Friday, December 12, 2008

Customer Service

Edited to add: photo of the J.Jill jacket. I found a picture I could scan in.

I recently had 2 very different customer service experiences involving exchanges at 2 different yet related stores that reminded me of Deja Pseu's recent post on shopping.

Often I'll order goods from a store's website and return it at my local brick-and-mortar store. Nothing at all wrong with that--it's allowed by store policy and often results in increased sales when the customer is physically present and can see the other pretties they have.

Last week, a leather tote bag I'd ordered from Talbot's was delivered. Lovely bag...just very pink. What the heck was I thinking??? Since I would be in the neighborhood, I decided to take it to the local Talbot's for an exchange. The sales associate was very polite but gave me a massive hassle about it.

  • First, she told me that there was a price difference between the pink bag and the red bag I wanted. Well, there was no price difference. None. They were new inventory, the same style, just different colors. Not only was each and every color of this bag the same price, the website also had a 30% off sale going, which was reflected in the price I had paid. Shouldn't she have known that?

  • Second, that particular evening featured a special in-store event for customers. Everything at 30% off. I knew this, because I had received an e-vite. Nope, it was a "private event" by invitation only, according to her. I advised her that I had been invited and she asked who had invited me. "Talbot's," I said, "I received an e-vite." She gave me the gimlet eye like I was lying...until, finally, another associate told her this was correct. Mind you, there is 30% off signage all over the store, so how private could the sale be? So she decided to "do me a favor" and give me 30% off on the red bag even though the sale had "officially" not yet started. Umm hmmm. It was like, 5:55 pm and the event ran from 6:00-8:00 pm.

Like I said, very polite, yet I felt totally run through the mill by this treatment. So much so, that after taking the tote to my car and returning to the store for the "private event", I let myself be poached by another associate for 2 additional items I decided to buy. Too bad, sweetie! That's what you get for being a tool. And you'll never wait on me again if I can help it.

I'm still appalled. And I thought Talbot's was famously customer-centric. It will make me reluctant to exchange at the store again, or really, to even shop there. I guess I'll stick to the website.

By contrast, I recently exchanged another item at Talbot's sister label, J.Jill. I had ordered a suede jacket at a deep discount in my usual size. It fit like a glove, maybe too much so. I should have ordered a Small and a Medium. Anyway, since I wanted the option of wearing it with sweaters and after the holidays, I went to the local store to see if they had a Medium. Again, the associate was unfailingly polite, but this time she was also extremely helpful! No Medium jacket at the store. I explained that it had been purchased online, so off we went to the concierge station, aka the PC. Nope, none in the warehouse either. Then she did a search of all J.Jill stores in the entire US and located one in New Hampshire! She called, and a Medium is now on its way to me. Plus, the shipping fee is only $5.95 with delivery direct to my home. I know this was a bit of a hassle for her, but I felt very well taken care of.

Even though I generally don't like the J.Jill line as well as Talbot's, I'll definitely shop their brick-and-mortar store again. If you had told me that J.Jill would have superior customer service, I wouldn't have believed it. But there you are.


ACorgiHouse said...

And I thought I was the only one who had these odd interactions with salespeople! But I do like that bag, I'm off to the website.... K

Annika said...

Isn't it amazing how one bad salesperson can ruin your future expenditures? There's a fabric store where the salesladies look at every customer like they are shoplifters! I finally had to give up going there, even though I had actually been a teacher at a another branch of the same chain.