Poor Service – Are you a complainer?

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 7 - 2010

This week, whilst up in London I was in a well known and respected beauty hall buying Leila her first Mason Pearson hairbrush.  This beauty hall is small, cramped and slightly unusual as the tills are randomly dotted around the department without the usual till/counter setup.

I picked up the hairbrush and approached two sales assistants who were stood at the till nearest to me.  Hovering with the hairbrush in my hand I waited for them to finish their conversation and notice me standing there.

They didn’t.

I wasn’t in a rush… so I waited quite happily until a few minutes had passed and frankly I started to feel a bit silly.  I began dropping increasingly obvious hints that I was indeed on the same planet as them.

2 minutes later, I faux coughed and got noticed.

“You can pay for that here” said SA1 whilst SA2 turned and busied herself for a moment.  I smile and extend my arm to hand her the hairbrush… but before it’s left my grip, SA1 has signalled SA2 for her attention and they’re gabbing again leaving me with my hand outstretched waiting for someone to take the damn brush off me.

Awkwardly I lower my arm and wait whilst SA1 continues her conversation with SA2.

Eventually SA1 reaches out without saying a word or even breaking eye contact with her pal.  I place the hairbrush in her hand all the while thinking “Don’t buy it from here… go on, interrupt and tell them not to bother themselves…” of course, I don’t say a word…

…and so it continues.  I hand over my card in silence… again, waiting with my hand outstretched while SA1 takes an age to contemplate whether or not she can be arsed to put my transaction through.

Eventually I get handed back my card, receipt and the hairbrush in one big handful.

“Could I have a bag please?”

I get passed a bag in the manner you would pass someone a closed book…. so I purposefully make a show of fumbling with my purse, bag, hairbrush and receipt (remember no counters to rest anything on).  I’m pissed at this point and they’re still just freaking chatting.

“You can pay for that here” were the only words that were uttered to me throughout a transaction that took 5 minutes to complete.


Did I complain? You bet… poor Mr. L suffered my irritation all the way up Regent Street.

Are you the complaining type or do you suffer in silence like me and then ear-bash your nearest and dearest?  Had any poor beauty hall experiences recently?

30 Responses to “Poor Service – Are you a complainer?”

  1. Rhamnousia says:

    My dad always taught me that if you want to complain, make sure it doesn’t fall on deaf ears because that’s a wasted effort.

    When I get treated like that, I complain to the person working there and I ask to speak to their manager AND they don’t get my sale.

    Once I’ve offloaded that complaint, I usually have a small moan to Simon and about how shit the service was and how he’s never to shop there again either.

  2. Jen says:

    I’d have dumped it on the till and walked off!

    I can’t stand bad service and having worked in high end places I fully expect to be treated well…especially when you’re buying something pricey or they’re working on commission. If they don’t treat me properly they don’t deserve my money :)

  3. I had a similar experience yesterday and I’ve learned that the assertive approach is best. After waiting a reasonable time and to prevent my pet hate the queue jumper I said “I’m in a bit of a hurry I need to pay for this!” The implied threat is that I will walk away without paying, worse still I might stick around and make your life hell so you better serve me!
    Then be uber polite when they pay you attention as they can’t complain about me being a bossy cow!

  4. Kat says:

    I hate bad service. I would personally write a stroppy letter! When I worked on counters, a few of the girls would get stroppy if people went to their counter tills to pay for an item that wasn’t from their concession, but then I did work with a few stroppy bitches!

    That is awful to be treated like that, I would be most angry!

  5. I’d have dropped it (or thrown it maybe) on the floor and stomped out. I was out for lunch with a PR the other day in a swanky restaurant – it took so long to get served (despite actually going up to the staff and asking to order to be told to sit back down again and someone would be along shortly) that we just got up and left and went to the McDonalds opposite. The restaurant staff actually chased after us saying ‘we feel bad now’….but we were by then SO hungry we kept going…We ended up having a great time over cheeseburger and small fries! Vote with your feet next time OR my best tip ever…always carry a small notepad and pencil…then look at them (offending SA)….scribble something down…look again..scribble…

  6. I was ignored by a woman at a Benefit counter where I had usually had excellent service before – she was busy gossiping with the lady at Estee Lauder and shooting me evil glances although I had gathered an armful of products and was excited to blow all my birthday money on buying everything I could ever need from Benefit. I wanted someone to go that extra mile and make it a special moment but I would have settled for just average service, in fact any service would have been better.

    I dumped everything back on the counter and walked out before going home and composing a letter to Benefit HQ telling them they had missed out on a sale that would have had a couple of noughts after it and more importantly that I would not be shopping at that counter any longer.

    They sent me the sweetest letter in response and also sent me some products to apologise in the hopes of swaying me back to shop there. I do shop there however I don’t have dealings with the blousy tart who failed to serve me that day, I deal with her colleagues who I know by name and who I know I can trust to give me great service.

  7. Happens to me all the time, I just put it down and walk out, they rarely work on commission these days so they couldn’t give a muff. I don’t usually complain as they couldn’t care less and to them I am just interrupting their convo so they want me to leave!

  8. Shortiee31 says:

    I am most definitely a complainer! Otherwise they will just keep getting away with their appaling services :)

  9. Jo says:

    I would have to write and complain to someone higher up!

  10. Aleksis says:

    The only bad service I ever had was in Victoria’s Secret, it was basically the same exact thing that happened except that I was in a hurry, I actually said ‘Umm hello!’ and the one girl walked away and the other picked up the ringing phone and pulled it to the side to talk. I actually had to get a girl that was on the floor to come ring up my products, while she was ringing it up I noticed the girl talking on the phone had on a ‘manager’ name tag on. yikes. Complaining is always a good idea imo.. it prevents other customers and other employees from having to deal with the person. I work with a very nasty lady and always secretly love it whenever she gets a complaint.

  11. nikki says:

    Im terrible for complaining! I’m one of those that walks away and THEN thinks of the 101 things I could have and should have said! I also do my complaining to the other half!

    I find it hard to complain when I usually have my son with me, I don’t want to end up upsetting him as I tend to reach boiling point a bit too quickly! And yet at the same time I’m far too shy to make a fuss!

    A classic one being the time I went to get my hair cut when I was 17! I went in, sat down while the stylist went over my hair as she began to talk through the style I wanted.. We spoke, or should I say *I* spoke a fair bit, she then walked off for ten minutes and then came back telling me I had nits and she couldn’t do anything.. All of this was said in front of a room full of people! I was mortified!! I should add, I didn’t have nits, but because I was so ashamed I dashed out of there! I went to see my Mum who worked a few mins away, burst into tears, at which point she stormed out of work and over to the hairdresser! They ended up doing my hair, but they were also sterilizing everything that touched me, so basically they gave in but still believed I had nits! Did I take that any further.. nope!

    Im terrible at complaining, email complaints, written complaints are ok.. but face to face, Im a quivering wreck! lol

  12. Anca says:

    that’s sooo freaking frustrating. I had a similar experience at a NARS counter. All I wanted to do was ask about a product and the only girl that was there was busy with giving a makeover to another client. I know she had to focus her attention to her but there was nobody else there so who the hell was I gonna ask. After 10 minutes wasted, I left. After I called to complain, manager offered a complimentary makeover. I don’t want no fuckin makeover, before they start doing that, they need to get their cust service right!

  13. unetasse says:

    Not beauty related but I once waited for 20mins in a queue at Zara because there were only 2 people serving on the tills. However standing adjacent to the tills where 3 SA’s gossiping and turning a blind eye. I had already wasted half my lunchbreak so I left in a huff and wrote to them to complain. They emailed back saying they would pass my comments on but who knows if they really did…..!

  14. Lucy says:

    I do a lot of sighing and eye-rolling in situations like this or just butt in with an “excuse me?”

  15. Serafia says:

    I worked as a cashier for two summers and now nothing pisses me off (in stores) as much as bad service. We were taught all the basics about customer service by this older worker and she’s been awarded for customer service even, so I knew we were taught the right things. I never got a single complaint, but I have had to complain in other stores because sometimes the service is just appalling. No manners, no smiles and they were being plain rude. I’m only 22, and often the SA’s are older, so I’m not too shocked that they wont address me formally, because I am younger than them, but eventhough they are older they still shouldn’t be rude and inconsiderate.

  16. caz says:

    I complain loudly and within earshot but not actually at them :/ Im a wuss.
    My last experience with beauty related customer service was brilliant. with a very loveely lady at a benefit counter. And I know she was only nice to make a sale, but it’s appriciated, and it worked. I’ll never know why people who work in retail, especially if on comission, dont realise that acting like a stuck up cow isn’t gonna help them make a sale!

  17. I’m much more assertive over the phone when it comes to bad customer service. Every so often, I’ll contact a company directly if the service I receive is really bad or just complain to DH! I get all nervous at counters for some reason.

  18. Ms.Wedgie says:

    I worked in retail for over 10 years and was a manager for 5 years. If any of my staff had dealt with a customer like that and I’d caught em doing it, they would have been hung drawn and quatered. The way you were treated was completely unacceptable!

    I always complain, but it’s better to do it in writing! Write a letter to head office or the store manager and you might get some vouchers out of it! :) I got £40 of Waitrose vouchers once after complaining.

  19. Alexia says:

    I am a little biased as the co-owner of an online shop, but I find as the years go by I am more and more prepared to stand up for my consumer rights. The pounds we are spending are becoming harder and harder to come by and voting with your feet is like a quality control system.

    Unfortunately those SA! and SA2 will continue to treat they customers like that until someone whops their perma-tanned arses!!

  20. liloo says:

    You bet I am a complainer. I complained yesterday when the posh bloke from a art shop was too busy to help me finding a light brown facepaint. Then he complained because i was removing all the paints one by one from the box to see if there was my shade. Ugh! I wanted to say (i didn’t say it though) ‘well if you bothered your arse helping me, while there is no other person in the shop and it’s 5pm now, (shop closes at 5.30pm) we would not be there, weren’t we? Ugh, he really annoyed me.

    I must say I’d rather be left in peace rather than being ‘assaulted’ by a person in a shop or having to go with the mindless chit chat at a hairdresser’s but I really really feel that some people really don’t like their job and wonder why they’ve accepted to work in retail when you show obvious signs of non even remotely liking dealing with the public.
    My problem is that I take it very personally when it’s a shop I have been for the first place, and I am thinking ‘umm, maybe I don’t come out as very friendly and the person is a bit reserved’ or something. But when I have been to the same place many times and get the same treatment by the same person, I tend to think that this person is always miserable and abrupt: like that woman at the little post office where I live. Good grief. Never seen anything like it: soooo cold and you even feel sorry for asking something, she even stopped you mid sentence like you asked something inappropriate or something. I swear one day, (and i think it looks like it’s going to be tomorrow cos I need to post a parcel) I am going to have a word with her. I can’t bear it anymore. ooo, this gets me all worked up x

  21. Ashwini says:

    ROFL these are such awesome comments. I don’t have a complaining story to share; but I love the idea of scribbling down the person’s name in front of them, then writing to HQ, name names, and vote with your feet!

  22. Lillian says:

    Ughhh i hate hate hate service like that! But like you i never complain (i’m very shy anyway so just talking to SAs is scary, let alone complaing at them). There is a shop i used to love which got taken over by new management. It used to have really friendly, lovely SAs. Now it has these 2 girls who are always just talking to each other when i go to pay. it’s so unprofessional!

  23. Gosh, that’s so rude !
    I always wonder why people like that keep their job as they obviously don’t like it and don’t like to take care of their customers.
    For me it’s just like to be a teacher while you don’t like children : a total non sense.
    And i can not uderstand how they can ruin a sale like that !

  24. Fei says:

    When buying a high end product, like the hairbrush you were buying I’d definitely expect better service than that. I’m too much of a wuss to kick up a fuss in store, but afterwards I would definitely email customer services and complain about the rudeness of the staff.One particular incident in a department store fuming and when I complained to their customer services department I was sent a very standard unapologetic email. I’ve since stopped shopping there, especially since everything they sell is available elsewhere anyway x

  25. I would complain to the supervisor/manager. I have complained before. Recently I wrote a letter to the CEO of a big chain store and got my notebook computer replaced. The store assistant manager had been very rude and refused to change my pc. She even (not doubt sarcastically) said I should contact the CEO when I asked for someone higher to complain to about my problem.

    I took her at her word then wrote a letter which I mailed, emailed and faxed to the CEO and the President of U.S. stores and the District Manager and General Manager of the store where I was treated poorly. I got a response the very next morning and now have a brand new pc with Windows 7.

    If you do it politely complaining about poor service can get you a positive outcome. I was firm and polite and had a specific solution in mind regarding my problem and I got what I wanted. And I still feel comfortable shopping at the store. :-)

  26. Lena says:

    I do complain. I don’t usually bring it to the attention of the person giving me the bad service (based on the premise that they don’t really give a flying eff) but I will complain to higher ups, usually the company’s HQ. I recently had to do that with Sephora – had a sales girl acting like I was asking her to cut off her feet when I requested a couple of perfume decants, this after I’d waited 20 minutes to be even greeted or asked if I needed help. The store manager herself got back to me and told me to come by and they’d “make things right” but unfortunately I live 2 hours away from this particular store (a fact I’d told them in my original email). Oh well! At least maybe the girl got some disciplinary action out of it.

  27. Lena says:

    I do complain. I don’t usually bring it to the attention of the person giving me the bad service (based on the premise that they don’t really give a flying eff) but I will complain to higher ups, usually the company’s HQ.

    I recently had to do that with Sephora – had a sales girl acting like I was asking her to cut off her feet when I requested a couple of perfume decants, this after I’d waited 20 minutes to be even greeted or asked if I needed help. The store manager herself got back to me and told me to come by and they’d “make things right” but unfortunately I live 2 hours away from this particular store (a fact I’d told them in my original email). Oh well! At least maybe the girl got some disciplinary action out of it.

  28. Redtiger21 says:

    What awful service!! I’ve been through that many a time, and always been too gutless to say anything lol. However, i’m getting braver in my old age and I feel like nowadays I’d say something, or at least refuse to let them ignore me, butt in their conversation somehow, ask a question I don’t need the answer to or something! I’d be more inclined to complain if I was spending more money.

  29. Jean says:

    I lived in New York for a while, New Jersey, generally on the East Coast of America as well as Seoul. You learn to deal with the attitude, namely by throwing it back at them. I just speak my mind and tell them they better straighten up, but a lot of times they don’t give a shit, New Yorkers being who they are–lots of people in the service industry make out as though they’re doing you a favor by just being in your presence when you’re paying for their paychecks. So sometimes it’s useless but I still will give them an earful because hey, if I don’t I’ll be stewing afterward and they deserve it!

  30. mary says:

    OMG I’ve had so many bad experiences with SA’s I don’t know what one’s to choose!.

    On one occasion, I wanted to get some new foundation and the SA was steering me away from the Lancome (which I wanted to try) to the L’oreal counter that would be more in my budget (I was wearing joggers and an old top, I know, I know!). She then insisted I was a beige tone (I am NW15). I mentioned that I couldn’t get a good colour match with MAC foundations…and she replied “Well yes, that brand is mostly for black people”. I left speechless with a rotten sample of L’oreal emulsion paint..I mean foundation.

    Another time I bought an origins foundation that I knew I liked. When I came out the store, I looked at the box and noticed the batch code was 2 years old. I returned and it was horrific trying to get my money back. I had to wait nearly half an hour…the SA needed to talk to the supplier and I was instructed the manufacture date didn’t matter because the product hadn’t been opened. When I disagreed she became really hostile and told me that in future I should look more carefully before buying something (she had pulled the product out of a drawer and popped it straight in a bag, so how could I check?, wow). I felt sick coming out from the place….totally boycott the chain now.

    Oh and I had a terrible experience while trying to return an item to MAC. Painterly paint pot gave me total crepe eye and I was scolded that the reason was I hadn’t used it correctly (I applied with a brush?). Just horrible customer service.

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