What are your deal-breakers when it comes to customer service?

If I get the run-around when I’ve called or emailed when there’s an issue with an order, or when solutions to common issues (say, a broken eyeshadow) make the customer have to do the work (though it wasn’t their fault) to resolve it. For example, Ulta used to require receipt of return of a broken item, even one that was $0.99, in order to refund or reship (now, they resend and haven’t required me to ship broken products back in awhile). I routinely receive broken powder products from Ulta (still do!), and for awhile, I stopped shopping there except for Ulta-exclusive launches because of how often I was receiving and having to return broken products. The last big no-no is when brands are rude to customers, particularly on social media.

— Christine


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joniraee Avatar

I dislike hassle-y returns as well, and places that don’t allow you to return opened items when they don’t end up being worth it for whatever reason (i think bloomingdales is one that at least used to not allow anything but unopened products…)

but on a different note, I also really hate when sales people, (especially at traditional counters where I can’t really just browse and touch) act snotty or judgy, or that sort of pressure you into buying something simply because you asked to see it.

Alison Avatar

Ugh, I don’t shop at Ulta– and the experience you describe, Christine, would be a deal breaker for me as well. I used to regularly shop at Space NK and am on their mailing list for sales. And twice I’ve forgotten after prior experiences how bad their service is. It’s basically all by automatic email. There’s never a way to reach a person– ever. If you phone and leave a message they respond by email. There’s never anyone home to answer a phone call or speak to a manager. Days go by before they respond. And if they ask you a question via email and you respond via email, you get the same auto-responder saying they’ll get back to you in 72 hours. And then that generates future emails asking how you’d rate their solving your problem. Even though no one has ever dealt with your problem. The only way I got through a major problem that dragged on for over a month, in which they charged me for cancelled items and never shipped the purchased items, nor refunded my money, was by appealing to Lola’s Beauty Blog who was kind enough to connect me with a manager of her acquaintance. My most recent order went okay– they had good discounts on Surratt blushes and now I’m covered. Even though it took a few weeks for them to ship the purchase and I had to bug them about that, fortunately I had no need for further dealings. Unless they are giving away Skin 1111, I will really try to avoid buying from them going forward.

Kitty Avatar

Reminds me of DSW.com. Deplorable customer “service.” When I had issues with an order in which DSW cancelled one item to get below a coupon threshold (thereby cancelling my whole discount), no matter when I called their CS number, the hold time was at least 7 hours! (And this was at a normal time of year, not Christmas.) Fortunately my local store was very honest and fair in handling the situation, but I haven’t trusted their coupons or online ordering since. Just as in your case, DSW sent me emails asking me to rate their online CS.

Alisha Avatar

I have only gotten a few broken things from Ulta, )but I really cant say that much more than Sephora or MAC because I order from Ulta way more. I try to buy whatever is available at Ulta from them because their rewards are just so much better. But, I will say that until a year and a half ago I lived in WI and their main distribution is in IL I believe so that’s a shorter distance and perhaps less handling? I did not appreciate an Ulta associate telling me last time I returned a partially broken Anastasia highlighting palette “you know what we do to these when you return them right? They get destroyed. It’s so wasteful.” Um so I’m supposed to keep it even though parts are broken? I agree that it’s wasteful but on the other hand isnt that one of the reasons for the high cost? Cuz people can and do return?

Nancy T Avatar

Oh, I’ve got a list.
1.) Pushy, high pressure SA’s, especially if they “shadow” me while I’m just browsing and swatching products.
2.) Rudeness or a condescending attitude. I don’t care whether it’s in-store or over the phone, don’t treat customers as if they owe you or the brand you work for something!
3.) Ignoring the customer when they’re asking you for assistance, provided that you’re not already busy.
4.) Poor return /exchange policies are just too much stress and agita in this day and age when most companies are getting that right. So, if your company isn’t? Well then; there’s plenty of other options!
5.) Finally, and probably worst of all, is when a company is surrounded by scandal and shadiness in its dealings with their customers or influencers/reviewers, and has a terrible track record in that regard. (J*, LC immediately come to mind) Really, any “drama” companies, for that matter. Life has enough of that as it is without one willingly stepping in to that arena!

Sarah Avatar

Oh yeah, (1) is definitely an annoying one. I’m okay with a nice greeting when I enter or a quick “can I help you” from employees who are roaming around, but the ones that are forceful and try to dip you in lotion or whatever (looking at you, Bath and Body Works and Lush) are too much.

I don’t why certain companies push that sales tactic still. I mean, I’m sure they think it helps sales, but it personally drives me away.

Genevieve Avatar

What’s important to me is that I am not ignored, because of my age, in the shop!
Secondly I would like some genuine help, re finding a product or advice – re my recent unhappy experience at Sephora when the MUA couldn’t help me find the lipstick I wanted.
Another annoying habit is those that try to talk you into buying a completely different product than the one you came into the shop for (as what happened to my daughter in law).

Deborah S. Avatar

My answer is to look back at how Z-palette, ABH, JS and many more, handled their PR nightmares. I don’t subscribe to the belief that the customer is always right but when you have thousands of people telling you that your formula isn’t working and then you tell them it is their fault, really?
I hate pushy sales assistants. There is a women that works in a JC Penney’s Sephora who follows you around constantly and if you pick up a product she launches into a sales pitch and wants to show you other similar products, etc. I have had to become pretty firm with her and I hate when I have to do that but when I say I am just browsing and that I will find you if I have any questions, then leave me alone.
I do a lot of purchasing on-line and if I have to deal with customer service I expect them to be polite, helpful and to have the ability to resolve my issue without transferring me 3 or 4 times or telling me they need to get the supervisor. If my palette arrived broken then the only acceptable response is, “We will send you a new one. ” If you need it to be returned then that should be on their dime. I know they aren’t responsible either but paying for postage back is a small price to pay for keeping loyal customers.

In my years of ordering on-line I have only had one product arrive broken and that was the Pat McGrath La Vie en Rose palette from Sephora. I returned it in person and they took it back without any questions. I didn’t have a receipt as I had left it at home but their computer system showed I purchased it. Just recently I purchased the ColourPop Kathleen Lights Christmas release and my e/s quad came with 2 of one shadow. I contacted them via email and they asked me to send a picture, which I did and they mailed my shadow that same day. I received it 2 days later. I was very happy with the service.

Sarah Avatar

Employees that lie or make stuff up about the product for the purpose of making a sale. I fell for it a bit when I was younger and first had some extra spending money, but I try to be a more educated/skeptical shopper now. I try not to buy from brands/stores that have burned me in the past.

Bunny212 Avatar

Bad customer service. This past year taught me to be wary of Colourpop. I keep falling for the okie-doke with their shiny pretty releases every five minutes, and keep forgetting that every time I’ve had an issue they are horrible. About 40% of my purchases have arrived w at least one item missing. They require you take a pic of your packing slip and the items received. OK, that’s not a problem, I’m happy to follow their requirements–then they give you the runaround until they exhaust you. This has left such a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. About half the time, they’ll resend the missing item, the other half, they reply with a version of the same canned response about how they apologize for the inconvenience and they’re very sorry BUT THEIR TOS says….blah blah blah. The last was this weekend, on an order placed during their sale, that had a glitch with my Apple Pay. They won’t fix, they won’t adjust, they won’t cancel. Literally an email stream of endless back and forth with a song and dance variation of the same thing repeated ad nauseam. Their tactic is literally to exhaust you until you just suck it up.

For 2019, I’m done with Colourpop. There are clearly great, budget-friendly brands out there far more deserving of our attention (your amazing, thoughtful, thorough in-depth delve into Sydney Grace e/s has convinced me) rather than to keep suffering through terrible customer service that’s avail only through email, to boot.

Silvia Avatar

Rude, unpleasant some no greeting pesky sales persons. If you are working with the public be courteous and polite smile or don’t buy don’t be a stiff cardboard. Show some feelings. To me that’s extremely important and I owned a business I would make sure to stress that point and if an employee would fail at that then is out! I like to have a pleasant experience shopping for makeup, clothing, etc. Another are those pushy people following you around and try to put stuff on your face! Just no!! Is so annoying! I have had no issues when placing orders from WetnWild or Colourpop never have received a broken thing from either one and WetnWild was pleasant enough to guide me making some choices. I prefer shopping in person more than ordering through websites so I guess I avoid receiving broken or wrong shades this way. Also us as customers don’t have the right to be nasty to any employee no matter how wealthy one is. Show up and demand service like a goddess not nice. Some people do drive others coconuts! Lol!

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