the No. 1 category and unique uses such as tattooing and teeth whitening becoming more popular. “This is space in a mall that before was not bringing in a dollar.”

    The most successful kiosks can graduate to a permanent storefront in the mall.

    While the Pandora jewelry company has locations around the world, the first Tampa location opened in a cart at International Plaza mall in what managers there call a “Retail Merchandizing Unit.”

    Eleganza Leather, Fly and Brow Art were all temporary spots before becoming permanent tenants there, too.

    At the same time, kiosks can drive shoppers nuts.

    “We have strict clauses that there will be no hawking, no stopping shoppers,” said Greg Lenners, manager of the Shops at Wiregrass Ranch mall in Pasco County. “Does it happen anyway? Well, you can have a cop on every corner, but that won’t work. You try to make the best effort you can to watch them.”

    Each mall has its own rules to handle hawkers.

    At the Wiregrass, kiosk employees must stay within one arm’s length of their physical kiosk and never even initiate a conversation. Violations can bring a $50 fine to a kiosk, or eventually ejection from the property.

    International Plaza does not have flying helicopter kiosks, partly because they don’t fit the mall’s luxury atmosphere, officials said.

    You’ll see more high-end jewelry and skin-care kiosks, and those selling brand names.

    “Any complaints we get from shoppers, we immediately address with the kiosk owner,” said Nina Mahoney, spokeswoman for International Plaza. “We have not renewed some leases based on that.”

    Part of this conflict is cultural, said Thomas Locke of University Plaza, because kiosk employees often come from other countries.

    “If you come here from Europe or the Middle East or South America, their way of doing business is totally different than what the American customer is used to,” Locke said. “Where they’re from, it’s every man for themselves and if you’re louder than the guy next to you, you get the sale.”

    In various malls Locke has managed, he’s seen helicopter operators terrify shoppers by zooming a copter across their path. He’s seen remote-controlled cars crash into baby strollers and lotion sellers squirt lotion on a shopper’s hands.

    Kiosks are especially annoying to established retailers in permanent spots, said Jim Kovacs, managing director retail services for Colliers Arnold in Tampa.

    “If the average shopper is spending $752 on Christmas purchases, and they spend $38 at a kiosk, that’s $38 they didn’t spend in an anchor store or boutique,” Kovacs said. “Every dollar counts.”

    Many retailers want clauses in their leases that expressly prohibit kiosks nearby, Kovacs said, but the financially healthier mall operators can push back and tell merchants that if they want to be in their mall, they’ll have to tolerate kiosks nearby.

    “Nobody goes to the mall looking for that thing at a kiosk,” Kovacs said. “These are impulse purchases, and it’s a numbers game. If they get in enough faces, someone’s going to say, ‘Show me more.’”

    All that said, kiosks thrive for one reason: Shoppers buy.

    “Where some malls used to have 20 kiosks, now they’ll have 30 or more,” said Pam Sabino, the specialty leasing manager at Westshore Plaza, which limits their mall to 18 kiosks or carts.

    Many American malls have removed fountains in common areas, and replaced them with space for kiosks and carts, she said, and malls under construction are being designed expressly with space for kiosks.

    For now, there’s no shortage of shoppers, either.

    Bob Vetter bought a $35 remote-controlled helicopter for his grandson Christopher during a trip to Westshore Plaza mall last week. “They even gave me 15 percent off,” Vetter said, showing off the shiny green copter. “It’s one thing crossed off my shopping list.”

    Darriel Williams bought a copter for her 3-year-old son, Cornelius. “Every single time I come to the mall with him, he asks for one,” Cornelius said. “So I waited until Christmas, and I’ll surprise him.

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  112. I do not have a problem with sales tactics and truly working to make money. I work in retail and have sales goals to make, so I understand it for the most part. What I don’t understand is how this one man at the Dead Sea Cosmetics kiosk here at my mall can sexually harrass me, telling me that I’m beautiful and he wants to go home with me. He asked me if I had a husband or a boyfriend and then touched my hair and tried to give me a hand massage.. I felt uncomfortable the whole time. He then managed to talk me into getting one fo the gift packs of the Dead Sea hand scrub and lotion, and told me not to tell anyone but he would only charge me $39 for something that was $99. I told him that was fine, but I didn’t have a lot of money because I was only there to drop off my AngelTree gift for a needy child at the Salvation Army. So I handed him my credit card (I didn’t carry any cash that day) and he asked me for my id while distracting me and not letting me see what he was up to. He was vague when I asked questions and never told me his name. He then told me that he would “give” me another one. I asked him how much and he never did answer me. He then distracted me again and slid my credit card a second time and then told me that he did me some fantastic service and he wanted a hug, after which he put his arms around me and proceeded to hug me. How unprofessional!! So then he handed me two slips and told me that he needed me to sign then, all while still peltering me with questions. It wasn’t until I looked down that I realized what had happened, so I tried to ask him about it and he blew it off and mouthed of some answer about, I charged you for this and this and this is tax and then gave me another hug. I walked away shaking my head and staggering because I didn’t even know how to react to what had just happened.. and I was supposed to already be on the road to go out of town.. was running late. So I ran to my car and called the mall while I was driving and shaking. I freaked out all weekend trying to figure out exactly what to do because I had never had this happen before to me. Now I’m having the College Station PD investigate and the mall is supposed to be investigating. What was suppose to be a mere $40 purchase turned into $108 and a weekend of freaking out and worry. Because of this guy, I was unable to pay my cell phone bill, and so now it has been cut off and now I have to ask my parents for money to get me through to the next paycheck. Being a student who is not normally supported by her parents makes for a relatively poor college student who does not have a lot of extra money for some idiot to steal! I went to the mall to do a good deed for a needy child and I was scammed! Go figure! I HATE the holidays!

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  113. New york city has passed aggressive solicitation laws because of people sellinf cd’s of their music. I think these people need to knock this shit off period, in malls, at fairs, at flea markets every where. I dont give a crap about what their culture is any one can have the common sense to analyse right and wrong even in their own culture. They KNOW damn well their in a forign country. And they know damn well what their doing is wrong even back home. The diference is back there they get a pass because the culture is screwed up when it comes to that particular activity. There is no reasion what so ever to pander to these people or that kind of mentality. All evil needs to succede is for good people to do nothing. I suggest another way to get rid of this crap is a petition on change.org that can be very efective.

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  114. I know this article is a couple years old now, but I had my first encounter with a Dead Sea Cosmetics kiosk at the Northshore Mall in Peabody, MA yesterday. Honestly with all the questions he was asking me I was actually worried more about identity theft then buying his product. The guy said he was from Israel and asked me where I was from so I lied to him about that and he asked my name and age too, so I was pretty scared. He kept me there for like 10 minutes buffering my nails and tried to sell me this pack of three lotions for first 49.99 then 35.00 after I said no. I managed to escape without buying anything but while leaving he still tried to get me to write down my name so he might be able to contact me again, but by that time I was already far enough way to act like I was preoccupied with something else. And yea he and his co worker just watched me as I walked away for like 3 minutes flat, and I ended up exiting out the opposite side of the building to which I was parked.

    These people are extremely aggressive and they will say anything to get you to buy their crap. If you get pulled in just remember that you do not need to waste your money just to get them to stop pestering you, just try to keep calm and leave when you get your opportunity.

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  115. I’m a 39-year-old male, and live near Beaumont, Texas. A couple of times a year, I like to go to Houston for a day of fun and relaxation. The last two trips have included a stop at the Galleria to walk around and people watch. During my last visit in May, I was approached by a kiosk girl but I declined and walked on by. I could not believe what happened the next time I walked by that kiosk (and the Galleria is loaded with them, by the way). The same girl had the nerve to ask me “did you come back for me, honey?” Pardon me for saying, but I could have thrown up right there. I wanted to say “don’t flatter yourself” but who knows what that would have led to.

    Anyway, I’d say the kiosk scene in our mall in Beaumont is pretty low-key. The only one I have a strategy for getting around is the Seacret/Dead Sea one. For most of this year, it has been easy, because the kiosk was staffed strictly by men, and I was able to walk by without even a look. However, in the last two to three weeks, they’ve brought in a couple of girls to work there as well. Because of what happened in Houston, I get sick to my stomach every time I walk by there. My two favorite ways to get by are 1.) pretending I’m on my cell phone and 2.) listening to my iPod – they don’t seem to bother me when I have my headphones on or my earbuds in.

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  116. Unfortunately having your earphones in and listening to music doesn’t always do the trick – one of the Dead Sea kiosk guys stopped me and grabbed my hand and led me to his booth. If this was now I swear I’d shove him with full force and cause all his merchandise to fall to the ground.

    And I just looooooooove how a few here are defending them, implying we’re racist Americans or something! First off, not all of us are Americans, and second, whenever Americans are abroad and act in an unbecoming way they are labeled “Ugly Americans” – well they’re not the only ones by far, as these booths are manned by a lot of “Ugly Israelis”!!!

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  117. The Israeli Dead Sea salts girls and guys are like a plague at just about every mall I’ve been to in PA and Northern VA. Their salespeople are typically attractive and fit early to mid-20 something Israelis (often fresh out of compulsory IDF duty) who enter the country on student visas, work (unlawfully) at these kiosks for a few months while sharing an apartment and a car with several others. Both sexes are utterly shameless with marks of the opposite sex. They will fawn, harrass, invade your personal space, brush up against you with their boobs, admire (and touch) various parts of your physique, and then tell you how your skin/nails etc. are sub-par and need to be improved with their grossly expensive products. These young people can make up to $500-800 a day during, say, the Christmas holidays, though I hear a more typical net take for several months in the US (after expenses) is around $800-1000 a week. They’re a pain, and they’re generally working illegally, but at the same time one has to admire their incredible drive and entrepreneurial spirit. If they’re bothering you, ignore them or tell them sternly to leave you alone. If I have time, I might play with the pretty girls for a bit (and they are almost always very pretty), play the negotiation game (they start at say $100, I offer $10, and then go up in small increments to say $20), and wear them out until they give up. It’s kind of a sport.

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  118. I’m ashamed to admit that I have also fallen for one of the “pretty boy” sales kiosks – specifically in Perimeter Mall in Atlanta.

    I’m a 20-something gay man, and I guess he must have seen the rainbow bracelet that was peeking out of my long sleeve shirt, but this *incredibly* attractive and muscular latino guy stepped over from one of those lotion/dead sea/scrub your skin kiosks, and asked if he could apply some lotion to my hands. Not having anything else to do, I said sure.

    I did not know he would “apply” it to my hands by pressing up to me from behind and speaking lowly into my ear, partially in spanish.

    Down went the defenses, out came the wallet, and my bank account was $85 lighter for stuff I could have purchased in Bath and Body Works for much less.

    Ah well. Lesson learned.

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  119. Still going on at the Burlington Mall in Mass. Terrible experience with the flat iron kiosk this week. mall security made it worse by not knowing procedure to give me information on how to resolve conflict with vendor.

    Mall spokesperson said they do not check CORI forms of kiosk employees. Creepy since they are approaching young teenage girls. Mall aslo acted like they didn’t know that the kiosks were a problem. Hey I found tons of complaints after 15 minutes on the internet.

    Filed complaint with Attorney General, BBB and others.

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  120. I’m a little late on this post as I just found it while looking for something else but wanted to share some info.
    What these people do is referred to as ‘hawking’ and it’s not permitted in any mall I know of. However, they obviously don’t so it when a member of mall management can see. They usually have a 2 foot rule that they can’t cross as well as having to stop once you say no.
    If it happens to you and you feel harassed, stop by the mall management or security office. You can also contact mall management through their website usually. Trust me, they want you to be happy and spending….. Not annoyed and harassed. They issue warnings, then fines, sometimes even pull the kiosks permission to operate in the mall.
    Hope this helps someone

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  121. I remember when Collin Creek Mall in Plano TX had that big fountain in the middle of the mall and a smaller fountain near Macy’s, those are both since gone. One was replaced with soft seating area which I never care for. Looks like someone built a living room in the mall. The other fountain was covered up and a small fountain, which is boring as can, is in the center of the mall. Not only that the original tile is gone and has been replaced with cheap stuff. Most, if not all of the landscaping is gone. They need to bring back the big fountain and turn it into a dancing fountain but without the music and make it where they change the fountain now in then.

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  122. Just the other day@the mall I pretended to be on my phone when gearing up to pass by the kiosk vultures…unfortunately either they don’t give a damn or are on to people faking being on the phone because the stupid guy was right in my face and hooting and hollering and gesticulating trying to get my attention and make me stop. I just passed him by and flicked my hand at him dismissively like you would do with a pesky insect….next time I hope to be in a ballsy enough mood to give the F finger!

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