REMEMBER THE LAST time a snotty store clerk snubbed you in that fancy shop? And remember how you consoled yourself by saying that he wouldn't last long in the service industry with that kind of attitude toward potential customers?

Well think again.

A newly published study has found that people actually spend more at stores where the salespeople treated them in a rude manner.

"It appears that snobbiness might actually be a qualification worth considering for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci," researcher Darren W. Dahl, of the University of British Columbia, explains. "Our research indicates they can end up having a similar effect to an 'in-group' in high school that others aspire to join."

The study, published in the October edition of the Journal of Consumer Research and conducted by Dahl and marketing professor Morgan Ward of Southern Methodist University, had two sets of subjects take part in a mock sales transaction with actors playing sales clerks. In one case, the "salespeople" met the subjects with sniffy looks and icy disdain, while the other set had a more typical experience that was neither too friendly or unfriendly.

Afterward, the subjects were then asked to rate how much they'd pay for the products in the store. The customers who got the cold shoulder wanted them more, and were willing to spend 10 percent more than the others—much as you wanted most to join the high-school cliques that wouldn't have you.

"We are pack animals. We don't want to be rejected by any groups," Ward told USA Today.

That seems to contradict the recent trend of retailers like Prada and Hermès, who started going to pains to treat hoi polloi walk-in customers with smiles and warmth as they attempted to weather the recession, and to suggest that they ought to "snob on."

But Ward and Dahl's findings had interesting caveats for would-be sales elitists. For one, the snobby-clerk effect only took place with luxury, not mass-market brands, which didn't tickle customers' aspirational fancies. Or, as Grouch Marx once said: "I don't care to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."

For another, if the salesperson didn't look like an authentic representative of the brand—say selling $1,800 John Lobbs while wearing ratty bobos—then his haughty words fell on deaf ears and didn't make the brand any more desirable.

And finally, the researchers note, the effect wore off after two weeks.

So if you're dealing with an arrogant twerp of a sales man who thinks you're not worth his time, don't show him who's boss by whipping out your credit card—and rewarding him with a big, fat commission. Instead, take a deep breath, leave the store, and come back to buy what you really want (that is, if you still want it) two weeks later.

Or better yet, just shop online.

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