Friday, 19 November 2010

Boots & Dior... Poor Show


**edit: took 'Bourjois' out of the title. this is not their fault**

How many of you read blogs and buy your makeup online because the thought of having to deal with the pressure of buying a product in-store makes your skin prickle? Is it because you don't like the stress of having to make a decision in front of someone? Is it because you've experienced humiliation at the hands of an orange faced, talentless sales assistant?

3 incidents in Boots (2 very recently) make me feel that I never want to go back there and I am not a person who fits into the above categories. I adore going to into makeup stores, browsing; lingering over the new products at a luxurious counter, speaking to the usually very well-made up, talented & passionate sales staff (many of whom will want to make you feel your best & are very knowledgeable). If I am just browsing, I will tell them - I never pretend to be interested in something just to try it. By all accounts, I am a good customer. Have a read of this post by Caroline over at Beauty Mouth if you want to learn how to become a good customer.

And you know what? Caroline makes a very good point. Sales staff do a job. They are human and they are offended by rudeness, the same as customers are. But there are some bad, bad bad assistants out there, the same way as there are bad, bad, bad customers. What we need is some kind of super-makeup store, where the good customers are served by the good sales staff - a pipe dream perhaps?

Anyway, enough of this waffle. Let's get down to the nitty gritty of why I am writing this. See my disclaimer - I don't rant about things unless I am very very unhappy. Usually reserved for products, but in this case, my experiences with Boots, Aberdeen & it's staff has really left a sour taste in my mouth. So here goes...

Case Study 1
Where? Boots, Bon Accord, Aberdeen
Who? Floor Manager
When? Late 2009/Early 2010
What was I wearing? A suit

I am browsing the 'Bliss' stand. I don't know if other stores have Bliss staffed or not, by mine isn't. Neither do they ever have testers out to try the products. (Point 1 - who would spend £30 on a cellulite product if you can't even see a tester first? oh yeah. me...) So imagine my surprise when I spot a product open. I can't even remember what it was, some sort of miracle cream. I squeezed a little onto the back of my hand, it smells rank so I walk away, off to the till to pay for the rest of my purchases.

The till queue is massive. I am stuck in the middle - a queue ahead of me and a tail back of people behind. Someone taps me on the shoulder and says "excuse me can I have a word?". I turn around to see a man with a ripped box in his hand and the aforementioned product and proceeds to demand, loudly in front of at least 15 people, why I had seen fit to rip open a sealed product? He then informed me that the product was now wasted and I had cost the company money. Completely aghast (and shamefully embarrassed) I managed to stutter that it was already open and nothing to do with me, when he turned on his heel and walked off. By the time I had been served, anger swept over me, I tracked him down and asked to speak to a manager, only to be told he was the manager. So, I said "well I'd like to complain to the manager about how I was just spoken to by a manager". I told him that I didn't appreciate being spoken to like that and what made him think that it was me? He responded that a member of staff had seen me using the tube and how was he supposed to know it wasn't me? At that point, I walked off. Thinking about how embarrassing that was, still makes me cringe, a year on.

Case Study 2
Where? Boots, Bon Accord, Aberdeen
Who? Orange Faced Dior Sales Staff
When? 2 weeks ago.
What was I wearing? Work clothes, with a North Face jacket (it was snowing in Aberdeen!)

This incident has angered me (and hurt my feelings more than I would have thought it could), not because I was particularly offended by what she said, but because she saw fit to make a judgement on me and take the decision that I clearly wasn't good enough for Dior. What makes it worse is the fact that Dior should know about my complaint and they have my contact details and yet they have further seen fit to snub me and have chosen not to contact me.

Anyway, I was looking for this....

Instead of writing the whole incident again, I have copied the email I sent, via a contact, to Dior.

Popped into Boots at lunch to go buy the Dior Addict Lip Glow balm, dandered up to the counter and I kid you not, the woman barked at me, asking if I was looking for anything in particular. I said I was just looking and would give her a shout if I needed anything, but she continued to talk to me so I said I was looking for the colour glow lipbalm (couldn't remember the exact name!) but before I could continue she informed me that 'Dior doesn't sell lipbalms'. Again, before I could say anything, she waved to the back of the shop where the non-staffed counters are (you know... the Natural Collection etc) and said, "perhaps you'd be better looking around the brands back there, maybe somewhere like Too Faced might be more suitable for you"
Completely taken aback, I just sort of said, oh well it was actually a specific Dior product I was looking for, not just any old lipbalm, to which she just shrugged and said again that Dior didn't 'do' lipbalms! So I wandered off but turned back once I'd regained my usual composure, spotted the Lip Glow immediately on the stand and asked her for it (not pointing out that it was 1 of 2 products out on display with lipbalm in the name!)
It probably took her a good 10 minutes to then locate the product in the stock drawers and not once did she apologise for what she'd said, or that she was wrong and they did infact stock lipbalms or even acknowledge it!
I just really was shocked that a brand would take it upon themselves to judge a person and make suggestions as to where they should or should not spend their money! I'm a 30 year old professional woman who does not expect to be spoken to in such a manner and I was completely insulted. Such a minor point, but it really left me with a bitter taste! I'm not normally one to take such cheek, but she really really shocked me with her attitude. Really disappointed and a little bit hurt actually - so daft, but she made me feel like a 12 year old with sticky fingers!
Ummm, ok Dior doesn't 'do' lipbalms? For clarity, Dior, if you are reading this, please refer to your products Lip Glow Colour Awakening Lipbalm and see below for the Creme de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lipbalm.

It's a shame this happened as that day I was also looking to purchase an Amber Diamond shimmer brick (and instead went for the LE YSL one) and a pot of the Capture Totale HD powder. Oh well, I probably would be better off buying something from the Natural Collection. At least I don't pay for rude, snidey service there.

Case Study 3
Where? Boots, Bon Accord, Aberdeen
Who? Boots floor staff
When? 1 week ago.
What was I wearing? Jeans, Top & Chanel handbag. (maybe I should've had this the day I went to Dior...)

This is short and sweet and I kinda feel bad as it will reflect negatively on Bourjois, but it was Boots' fault. Bourjois - you might want to take this up with them?

I wanted to buy this mascara.
There was no tester and as I hadn't tried it elsewhere, I wasn't parting with the £10 odd quid that it cost without at least seeing what the brush was like. I took an unopened one over to a sales girl and explained there was no tester, did she have one she could open to replace the missing tester? Her reply? No. Now, if it was "No, I'm sorry I don't have the authority to do that/it's not company policy/I wouldn't know how to unwrap it" I might have had a bit more sympathy, but she just said "no" and looked at me blankly. I handed her the mascara and just said, ok in that case I'll leave it and headed to superdrug. I still haven't tried the mascara but I know I wont be going back to Boots to do it! If this had just been a one off, it would never have bothered me, but coming so soon after the Dior incident, it was the last straw. At Boots apparently you can't get good service from highstreet brands or high end brands!

Is it me? I have included details of what I was wearing - I know that shouldn't make a difference, but I could understand a little if each time I was wearing rags and smelled a bit funny. So what's up then? I've no idea. And don't get me wrong, I'm not not normally one to complain and in isolation, these incidents would be annoying at best, embarrassing at worst, but as a collective, make for pretty poor reading.

What I do know is I will be sending a link to this post to Boots & never shopping there for makeup again. I will still need it for toiletries, but I have John Lewis beauty hall & Superdrug in the same place which can more than cater for my needs. Speaking of John Lewis (and further evidence of my good customer skills), I spent an hour at Bobbi Brown a few weeks ago and asked the SA for help choosing some brushes. I let her divulge all her hints, tips and tricks for looking after & cleaning brushes and tell me all about the differences uses you can get out of different brushes, you never know - I might have learned something and she felt good that she'd really helped someone. I also then bought £130 worth of said brushes. Ahh - so that's good customer service!! She made me feel good, attended to and got me to spend more money than I'd intended. Dior - are you listening??


  1. I didn't mind the length of your post at all because it was very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The service you've received in these situations, particularly the first 2, are truly appalling. I've never sold makeup but I've worked in customer service for years so I completely understand how it feels to be the sales associate and the customer. Under no circumstances would it have ever been acceptable for a customer to be treated the way you were treated. Good for you for writing this post and for making the decision not to shop for makeup at Boots in the future! xx

  2. hiya, thanks for your comment. Yes, the first 2 are appalling and although I appreciate the 3rd one is more irritating than anything worse, it was just the final straw, particularly since the Dior incident had only happened a few days before. I hope brands eventually start to take notice - some already do. Superdrug, Sleek, Bourjois - even Avon have a high presence on twitter, facebook etc. That makes brands stand out for the right reason - not being bitchy to their customers.

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  4. Great Post! I can't believe the service you have received, especially from a brand that is so expensive! I can't say I have ever experienced the same issue as you in Boots, my main issue is with the fact I can never find anyone to help (maybe I just don't look hard enough). If I want something from the counters I tend to go to John Lewis or Debenhams here.

    Though my sister has been treated quite poorly by MAC, Selfridges at Trafford Centre. Though MAC never resolved issue, selfridges more than did!

    You should not feel intimated to shop, sorry for long comment

  5. Brilliant constructive post. Spot on. Gives us all a bad name.
    And if any of the companies would like Customer
    Service training they know where to find me! :)

  6. Bad service makes me so angry, especially when the whole point of shopping for make-up is that its meant to be an enjoyable experience. The best place I've experienced service is Space NK- staff are helpful but not overbearing and actually know about the products they are selling. Liberty's on the other hand....grr!

  7. I actually read that whole thing - normally I would skim read a long post but this is a topic I think is a real issue. I hate that feeling of being completely humiliated by sales staff. It does make you want to only shop online which is just not the same. Frankly, it's their JOB to help you, not flaunt their superiority or treat you like an annoying wasp while they carry on chatting to their mate.
    I've worked in several customer service roles and I cannot believe the way some staff behave. It's not that hard to be professional.
    And also - even if you were in rags and smelled funny - it shouldn't matter! What you look like/are wearing is of no real importance. That's essentially discrimination.
    Clearly this topic winds me up! :) Great post. xx

  8. this is AWFUL! very well written post and you are soo right to be angry. You spend your money in there,they have no right to make you feel like that. Shameful!


  9. Great post but just to let you know, mascaras never have testers due to hygiene reasons and they would go off super quick xx

  10. I can't believe the service you recieved in that Boots store! Disgusting!
    I'm lucky enough to have dealt with really nice SA's in Boots (and other places). Though I've had really rude till staff in Superdrug before - you know the ones that grunt at you? I feel like slapping them! Lol.
    Great post btw :) xx

  11. I can't believe how bad the service was. Appalling. It doesn't matter if you were wearing rags and smelled off pooh - your money is as good as anyones.

  12. I can totally agree, I have also received terrible customer service at Boots, and especially at one particular make-up counter! It just made me go to Debenhams instead, and I received wonderful service from two sales assistants there.

  13. WOW thanks everyone for their support! I hope one of the above reads this and takes the time to respond. Issues like these could be so easily changed by a simple smile or apology or whatever.

    Karleigh - I never knew that. I usually buy my mascaras from a staffed counter so have never really considered testers as an issue before, but they could have a 'dry' version of the brush available. xx

  14. Can't get over your experience - never had an issue in Boots (although I have been told off in Superdrug before about playing with 'non testers' when there isn't a tester).

    My worst experience is always at MAC in Trafford Centre - always rude to me and make me feel like I shouldn't shop there!! Its like my god, I have a good job and disposable income - refuse to go there now.

    I definitely agree with informing Boots - they should be made aware of the type of staff and policies in their stores.


  15. Email Boots and complain about these awful people...i am speachless!!!!

  16. How insulting. Whether you're wearing a suit, rags or a nice designer outfit, your money spends the same anywhere you go. Pathetic customer service. I hope you get some good feedback, and keep us updated, if you can!

  17. Did you take it up with Boots head office before blogging your post - sounds like that branch is particularly badly managed? I totally sympathise with you regarding the way you have been treated but Boots (the company) haven't had a chance to respond yet & most other stores usually give much better service. Dior on the other hand should bloody know better! Such haughtiness on the part of the SA is deplorable. They have had sufficient time to respond. Good luck - I would definitely take it up directly with Boots rather than rely on word of blog... just my two penn'orth. xx

  18. A case study for you. :)

    Where? Boots
    When? Around 3 weeks go.
    Who? security staff.

    Popped into boots before meeting a client (i am a make up artist, intended to meet a model to talk about her portfolio over coffee) Stores open at 10 and my client wasnt arriving until 11. I wandered around store, browsing make up, stopping to have a friendly chat with a store clerk who commented on my make up. I picked up a few bits of haircare, a few pieces from no7. Wandered over to YSL to debate re-purchasing some touche eclat for my kit. Popped it into my basket and headed downstairs to look at the gift sets, as they are on 3 for 2. Decided i really couldnt afford to buy the touche eclat, and popped it on the side. Paid for my items, and left. Only too be stopped by a plain clothes security advisor who flashed his badge and had me do the walk of shame back to the store, explained i had items in my basket that had disappeared before i paid. i explained, then they took me in the back and made me sit in a small office with a female member of staff keeping an eye on me, while they searched the security tapes for me actually placing the items down, and retrieving the products from where they were placed. No apology made, i was shown out. When i asked to speak to a manager, was told that he was busy and it would be in my best interest to leave incase i had stolen anything and they found it on the tapes. Enraged, i demanded to speak to a manager, when a male member of staff told me that she couldnt contact a manager, and i should make a formal complaint!

  19. Hum really interesting post! Even though I think the WORST customer service in the UK or in the US would just be an average one in France (in Paris especially). This is so lame here, sometimes it just gets funny.
    You had the right reactions by always turning to the -useless, unfortunately- manager!

  20. Pixie Voltaire....It's easy in retrospect to say you should have done this or that but in my opinion staying put until the manager provided an appropriate apology would have been a good move. is all appalling, I hate bad manners and poor service but I do know that the Chanel SAs are very very good in Boots and it's worth going there if only for that little bit of decency. (and some very rich people are a bit whiffy too!)

  21. good sales persons know to NOT judge customers by how they look. i had a friend working at Neiman Marcus at Beverly Hills, and he told me that the ones who drop the most money usually look casual, sometimes coming in in flip-flops as they don't have to be a try-hard to look like they have money. apparently Boots' needs to educate its staff in customer service. plus, they (the reps) need to remember that just because they work at a Dior (or certain brand counter), doesn't mean that they're as good a people as the brand...c'mon, they're just retailing (not that there's anything against retail job but this comment is directed towards those specific ones who act like they are the sh*t, when they actually go home in a used car...).

  22. @Ali I did not take it up with Boots any further than speaking to the manager on the first instance, who was most unhelpful. Having said that, the 2nd incident was Dior and not Boots and I did take it up with them before I posted this and didn't get a response. I have now sent this to Boots directly and am waiting on a response. If they do respond, I will ensure that it is addressed on here appropriately. I am not intending to unnecessarily shame a company or not give them due course to respond, I just felt that the manager I spoke to the first time, could easily have changed this outcome at the time. and yes, I agree - Dior's attitude = deplorable! love that word! Thanks for the feedback and taking the time to read and respond. x

    @Pixie Voltaire that sounds horrendous! absolutely appalling!

    @anonymous yes, I can 100% without a shadow of a doubt say that the Chanel girls in Boots are some of the best. They know me by first name (that's a whole other issue + post lol), remember my products, what I've been up to etc

    Thanks to everyone for reading & commenting. Makes me feel better that it isn't just me who would feel/felt insulted! xx

  23. Great post! I enjoyed reading it. Followed!

  24. thanks everyone, i would point out i was so enraged i marched my arse to customer service and wrote a complaint to the manager of the shopping centre!

  25. Wow. I can imagine your horror with the Bliss incident. It seems there are all kinds of bad vibes swirling around in Boots! I'm sorry you had to go through all of that and I will be especially careful when I go into a Boots. I am from Colorado and have never been, but if anyone gives me guff I'll probably bite their head off! I am sure you are such a good customer and they had absolutely no right to judge you. People like that should just disappear off the face of the earth :).

  26. That's very unfortunate and I think you handled yourself well with the first incident. The second incident you were supposed to put her in her place no offense to the lovely SA out there but she would not have a job if it was not for your money. Because you spend money boots generates money therefore is able to hire people to work. The 3rd incident is basically a wash. If she was not such a duh she would not be standing around doing nothing. Obviously a hopeless case you did the correct thing. Don't be bothered and embarrassed since in life there are no embarrassing moments because these incidents happen to everyone. It's a universal thing. Dior bitch clearly has no self respect or self esteem I feel nothing but pity or her.

  27. Boots customer service at the Lewisham store is absolutely appalling. The makeup section is a tip, with products regularly sold out, the testers left out anyway, and if you ask the staff about almost anything their stock reply is to direct you to where you can buy it online!

    They actually have a lot of staff but they're often on the phone (not work calls that's for sure) or talking to each other so you feel bad about interrupting them to ask if they have something in stock. I'm not an uppity customer, I respect staff and it's obviously fine for them to be chatting to each other etc., but it's to the point where I actually feel kind of like I'm intruding in their living room when I walk into the store... Unfortunately Superdrug isn't much better, though the one in Lewisham is pretty good .