Thursday, September 1st, 2011


Customer Service is King

In today’s world of social media and 24/7 communication, bad customer service stories get around all too easily and then they spread like wildfire.  I’m not sure enough businesses realize that customer service extends beyond prompt shipping and receipt of intact, as-ordered products.  Good customer service is about the total experience:  from the minute I step into your store (or office, retail front, website, etc.) until I’ve come home with my purchases (or service has been rendered).  The older I get, the less tolerant I am of shoddy customer service.  I really do appreciate being treated like a human being, and it is surprising the effect one bad experience can have on your entire view of a business.

I keep seeing some of the same mistakes made by businesses–both large and small–and here is some advice that would make me, as a customer, feel good about purchasing from you:

  • Transparency is underrated.  If there is a problem, please be upfront about it.  If a code is broken, your Facebook app doesn’t work, or you’ve oversold a product, acknowledge it.  Acknowledge the mistake from the beginning rather than attempting to cover it up.  If there is an ongoing problem, consider regular status updates and spend more time providing real information than promises on when something might be fixed if there really isn’t a solid ETA.  You would be surprised at how far the mere act of acknowledgement will go–especially with big businesses that cannot always react as quickly and fluidly as customers would like.
  • Privacy is extremely important.  Keep customers’ personal identifiable information private–it’s personal, and customers are entrusting you with their data and information for a particular purpose.
  • Blaming customers is never the right path.  Sometimes customers can be wrong, but in reality, going on a public form, whether it’s a person’s blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. is not making the company look good.  Part of the costs of doing business is dealing with bad customers, sometimes cutting them loose because they become too expensive to keep, but also recognizing that for the few bad customers (like the ones who report missing items that weren’t or always do questionable returns), there are many more that are good and honest.
  • Accept bad reviews with grace.  Not everyone is going to love your product/service/business.  If you truly have a good business and feel like you’re doing all the right things, it will show.  Just because one person has a poor experience with your product/service doesn’t mean it will be true of others.  However, if you start harassing people who give you negative reviews, you might find the backlash is far worse than one bad write-up.   After hearing from readers who posted negative reviews on various retailers’ websites and not having them posted (but their positive reviews went through just fine), I became much, much more jaded about the weight and value of reviews on retailer websites.
  • Don’t be afraid to apologize.  Sometimes a forthright, on-time apology is all that is needed or can greatly mollify frustrated customers until something is resolved.  Just don’t abuse it–you can’t keep making the same mistakes and expect an apology to suffice.

We often regale friends and family members with stories of poor customer service, while too often forgetting to recognize incidents of excellent customer service.  We should do both; we should warn others against businesses that practice poor or questionable ethics, fail to address customer concerns and problems adequately and efficiently, and ones that are simply rude or dismissive of customers, but we should remember to give praise to the businesses we love to shop at because of how we feel at the end of the experience.

Feel free to share your tips for excellent customer service or share a story of superior customer service!

What prompted me to write this… 

A recent experience that prompted this post:

This is not a story of the worst customer service I’ve received, but it is an experience that made realize how important it is to leave a customer feeling good if you want them to return.  Recently, I placed an order for two beauty products.  I received shipping confirmation via e-mail for one product, and I assumed the other would follow (perhaps back ordered).  When I received the package, I was curious as to why I hadn’t yet received any word about the second product.  I waited a few more days, and then I called the retailer.  The customer service representative made me feel like liar from the beginning.  Their solution was if I really did not receive the product then I should file a claim with my credit card company (well, bank in my case).  

The retailer made me feel distrusted from the beginning–and I am sure there are certainly those who order and claim lost, stolen, missing products when they were not–but as a customer who honestly received half of their order, I was frustrated.  This nonsense took over a week to resolve, and then I had to spend three hours trying to get through to my bank to file a claim.

I contrasted this experience and overall treatment to one I had a year or two earlier with another retailer.  I had ordered two pairs of shoes, and for whatever reason, the shipper left them at the doorstep (they are not supposed to here), and the box was subsequently stolen.   I called the retailer once I found out, and they immediately shipped out the same two pairs of shoes overnight–no additional charges.  They said they would take it up with the shipper and not to worry.  I left that experience going, “What? Really? Just like that?

This experience happened a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been waffling on whether to write something about it, but after some of the recent debacles (see this, this, and this), I decided to.  I felt distrusted and unappreciated at one retailer, while the other made me feel like I was not only valued but trusted.  This is exactly why I often support local shops, love the farmers’ market, and be willing to pay more for the product/service if I know the customer service benefits will more than make up for it (easy returns, friendly represetnatives, knowledgeable representatives, etc.).

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115 thoughts on “Customer Service is King

  1. I recently posted about some of the best customer service I had the benefit of with Kiehl’s. http://cherrysuedointhedo.blogspot.com/2011/08/kiehls-loving-their-work.html. Truly astounding.
    Some of the worst has been from a direct grocer recently, we (3000 of us?) bought vouchers almost a month ago but not one of us have heard a dickeybird since.
    You are 100% right about responsibility and communication being key. This company has posted 2 status updates on FB since with no direct emails, group or not. Customer service is fairly easy to get right but extremely difficult to get this wrong and as you say people are so much more likely to spread the woe x

  2. all good points, christine!

    for me, greeting customers is really important. a few months ago, i stepped into a MAC store and was not acknowledged by ANY staff. i knew what i wanted and was simply standing there waiting for someone’s help. an SA looked right at me, walked past and acknowledged another customer who was standing around, just like i was. i simply turned around and walked out; i wasn’t going to put up with such shoddy customer service.

    it seems like such a simple thing to do, but being acknowledged as a customer (even just a smile and a hello) makes a difference.

    • Liza Marie

      The same EXACT thing happened to me, also at a MAC store. So infuriating. After five minutes I just marched down to the Macy’s MAC counter and they treated me wonderfully. Never went back to the MAC store.

    • Naomi

      The same thing happened to me at a MAC Store in the Queens Center Mall. I walked in with my friend and I was swatching lipstick and some liners; no one came up to us when we walked in or while I was browsing. One guy came from behind the counter where at least eight other MAs were standing looked right at us, turned away and walked down to the front to greet two Caucasian girls who ended up walking right out. I even glanced at the MAs to see if someone would help me but they were too busy laughing and chatting among themselves. I was going to purchase the items I tried and some other items that I knew I wanted but I was too appalled by their snooty customer service.

      • Jillian

        Same thing happened to me in MAC stores here in Canada! Except in Canada, we have MAC counters in our department store called the Bay, and then regular MAC stores of course. The ladies at the MAC counters in the Bay have always been friendly and helpful, whereas ones in several MAC stores I’ve been to haven’t been as friendly or welcoming.

        I find it interesting how this “MAC Snootiness” has permeated multiple countries.

        • Maria Clara

          This is really funny, but true, indeed. I live in Brazil and here MAC is known for it’s snooty salespersons. lol

        • Avatar of Mariella Mariella

          Like Jillian, I am also in Canada and have found the MAC SAs at The Bay to be friendly and “normal” but my experiences in the MAC stores has been pretty positive too – the only ones I’ve been to are on Bloor St. in Toronto and on rue Ste. Catharine in Montreal and I found the staff really friendly (the SA at Bloor has the same first name as me and when someone called her name, we both answered – it was actually quite funny and maybe that broke the ice…). In these economic times, you would think all companies would realize that aloofness toward any customer is just plain STUPID! One reason I like Sephora – their staff has obviously been trained to welcome customers and treat them like they matter.

    • I rarely shop at my local MAC here in San Diego now because I had the same experience over and over again. I would walk in, no one would greet me, I would stand near something I wanted to try or get…finally when someone help me they would be unfriendly, they made me feel anxious and like I wasn’t good enough for these products. So I pretty much never go to MAC now.

      • breeoxd

        I feel your pain ladies, but I was in the Times Square Mac yesterday and even with a million people there, I had 3 employees ask me if I needed help. I am more of a poke around no help sort of shopper, so I said no, but about 15 minutes later, another associate came up, bringing another one with her and begged to know my nail polish color, if they were my natural nails, how I did it etc. It was so nice to have a FRIENDLY staff. Then the lady went above and beyond helping me find the best colors for my budget. Fantastic!

        • Avatar of Karine Fiaspice

          I had a diferent experience at that MAC store last week. I took the oportunity of beeing in NYC to get some MAC stuff. There was like 3 customer in the store and I had to seek for someone and that worker just started chatting away with her friend. Hey, I’m here and want to buy products! I told her my list and sh suddenly tells me Pro Longwear are discontinues. I was like WTH, I saw them in Canada before leaving so I tough it was US only. So I got only eye shadow and pigment. On my way home, I stopped at a Macy’s with MAC counter and of course they had Pro Longwear. The lady in Times Square could at least said she didn’t had them in stock, not mislead me.

          • They might be on the discontinued list (I don’t know, though) – given that Styledriven is bringing out ALL permanent long-wear products, so they might be replacing those. Not sure but it is possible they’re actually discontinued now!

      • Naomi

        There seems to be a trend in the type of people MAC hires to sell their products or either train their workers to sell their products or maybe its just the feeling of working at MAC that makes the workers feel superior; anyway it isn’t right.

        If someone does come to provide service at MAC they are usually really pushy and just want to make a sale.I am not saying that this is all MAC workers but it is a large majority. I’ve heard lots of people who have MAs they talk with who are like friends.

        The only place I purchase their products are online (which has always been my preferred method cause I hate clustered stores)or at the pro store (where I find people tend be more considerate and not pushy since it is a more professional environmental).

        Also I’d like to thank you Christine because if it were not for people like you, who show product swatches,giving reviews as well as recommendations, it wouldn’t be as easy to shop especially when you can not test the products out yourself.

    • Christian

      Ditto to the many others who’ve experienced this at freestanding MAC stores. I’ve even had one such bad experience where after NOT being acknowledged and having to track down a MUA in the store after 5 minutes to get me one of the new Cremeblend blushes and him being super apathetic and looking annoyed at me, I opened it at home I found that he sold me one of the OLD Blushcreme blushes! I was so annoyed when I had to go back to the store to return it that I actually mentioned it to the store manager since that same MUA has been rude to me a few times before too. The manager ended up being SO NICE and even commented that she knew exactly which employee I was talking about and said that she’s been meaning to have a talk with him about his attitude. I felt very redeemed at that moment and acknowledged that I would NOT WRITE OFF this free standing MAC store just because of one bad employee. :)

      • Avatar of Mariella Mariella

        You raise a good point. If more of us would complain about rude service, to the store manager or by contacting MAC directly with info about which store, which employee, etc. I do think things would change! But we have to speak up. These rude SAs who judge by appearance have no way of knowing if you’re going to spend 20 bucks or 200 bucks on a purchase and even if you aren’t spending much, your money is STILL important and your business is STILL important. We consumers need to speak up to store managers, to customer service reps, etc.

        • Debra

          I might just do that this weekend. The MAC counter (of course, it’s huge) at Nordies is adjacent to Bobbi Brown and a few other brands that I like to look at. There is one sales girl(I won’t dignify her by calling her an associate) that is SO abrasive that I have to circle around the counter the other way to get to where I want to go. She has yanked me away from another counter to show me the latest whatever.

          I just look at her as if to say, “You rude crude thing.” She even annoys the other MAC associates who are very pleasant and helpful. One bad apple, that’s for sure, and so I’ve gone home to purchase MAC online if she is there. And she’s there a lot.

  3. Amen to that. Between NYX and this whole Julep nonsense it makes you want to rethink your loyalties. Luckily there ARE some brands that take pride in their customer service, and we can all continue to shop there while the brands who DON’T care about the customer can fail.

  4. I feel bad that we rarely mention our good customer service experiences, but I recently had an awesome experience with BeautyBar.com that is a bit too long to explain in a comment. If you don’t mind, I’ll leave a link to where I wrote about it on my blog- http://lacqueredpaintedpolished.blogspot.com/2011/08/awesome-customer-service-makes-me-happy.html

  5. beachgal

    I agree…not how to deal with cust. service. Gosh I just had to call HSN today to cancel and AD that I already cancelled but it for some reason had 2 of the same items ordered so while one got cancelled a while back, this other that I never got to begin with (as in never signed up for 2 different orders of same product)…anyhow…not an issue at all. They could not have apologized less than 8 times and very friendly about it. Also, heard today (and not surprised) again negative issues about the pyramid thing with Julep Maven program. The comp. LOST via a glitch the credits for all those who signed up using another person’s code. Now Julep wants the top tier person to provide Julep with all the names of the folks that signed up under their code to fix it other wise bite it and go away basically is the attitude. Well Julep knows this campaign was Social Media and blog driven…who knows the names of these folks – and how to ask if you did use my code who will catch that burst and even more so, follow through to get hold of Mavin? Mavin, this is an easy thing – any 7th grade kid can set up a program to issue a code to each person and track who signs up under that code and have it track. Glitch? Come on. That’s what backing up is for and also IT to tell right away a program is not working or a site is down. I don’t like pyramid sales at all. This one was all over like wild fire and as you said, so tell will be the many disappointed folks who signed up and know 6-10 others signed up. Then one person showed off all they got back in free product from their Maven points – TACKY! You get it, keep it, review it, but don’t say I got all this stuff cause of this pyramid scheme – thanks for using my code folks! Those that never have anyone follow them, loose their code, don’t like to push programs in other faces feel ripped off looking at the haul this person got for free because they are popular and got a bunch to sign up for the program. Distasteful in both counts – the glitch and many lost out on credits due to them – then the one who did not get their credits lost showing off their free haul because of so many using her code and she ended up with like 14 free polishes. Just say, I have these and which shades would you like to see first and leave it at that! Don’t make the little guy who never gets anyone to sign up under them feel bad. Both are recent indications of really bad CS – and one I started with the right way to do it!

  6. It is so hard to find good customer service at a Mac counter in Michigan. Most of them act like they are too busy to talk unless the first thing out your mouth indicates you are going to absolutely buy something. The best customer service I have received from a Mac counter is the one in Oakland Mall in Troy,MI by a MA name Catherine. It was at the end of November last year around my b-day and I wanted to get matched to my first Mac foundation. That night she was super busy but she took time out to greet everyone and was very kind. When I told her what I wanted she sat me down and indicated she was going to finish up with another customer first. When she was with the customer she kept assuring me and everyone else she was gonna be with us. When she got to me, she took her time and tried to match me to a shade that was absolutely perfect. When she found it, they were out! (Just my luck lol). Anyways she made up a sample and apologized continuously and told me when to come back on a day when they get shipments. She also took time to suggest different lipsticks and lipglasses to compliment my complexion. During all of this, it was still busy and I was impressed how she made me feel like I was the only customer around. I bought Amber Russe lipgelee that night. Catherine is the only Mac MA that I buy from since that day. I have been in customer service for about 10 years and I suggest to be kind and courteous to every customer and even if you are busy take time out to make every customer feel special like they are the only ones there.

    • Liza Marie

      You know, you just gave me an idea. Just going in and (politely) announcing you are going to buy something. That way maybe they will offer to help you? Being socially awkward/very shy in general (in my case) might make this hard work, but it is worth a try.

      • Avatar of Evelyn Evelyn

        You could do that but you shouldn’t have to, it’s their job to come up and greet you and see if you need help otherwise Mr. Boss should hire some workers who actually work for their pay. I’d have to say I agree with people complaining about MAC stores, I had the same experience but MAC counters in Macys for example give better service. As a customer I would probably buy more items working with an engaged and enthusiastic MUA.

  7. Debra

    You’re going to get hundreds of posts on this one!

    I spent many years working in retail and waitressing, and basically grew up around people whose job was to sell; didn’t matter what the item was: THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

    There are many basic “truths” about the marketplace from decades (centures?) past which you mentioned. It is sad and telling that these things have to be learned the hard way by some businesses. Others will never get it. And so the wallet walks out the door. The “free market” is still free in that way.

    There is a major retailer that today is struggling to survive, but 20 years ago I terminated business with them — cut up my credit card in front of the salesman because he noticed that I’d not had many transactions in the past 6 months — he wanted to do an update/investigation of my credit. I was there to buy a major appliance. I was treated like a potential criminal!

    The sort of treatment which you got is the type of thing that ought to irk everyone — trust is the major link between seller and buyer. Money seals the deal, but basically we accept that what we are going to buy is worth our money, and now with online commerce, customer service is a vast part of that trust.

  8. Liza Marie

    Excellent, excellent post. Nothing more to say!

  9. emily

    I’ve stopped shopping at a specific Sears store after several half-assed customer service experiences and one REALLY bad one. They will never get another cent from me. lol

  10. happyroach

    Customer service is indeed king. I purchased a bunch of items from the Urban Decay sale recently, and one of the items I ordered was not shipped to me. I called them, got a customer representative after ONLY ONE ring (and no automated redirecting systems, I hate how long those always take!), gave her my order number, reported the problem, and she apologized then immediately credited the cost of the item back to my credit card. This was all accomplished in a matter of two minutes. Bravo, Urban Decay!

    I also love Nordstrom and Sephora, where the sales associates are super eager to help and do offer great tips, and where returns are effortless. Part of the product’s cost goes into customer service upkeep, so by purchasing the products, I am paying for the service that I rightfully deserve. Hence, I refuse to buy anything from places with terrible customer service.

    • Avatar of Evelyn Evelyn

      I give kudos to Urban Decay too. I once received an eyeliner set with 2 of the same color and not only did they tell me to keep them, they sent me a new perfect set. I think Nordstrom is great too, very helpful and now they have free shipping!

    • Avatar of Krista Krista

      I had just the opposite experience from UD…I also did not receive something I ordered and called the next day, only to leave a message. I didn’t hear back from them for a few days so I emailed them telling them I had already called and would like my money back. No response still to this day. Then I finally received a phone call but I was at work! So I called back again only to get nowhere but their voice mail again. I had made up my mind today never to buy from their website again, that is until I got a “sorry” email from them and a $20 credit and free shipping. They admitted their mistake and refunded me my money too!

      • my experience with UD did not end well. Three items were missing, I never got the email they promised (checked all filters and trash folders), didn’t get through their customer service line even with three days of constant calling, no emails were returned. I finally had to open up a paypal claim (thank goodness I used paypal–most of the time I don’t) and wait another two days before that finally got a response. I got no apology, no code for an additional order, and had to argue about how much they were going to credit me back. (I wanted the full amount that I paid for the three missing items, but they insisted I was only entitled to receive a refund for two.) It really bummed me out, because UD is my favorite brand ever, and I was ignored and treated like a liar by their staff. I’m looking for a new favorite brand.

  11. Michelle

    Good customer service is all about the company anticipating their customers’ needs without the customers having to state them. I love when I have a problem and a company offers up a solution without me having to go in circles and suggest what I think should be done. Problems happen; handling them is key.

  12. Lakisha

    Great column Christine! I must say I have a few bones to pick about Sephora. They have excellent customer service and I was noticing your comment about reviews. I bought the Kat Von D new Poetica perfume online without smelling it and was disappointed when it did get to me. It smelt like Estee Lauder Pleasures original to be honest I already own it. So, I posted a review on line on how it wasn’t original and what it smelt like and they removed it along with some other reviews or comments that were as they say not as postive or brown nosing the product. I was surprised because you think they would leave these up so people can decide for themselves whether or not to buy the product. I feel this is misleading practice on their part and quite sad to tell you the truth.

    • Lena

      I noticed that Sephora will sometimes remove constructive negative or neutral comments on certain products and many negative comments posted are not well written so that it would appear that they are unreliable. Because of this, I have stop posting any reviews on Sephora because of their unethical practices to pump up the ratings on the products they sell, best to rely on Makeupalley.

  13. Lulee

    Best customer service ANYWHERE has to be by far Nordstrom. I just feel all loved and appreciated when I go into that store. The people are nice and mostly knowledgeable. I called the Nordstrom credit card number the other day because I wanted to know what I had bought using my card one day. The man on the phone was so kind and helpful. There was one charge that I was unsure about so he spent 5 minutes trying to [unsuccessfully] figure out what it was. Around half an hour later I got an unexpected follow-up call from him. Talk about above-and-beyond! I was truly shocked! Laura Mercier has extremely good customer service as well.
    Bad customer service: NYX, Sleek, Zoya, Macys.com (VERY bad), etc.

  14. Pawsha

    Fantastic post! All I can say is Nordstrom will do everything possible to help a customer and Nars online has got to be the worst possible.

  15. Hope

    thank you so much for writing this! i don’t have much to add, but i agree with everything.

    i’ve been mistreated as a customer AND worked at a restaurant with a really lenient/accepting/forgiving customer service policy, and even though i got frustrated with people obviously abusing it, there were many more honest people who benefited from it!

  16. andrea m

    This is why I’ll never give fortune cookie soap my business again.

    • andrea m

      lemme elaborate.. I ordered a bunch of stuff that all smelled great, reviewed it and the reviews went through. One soap smelled like cleaning chemicals and I said this in my review. It went through then it was gone the next week. I hounded them via email and I was polite in my emails until they had ignored me for several WEEKS, I sent a strongly worded email and they finally responded that they changed the formulation of said soap and that my review was no longer applicable. But the positive reviews WERE still, somehow, applicable.

  17. I worked in Customer Service, too, like many of the folks posting. I’m particularly hard on retailers, especially cosmetics retailers, because I did retail, too. I’m pretty free about telling customer service at cosmetic retailers’ corporate headquarters about my experiences, good and bad. I went to MAC and had the same type of experience that others have had: walked in and got looked through. Later in the year, I went to Atlanta’s only free standing MAC store and got knock-your-socks-off service. MAC corporate heard about both, in excruciating detail that included names and dates. Our free standing store is lobbying for Pro status and they can use all of the help that they can get. As an added bonus, I got a mascara for the first e-mail ;-P.

    Stores like Ulta and Sephora have staff that greet at the door. That’s important for customer service, but also for reduction of shoplifting – so don’t always think that they’re being friendly.

    Moral: do not ever be shy about complaining or telling a corporate office about good service. They should want to make you happy, because for all they know your next stop is a blog. We used to say that every dissatisfied customer told 20 people, now we can multiply this by 10 or more. If they yank you around, please feel free to share online. If a store is wonderful, please share that, too. The money you save may be my own.

  18. Marie

    I once received excellent service from the NARS counter in Le Bon Marché in Paris. I have been a faithful customer of the brand for years, and this experience just cemented my trust in the brand.

    I went to this counter to be matched to a foundation shade, and to acquire a sample, even if tiny, just to try the foundation over a couple of days (I have super sensitive skin, it’s a requisite that I try a foundation before I buy it). So I went to the counter, politely told the salesperson that I wouldn’t be buying her anything that day, and that I needed to be matched to a shade and to have a sample so I can try it out over a couple of days.

    She was polite, helpful and understanding. She took the time to observe my skin on my face, neck, and décolleté (my face is often redder / darker because it’s constantly irritated) to match me to the perfect shade. And I’m pretty often recommended shades that are way too dark! She was spot-on.
    I hadn’t asked to have my face done, but she offered to do my face make-up. So she prepared my face with a lotion, serum, hydrator and primer. She then applied foundation, powder, blush and illuminator, explaining every step along the way.
    She proceeded to give me a big foundation sample (enough to last me a week), and a generous sample of tha aqua gel hydrator. She recommended products for my face, and I didn’t feel pushed to buy anything. She invited me to come back in a couple of days to tell her if I’m satisfied with the products (and eventually buy it, of course ^^)

    On top of that, Le Bon Marché is a rather classy place, and I went there in jeans, a t-shirt, a pair of sneakers, my hair undone, and no make-up on. Most of the time, when I come into a beauty store like that, I’m either looked down on because I “apparently” don’t know anything about beauty or fashion, or I’m being treated like a child. The NARS salesperson treated me like any other customer, and that was awesome.

    I have plenty of experience with bad customer service, so a positive experience like this one above is memorable for me. :p

  19. I agree that the way retailers handle a situation is very important. I sell on Ebay, and once a woman messaged me to let me know that some of the e/s in her palette arrived broken. I refunded her money immediately. She then told me that she didn’t need a full refund, only a partial one, and thanked me for being such a good seller.

    Having worked in retail for so many years, I have seen a lot of awful people come up to us and demand all sorts of things. The best way to deal with them is by responding in a rational, calm manner and not flip out. In a lot of cases, people like that want a fight. They are the belligerent, racist, rude and crass ones.

    On the other side, I have found that as a customer, it works when I am nice to SAs, even when they are not nice to me. The person behind the counter may be a jerk, but that doesn’t mean I have to lose my cool and be a jerk as well.

    • soyeon

      i agree with your last thought – i’ve personally never run into horrible customer service and i shop quite frequently lol. that being said, i’ve also never flipped out if the sa makes a mistake and apologizes (no one’s perfect!).

      yes, bad customer service is appalling but i find the sense of entitlement some people have is pretty disgusting, too. the biggest complainers of customer service are (often, not always) the people who spend the least money and expect the greatest number of perks

    • Avatar of Deborah Deb

      Great point at the end – it works to be nice! You never know what kind of baggage someone is bringing with them to work, or as an SA, you never know what your customer is going through. A bit of patience on one or ideally, both ends makes even a bad situation a manageable experience.

  20. Avatar of Liz Liz

    I have a very similar story to yours, Christine. I had an awful experience when purchasing a designer bag from a retailer. I had to track this particular bag down to only one store that still had it left. When i called the store the woman who was supposed to help me told me that she knew what bag i was interested in and would get it for me. She then told me she would call me back to ring it up. A half hour passed and had to call the store to ask what had happened. she told me that she had gotten busy but would call me back in a few minutes to finish the transaction. This was a thousand dollar bag that i wanted to buy. On top of this, this particular retailer is one that is very prestigious and well know. A total of and hour and half later, i had to call her back again explaining that i needed the transaction done because i was located in the west coast and i needed to go to work. She then told me that she would call me back in a minute because she was with customer! eventually a few minutes later i did receive the call and she finished my transaction. It astonished me how unimportant i was treated by the sales associate.
    Anyways, my positive experience with customer service was with MAC cosmetics. After, again, having to track down a few limited edition products to a store out of state. I had ordered three items that were shipped to my apartment but i had forgotten to give them the apartment number. The shipper left the package at the mailboxes where it was taken by someone. After not receiving the package i called the store to explained what had happened. Through several phone calls back and forth, the sales associate helped me file a claim and sent me the products that i had ordered. I really appreciated her willingness to help me even though her store is a high traffic store that was constantly busy. She always returned my calls and eventually settled everything for me.

  21. I couldn’t agree more! I used to work at a customer service call center and HATE getting horrible customer service. I will refuse to work or purchase from a company that is horrible towards me.

  22. Maureen

    The only particularly bad customer service I’ve gotten is from a sorority merchandise store. They had this would-have-been-GREAT-to-know-that-two-weeks-ago! shipping policy that wasn’t stated ANYWHERE on the site except for the FAQ’s. Normally I try to be as reasonable as possible with businesses, but I was like, “Really? You’re clientele doesn’t read FAQ’s. None of us have questions about shipping information. What are you even doing?”

    Also, why does everyone say Nyx has bad customer service?

    • MJ

      Probably because of that FailSale they had for their 12th anniversary where very few people actually managed to order anything. Their website went down a few hours before the sale launch and remained down/abominably slow through the entire sale + the hours they extended it.

  23. Christian

    Thank you for this elegantly written article Christine. I completely agree with you that BOTH the bad experiences AND THE GOOD should be shared because we often forget to acknowledge the gems out there that make our experiences easy and hassle-free. My mother taught be to be vocal about your experiences and I’ve found that while I can be vocal and critical when I’ve had A POOR experience, I can also be just as encouraging and raving about certain employees/companies because I feel so appreciative whenever I meet such helpful people. :) We are all people, none of us are perfect, and it’s important to also realize that some bad apples ruin it for the rest of the batch too.

  24. Susan

    the best service I received was from Tarte. I had bought a kit at sephora, 2 months later the gel liner included started to separate from the pot and dry out, I contacted Tarte thinking perhaps they had a way to “fix” the liner since I really love the color. they apologized and sent me a brand new one (the ones that come with a brush) at no charge to me in a matter of 2 days. amazing service. now the opposite, I had written a review on the Renpure shampoo/conditioner, not a good review, I was asked to call customer service who proceeded to tell me how NO ONE EVER complains about the issue I had with it, so there. wow. here I thought they’d at least attempt to recommend another product in their line. bad bad service

  25. Avatar of Raquel Rach

    Great post Christine! Good service is indeed the shopper best friend!

    Bad costume service: Macys. My last attempt to buy something on macys.com resulted in them charging my card (debit) 3 times and still my order not going through. I called and they said the money would be back in my account in 24 hours. 24 hours later and no money back, I called again and found out it would actually take 5 working days!!! I was so pissed! They charged me 3 times! Their fault and I am the one with no money in the account for 7 days (weekend included!). I felt really disappointed and will for sure not buy online ever again.

    Good service: Sephora. I have to admit that buying at Sephora makes me happy… They have a tendency to take away my BeautyInsider’s points at the store (I get the 100 perk and they take away 500) but with just one short call they give it all back, no problem at all! I was very pleased…

    I just ordered something at Nordstrom and I received the tracking number for everything except one item, even though they say it was shipped in the same day, I am worried I will never get it like you Christine! I hope they have a good service… I will know next week… :)

    • I love Nordstrom :) There is no retailer who I have had better customer service experience than with Nordstrom. Once, an SA drove 20 minutes to the nearest other Nordstrom to fulfill a preorder (it was missing a lipstick). They’re also the retailer who replaced the stolen package of shoes no questions asked.

  26. Rebecca

    Good customer service should be given to good customers. The problem is that there are more thieves and liars out there than most people think. I work in the customer service industry and most people treat me like crap because they have a problem with something ELSE. Customers shouldn’t expect to get their butts kissed if they walk into a situation with attitude and disrespect, which far too many of them do. People these days think they’re entitled to far more than they actually are.

    • I work in customer service, and understand what you mean about customers that don’t treat the associate fairly, but everyone deserves the best you can give. People who come to you angry are upset because there was some error or misunderstanding. If you genuinely try to sort everything out, most of those frowns will disappear. Unfortunately, it’s the standouts that we remember, and outbursts of profanity are much more common than outbursts of praise.

      What helps me calm down a shouting customer seems kind of strange, but it works. Often very angry people will use the word ‘you’ when they mean ‘the company you work for.’ If that language starts creeping in to what they are saying, I’ll stop and say ‘the company I work for has made some sort of error. My name is saucerville, and I’m going to do whatever I can to make this right.’ I’ve never had it fail me.

      That was long-winded, but I’d also like to add that I don’t believe in butt kissing. I’m honest and polite, but never false.

      • Boone

        That’s a great tactic, saucerville. I worked in the service industry for ages, and now I tend to be hyper-aware that an employee is not responsible for their employer’s failings. Every once in a while, when I have been REALLY steamed over a company’s MAJOR screw-up, I have started a conversation by saying “I apologize in advance for my anger, and please know that it is not directed at you personally.” In addition to being the nice thing to do, I’ve found that I receive better customer service when the employee I’m speaking with doesn’t feel personally attacked.

    • good customer service should be given to all customers at all times no matter how the customer acts, end of. have you never heard the saying the customer is always right? your attitude towards the matter is totally wrong. i hope you dont work in a shop for all our sakes.

      • Amber

        I’ve also worked in customer service, and while I agree they all deserve good service you also shouldn’t let them walk all over you. There are some that geninuely are having a bad day. Some who are also upset about their experiences, but are willing to work with you to get it sorted. There are also ones that nothing you do will be good enough. Along with those who seriously view you, and treat you as their slave. These ones do feel like their entitled especailly with people saying ‘the customer is always right’.

        You have to be able to find the difference between the ones who are just going to abuse, and take advantage of the situation, and those looking for an honest solution.

      • Amanda

        Tracy, I suspect from your take on the situation that you’ve never had a customer service job. You don’t seem to know what it feels like to be berated, humiliated, or shouted at by a customer without due cause. I certainly do. I’m a manager, and we take most of the flak. I once had a woman call me a bad manager and personally insult me because we were out of a FREE SAMPLE. Seriously. And for the record, I had been nothing but nice to her the whole time she was in my store. Did I give good customer service throughout the whole ordeal? You bet I did. Did that woman deserve it? HELL NO. I just find it deeply disturbing that under your blanket statement that woman’s behavior would be considered acceptable…

        • Nikki

          The customer is not always right. Only people who abuse the system will cling to that statement. And it does matter how the customer acts. We are all human and deserve to be treated as such, no matter what side of the counter we are on.

  27. I hate going to the Sephora store, they are so rude. I never enjoy shopping in the store, most of the sales women are very condescending and down right rude.Once on my birthday, I was browsing in the hair care section and had already decided to purchase a particular product. Someone came up to me and proceeded to explain the product to me, talking to me like I was retarded. I smiled and asked questions and thanked her. I barely took five steps when I heard her giggling with another girl and I looked at them only to see them pointing at me. I complained about that particular store and their behavior. I’ve never had a pleasant experience in Sephora and prefer to do all my shopping online.

    Best customer service Estee Lauder (online) and LUSH (both online and in store)

    • Cindy

      Please reconsider your use of the word “retarded”. It’s offensive to those with developmental disabilities and the people who love them. Thanks.

      • Avatar of Cathy Angelcat47

        Thank you for saying that.I am raising two young men whom I forbid to use that word.I’ve explained that it’s no different than calling someone gay or a nigger.If you wouldn’t use those words,don’t use retard either.Thanks again.

  28. Yes, Customer service is definitely the key element here if any company wishes to be in the business for long. No amount of good products (okay maybe the very good products) are going to help you retain customers if the customer service standard is way down. Take for instance, my previous terrible experience with L’occitane a few years ago, i was told out right by the retail supervisor that “the company does not trust the customers anymore” when i brought a bottle of fragrance that i bought not too long ago (as i have the tendency to stock up on fragrance, that bottle was bought wrapped in its original wrapping and 3 to 4 months ago), there were debris of some sort in the fragrance (obviously it is very old stock). I was doubted for swopping the product when i was told that the batch code does not match, even when i had explained i am a loyal customer to the brand and i do purchase this item often. What i wanted is just an exchange of a new bottle of fragrance, yet despite all my explaination and my email feedback to the company, what i gotten in the end was “the company does not trust the customer anymore” and that the attitude was “take it or leave it”. Since then, i have boycotted the brand and warn my friends and familes about it. No point having great products but the customer service just went the other way.

  29. Roberta

    I had a bad experience at The Body Shop. I wanted to return their new all natural oil lip roller. It was too shiny and honestly it wasn’t doing anything for my lips. I wasn’t sure if I could even return it, I mean it’s only $5CAD. The two ladies in the store made it seem like I had a problem. They asked me why I didn’t try the tester, which I did and thought it would be ok. I tried it on my hand which may be the problem, but even if I used my lips, I may have though it was a good product as I left the store. Anyways, I received a lot of attitude, and kind of indirectly receiving shots at my super dry lips for the oil not doing anything for me (my lips aren’t that dry). Anyway, I did get a refund, but I felt like a fool. I acknowledge it is only $5 but the back of the receipt states that if I’m not satisfied they will be glad to accept the return item. If they don’t feel this, they shouldn’t write it on the receipt.

  30. Avatar of Anastasia Anastasia

    Best customer service: I purchased a $250 ceramic watch from a fossil store and after having it for about a month I dropped it and it shattered. The watch came with a warning and I knew it was my fault but I decided to take it back to the store anyway to see if maybe they would give me 10% off of the same watch. Not only were they extremely kind to me they gave me a brand new watch for free even though the fault was my own!

    Worst customer service: I purchased a COACH bag from their website since I do not live near a store for $300. Two months after I received the bag the straps loosened and started coming off. I should mention that I do not like heavy bags, so I kept about 1-2 lbs of items in the bag. I contacted the customer service number because I felt this was a defect in the bag. The told me that my only option was to send it in for repair. I paid $17 to ship it to the facility and $20 for them to fix my bag. 12 days after I received the bag back the strap fell off completely! This time I called and they told me that I should send it in again at my cost! A $300 bag should not fall apart with in two months of use, and the repairs shouldn’t be so terrible that they come apart worse then the defect, and the customer should not be charged repair costs for a fault that was not their own. COACH does not seem to care what so ever that their bag was manufactured badly and should have refunded me my money or at the very least refunded me my shipping and the cost of the repair, but they refused to do either.

  31. Harley

    I have to agree with those who have had negative experiences at MAC, in fact my negative experiences so outweigh the positive ones that I have stopped going to the stores/counters. What I do now is place my order online at Nordstroms for MAC products I’m interested in and just pick up the order at Nordstrom’s Customer Service counter, doing this ensures I don’t have to interact with any rude sales associates. Surprisingly the Chanel and Dior sales associates at my local Macys are so warm and friendly that I always look forward to stopping by, even just to browse.

  32. Jennifer

    “We should remember to give praise to the businesses we love to shop at because of how we feel at the end of the experience.”

    Quoted for truth. Letting a business know what they’re doing right makes for a better experience for everyone.

    Same goes for good experiences in the service industry.

  33. Avatar of Maja Maya

    I cannot agree more that people should share both positive and negative experiences, with other buyers and the companies themselves!

    One day I went to a Chanel counter prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on the fall collection, but saw it wasn’t in store yet like I expected. It took forever for a worker to ask what I needed. When a SA finally acknowledged me, I asked when the collection would be in. He told me some date and completely dismissed me assuming I was there for “just the nail polish” (when in the end I actually purchased half the collection)! When I got home, I realized that the in-store release for the collection was over a month off from what he told me (I was right!), and I went to another counter to buy it instead. It might sound like nothing but the way he spoke to me in front of other customers was DISGUSTING and I will never forget it. I’m a college undergraduate and feel that in general, high-end retailers (like Saks and Nordstrom) and make-up counters have huge issues with dismissing younger customers. Many of their SAs assume we have no money and/or don’t take us seriously. The key is to find those few good SAs or shop online, since that’s sadly all you can do if you really love a brand’s products. Hopefully customer service will get better in the future.

    As for the GOOD…I once had a similar situation to yours Christine where my package was stolen after it was left outside my apartment. The order was a blush from NARS, so I called the company to see what could be done. Before I even finished telling the girl my story, she said I’d be sent a new one overnight – it arrived so fast and I even got several generous samples! Now THAT is great service! NARS has always been amazing! My cousin had a similar situation with someone stealing her Victoria’s Secret package and they resent it to her, no questions asked. Companies like Clinique, Le Metier de Beaute, Sephora, and Caudalie also have great service!

  34. Kim

    The best customer service with shopping online I have had is by far from these websites:
    narscosmetics.com
    maccosmetics.com
    beauty.com
    toofaced.com

    I refuse to order from NYX cosmetics online, and now urbandecay.com is on my list from their recent sale. Also, cherryculture.com once forgot a $6 eyeshadow palette in my package and when I emailed them at first I was treated like I was lying because it “DEFINITELY was included” but they eventually resent it.

    Also, sephora.com is a hit or miss in terms of communication. They’re A+ with most things but several times when emailing them with a problem/question from an order I never get a response and end up having to call them.

    I’m a heavy online shopper. LOL

  35. Receiving bad customer service is one thing but I think the real nightmare is being on the giving end. As a customer, I’m lenient and understanding when it comes possible issues and I am nothing but nice to any and all sales associates even if they are rude to me. As a sales associate, I receive some of the rudest, revolting customers you can imagine. Unfortunately I’m not involved in cosmetic retail so I can’t fall back and say I’m at least enjoying my job but since I’ve started working at my current job, I’ve gotten more complaints than I can count from customers saying that I wasn’t helpful, that my ‘attitude sucks’, and have one even went so far as to say I was lazy, among many other colorful words. Keep in mind, though, that I am the only employee besides the store manager who has not been written up ONCE. I don’t know what kind of expectations that people have upon entering a store but most are clearly out for blood.

    As a customer, though, I’ve received a ton of bad service. I’ve had a lot dished out at me from clothing stores, electronic stores like Best Buy, to name a few, but as for cosmetic retailers and counters – the worst I’ve gotten are from MAC (in Macy’s), Sephora, Chanel (in Macy’s) and Clinique (in Macy’s). I’ve also had indie companies go so far as to ignore any and all my emails regarding my order status – since there are those who refuse to post a turn around time because they’re afraid it’ll turn customers away and I’ve wound up receiving my order several weeks late.

    Probably one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had was around October of last year at my MAC counter. There were two sales associates present and they didn’t look busy nor were they visibly upset or in a bad mood but when I approached the counter and began to check out the leftover Venomous Villains goodies, one of the girls approached me with an annoyed look on her face and said, “what do you want?” I felt a little irritated because I was nearly hired by MAC just two months prior and when I was at the counter for my demo/interview, the same girl who approached me was one of the girls working that day. I wound up not saying a word and went to Sephora instead, which wasn’t much of an improvement but at least the sales associates there are nice towards you.

    I think in a lot of cases there are faults on both sides and a lot of it has to do with misunderstandings and bad communication. As a customer I don’t think of my dollar any more valuable than the next so I try to exercise as much patience and understanding as I can if things don’t go smoothly. Mainly because I know what its like to be the bearer of bad news if something goes wrong and to be at the receiving end of a verbal smack-down because you are incapable of performing miracles.

    On the plus side, the best customer service I’ve ever received was from NARS. Wonderful people.

  36. Avatar of Kayvid Kayvid

    I have recently had some TERRIBLE experience with the MAC Online Customer Service. I will no longer be purchasing MAC online.

    • Chantal

      Would you mind sharing your story? I’ve had great experiences with MAC online, but now you’ve got me curious!

  37. Cyndi

    I have a love/hate relationship with Urban Decay. I ordered 6 of the 15th anniversary 24/7 eyeliner set for my bridesmaid and it never showed up. The only thing the tracking # showed was that UPS had possession of the package but no delivery?!?! On the UPS site, it showed the expected delivery date was on a Thursday so I stayed home all day to wait for the package. I waited 2 more days and still nothing so I decided to call Urban Decay. The lady that answered the phone thought it was strange that I have not received it. It was a $600 order! She did some investigating and ended up refunding my money.

    The second time I placed an order with them was for the Naked Palette. This was back when they brought back the final batch with the double ended liner and the price was $44. I was so excited to have received it finally, I opened the Naked Palette and there was no double ended liner!!! The slot was empty! There was nothing. I was so shocked, I called them right away but they were closed so I wrote them an email. The very same lady that handled my last issue called me the next day and apologized. She said they don’t have anymore liners to send me since they stopped production on it and was willing to send me the brush that it now comes with. I told her I would much rather have the double ended liner than the brush since I have so many of them! She said she will look around and give me a call back. A week goes by and no response so I call them back. This time a guy answers and after giving him the whole story of what happened, he said he will send me a regular liner so I said fine.

    The 3rd time I ordered was this past sale they had. I opened the package and I noticed it was missing items. The box didn’t come with an invoice slip so I had to sign online to double check what I ordered. Sure enough, I was missing 3 items. I called them again, and the lady apologized and refunded my money right away. She did acknowledged that they oversold on the product.

    I’ve only ordered from Urban Decay 3 times and all 3 times, something was wrong. Although they fixed the problem, I’m going to be hesitant to order from them directly again. I think I will stick to shopping at Sephora’s for there product.

  38. Winkie

    Totally agree and good article! The Bobbi Brown counters across Hong Kong are known for bad service to their customers.

  39. Martyna

    What I feel is typical for Germany…. not beeing served because you do not look like “money”. If you look too young and are not dressed the right way, most of the older SA will not even look at you! Like… “Oh I’m sure she is a student so she has no money, why even bother”
    HATE that. I mean, why would I go in a store, if I wasn’t interessted in buying anything. And even if I won’t buy anything, it is still your job, you are not doing me a FAVOR!!

  40. i wish the make up sales assistants were nicer in england, they just spend half the time making themselves up instead of helping you out. the other day i asked a estee lauder assistant at my local debenhams counter if they had any special offers coming up if i bought a foundation, (there was one a few weeks earlier which i missed where you got a concealer free) all the strange assistant said to me was no no no no we have no offers, i said i didnt mean now but in the future and again she said no no no no, and not anything else, i was absolutely disgusted, i have worn doublewear foundation for years and buy a bottle every couple of months and i felt like saying to her you wont get another penny from me you nasty cow i was that upset, instead i just left. i think the managers would get a shock if they knew how non existant some customer service is at some counters.

  41. Brilliantly put, Christine. I can think of a few dozen companies who REALLY need to take note of the points you made.

  42. Jill

    My worst experiences have been with Bloomingdale’s online. NOne of them were beauty purchases but I feel compelled to write anyway. I ordered this gorgeous sequined LaROK dress for a trip to Las Vegas last year and what they sent me was a hideous, fugly sweater coat. There was nothing similar between the items whatsoever–they weren’t the same style, brand, size, fabric, NOTHING. I went online to try to purchase the dress a second time, because I didn’t have a lot of time before I left for vacation. They were SOLD OUT. So, I called their customer service, and they were extremely rude. I was upset about the mix up because I couldn’t understand how they could be so far off. And obviously upset because in the meantime, it sold out online. I asked the guy I spoke to if there was a way he could check the store inventory to see if anyone had it in-store, and he said no. This was totally beyond my comprehension–how can you have such a disconnect between your online store and your brick and mortar?? I ended up getting the dress from Saks online with NO problems. Bloomingdale’s, of course, did not even extend the courtesy of refunding my shipping fees or whatever other fees they charge. I was so aggravated, and so frustrated with the way they handled it.

    On the other hand, I was looking for a certain dress from Diane von Furstenberg online, and the girl I spoke to was amazing. She tracked it down in three different stores nationwide (one of which was pretty close to me), put me directly in contact with the store, and the store manager was so pleasant about doing my order and shipping it to me. It was a really nice customer service experience.

  43. Tati

    I am a daily reader of this blog (it’s excellent!), but I had never posted before. Customer service is almost as important as the products the companies sell: just today I received a package with an item (not makeup-related) that was way smaller than what was specified in the website. I promptly emailed them complaining and in a matter of 2 hours they have changed the information in their site and refunded me half of my money for the inconveniences.
    Here in my city (in Spain) we have both Sephora and MAC counters in the same store and the MUA are all really nice. However, there are other MUA in much less crowded counters that are incredibly condescending (or downright absent!). That’s why I always buy in MAC and Sephora :)

  44. Xtina

    We need names! Not just to be spiteful (although I would like to see this company publicly shamed) but for everyone’s benefit so we know who to avoid.

    • Since I have only had one or two experiences with the retailer (one negative, one neutral), I’m not about to throw them under the bus on a blog that reaches this many people. I rarely shopped at them before, but the experience was not so bad as to make me swear off of them – and if I’m not prepared to do so, I’m certainly not in the position to tell others to either. It was more to highlight what separates customer service from excellent customer service.

  45. Avatar of Deborah Deb

    Great post! I hope retailers do take notice. The experience you just had really bites. Last year, I ordered some makeup with free 2-day shipping and it never arrived. I’m not sure if it was stolen, lost in the mail, or if they never sent it, but when I called the retailer after a few days, they immediately sent the order again, no questions asked. It was a wonderful experience!

    At the same time, I write a candy review blog, and I have had some bad experiences with companies leaving feedback on my comments. There was a small chocolate brand I really loved, and I bought several of their products on my own and gave them glowing reviews – it was impressive chocolate at a great price!

    Then, I had one bar that I didn’t enjoy as much, so I gave it a slightly lower (but still positive) score with the caveat that it had more to do with my own personal tastes than the quality of the bar, and I received an “anonymous” comment about how wrong I was and how wonderful that bar was that was obviously penned by someone at the company. It wasn’t even a negative review, and I felt cheated because they seemed to miss all the stellar reviews I gave their other products.

    • Avatar of Deborah Deb

      Even though people took advantage of it, I have to admit that my old company, Bath & Body Works, has excellent customer service. We accepted all returns and exchanges, no questions asked, even if the product was empty. It drove me crazy when people cheated the system, but it also made me really happy to help someone take back something they hated and find something they really loved. We also went out of our way to call every store in the city to find a product for someone. Every time we got a shipment, we would first pick through it for the hot products that had been sold out, then call everyone on our hold list first thing in the morning.

  46. Lena

    I notice a lot of people are complaining about MAC free standing stores and complimenting the ones in department stores such as Macys and I find it pretty darn funny. Except for the first time I bought my studio fix powder, I have never ever ever had good customer service in a Macys MAC counter. They’re always too busy (chatting to each other) to even nod some type of acknowledgement or they just completely ignore me and because of that I always go in knowing what I want. It just totally bugs the hell out of me to know that whenever I purchase something they get a commission for ignoring me, its like some form of condoling their snotty behavior. On the other hand, whenever I’ve been to a free standing MAC store, they’ve been super nice and accommodating.

  47. Natasha

    Wonderful post, I always value your opinions, etc, when it comes to beauty, and you prove that worth with this.
    I refuse to buy from Origins now for terrible CS, an email asking about an ingredients list for a possible allergic reaction was ignored, so I just had to throw the product away.
    And when I left reviews on the site they only accepted glowing ones, but the one saying I loved it, nice feel, nice everything but ran out too quickly, even had 4 stars, was turned down. Then they emailed me to say they didn’t accept negative reviews and they hoped I understood, and yet on the same product was a very poor review, one star, in capitals saying ‘never buy this’. Pisses me off too much, so many companies out there, might as well deal with a nice one!

  48. emi s.

    It’s too bad so many people have such bad experiences at MAC – every time I’ve been in my local MAC store, everyone has been nice. They will leave me alone to browse if I want, or help me find products if I ask them too! Guess I’m lucky :/

  49. Faye

    I recently had a similar experience with an online retailer. I’d placed a very expensive order, and most of the items arrived just fine. One was shipped out separately, and when I opene the box, it was empty except for the packing slip! I called the store, and the woman said to me “Are you sure you didn’t just ‘accidentally’ not see it? Maybe it slipped out somewhere?” I was so annoyed because if I was going to lie, I would have lied about the box with the ton of items — not the one loose one — and I’ve never reported a problem like this before. They should at least look at your customer history before making accusations.

    And retailers should know I am more likely to take positive reviews seriously on a site where negative ones are posted as well.

  50. Allison

    I work as an assistant manager in an accessory store for women. I love making my customers happy, but sometimes customers get out of control with their demands. We have a 14 day return policy…after 14 days you get store credit…and some women just can’t tolerate not getting their money back for the sweater they’re returning that smells like an ashtray because it’s been in their car for 2+ weeks. lol

  51. Yumi

    Unfortunately I’m not here to share a story about excellent customer service because none come to mind at the moment. But when I was in Hong Kong awhile back, I was simply appalled at not just the lack of customer service, but the sheer rudeness of the sales people there. They would openly argue with you, insult you, tell you you’re wrong and make up any number of lies to try and make the sale. Like something would clearly be defective or not up to standards and they would deny it. I was shopping for shoes and I’m a size 8-9, right? Well, when I asked for it, more than once I would just get the response “we only carry size 6 here, if you want *EXTRA LARGE* sizes we’ll have to special order it.” I was so pissed I kinda just stalked outta there right away. Then my family tells me how spoiled I am to actually expect customer service because EVERYONE is like that in Hong Kong and no one cares. I guess I’ve gotten used to it over here in Canada and all. So now I don’t even expect much here, as long as I get help when I ask for it and they don’t insult me, lol.

    • My goodness! Surely asking for a pair of shoes in your correct size isn’t too much to ask for. I am appalled at the customer service you received in Hongkong.I would have thought that they have improved alot in that area. Woah!

  52. Linnea

    Customer service is extremely hard to master. Even a company that is famous for their customer service might have a bad day — maybe you talk to the customer service representative on a bad day.

    As someone who answers the phone in a customer service manner — it is really hard to be unjudgemental all the time. You do not know the person on the phone. If you recieve 50 calls a day about something missing in a package.. what if 45 were lying? Why should the customer service representative believe YOU? Either the company has to have a policy that says no matter what happens, they ship you a new product. But if the company doesn’t have a policy like that, its up to the customer service representative.

    I know personally — I’m a (honest) nice person in real life. I’m usually patient in service situations. I realize that no, I’m not the most important person in the world, and people should not fall at my feet when I enter a store. Like some other commenters, I don’t even need you to say hi, I just want a store worker to acknowledge my presence. Thats it. Make eye contact, smile. Let me know that you’re available if i need you. That being said, I believe I sound quite rude on the phone. Especially when someone is upset, people can be rude. People need to realize that calling someone “lazy”, or “dumb” or “stupid company” is not going to make the person want to help you more.. they won’t even want to talk to you.

    I also have learnt that I’d rather have good customer service than a cheaper price. I acknowledge that that higher price might cover the replacement that I get when it gets lost in shipment.

    I’m also really understanding — shit happens. Things get lost, a warehouse worker doesn’t fill the whole order, things get overordered. We demand fast shipping — someone has to be in a rush to fufill this. I 100% agree with the statement Christine made — acknowledgement is probably 80% of the solution. ACKNOWLEDGE A MISTAKE HAS BEEN MADE. Or acknowledge that something has to change. This makes a huge difference to me.

    I recently ordered something from the US(I live in Canada). Because I live in the country(not in an urban area), I do not have a mail box on my house. I have a box that is part of a whole set of boxes, located down my road. It is not a PO box.

    The company did not state that they did not ship to PO boxes in Canada. I put my phone number on the order. They shipped it out. UPS shipped it into Canada, and then back into the States(I was like.. WHAT?!) I recieved an email stating that I had returned the item– again WHAT?!. I phoned them, and they explained that UPS did not ship to PO boxes. I offered to provide another shipping address. They explained that since the product had been returned to the distribution centre, they could not ship it again. OK. That sucked. They refunded my money — that was fine.

    They dealt with my problem, they refunded my money(except for the $50 shipping fee). Most people would be happy. I disagree. They never admitted that they should have taken different steps — for example: -seeing my order. Realizing it was a “Box” order. Emailing me or giving me a call to explain the situation BEFORE SHIPPING IT TO ME. What about UPS? Maybe they should have let the retailer know that this shipment was not going to be properly shipped. They did not acknowledge that they should have a message saying that they do not ship to international boxes. Yes, I was dealt with, but I will not shop there again.

    Anyway–thats my 2 cents. I recently had a great internet shopping experience, and even though it was a bit more pricey than normal, but the service was so great, and I will shop there again. I would also say that in this day an age with twitter, FB, email — it is SO easy to communicate with your clients, to inform them of things going on — if I get 15 “sales” emails a day, why wouldn’t you be able to send me an email saying that something was oversold? Or explaining that your site is down. ITS SO EASY. It takes less than 5 minutes, and then the customer knows whats going on.

  53. Laila

    Having read these comments so far I feel like I need to put in my ‘two cents’ so to speak because there are some things that people are either unaware of or just ignoring. I have worked in customer service for almost 5 years 3 of which were in a retail store called Zara in a very busy downtown Toronto location. Now I also do my fair share of shopping so I have been on both sides of the counter.

    I completely agree with the notion that whether you are a customer or SA you never really know what’s going on with that person’s life or day to make them behave they way in which they do. HOWEVER!!!! I have been called just about every other name in the in the book and have had wooden hangers thrown in my face with the product still on it, I have had a 6 foot 4 construction guy threaten to jump over the counter and physically hit me because we had no bagels at 6 am in the morning (worked at a bakery at the time) and I have been told stories from friends about having coffee thrown in their face. I have witnessed a lady scream and swear with the staff, then managers, then Head Office, because she was told that she could not return a $19.90 sweater that she purchased on a VISA at that particular moment because all of the machines in the store where not working and we were waiting for a service technician to come and fix the problem.

    And NO the customer is NOT always right. WHY? because companies ALWAYS have policies and rules that they don’t state either in store or when shopping online. While working at Zara I’d have people calling and asking if they could pay for something over the phone and have it shipped to them, my answer, “No ma’am I’m sorry but we do not offer that service.” Their response “Well why not! Banana Republic does it” Now I mean really! So go shop at Banana Republic then! I mean as a SA how do you realistically answer such a question more than once? Is there another humanly possible manner in saying no we don’t? And part of the reason why there are so many ‘customer complaints’ other than the attitude ones, is because consumers go into their shopping experiences with this mentality of ‘the customer is always right’ and don’t ask the questions they should be asking, IE is this refundable? at any location or only this one? If a SA or a cashier stood there and told you all the company rules regarding the particular purchase you make you’d be standing there all bloody day long. And when cashiers stand there and tell people policies as they’re being cashed out they usually go ‘uh huh uh huh’ like what more is the SA supposed to do make you pay make attention?

    As a costumer you have to be AN INFORMED consumer! Companies are businesses and they will do what they can to get your money end of story! And getting back to this rude employees ect business, 95% of the time companies have NO CLUE what is going on at store level NONE WHAT SO EVER! It’s managers that do the hiring and firing (EI an employee was fired unjustly by a manager due to a personal grudge and the news spread like wild fire to all stores because the person fired was greatly liked and finally the person fired got on a long distance call with the PRESIDENT of the Canadian division of the company told her story and he investigated and hired her back with apologies and a very nice welcome back/we’re sorry this ever happened paycheck. If she had never made that phone call the manager would still have been working there and she would have been unemployed and the president would still have no idea what had happened with ‘his’ store/staff.)

    Also from a SA perspective I always treated people like I want to be treated, (to an extent of cource) like for example one day this lady came in the store looking for some pants we had every year every season in a million colors, I said ‘yes I know which one’s they are I’m not sure what colors we have left in stock but I will go check’ I brought her back her sizes and her friend decided she wanted them too, so I went back to stock, (mind you our stock was 4 levels down in the basement of the mall shared with all the stores on all levels. Not that I really minded at all but sometimes customer would send you looking after being told it will take 5-10 mins and by the time you came back up they were gone) and I came back and she thanked me and was so happy and wanted a manager to let her know that after years of shopping in that store this was the first time she had gotten real service. That to me was nothing, I mean that WAS MY JOB! and that was exactly what I did. And I have SOO many of these positive stories, some of which even wrote pleasant emails to the company. Now on the other hand the company treated me like crap, I was underpaid, and unappreciated by my management, end result? I left and the managers were left to explain to head office and human resources why I left. However the negative ones stick out in my memory more because they were more than the positive but also because usually they tend to hurt me in some as a human being, at the end of the day we’re all humans.

    Sorry for the long shpeal!

    BUT ONE MORE THING!

    Anyone have bad experiences with hautelook? I did an order ages ago and as far as they’re concerned it was send and I got it, post office says the same thing, yet I never did, and this was almost a month ago, and they’re trying to ‘investigate’ and I should be hearing from them next week. And I have wanted to order more since them but until this is sorted out I refuse to give them anymore of my money, thank god I only ordered about $40 worth of eye make up otherwise I would be REALLY upset right now.

    • Eva

      I’ve recently had a bad experience with HauteLook, myself. I ordered a pair of wedges from the True Religion shoe sale and after waiting ages (and sending two e-mails), the order finally displayed online with an error message. Since they hadn’t responded to my e-mails I used the online chat function and spoke to someone who informed me that my order was a “confirmed no-ship” because TR hadn’t sent as much as they’d promised. I was just thinking “Hello? When were you going to tell me that?” since it had been so long since I’d ordered.
      Another thing that bothered me was that I’d only been refunded the cost of the shoes, not the additional shipping cost. HL hadn’t had to ship my pair and I shouldn’t have to front the shipping cost for a pair of shoes that TR didn’t include–it wasn’t there! They did end up giving me a $20 credit, but I don’t know if I’ll use it. HL’s slow and expensive shipping plus this recent experience have really turned me off to them.

  54. Min

    Is “customer service is king” a common phrase? cuz it just reminded me of a kpop singer Yoseop (from B2ST) when he “tatooed” it to his arm. lol. i don’t think anyone else knows what i’m talking about lol.

  55. Bernice Russell

    I just posted this in response to your article (on a blog elsewhere)

    A recent post on Temptalia regarding dishonest business practices in the cosmetic industry reminded me that I wanted to warn Australians to beware the kitcosmetics.com.au website review system.

    They ask for reviews of their products, but they will not allow any review that is less than glowing and wonderful. They sell a few great products, but they also sell a few that should come with warnings (there’s a cleanser they sell that will strip the skin off – it left me with burns that are still healing, weeks later). Not only will they not allow negative reviews, they will also not allow users to remove reviews once posted. When I realised that their site was dishonest and misleading, I asked if I could remove the few positive reviews I’d posted, but they won’t allow that, either. Numerous emails to their contact address have been ignored.

    Just wanted to give you a heads up not to trust anything that comes out of kit cosmetics. Not the products, not the service.

  56. ID

    Hi Christine, since this post is about customer service, can I ask you how to voice out on mac cosmetics price increase in every 6 months. I buy from mac saudi arabia.

    • Contact them via their customer service form online – they do have a lot of international websites. It’s EL company-wide policy to increase prices annually – they don’t actually raise prices on all products twice a year, they just do 1/2 in the beginning of the year and 1/2 of the products in the second part of the year. Keep in mind most brands do increase prices every year or two :)

  57. MsJessnJ

    I love my MAC counter at Belk. All the employee’s are so busy and I understand, at least they take the time to tell me they are helping another customer but pick out what I want to try, etc. I know them all by name and it really feels like visiting friends :) That is what I love about shopping at a place regularly. However on the other hand, when I go into a store and I’m ignored I will leave…I’m not going to hand over my money to a store that obviously does not want my business.

  58. Sam

    like pointed if bad reviews can be accepted with grace..then much difference could be seen for current and future customers

  59. Avatar of Cathy Angelcat47

    I shop for many of my skincare products at skinactives.com.They have great products and great customer service.What I really love is what they put on all their correspondence:”We welcome your compliments and hope to learn from your criticism”.They stand behind it,too.

  60. Avatar of Katharine Katharine

    I sometimes find visiting the cosmetics counter can be traumatic. Unfortunately, in Australia, the majority of beauty counter staff have a haughty, patronizing attitude. I recently had 2 horrible experiences with a makeup artist at a Laura Mercier counter – the experience was so bad, I have completely sworn off that brand altogether!
    I think makeup counters can be daunting and intimidating, in general – which is really sad. Makeup can be empowering. The people behind those counters have the ability to boost confidence, empower people, and give people the tools to look and feel their best. Instead, the majority I have dealt with get some sort of pleasure out of belittling their customers, and talking to them like they are idiots, or completely ignoring them altogether.
    I dread having to stock up on products. Luckily, there is ONE great MUA at the MAC counter I frequent, so I just make sure I buy things when she is in the store.

  61. Avatar of Melinda Mel

    I agree with you 100% on all points. Companies should accept bad reviews or comments with grace. Even find a solution to the problem. I recently left a comment on Devacurl’s facebook and it was deleted right along with a reply. I wasn’t able to read the reply before it was delted. I mentioned that I’ve notices a difference in the quality of two of their products they offer in a 12 oz & 32 oz bottles. The product in the larger bottles are a diluted versions of the regular size bottle (12 oz). I didn’t rant about, but just asked if anyone else had the same issue.

    Just the fact they deleted my comment and the reply makes me believe that it’s a wide spread issue and they know that. They don’t want customers to find out they are diluting the 32 oz bottles.

  62. espresso

    I’ve also had many typical bad department store experiences like described here too (at german stores like Douglas and Pieper, and the Karstadt & Kaufhof cosmetic sections are especially bad imo despite their great selection..), and they are kind of more frequent than the good experiences unfortunately.. but, those are definitely still there!

    Online I’ve always had great experiences with Silk Naturals.. I’ve ordered from their store for 2-3 years now and the customer service is always extremely friendly and helpful, it’s really great!
    Perfumedreams.de were also very polite, kind, helpful and extremely quick when I had a problem, and then shipped my order instantly, which left a positive impression as well.

  63. Avatar of stacey Stacey

    I really love being able to return something that isn’t right and adore Sephora for their return policy. Recently I returned something to beauty.com and after a huge hassle to get authorization, they are making me wait 30 days for credit. Most companies issue credit within a couple days of receipt. I will never order from them again and am really hoping they don’t end up giving me store credit instead of a refund.

  64. Avatar of Soo Soo

    I hope you don’t mind I linked to this post of yours on a recent customer service rant on my blog. you articulate your thoughts very well and I wanted to have it listed for reference. please let me know if it’s not okay and I’ll remove the link.

  65. Avatar of Jess Jessica

    Once, I went to Mac where these two sales assistants were just chatting amongst themselves. When I asked for a lipstick from an older collection and asked if they still had it, they were very cold to me and replied a strong and rude ‘no’ in a cocky tone. I was looking to buy a lip liner and a dazzle glass to go with my lipstick but with their rude service I just asked for the lipstick and went to check out. When I got home I looked at the lipstick and they had given me the WRONG shade, I had asked for a sheen supreme in ultra darling but instead got a pro long wear lipcreme in overtime. Furious, I went back the next day and told the manager. She was very kind about it, she gave me the correct shade, refunded me and even let me keep the previous purchase. Never again do i go to a Mac store. I’ll be sticking to counters from now on.