There are plenty of fine kiosk merchants at malls. The calendar people are great – you poke around looking for calendars, stop occassionally to ask where one is located, but your calendars, and leave. Essentially, an ideal customer experience.

Then there are the stalker merchants.

These tend to be lotion sellers. They will stray far from their kiosk in an attempt to lure customers (women) in. At first, my wife and I were a bit annoyed by them, but simply altered our path so that we veered sharply toward the edge of the mall walkway to avoid them. We were walking literally a foot from the edge of mall walkway (right next to the “regular” stores). The message really should have been quite clear – we were not interested in buying products from these folks.

They began to stalk us to the edge. One one occassion, there was a mild verbal altercation.

What kind of crazy people do this? If I am actively trying to avoid you, engaging in harassing behavior is probably not going to turn me into a customer.

That is when my wife discovered an interesting fact. The mall office actually did care about this. Not only that, but there was specific language in the merchant leases that forbid this sort of aggressive behavior, with fines for violation.

If you encounter this sort of behavior, fight back.

– Call the mall office, or visit them in person. The office is usually tucked away in a hidden corner of the mall (obviously, the mall operators don’t want to waste the prime retail slots on their offices), but it should be on the directory.

– If multiple people were affected, multiple people should complain. It is great to say that five people were in the group that was harassed, but having five different phone calls will leave a sttronger impression.

– Describe the incident accurately and honestly. It should not be necessarily to embellish your story, and these embellishments could get you into hot water. Stick to the facts.

– Describe how this may affect your future shopping habits. If there is a competing mall (with different management) in your metro area, the suggestion that you may shift shopping to that mall may hit home with the mall operators.

– If you continue to experience the harassing behavior, call back. Keep track of dates and times.

I was at the mall today. As I veered to avoid the lotion people, I realized that they were no longer there. Perhaps the merchant simply decided not to renew their lease … but I like to think that the mall non-renewed them because of their behavior.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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