Random Mini Rant: MAC Shops

MAC sales assistants have always had a bit of a bad rap from me – whilst I’ve always moaned about their icy cold attitudes and tranny like make up, I am an open minded one.

I always hope that in time, things change, things get better.

So those of you who follow me on Twitter will know I had an epic day out in London yesterday.

cat tongue.jpg

So I went to the MAC Pro shop first. My day was completely planned out, I had appointments here there and everywhere – so as soon as I walked in I was blanked by the shop assistants who twirled and danced around me, chatting loudly and hugging each other like infants – all mwah mwah air kissing rubbish…all whilst customers are waiting to be served.

Louie Spence Wannabe

You’d think you walked into Pineapple Studios or RADA not a MAKE UP SHOP.

So eventually I get bored by the people deliberately ignoring my gaze so I queue up. The guy behind the till has no choice but to serve me so I quickly tell him, I want that blush, that brush, that pencil etc.

Even though he was serving me, this didn’t stop him from being a skipping idiot, skipping around the shop, twirling, kissing and hugging another member of staff, grabbing the arse of another.

This shop is not your catwalk darling. Its just a make up shop. Its just a shop.

Whilst I would never begrudge someone the need to make the work day that little bit more enjoyable (hey, I’ve worked in retail) there’s always a time to be professional (when a customer needs you, and certainly while you are in the process of SERVING someone) and there’s a time you can turn up the music and do a little dance.

Why else is it annoying? Every skip, every twirl, every snog, every bum squeeze is wasting MY time. I had 10 minutes tops and I ended up in there for 35 mins because I had been ignored for a while and my sales assistant insisted on performing Swan Lake whilst picking up my items.

Why me?

(Also I asked him to match me to the new mineralized foundation to which he took one look and said NC40 (huh?). I’m normally NC30 – 35 I reply…nooo he said, NC40.

Am I NC40? No idea but I bought it. If I go into work and people start asking me if I’ve been on holiday, I’ll know it doesn’t match my skin.)

Easy Life

Its like the MAC staff are a law upon themselves.

And I get it – MAC sells itself, MAC reaches its targets, MAC staff never have to wipe the sweat off their forehead, wondering if they will lose their jobs because the sales are there, people love the brand.

Therefore – like it or lump it, customer. At least this is how I felt.

Anyway – they were out of the white eye pencil I wanted so when I popped over to Covent Garden, I went into the MAC shop there.

A group of 4 assistants were busily chatting away, not batting an eyelid at me, not one person asking if I needed help. Once again, I had another appointment so spotted the eye pencils and grabbed the one I wanted from the shelf.

Got in the queue.


The woman asked:

“Did you get served or did you just help yourself?”

– Just help yourself? I don’t know why this phrase makes me a little uncomfortable, like I was doing something wrong.

And do you know why I helped yourself? Because despite the store having only 2 customers, despite having 4 assistants standing around squealing, no one served me!

Memories of school

“I ‘helped myself” I replied, like a scolded 10 year old caught stealing crayons from the school art box.

Then I gave her a pro card I have for a discount. She asked me for my address for verification – I gave her it but silly me gave her the wrong one (I have a few addresses I use, purely depends on where I know I will be).

Then I remembered I have it to a Mum’s address simply because its far more reliable for post. I gave her this information.

“Are you zure zis card is zours?”

“Yeah!” I replied, going a bit red…

“Well…ok but I need zou to zign the rezet”

Mmmm ok. They didn’t ask me in the Pro shop to sign a receipt or to verify my address although I accept this may be protocol – still it lacks consistency if they are asking in one shop and not in another.

And really, why would I lie over a £12 eye pencil? Surly Cow!

So once again, shafted, felt a bit crap about it all, and wow – just wow. They MAC sales assistants are just as bitchy as I remembered. Nothing had changed. Make up kind did not evolve in Mac-land.

The answer

Two words.


*I am writing this at 4am after a very long day in London. Just incase its a babbly mess.

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  1. says

    Without wanting to be pleased by your bad experience with them – I’m glad it’s not just me!!! The ones in Leeds at Harvey Nicholls do this too, I was considering complaining because I expect better from HN’s not a bloody pantomime. They’re customer service is diabolical. So now I too will go to the counter, be ignored, make a note of what I want and go home and order it online! I’d rather do that than be looked at like sh*t from the campy bleach head man at the one in Leeds! x

    • Row says

      Hi Rachel
      I’ve done that before – swatched things on the counter then went back later on. Boo hiss!

      HN is scary sometimes I can’t imagine what a MAC counter in HN would be like! eek!


  2. says

    This bugs me so much. I know retail can be horrible and hard (I worked Marks & Spencer at Christmas, and that returns counter can suck the soul out of you) but if your job is to SELL stuff, that means helping people who want to BUY it.

    MAC definitely has an attitude that if you don’t buy, there will be another sucker along in a second who will.

    • Row says

      Hi Grace

      Exactly. If I walk out so what? there’s 10 girls behind me who want to buy something. I guess they are fulfilling their targets but definitely not doing much for their reputation and I would seriously spend a lot more if I liked the SAs

  3. says

    Ouch. That just sounds like such an awfully unpleasant experience (though well written and pleasant to read!). You gonna email MAC and let them know how you feel? I would definitely if I had been through what you had gone through yesterday. There are definitely times when I go to my MAC counter that I get a little ignored, but it’s not every time. I hope your next experience with them is better :\

    • Row says

      Hi Heather

      Yeah I guess I could but do they care I wonder as long as they are hitting targets? :/

  4. kitty says

    That’s funny because the assistants in my local MAC never leave me alone.
    There always asking if I need help even when I just want to be left alone to swatch.
    In fact they say ” Are you ok ? ” which I hate because there’s nothing wrong with me.
    I feel like saying ya I was ok until started asking me.

    I think that attitude of the MAC workers is that they’re the only ones that know anything about makeup and the rest of us know nothing.

    I’m sure not all of them are the same but the ones I meet are.

    • Row says

      Hi Kitty

      You are lucky then! You get some attention hehe. I bet in the shops you get loads of attention is where they aren’t quite meeting their targets…

  5. says

    I’ve got nothing good to say about the service in MAC either. I’ve helped myself numerous times in the Trafford Centre. Ive hardly ever asked if I need help and Ive been stood there about 5 minutes looking like a complete nob, with Gareth stood next to me looking so out of place, so Ive just got the items I wanted, myself.

    The worst experience I had was when I asked for Pretty Please Lipstick and the SA told me she’d never heard of it. Now that was just shocking, I was literally speechless.

    • Row says

      Hey Sweet Jo

      I went to the traff once to claim my free lipstick – i am talking a 25 minute wait it was so pointless. I then asked for a colour and she was like DURRRR

  6. bee says

    I just don’t understand how the upper management people do their work. They don’t do their job right, that’s for sure. I experienced the same situations as you did whenever I wanted to buy something at MAC in Canada, the sales ppl were horrible.

    • Row says

      Hi Bee

      I guess upper management look at Income vs outgoings and go there you go, done. Tick tick tick

      Well here’s a message for ya MAC – your brand must make a small fortune even with dullards as staff, but if you had NICE, PROFESSIONAL, APPROACHABLE staff AS WELL you would sell a lot lot lot more. Promise.

  7. Gigi says

    Just had a bad experience at MAC myself. I don’t know why i keep going back there, each time i go back, i’m hoping that they have changed their ways lol. Was wanting to buy gel eyeliner and the mineralized foundation but every single one of the assistants ignored me. Although one SA asked a girl beside me if she was ok but just blanked me!! Just plain rude!!!!!! I decided not to spend my money there and walked off in a huff and spent my money on Bobbi Brown & Nars products, they were much nicer and helpful.

    • Row says

      Hi Gigi

      I keep going back too like an idiot! MAC does have some good basics and I can see why its an appealing store quite frankly. And the prices are quite good too but I too, also prefer BB and Nars.

  8. Naz says

    I’ve had so many varying experiences in MAC stores, it really does seem to depend on the day! Some days the service has been fabulous, other days it’s been non-existant and just pisses me off.

    One thing I will say though…I really doubt you’re NC40 Rowena. I’m NC35 in Studiofix powder foundation and I got the Mineralize Compact and found NC35 can be a little too yellow/orange sometimes. You seem a tad fairer than I do, so I bet NC40 will be too dark for you. I’d exchange it if I were you.

    • Row says

      Hey Naz

      Sure I havent ALWAYS had bad service. The girls in the Liverpool store were quite nice.

      I seriously doubt I am a NC40 too. I am a NC35 and I find that is just about ok but of course it oxidizes on the skin but he was insistent I am a NC40. Annoying and I live in a city with no standalone mac stores!

  9. says

    OH MY GODS! How you restrained yourself from answering that awful accusatory question with the answer “I got it myself, because your bunch of so called sales assistants are not worth the money they pay you”……
    Ive had mixed moment at MAC counters, not that i buy from them much – overpriced and over hyped. But i had a friend who worked for MAC and she always gave great service…to anyone. But the rest of the staff at t her branch were the kissy kissy art we fab types.
    ‘No you are not fab when you want me to look like ive got a mask on my face, not good skin.’ (no MAC foundations match my skintone ive found out.)

    • Row says

      Hi Kristen!

      In the regional mac stores, I have a better experience to be honest but in the big department stores and in London I think they are the worse!

      Yeah I was in such a rush it didn’t completely register with me how rude she actually was! Maybe I didn’t look like the make up artist type!

  10. says

    You’ve just reminded me of the rudest MAC MA I’ve ever encountered.

    I was looking at their peach corrector for under-eye concealing, and she said ‘No, you need to use the studio (something) concealer in NW25, your circles are too dark.’ I said I thought that might be a bit dark for me, and she replied, ‘Are you a makeup artist? No? Well do you want me to try it on you or not?’

    I opted for not.

    • Row says

      Hi Gracey

      That is rude. I mean….I know what colouring you have and how can NW25 be good for an under eye concealer???!?!?!?!

      I had something similar. I wanted a moisturecover concealer and the one she chose for me was very very yellow. I said surely thats more for my face not for my eye and she just glared at me! GLARED!

  11. Angela says

    OMG. Asking you such a question, I would of complained straight away!

    I totally understand you about the Mac counters. Just rude staff who stand there all day chatting and doing pretty much nothing. That is why I never buy anything in the store and just order online.

  12. says

    MAC experiences can be so variable! The worst ones are definitely in London in my opinion – they just act as if you are scum, and can not possibly know anything about makeup in the face of their mighty knowledge – so effing annoying… Last time I went to the Liverpool branch, they were helpful, but the ones in selfridges in the Traff centre always seem to think a woman like me could never possibly have an interest in MAC…. They are just plain condescending, and make me feel old, and like they think I’m some old fogey who has just wondered in due to early onset dementia… Not exactly a self esteem boosting experience. Worst experiance was when I tried to buy a concealer, and the assistant was giving me some (unrequested) “tips” for its application – she basically implied I needed to cover my whole face in it. My skin is NOT that bad!

    • Row says

      Hey MizzWorthy

      Agree with you – I’ve been the the MAC in Liverpool a few times and I have to say they were the nicest MAC SA’s by far. The ones in Manchester are pretty snotty and look you up and down…urgh. I think we look too polite – if you look like a bitch with lots of fake tan and dyed black hair, you have less chance of being ignored.

      Also totally agree the worst ones are in London – it was like this last time I popped in but I never imagined it would be such a bloody panto! I don’t need you to treat me like anything special, I’d just really like you to help me get the products I want so I can get the hell out of here!

      They seem to be rubbish with concealer recommendations – you, me and Grace have all been given crap concealer advice!

  13. says

    Whenever I can, I will always go to the MAC store at Westfield.. And yes it’s always busy and you have to wait a while but once they are with you, I find the lovely assistants there are very helpful :) Sorry to hear about your bad experience though.. Will be avoiding the pro store for sure!

  14. Zereen says

    hey row you wont believe this but i was at the covent garden store today! the sa’s were so rude and arrogant i just moved straight onto the shu uemura store

  15. Elena says

    I remember my first trip to a MAC stand. I was very interested in try and (if it worked) buy the Strobe lotion. The SA looked at me, said: Need anything?? ME: “How much is the Strobe lotion??” and before telling me the price she said “Are YOU planning on nbuying this???”. Fine, i was wearing my jeans, black shirt and my black Vans, but she had no idea i could have bouught the whole store!!! She was judmental just bc i looked like a young person dressed like anyone on a weekend. So, pissed off like i was, i told her “No, i was JUST planning to steal it” and left.

    Two years later, i went to other MAC stand, and there was a kid, she hadn’t much time working there (she didn’t know much about the brand) but she was nice and patient to show me everything I wanted. I bought a Just pinch blush, a concealer and a Strobe. But i guess with a bit more time on the stand, she’ll become as bitchy as her work mates. I hope not.

  16. Holly says

    I always have terrible experiences with Mac, they’re so bloody rude. Illamasqua staff are a lot nicer, but it doesn’t stop me buying Mac. Sigh. I know I’m just fuelling it.

    I had a really rude Urban Decay SA the other day as well, in Debenhams on Oxford Street. I was looking at Ink For Eyes and she said “Do you want to try some makeup on?” and I said “No thanks, just looking” and she said “It doesn’t cost any money” – in such a condescending way that she could only have meant I looked poor. Thanks a bunch, jeez.

  17. says

    I totally know what you mean. Everyone loves MAC (decent price point, awesome marketing and business strategies), but yea, not entirely fond of it. It’s just TOO much.

    I actually just started working at Sephora 3 months ago so I feel disgusted by the behavior of those shop assistants. You are at WORK, you are getting PAID, so be a damn professional. It’s one thing to prance around when NOBODY is around (in the back during your breaks), or maybe bop your head to the music if you are just stocking shelves, but damn, while people are waiting for you to help them? Come on – working in retail is not molecular biology (I would know, I work in a molecular biology lab as well), but you still should work if you are being paid. It makes the rest of us cosmetic retail slaves look like bumbling twirling lazy stupid idiots!

  18. says

    hey there i came across your website! OMG… i just wrote a complaint to MAC about the same Mac pro store in London! the staff is so down right rude, and think their own the world! My friend had a appointment and the make up artist allocated to us was on lunch break so we waited for her to come off her break which was 20 mins later, we saw her serving people on tills, when i politely asked if she was the MUA for the booking she rudely replied no, you have someone else. No apologies given that A: we waited over 20 mins for her to come off her lunch break, B: she slyly couldnt be bothered to do the 1 hr make up session so gave her job to another artist. What’s so ridiculous is as the other MUA was doing my friend make up she thanked him for taking over and went home for the day!

    • Row says

      Hi Le

      Oh yes sounds very familiar indeed!!!!!!! It was a weird experience for me, felt like a child all over again!

  19. Ally says

    I had the worst experience with Mac in Selfridges the other day..I ended up waiting over 30 minutes for someone to serve me and instead – like your experience – I was treated to a rendition of the swan lake. Not only that, but once I got the items I wanted to purchase, the queue to pay was huuuge! There was only one person on tills. There were plenty of make up artists just hanging around and chatting, could they not have worked the tills?!!

    After, I pop to the Shu uemura counter and it’s completely different experience. The make up artists are happy to help, friendly and aren’t in the least bit condescending! I wanted to buy everything they recommended cos they were just so lovely!

    rant over lol. im still raging!

  20. sabrina says

    The MAC assistants at Harvey Nicks, London are friendly and helpful; However MAC Pro, Covent Garden and Selfridges…UGH! Avoid like the plague. What is mystifying, though, is MAC head office must be aware of these customer complaints, yet chooses to do nothing about rubbish service…WHY???

    • Row says

      Hi Sabrina

      I don’t know i find it weird. Surely a quick word from Head Office “Please be more polite, please stop dancing around like an idiot” – would suffice? I’ve worked in retail and if head office said somethiing everyone was scared!

  21. Sabrina says

    Hi Row,
    IMO Mac Head Office should be sent this thread just so they can see how fed-up their customers are, generally.
    Re good service, Space NK are excellent apart for couple of bored queens in their Covent Garden branch. However, I have to say that the best MUA IN MY LIFE was the Iranian guy at Shu Uemura Harvey Nicks, London, and the worst were the Chanel advisors at the same place, who are snooty and rubbish.

  22. Safoora says

    I completely agree! The staff at MAC in the Birmingham Selfridges are exactly the same! I stood there for 20 minutes once, waiting to buy a lipstick. There were 6 members of staff and not a single other customer. They all saw me, not once asking me if I needed help, just turned their backs on me!

    I always say that I’m never returning to MAC, but they actually have some products that I really like :(

  23. Kahina Spirit says


    Can you please remove the picture of my cat from this website?
    You didn’t get my permition for that.

    Thank you.