When did the customer stop being right?

                                                             *** WARNING – WHINGY POST***

I’m often told that I’m relentlessly chirpy, and that my cheerfulness irritates people first thing in the morning (in one job, there was a guy in IT who used to call my department a couple of times a week, who would hang up if I answered, because he found me that annoying. But he was a miserable sod, so I try not to dwell on it). I often blame my bubbliness on the fact that I worked in retail for a good while – my way of thinking was (and still is) that it doesn’t matter what’s happening in my personal life, it’s not the fault of customers or colleagues, so it should be left at the door. I would therefore like it noted that I DO know what it’s like to be having a terrible day, compounded by having to work.

However, when I am a customer, I expect to be treated with a certain amount of common courtesy, which has been (by and large) lacking in my recent experience. This blog post is an open letter to the people and companies whose customer service has riled me in the last month. (I would just like it noted that I love all of the retailers mentioned in this post, and most of the time, I am treated very nicely indeed, which is possibly why these instances annoyed me so much.)

To the two girls working behind the counter in my local branch of Dorothy Perkins – I honestly couldn’t care less that you went out over Christmas and got absolutely hammered. I also don’t give a flying fig that one of you fell over, with legs flailing so fast you looked like a cartoon character, and had to be helped up by your equally intoxicated friends. What I DO care about is that when I have the nerve to interrupt your conversation because I want to buy something and, you know, give management a reason to keep you gainfully employed whilst you work through your A levels (although you’re right, doing no coursework over the Christmas holidays won’t have done you any favours), please have the decency not to look at me as though I’m something that you’ve scraped off the bottom of your shoe. And, if I ask you a question about the item that I’m buying, please do not sigh and roll your eyes at each other – I don’t know the answer, or I wouldn’t have asked.

To ASOS, the online retailer that I returned a bag (a faulty Christmas present) to – if you’re too busy to reply to my lovingly crafted letter (enclosed with my return) then that’s fine. I understand that you must get lots of returns every day, so automatically refunding my account when I made it clear that I would like an exchange is ok too (the bag purchased was out of stock, and after Christmas, I imagine that you’re too busy to ring and offer an alternative – I genuinely mean this, I’m not being sarcastic). What is not acceptable, however, is that when I order a replacement bag (same style, different colour), you send out one that has been ordered by someone else, used and then returned to you. I do not wish to find someone else’s hair woven into the fur on the replacement bag, nor do I expect to find the (cream) shearling material dyed grey where it has rubbed up against someone else’s clothes. Please quality check the items you sent out.

To Boohoo, the online shopping store that is the love of my life. I’m sorry, but your customer service is, a lot of the time, dreadful (your customer services twitter account is great; it’s monitored most of the time, replies are fast, and very informative – I just wish that you put as much effort into your customer emails). The amount of times that I have waited a week (5 working days) for a reply is ridiculous. Sending out incomplete orders, not replying to emails querying the missing items, and finally sending out a generic ‘out of stock – you’ve been refunded’ message is unacceptable, and having seen your Facebook page, I know that I’m not the only one to have had these problems. Your approach seems to be to speed-read an email, pick out certain words, then to simply pick an email template to send out – this is NOT good customer service. People love a personalised response. The fact that you have no phone number for customers to call is something that I struggle to understand too – perhaps if people could call and get an immediate answer to their question, you wouldn’t have to wade through acres of increasingly irate emails to find the original query, and I would imagine that the rate of bitchy Facebook posts and tweets would be dramatically reduced. And asking me to review an item that was never received, then editing my review so it looks as though I was raving about your awesomeness? Not cool.

And, finally:

To the staff at my local (ish) New Look. Your customer service during the busy sales period was nothing short of awesome. That’s right, I can criticise with the best of them (see here for my previous New Look related issue), but I love to give credit where it’s due. The gift cards that were burning a hole in the lining of my bag crashed your systems twice, stopping all of the store’s tills from accepting gift cards, but instead of complaining or whinging, you kept smiling. You all apologised to me, before asking me to pop back once you’d rebooted the tills. Despite the queues snaking to the door by the time I crashed the tills for the second time, you didn’t make me feel rushed, and although your stress levels must have been through the roof, you didn’t let me see. When I offered to pay cash, you told me to pop in the next time I was in town with my receipt, when you would give me a refund, and put the money onto the gift cards. Thank you, thank you, thank you for restoring my faith high street customer service.

Does anyone else have customer service issues? Or do you think that I’m being a bit unfair, and letting my disappointment at being bagless colour my judgement?

In other news, the mortgage advisor that myself and The Boy saw didn’t ask me who Dorothy Perkins was, and why she gets so much of my money. Unfortunately, we’ve been told to shop around, and have an appointment with someone else next week, and I’m not sure that I’ll be lucky twice.

Also, if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me @FashionFarewell.

UPDATE: I returned my second bag to ASOS this week, and I realised once I’d sent it (I like to think it was just as the post van left the kerb outside the post office, but then I’ve always had a penchant for the dramatic) that I’d left the returns form on my desk. Not in the box, where you would expect to find it. I spoke to two very lovely, very helpful girls who work in the customer service department, and I would therefore like to retract part of my previous statement. They were fast at replying, didn’t laugh at my stupidity, and promised to do everything they could to get a replacement sent, even though the item was out of stock. So, ASOS, I’m sorry for besmirching your good name (although I’d still like you to quality check things before you send them). As you were.

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