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What beauty brand or retailer has provided the worst customer service?

Ulta’s reps are patient on the phone, but their solutions are just dismal – if a product is broken, I have to send it back before getting a refund (no other retailer/brand has made me do this). Neiman Marcus overnighted a Louboutin polish trio ($90 or something like that) after my order arrived broken without having to be asked for that solution, whereas Ulta makes it a pain to deal with an eyeshadow arriving broken that was $1.99, which is due to poor packaging – a bunch of compacts in a box with no padding or bubble wrap!

— Christine


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Lulle Avatar

Definitely Sephora. I had this issue a few years back with the BI birthday gift (which is really the only perk of their rewards program) where the store I went to gave me the previous year’s gift and lied saying the new one was for Rouge customers only – that was really a stupid thing to do since you can see what the birthday gift is online. I complained and contacted the customer service and they showed zero interest in making me happy. I mean how hard would it have been for them to send me the bloody birthday gift? It would have cost them what, a couple dollars? But no, they decided not to, and to this day I avoid shopping at Sephora as much as I can. I only buy products that are exclusive to them and the Play box, and that’s it. So I went from getting close to Rouge level 3 years ago to spending maybe $100 a year nowadays. I hope they’re happy that they kept their birthday gift!

Oh and then they also messed up my BI account so that I never received the offers that matched my rewards level. I still receive emails showing a balance of 0 rewards points although I probably have a couple hundred. They kept sending mail offers to my mother-in-law’s address, where I had one order sent once, although reps swore to me they didn’t even have that address on file anymore. I contacted them multiple times about these issues before boycotting them, and they were never able to fix it!

kellly Avatar

OMG I have the same issue with them showing I have 0 points. I’ve contacted them twice about it, and it was corrected for a while and now it’s back to showing 0 points again. I don’t understand what’s so hard about fixing it but it’s obviously rocket science to them. Ugh.

P Jill Avatar

I had a bad experience with NM once. They sent me the wrong eyeshadow palette–a trio that was in the wrong box– I really wanted it so I totally had to order another one– as in they didn’t believe me. It was a Bobbi Brown holiday one. I was really mad. It was really the worst customer service ever!!!! I have not ordered from them since then!

Pearl Avatar

I ordered some Mario Badescu Rose Water a while back, and two of the lids on the four bottles were loose enough to where one had emptied half way out and the other one had drained to about two-thirds. I called them and they wanted me to send the half filled bottles back and then they would send me new ones. I could see how people could be dishonest, but I have a buying history there (this was my first return/issue with them over a two-and-a-half-year purchase history) and this was the first time anything like that happened, and they were only $7 a bottle. They could have handled it differently. ?

Lea Avatar

I’m surprised by the NM issues. I’ve never had any problems with them; on the contrary, I get early notices about upcoming releases and random deluxe samples of new products pretty frequently.

Nancy T Avatar

Last year’s ugly debacle with Urban Decay over the Spectrum Palette hasn’t been forgotten yet by me. It wasn’t just the “here it is, now it isn’t” thing that happened on at least 3 occasions, my biggest issues were with the dishonesty and the mind games that their CS Reps and company in general played. Plus, some very rude attitudes over the phone, too! I will admit that everything DID eventually work out in the end and I DID get one, but not before nearly having a coronary and a nervous breakdown all in one morning! Love UD products dearly, company ethics not so much.

Oh yes, I have definitely heard about Ulta’s horrid customer service! Still to nervous about it to order anything online from them. Horror stories galore! ?

Tracey E. Avatar

I won’t buy Urban Decay products for the issues described above and the way they purposely release less supply to what they know the demand will be, like the latest release of their UD Vault (II?). Their CEO played coy with my question saying she doesn’t have a crystal ball. I also find their Twitter presence so annoying. They are around for praises but disappear when customers were fuming about the scant availability of the Vault. UD left Sephora out to dry to respond when UD was unresponsive. Absolutely poor ethics and view towards your customers, IMO.

Singrsling Avatar

I’m very surprised,because I had excellent CS for a return which I mistakenly sent them the wrong item, and no problem, they took it back and credited me anyway. Really nice and helpful CS.

SFGirlyGirl Avatar

I agree, ULTA is the worst. I agree with the poor packaging… I have received broken items numerous times. Online returns at the store are also tedious, especially when you used a discount. Sephora’s returns are usually quick and easy (usually just scan the online receipt and item, as most retailers do), as they should be! The worst experience by far is when I never received my ULTA Delivery from UPS. ULTA said they could not replace my order because it was over $50, and I needed to contact my credit card company! I spend a lot at on and had never had an issue before, so I was disappointed that the wouldn’t help me.

Cara Avatar

My experience with Ulta CS was less than satisfying, but hands down Carols Daughter is the worst I have ever dealt with. An order was missing multiple things, and after weeks of emailing and then calling, I finally got in touch with someone a month later. Nearly two months later, one of the missing things finally arrived, and then I started the whole process over again, eventually getting a refund for the still missing products. Never purchased any of their stuff again.

Katherine T. Avatar

I’ve been very fortunate, I order a ton of makeup, and I haven’t had any major issues with any brand in regards to customer service. About 99% of the time, everything’s been fine, and as for the 1%, it’s been a one off thing, nothing serious, and I can’t identify any particular trend with any company. I know lots of people complain about Ulta’s packing, but my boxes always came with enough packing, the liquids are always placed in plastic bags, and nothing has ever broken or leaked, even extra fragile shadows or blushes. So I knock on wood….

Erica Avatar

I’m the same. Never had any problems. No missing items. No broken packages.Not with Ulta. There stuff has always come quickly and packaged recently. Not a problem w anyone. Yes knock on wood!

Pearl Avatar

Macy’s – I’ve had uncomfortable experiences at two separate Macy’s in their cosmetics department. I find most of Macy’ cosmetic counter ladies very aggressive. I’ve felt followed and all but harassed when I just wanted to swatch and browse quietly. Returns are awkward also – I haven’t returned anything in quite a while, but if I did it’s because I really put in quite an effort to try and make it work and I still didn’t find the product useful or wearable. I appreciate that they offer ways to make it work or ask if I’ve tried this or that, but it rings hollow because I don’t think they are trying to be helpful so much as they just don’t want to lose a sale. When I continue to politely request the return, it seems like their attitude changes from helpful and attentive to annoyed.

I have gotten a lot better about going in store if possible to swatch before I buy. If I can’t, I do extensive research so that I know by the time I buy it, I am keeping it. These days my Sephora is great and I try to do all my swatching and buying there or from Nordstrom (online) but I don’t have a local Nordstrom so the next best thing is Macy’s. I am going to start doing like Katherine T. suggested with the dark t-shirt (so I have plenty of arm space and if I get any color on the t-shirt, it’s okay) and do quick blitz swatches. I will be a swatching ninja!

Bernadette Avatar

Oh you hit the nail on the head, the salespeople are so aggressive that I won’t go in for makeup anymore. In the middle of looking for a lipstick I wanted , another customer interrupted and asked for a very pricey perfume. The saleswoman stopped looking for my item and went and got the perfume for the other customer.
Every time I’ve gone there they are trying to “push” items on me. Soooo annoying.

Marie Avatar

I hate Ulta. The local store has rude employees, and the security guard follows me around the store. I was a regular customer, but no more. And online, Ulta is okay, but shipping is slow.

Another online store that was disappointing but not awful: NARS. I ordered a bronzer, and it wasn’t packaged well. It arrived completely shattered. I tried to find out if I can exchange at the NARS retail store (no). I had to mail it back. Then it took about 4 weeks of follow up to receive the refund. I still shop NARS products, but their online and retail operations are not integrated like it’s still 1999.

Lucia Avatar

i am still waiting for an answer from Ulta about a return i just made. They promised to get back to me within 24 hours, but….no.
Another hard to reach or to deal with is Nyx

simone Avatar

i agree
ulta is the absolute worst, they make 0 attempts to fix any issue. i have been platinum with them for years and for the past 6 months have been unable to place an online order, it is obviously a system issue, yet they consistently say its an issue with my cc. i have given up on shopping there. coupon frequency is great, but whats the point if their system can process a valid transaction

Chelsea Avatar

I agree, Ulta’s customer service is abysmal, the worst in the business. Their lines are always long and slow, they don’t refund points if you return an item purchased with points, and they don’t give free samples, even of foundation. Also their shipping is insanely slow and they are frequently out of stock on items, which to me also falls under the heading of poor service.

Leslie Avatar

I agree with you, Christine. Ulta. They are very nice on the phone and give you hope that something will be resolved….but then nothing. Nothing happens. I had two online ordering glitches within a month of each other. No one fixed anything. I lost my coupon codes and couldn’t use them due to their system glitches. Then they had the nerve to send me a survey asking if the problem was fixed to my satisfaction. Huh?? I hate to ever buy anything from them again…even in store. Sorry about the rant; I’m still PO’d.

Rachel Avatar

OK I feel bad writing this, but Sephora can be hit or miss. 90% of the time the people working there are lovely. But I recently had a girl who told me that ALL LIQUID LIPSTICKS ARE THE SAME (regardless of brand) and insisted upon arguing with me when I described the many differences between all the ones I have tried. I wasn’t even trying to start something… I just wanted to have a friendly conversation!

kjh Avatar

Yeah, I’ve had them argue with me more than once, when I knew the facts, largely from here, like insisting that MUFE shadows had no name. She said ‘You are just WRONG!’ I tried to be polite and said ‘ I suggest you check your website.’ Wanted to say, You Effin bimbo! What bloody employee is not familiar with your own website! They denied that certain products exist, when they are online and multiply reviewed/swatched. Makes them sound like bloomin’ idiots.

Beth Avatar

My local Macy’s is awful. The counter staff glare at you if you swatch the testers, rarely have the product I’m interested in stocked and aren’t remotely knowledgeable about upcoming collections never mind product discontinuations etc. Basically they are rude and useless and I avoid shopping there unless absolutely necessary!

Tiffany Avatar

I’ve always had excellent customer service from Ulta online. They have always provided a replacement, refund, or gift card anytime I’ve had a problem. I’ve never had to send back something that was broken. They’ve even given me additional gift cards simply for the inconvenience of an item arriving broken. I haven’t had quite as good of experiences in the store, however.

Katie Avatar

I have had the same positive experience with Ulta’s customer service. Once I ordered a Marc Jacobs limited edition perfume, and it came broken. I called and they immediately sent a replacement, told me that I could do whatever I wanted with the broken perfume. Another time, I placed an order, and a couple hours later I received an email with a 5X points promotion. I just thought, what the hey, I will contact them and see if I can be credited for the points of my purchase. It was a BIG purchase too. They totally credited my account with the points, which as we all know at Ulta is like cash to spend on future purchases.

Michele @Binxcat4ever Avatar

Surprised to hear the Ulta complaints. I used to have an issue with Ulta but now if something is damaged on arrival, they immediately either refund or replace it (my choice) and send me an e-gift card for my inconvenience. They have NEVER asked me to return a damaged item (although I’ve offered). Their shipping has greatly improved as well. now I’m seeing my orders shipped same or next day and they are arriving in 2-3 days.

1. Sephora: They still are non-compliant with my State taxes so every time I order I have to chart it then submit it to my State Tax department and wait 60-90 days for a refund. When my Jaclyn Hill palette came shattered the Rep. was a complete jerk on the phone and they wouldn’t even try to replace it. I did get a refund but obv. I wanted the palette. I am only continuing to order until my points reach 10,000 and I have the chance to try for one of the Epic Rewards. I’m at around 9,000 now.

2. YSL – Again, non-complaint with my State Tax Department. The Rep. called me a liar who was trying to get out of paying taxes. I had to get my State Attorney General involved before I got my money back form them. I will never order directly from them again.

3. Clarins – Again, non-complaint with my State Tax Department. They just didn’t even respond to me. I ended up having to dispute the overage on my credit card statement (and they agreed with the dispute so I got my money back). I will never order directly from them again.

4. Saks – Actually not their customer service. I’ve found them extremely helpful. They even went out and searched for a LE lipstick for me and directly connected me with their store that had it in-stock. the store overnighted the lipstick to me at no charge. That being said, otherwise, their shipping blows. The warehouse gets your order packed with an horu or two normally and then you wait about 2 weeks to get it. If their deals weren’t so good I wouldn’t order from them.

5. MAC – Via online I’ve had no issues. I had several products issues, the last was a nail polish that came separated and possibly spoiled (IDK it just wasn’t right). They immediately overnighted a replacement without me sending back the damaged one. I don’t live near a MAC store but had the opportunity to visit one while on vacay. I had a fairly big list of things I wanted to buy and things I wanted to look at to consider buying. The staff there literally ignored me for 20 minutes while they BS’d with friends! I ended up walking out without buying anything.

Donna Avatar

Yea MAC is sucky in the customer service area. I had the same issue when I went into a store in Indiana. It is a very stuck up store and the employees act like they are doing you a favor by waiting on you.

Sephora is HORRIBLE in every state I ever lived in. I went thru multiple levels of management about how rude my local store was only to be told the final level had to call me back. After leaving multiple phone messages and talking to over 5 people to get to that level in management and then to be told it would take 6 weeks to contact me at that management level, that highest level of management still hasn’t called me back. That was 11 months ago. Sephora sucks.

Jill Avatar

I had an issue with Sephora when I ordered the Jaclyn Hill Palette. I got my order, the promo item and samples were there, but the Jaclyn Hill palette was completely missing and never put in the package. The shipping slip showed it was supposed to have been sent in the same box, no backorder. I called them immediately, and was happy they still had it in stock and actually sent one out to me with no hassles or questions. It arrived about 5 days later. My experience in store with their reps has been mixed. I prefer not to bother with any of the sales associates and find what I’m looking for on my own.

I had an issue with the Mac store where I used to live once. They had a big event in the middle of the mall for a special collection they released. I had scheduled an appointment for a consultation during this event, which I was told more than once was free. It was just to try the new makeup collection. When I finally got to my appointment, after the girl started, she was insistent that it was a paid event, and she couldn’t proceed since I hadn’t brought whatever. We debated a couple times, finally I just didn’t want to bother anymore. She finished up a look a little at least and I left. I wondered into Nordstrom where they had some of the collection available. The Mac guy there was more than happy to work with me, and I tried some stuff, and ended up making a purchase with him.

Michele @Binxcat4ever Avatar

Jill, wow you really got lucky with the Hill palette! I’m pretty nervous about trying to order any more of her palettes since the one I had ordered was obviously pretty fragile (the packaging inside the box seemed pretty good).
I don’t understand the MAC issues. I mean it seems like they would want to make sales and keep their customers happy! And yeah, they are supposed to do free makeovers in-store. The only MAC I’ve bought in-person was at a Nordstrom!

Kitty Avatar

While I’ve not had issues with Ulta CS (yet), I find it perplexing that there are no sample jars in its stores. Yet all of these skincare items are sold! Although some of the products they sell cause immediate irritation (so can be eliminated), I detest their basic policy of forcing purchases instead of allowing for samples. I would definitely buy more skincare items there if I were allowed to make samples to test performance first.

Nordstrom’s is the best store for dealing with any issue or return of any sort. I always buy from them first if I can.

Burberry Beauty is the best beauty brand I’ve dealt with in finding out whether problematic chromium pigments are in their products. It takes at most a day or two for their CS to get back to me about any product, past, present, or upcoming. A close second is Smashbox when it comes to products that have chromium as a “may contain” ingredient, although I’ve only used their CS people a couple times for this (and these are not the “front door” CS types but ones buried in their corporate structure).

Alecto Avatar

I feel like I’m tempting fate to say this, but the only issue I’ve ever had was with Meow Cosmetics, who were nice enough to let me know that a shipment could not be completed because my shipping address had been entered incompletely (missing the house number portion of the street address), but this was after they had already attempted to ship and the box came back to them. They offered to send it again for another shipping fee (fine — my bad for not checking the address closely even though I knew I was having issues with my keyboard). One month later (after my card had been charged) I still hadn’t received the pacakge, so I emailed them again. They said were a bit behind (fine — they’re an indie) and said they’d get to it soon. Two months later, I emailed them again, they apologized profusely, and I got an email notification about a week later that a package had shipped. Never received it. Never heard from them again. Tired of the whole situation, so I haven’t bothered to get back with them for either product or refund.

I’m sad about this because I’ve placed a half dozen orders with them and never had a problem, and I really like their products! … but I can’t bring myself to order from them anymore. Now I delete their newsletter and sale emails as soon as I see them. I’m honestly not mad, I just don’t want to deal with them anymore. And it’s not that their customer service people seemed unhelpful or unfriendly, they just … didn’t fix the problem.

I’ll probably regret this, but I’ve never had a problem with either Sephora or Ulta, and I’m at the top tier for both their reward programs. Granted, if I have a choice between buying something from Sephora or from Ulta, I go with Ulta as Sephora’s reward program is nonexistant, as far as I’m concerned (I don’t want a drawer full of samples — seriously, who does?), so I’m probably double-platinum for Ulta, but despite my purchasing volume, and the fact that I get most of my stuff from them online, their packaging has never been an issue for me. Having said that, I don’t think I’ve ever had a pressed powder product shipped to me, as I like to sample those in the store, and will buy it right there if I like it, so that eliminates one issue that other people seem to be having with them. Also, I really only go to one Sephora location, but the employees there have never been rude to me.

MAC, on the other hand, is in the same mall as the Sephora, kitty-corner to it at an intersection, and the employees there are either completely standoffish, or will pay just enough attention to me in just a certain way as to make me feel completely unwelcome (this mall is in the center of a reasonably wealthy community and is frequented most often by slim, coiffed, spray-tanned, label-wearing, non-working trophy wife types, and I walk in with my motorcycle helmet, metal-chick makeup, shaggy bob, riding jeans, and logo t-shirts and get the stink eye — which is odd because most of the MAC employees look more like me than like their Beverly-Hills-wannabe customers).

Whiny rant over. Wow … I just realized that last paragraph was actually one long sentence. Bad form! 🙂

Michele @Binxcat4ever Avatar

Alecto, if you are in the US and you paid for your Meow order by credit card, you are entitled by law to dispute the charge on your card for a number of months after it hits your card. You might want to just circumvent meow altogether and get your money back that way.
Totally love your description of your local MAC customers! 🙂

Alecto Avatar

I appreciate your advice MIchelle, but by the time I had reached the point of realizing that the shipment was never going to happen, I was past the point where I could dispute it. Definitely my bad.

I must admit to sometimes going to that mall just to ruffle feathers with my mere presence. Kind of fun, actually. 🙂

Kylie5 Avatar

I have not many experiences but Mac Germany has a Poor online Service.
I did Never get an answer to Any of my Mails. Never !!! The Last Mail I Wrote in April. No answer. So I think they had enough Time ?!

Sue Avatar

Morphe! I paid for 2nd business day delivery and it took 7 days. I spoke with 3 people over a couple days. The last person said she would upgrade regular shipping for my next order. There won’t be another.

Dori Maxwell Avatar

QVC by far. The products they carry often have shades that differ/have different names than other retailers, so it’s really hard to figure out which shade you need to buy. Then half the time if you need to return it, they have run out of stock, so you can’t exchange. If you’ve bought a special deal you then have to repurchase at the new higher price, which is beyond frustrating!! And you have to pay your own return shipping, even on an exchange. And their res are rude on the phone. It’s too bad they have such smokin’ deals somethings or I would never shop them again.

And I agree about attaining rouge at Sephora means nothing. It’s NO different than VIB other than the free flash shipping, but I can buy that for $10, I don’t need to spend the extra $600 to get it for free!

Lisa Avatar

Shiseido. Their g20 blackberry lip color was my favorite lip color, I made sure to always have a backup. I went to the counter to buy a new one and found out it was discontinued. I tried to contact the company to see if they had a similar color. I tried calling and even sent an email and never got a response. Also when I went to the counter the SA just sprayed perfume on me didn’t even ask permission.

Lucia Avatar

I never had any problems with ULTA or Sephora, buying at the stores or online, they are always nice to me. On the other hand, every place I went to buy MAC, they were horrible, rushing me to buy something that I did not want, no patience at all, such a bad customer service. If I want to buy anything from MAC now, I get at duty free when I travel overseas.

Donna Avatar

The worst, well there are two companies that are pretty bad in the customer service area….those are Babyliss (Conair in the states) and Two faced cosmetics. Babyliss never responds to their emails thru their online site and when you call the 800 phone number it automatically goes to hold and no one ever picks up. I had to finally contact Babyliss thru fb.

Two faced never responded to any phone calls, emails. I still don’t know if the original Two faced candlelight glow has the same ingredients as the new rose candlelight glow. Just so wrong to NEVER respond to a customers emails or phone calls. Two faced customer service is doesn’t even exist. A billion dollar company cant do any better than this. Just wrong.

Jaimye-lyn Carruth Avatar

You are so correct. Ulta, by far, is the worst. I have been consistently disappointed or left angry every time I’m there. Actually, I no longer purchase any products there. Ulta and I are done!

Flaky Avatar

Hautelook – without a doubt. I’ve only ordered twice, it took an eternity to arrive & both orders were smashed to bits. No hope of repairing anything – I ended up with eyeshadow dust everywhere. I called irritated of course for a refund, since they just threw it in a box without any padding. No dice – they gave me a credit on my account after some pushing. A few weeks later, I got an email stating that my “credit” was about to expire. So shady. I’ve never ordered from them again.

Lisa Avatar

I have had a very bad experience at the Sephora in Riverside, Ca. I went to return a couple of items, prior to going into the store I had contacted customer service to see if I could return the items w/o a receipt (when I pay cash for items I don’t keep receipts) the rep on the phone said “no problem”. I went into the store and to the register to return my items, the girl, right away asked for I.D, so i gave it to her, she then asked for my beauty insider #, I gave that to her. She then said she could not locate my purchases connected to my i.d, I told her when I purchased the items they did not ask for I.d. I had paid cash, (never again will I do that) she proceeded to scrutinize me as if I had stolen the items, called her manager over and put me on some “3rd party bad customer list” that prevents me from returning items at a store for a year?!! By the way, I’m classified as a “rouge” member and if your familiar w/their program you don’t get there by “stealing” merchandise!!! I’ve tried to appeal this 3rd party crap, they will not respond, customer service wouldn’t do anything, so I’m just letting everyone know about them, and hope it doesn’t happen to any of you and if you don’t have to shop there, DON’T!!! Sephora is a horrible company !!!

StillSheryl Avatar

Hands down, MAC. Ordering online is great but their store s/as are completely rude and indifferent. As much as I love their products, I rarely shop MAC.

Peta Avatar

I live in Australia, so this applies to Sephora Australia. What a shocker. They are always sold out of whatever I want. The store is so poorly designed that the whole thing is a bottle neck. The assistants are few and far between and not that helpful. I asked for a tubing mascara they firstly looked confused and then just said oh It cosmetics has one. They did not go to help me and when I looked there were 2 mascaras to choose from, neither mentioned tubbing. I don’t think I can go back . Too crowded because of poor design poorly stocked and indifferent assistants. Will spend my money elsewhere.

Maria Avatar

I’m not impressed with Sephora even though I rarely order from them I am just not crazy about their lack of discount sales and having to spend over 50 for free shipping. Also, I wanted to purchase something from one of the stores once by phone because the item I wanted was sold out online and the store had the inventory it just was not close to where I live in Norwalk, CT they said they did not ship orders from the stores if it isn’t online than I would have to go into the store to make the purchase. It is just their policy. I believe the one in Trumbull CT is the only one that will make an exception.

Jaime Avatar

90% of the time if I want something from MAC I order online. MAC staff in store always ignore me, no matter if it’s a department store counter or a stand-alone retail store. I used to think it was because I was just getting into makeup and didn’t look like I would buy a lot of products but now I go around with a full face of makeup and they still ignore me! It’s very frustrating that i have to wait for them to pay attention to me instead of just grabbing what I need and bringing it to the register.

Genevieve Avatar

A budget beauty shop in Aus, Priceline can either have really helpful sales assistants or dismal. The staff are sometimes too busy chatting to each other to help customers – I have found that a few times. Once, my daughter in law was badgered by an overbearing MUA into buying an expensive lip stain ($30 for a Revlon one – how expensive for that brand), when all she really wanted was a lipstick.

Lynne Avatar

MAC is the unlucky winner of my “worst.” After a SA sold my mom and me $180 of the wrong products (after she’d personally color-matched us; sold us entirely different product lines), I entered the nine circles of hell trying to get refunds. Yes, some SAs are oblivious or distinerested and mistakes, even that major, happen. But being forced to jump through hoops with MAC online, corporate phone and in two stores, it was clear they very much want customers to simply avoid returning products. Despite the fact that their employee majorly screwed up, inconveniencing us, and that I’m in their database as a longtime, prolific customer, they required more ID documents than the Defense Dept. When I finally got my refund, I told them that I’d never set foot in a MAC store or website and a year later, I’ve lived up to my word.

Sephora’s ecommerce comes in a far #2, mainly because they will not handle any problems if they don’t already have a canned response for it in their email reply forms. Also because they never bother to mark the BI free samples as “out of stock,” so you’ll rarely get what you’d marked and instead get foundation samples that match only Tilda Swinton. And they insist on throwing perfume samples into the box, never thinking that customers might be allergic and purposely avoiding requesting those samples.

And after all that complaining? I’ve never had one problem with Ulta, and I’m a regular online and in-store customer. Yes, their SAs can be underwhelming and the notification process for online items out of stock is clumsy, but they’ve been consistently solid from my experiences.

Gamze Avatar

In my country, Bobbi Brown. They have software issues on their website and charge customers for the GWP. Also, they send expired products as GWP and the customer service never answers the phone. Only once could I complain about an expired product and they promised to give me a refund if I return the item to them. However instead of giving my money back, they sent me the same product a second tinme instead of a refund (and they charged me for the delivery). Zero customer satisfaction…

Sheri Avatar

Asos !!!!! They’ve lost three different items over the years ! I try to contact customer service and they totally don’t contact me back so then I have to file a dispute claim with PayPal each time it happened ! Horrible

Melissa Avatar

My worst experience has been with Too Faced. I ordered 2 of the mystery grab bags last Thanksgiving season (one for me, one for my sister). Each of mine were missing the buki brush, so I emailed them. No response. I called them. The girl said she was sorry and would send them to me right away. I waited a week. No email, no package. So I called again shortly before Christmas. The woman who answered this time said there was no record of me calling but she would have the brushes sent to me 2nd day air. I get an email the next day that said they were out of stock. So I called yet again and this time I’m told they don’t have the brushes. They were a special purchase for those bags only. I asked why I could see the same thing for sale online. She told me it’s not actually the same brush. I asked to speak to a manager. Took a while, but got thru to someone and she said there’s nothing she could do. I asked about getting a credit. She finally said she would give me a 10% credit. I told her it should be 20% since I was missing one of five items. She was finally convinced and gave it to me. But I told her that me having to call over and over and getting empty promises was terrible customer service and that they’ve likely lost my business.

Erica Avatar

Macys online service is the worst. I ordered an eyeshadow 2 years ago and when I received it – 2 weeks after I ordered it – the eyeshadow had a big ‘ ole fingerprint in it! I was grossed out. It took months to get my refund but I stayed on them because I was totally disgusted. I live in NYC and the Macy’s flagship store IMO is now the equivalent of a bargain basement store. It’s crowded, dirty (don’t get me started on the restrooms), samples are nonexistent and service is unpredictable. I stopped patronizing them. It’s sad because I’ve made a lot of milestone purchases @ Macy’s.

Bonnie Avatar

Suggestion on your refund: Since you live near a Macy’s, you can return your online purchase in-store. I know how frustrating that is, having to inconvenience yourself to go to the store when you ordered online to avoid all that, but it will save you the time waiting for a refund. You can bring your credit card with you and have the refund done right there. I did it for a shirt that was marked one size and was another on the tag inside, and they took care of it right away.

Bon Bon Avatar

I fortunately have had no issues in our Ulta or Sephora stores. I do prefer shopping them (if I’m not ordering online-my first preference) over department stores like NM, Macy’s and Dillard’s. The later stores seem to be too much on the pushy side for me. The sales clerks turn a cold shoulder if I want to sample another brand. I’ve not had any issues from any online orders and I order a lot. Counting my good fortune right now.

Andy Avatar

These comments are so interesting! I’ve had my best AND worst experiences with Ulta. I can NEVER get my discounts to apply on line. Ever. They’ve been gracious a couple times about helping me through it and they admit the system has bugs – but come on! Why should I have to do that?

On the plus side, the last time this happened, I went in to the store and the manager gave me the 20% even though it had expired. But first, one of the sales clerks was baffled by the whole thing. Additionally, in a recent visit, the sales clerk couldn’t find the free Ahava gift. She expected me to just drop it, which I wouldn’t, because this has happened to me before. Finally another gal stepped up and found the WHOLE CARTON – right there on the countertop!

Another Ulta issue: i am always looking for cruelty free brands. About a year ago, one of the salespersons was trying to steer me toward a new brand. I asked if it was cruelty free. I had to explain that the term means no animal testing! Adding insult to injury, she gave me a snippy little look and said “well I could say something, but I won’t.” I was so surprised, I didn’t even report her.

That said, I usually have a positive experience. I haven’t had that problem since. Everyone seems to know what brands are cruelty free, even new brands; how new brands address problems like redness or allergies; what’s different about their formulas, etc. Also, they did take back a horrible new product that I was so looking forward to – the UD waterline pencil. Worst product introduction ever!

ShirlJ Avatar

For me it’s ColourPop. I realize I’m probably alienating people cuz they’re the darling of the Internet Makeup community, but take a look at their website FAQs. They have a No Returns, No Refunds policy. So when I didn’t get a shipment and reordered, they resent the original and I had to pay twice as I couldn’t just cancel the first order and get a refund.

All the while they were telling me that they couldn’t stop the repeat order and refund my money, they were using their trademark insincere syrupy “Sorry Hun, Too bad Love” mannerisms.

PayPal felt otherwise, thankfully. I got my refund promptly after initiating a dispute, but only because of PayPal. If I’d just used my credit card I’d have been stuck or likely had a harder time sorting it out.

Sorry ColourPop. No Return, No Refund?

No Repeat Customer.

dia Avatar

Tip for Sephora shoppers: I’ve found that the Sephoras inside JCPenney are generally friendlier, more helpful, and way less crowded than the standalone Sephoras.

Flaky Avatar

I agree. They don’t have all the products, but they seem to really have a thorough knowledge of what they do have. I’m always impressed with the staff in my local jcp Sephora.

A V A Avatar

Hi Christine,
First time commenter here (super long time reader) – firstly thank you for always doing such a wonderful job on this site! I never buy anything EVER without first consulting your site first so thank you so much for that. Additionally, recently I had to endure some deaths in my family and your blog was like an emotional oasis for me so thank you so much for that. 🙂

I am surprised to read about your Ulta experience – I have ordered from them online before (black friday, no less! It was my first time and they shipped everything in perfect condition. The only thing I was annoyed by was their “Free samples” – such dinky little nothings.) My experience with Ulta – I tend to go shop in person is surprisingly good. There are specific sales associates I have become friendly with and when I go they are always so helpful – to the point where I have stopped completely shopping at Sephora.

I find, however, when I go into Neiman Marcus, their sales associates are like the ones at Barney’s and SAKs, very aggressively predatory to the point where I feel very uncomfortable going to their beauty departments even when I REALLY want to swatch and look at some new lines or releases. On the rare time I need to return an item to these stores (which I also tend to do in person bc I will usually exchange it for something else or get store credit) I find the customer service I receive is along the lines of…difficult.

On the other hand, I also buy a lot of my skincare and cosmetics also from WalMart and their customer service for returns is almost the opposite of the high end department stores. Sure, the wait time to GET an associate at the customer service area might be mighty testing on one’s patience as one can see multiple people behind the area but one single person handling returns however once you get there, there is no question and the return is done easily.

One of the absolute worst customer service experiences I have ever dealt with which I am surprised there isn’t more commentary on is ColourPop. I had ordered a large order of eye shadows as gifts and the state they arrived in was horrific – zero padding. Everything was broken and cracked to the point where if I were to gift these items…I mean, you just couldn’t! They were completely demolished! 🙁 When I emailed explaining nicely what had occurred, I received an almost condescending and patronizing email back from someone named, ironically, “Justice.” Needless to say, I was so irritated and upset that after MONTHS of trying to email them and get some type of reimbursement (which they refused) they finally sent replacements. Their shoddy customer service was actually a blessing because I will never ever spend any money on their company again and I have made sure to show all my friends and colleagues the emails and the broken products which made them change their minds about placing orders from the company. That and all the Kylie Jenner Lip Kit drama their daughters wanted – and want no longer as well. (Note: ColourPop is run by Seed Beauty which also runs the Kylie lip kit company – same owners, also, same “level” of “customer service.”) Seed Beauty has two upcoming “confidential” brands they will release in the next year or two and I am happy to say thanks to their “customer service” while I will be happy to read your reviews about them I already know I will not spend one cent on either of their new upcoming “brands.” Way to turn lemons into lemonade (for my wallet)! 😉

I have a future “Temptalia asks you” question: How do you determine when to discard cosmetics that are clearly old (e.g. you know you purchased that Chanel highlighter x-number of years ago but you still use it and still love it) but still love to use every now and then even IF you see a hard film forming or you smell something different (e.g. Tom Ford lipsticks fresh smell like cake or vanilla and apparently turn fast smell-wise)?

Thank you so much, Christine – and love the pics of adorable Mellan!

ShirlJ Avatar

I had a similar problem with ColourPop, even down to the syrupy, but adamantly “Sorry, not sorry, Luv!”, emails from”Justice”. LOL! I suspect there are a few cute pseudonyms they use. Not impressed. I actually feel a bit vindicated that you had such a similar problem.

Bonnie Avatar

I haven’t tried Colourpop, and after reading the horror stories here, I won’t buy from them. Maybe if I really wanted to try something, I would search it on Ebay, where I have a seller who wants 5 stars, Ebay, and PayPal all to turn to if something is wrong.

Joyce Chitwood Avatar

I have heard horror stories about Ulta and general going in the store to shop and just not helpful nor polite employees. Just walk by customers and fixing their hair and makeup in the mirrors. I haven’t found them overly friendly in my town. But last visit which is not a lot. They were were ok. I also hear they don’t like to give the samples out either. I also hear a few yrs ago from a very popular You Tuber that she hates to return anything to Sephora because they r not nice about and make them feel like she is ripping them off personally. But I don’t hardly ever order from them. I have never been in a store and don’t have one very close to me over hour and half away. And don’t get a lot from Dont either but we do have a small store. They just seem higher on Drug store prices unless h hit a sale. And usually can wait and get them at Drugstore. I just don’t get a lot of oppurtunry to buy very much makeup. But I have plenty. I did get the Lorac Romance palette from Nordstrom. I had to. I really like Lorac and saw a few reviews on it. Hoping to be able to buy a little more makeup in the future. Not that I need it. But am self confessed makeup addict. I LOVE it. Can’t help and newer to it last 3-4 yrs. otherwise never had but one of each of the basics and lived with all males. No daughters. But maybe I will get a grand. Daughter. God help us all.

kjh Avatar

Bitched about mug already. Better try again tomorrow. As to Ulta, you’ll notice that they solicit a comment about shipping/delivery on their customer reviews now. (Not surprised that Christine does not comment on U customer reviews, so would not know.). I think they big sucked 2 years ago and have vastly improved in packaging/ shipping. Tape and bags on bottles, blown up plastic bags over pencils, etc. to stabilize in the box, even had those blown up pillow like sheets, like giant bubble wrap. Quicker, too. I generally know what I want, so don’t need much assistance. But an Ulta employee was observant enough to suggest lorac pro 2, rather than 1, bec I liked more color. Whether she saw me looking at Stila liners or remembered me, (I had nothing in hand,) she was so right. Ulta also has never argued with me, and instore returns are easy. I have had significant issues with non-discounting some of their sale items, trying on home computer, work computer, and tablet, giving up occasionally. I called about it once, and they fixed it remotely. But they don’t let you wholly order by phone, like S does, if the computer is glitching. Ulta seldom posts the signs that coordinate with their online sales, but I asked once, and unless it says online only, which really means only available online, the price holds in store as well. But you would never know it. I asked U about the Mayb bolds prob 6 times in about 2 months, before they finally put them out, on an endcap in U’s equivalent of Siberia. S, aside from being uninformed, has been fine, even if I admitted it was my error. My rare orders from Nars or UD have been uneventful.

N Avatar

I’d have to say Ulta also. I made an order a year ago that included shampoo and conditioner and the inside of the package had no padding or bubble wrap and all bottles rolling around in the box banging into the other stuff must have made the conditioner cap come off and all the products I ordered were covered in conditioner. Also, everything was very dirty with some black gritty stuff. The customer service gave no solution and did not offer to replace my order and they were apathetic about it. I have not ordered from them since and nor will I probably ever again.

Wendie V Avatar

Beautylish. After two returns, based on their recs after speaking to customer service over the phone, I was told I would no longer be able to return an item and not to order again from them unless I spoke to customer service first. In the case of the Natasha Denona shadows I had ordered, I had spoken to several customer service people with questions before ordering. I had placed many, many orders previously never returning an item. Their site clearly states returns are no problem. I responded to the email, in a very civil manner, and never heard back.

Selina D. Avatar

Jeffree Star. I ordered King Tut and when it came the consistency was noticeably different than Peach Goddess but since it was so hard to get I tried to work with it. It held up okay until this last week when it completely fell apart. He had issued a statement about it, so I contacted CS. They told me they only do 14 day returns and that I was “too late.” Super disappointed since I feel like 14 days isn’t a very long time.

Bea Avatar

NYX still sticks in my mind as the worst, unfortunately. I’d received damaged goods: they wanted me to take pics first, and I did. Sent it to them, and it took days for another reply (to my e-mail), as to what I should do next. I tired to “fix” the items in hopes of salvaging them, but to top it off, the products were BAD, as it turns out.
Smashbox CS is slimey, too. My debit card was charged twice, and when I called their CS, they wouldn’t credit me right away. Seriously????

ashley Avatar

Ulta. Slooow shipping, stingy with discounts, filthy stores, and uneducated employees that are almost always rude. I’ve also been aggressively followed around as if I was stealing, because evidently swatching products and taking my time somehow reads as shoplifting. Needless to say that unless I can’t get it anywhere else I avoid Ulta completely.

Erin Avatar

Sephora. Hands down… The RUDEST employees I have ever met ANYWHERE.. and 90% aren’t knowledgeable and cant even get my foundation shade correct….
I have heard from others that they love the employees in Sephora, but the, about 15? I’ve gone to in the Southern California area, only 1 store had kind staff that knew their stuff it seemed

BreTheMakeupGeek Avatar

Bloomingdales, NM, return policy on used mu that didn’t work don’t order from them anymore lesson learned. Ulta overall in store customer service poor & they never give out samples I rarely shop there.

Sandi Avatar

I’m surprised to read that. I’ve had two eyeshadow palettes received broken (Gwen Stefanie and Bon Bon), They sent replacements for both with a problem. The Gwen Stefanie actually came damaged a second time so I opted to go into the store to exchange. Maybe it was just the agent you were unlucky enough to get on the phone with.

Linda Avatar

Yikes! I’m staying away from Ulta after all this. I’ve ordered maybe twice from them. I can certainly go elsewhere.

I’m sorry to hear so many people have problems with Sephora. For me, not once, not ever. My local store goes out of their way to accommodate returns. I have zero complaints with their service. I do little with them online, so I can’t say I have any direct experience. (Watch, now something horrible will happen. 🙂 ) Their floor staff — nice kids for the most part, but I don’t really listen to them. I learn more here than I ever would from them.

The store I do not like to shop in is my local MAC. I feel unwanted the instant I walk in there. The kiosk at Nordies is better, but I shy away from it all due to my early experiences at the store.

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