Tell Me: Which make up counter has beyatches?

Yesterday I made a quick dash to the local shopping centre (hellish – too many Christmas shoppers getting in my way. Online shopping people! Why wasn’t I online shopping? Why darling, when I need a sparkly mauve lipstick, I need it now).

Whilst I was in Boots, I was accosted by a bizarre lady from the Benefit counter who grabbed me and asked where I got my brows done. I know a sales woman when I see one, so I mumbled something about getting threaded a few weeks ago.

“Come, come…” she said, “sit in my chair. There. Sit.”


So it turns out Benefit have a brow service at £11 where they will sort them out for you (waxing and tweezing). To be honest, I did actually think she sound like she knew what she was talking about, but she was so damn pushy! Even when I said I only had them done recently, she was insisted I need some tidying up (which I do but can’t people take subtle hints anymore?).

I managed to get away although she looked like she was going to stuff a dr. feelgood down my throat.

Here’s the thing – I have a confession….

I did the training for Benefit many moons ago when I was a student at University. They have a very particular style of dealing with customers but let’s just say it doesn’t rhyme with supple.

Here is my rather more relaxed selling style.

Me – “Would you like to buy this?”

Them – “No”

Me – “Fine!”

I lasted a day, 5 hours if you count the time I spent in the toilets, sobbing uncontrollably, 4 if you count the hour I spent saying “I don’t need this, I don’t need this, I’m a student, I’m supposed to be poor.”

So – I have a hierarchy of counters with the worst staff for being pushy or generally not helpful.

Of course each counter will vary from place to place – I am not tarring – but..these are just my observations.

1. MAC

There will be great MAC staff out there – I just haven’t met any of them. If its not queuing for hours whilst a few tranny-rific girls exchange drinking tips (do they go home looking like that?), its the inability to offer advice and suggestions, and a general, “Take it or leave it – we are MAC and we will hit our sales targets whether you buy from me or not” attitude. If you were helpful darling, you would sell a lot more.

I once called the London store, where I spoke to one of the most condescending women, ever.

“I just bought this pigment, its a quarter full”

[laughs hysterically] “No, no, its a finer matte powder which is why its only partly full”

“But its a frost. There’s glittery bits in it.”

[laughs hysterical-er] “No.”

*I do recommend MAC mail order though although they send me cracked make up quite a lot.

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Bitch Rating: 4/5

2. Benefit

Benefit are one of the pushier brands, thats for sure. They try to sell you things in threes…you have to look out for the ones with crazy eyes. They are crazy. They are told of course, to reach certain targets but it doesn’t bode well for long term customer relations.

The problem with pushing someone into sale, is that in the UK we can’t return stuff. Once you make someone resentful that they have bought something the really didn’t want to buy, they are going to avoid you like the plague the next time they walk past the counter. You know, walking round in a giant U bend whilst ducking and diving to avoid you…

Bitch Rating: 3/5

3. Trish McEvoy


I had the much discussed issue at Trish McEvoy. I must emphasise that there is a brilliant counter and a really bad counter near me. The bad counter has a super scary lady, who likes to tell you that your skin looks “awful” and you are going to turn into a swamp monster if you don’t buy her beta hydroxy pads…

And of course she palms off faulty (but still expensive) make up on you too. And she makes you feel like a petty cow for being annoyed that a £28 foundation that doesn’t even come with a case has a big giant crater in it.

I can’t face going back to that counter, no chance.

Bitch Rating: 4.5/5

I could go on all day but I won’t….but you can certainly let me know which counters annoy you and why?

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My top 5 counter bugbears:

1. Staff that ignore you when you are waiting to be served (and don’t even acknowledge you – a simple hello, or I’ll be 10 minutes makes *all* the difference)

2. Staff that chitter-chatter too much, before – during and after a sale. I have worked in retail and I know it can get dull but when you have a customer having a conversation about penises (yes, really) is kind of not really suitable.

3. Staff that try to sell you something you don’t want or pull the hard sell. It can be that you just really don’t want it, or you have explained why you don’t need yet another mascara or red lipstick. Some people panic and decide they must offload as many products on you as possible otherwise their time has been wasted.

On principle, if I have had great service I do always, always remember, and will buy a lipstick or a small item at least if I am happy with the SA (and of course the product itself). But when I say I really do have too many foundations etc. and they still try to convince me, I get quite irritated.

On top of that there’s staff that are always trying to add on extra products (the Trish lady was not happy with my £100+ spend and wanted me to buy the planner organiser too – she looked miffed when I didn’t!). If I want to see more, I shall ask – honest.

4. Staff not taking their time and rushing through. I don’t know if anyone else experiences this but I find that some SA’s are mega lazy. Like when buying a product such as a foundation, a good SA should always test it on you, right?

But the amount of times someone has tested a base on my hand (when we all know very well that is not a good way to colour match!) or have used the power of their eyesight to tell me if a shade is right….nope.

You need to take a bit of what I have on, off my face and test the new base however annoying it is for you. Anyone who won’t do this (on a high end counter) is lazy and just wants a sale done asap.

In terms of staff rushing – I once was interested in four lipsticks (and knowing me, I would actually buy four if I liked all four)…well the SA tried all four on me…AT THE SAME TIME. One each quarter of my lip. No good for getting a true feel for the shade, is it?!

Also, I once went to a Laura Mercier counter and the SA was great then at the end of it she shouted “NEXT!“. I didn’t like that. I didn’t go back.

5. Staff that are dumb. By this I mean a members of staff that do not know what their products are, what ingredients mean, that can’t apply make up etc. etc. etc.

True conversation

“I’d like a cream with SPF please for my other half”

“You don’t need an SPF in England”

“Yes but – we can still get sun damage.”



“But its not very sunny here, its cloudy”

“Yes but it doesn’t have to be. UV rays come through clouds too…”

“Oh. I didn’t know that.”

The brand begins with the letter C.

Staff training – its there for a reason. I clue myself up before buying most things (as I resent paying full price so I shop around for the best deal first anyway and go to a counter if I can’t get it cheaper online). So I know when someone it talking rubbish to me – I did the research, darling.*

*I seem to be turning into Kim Woodburn.

Theres more irritants, but I better stop before I get labelled…dare I say it…grumpy?!

So, tell me what counters (if any) you think put the Itch into Bitch?

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  1. says

    Oh god, bad customer service is such a bugbear of mine, and beauty counters are some of the worst for it!

    I hate visiting them anyway, and I don’t particularly understand why the brands insist that employees wear every single product they sell (hence the tranny style). Strangely enough I don’t have an urge to request that particularly orange shade of 4 inch foundation thanks scary SA.

    OK, I’ve gone off point. Benefit seems to be a bit of a mixed bag with customer service, it’s better in towns then in the big cities. I’ve never been a massive fan of the Clarins counter after trying to purchase a cleanser. The SA looked me up and down, repeated the price and asked with disdain if I was sure. Classy.

    I went to MAC a while back and got served by a girl chewing gum. With her mouth open. Ew.

    They could learn a lot from shops like Lush and its sister site B never too beautiful. They’re helpful and friendly, without being in your face and patronising. The actual Boots staff are usually much more friendly then the counter staff too (apart from the No 7 girls who are always friendly and helpful!)

    Rant over.

  2. says

    I NEVER buy anything unless I have researched it and tested it several times. I never buy it if it is recommended to me by a SA, NEVER!

  3. Naz says

    There’s one counter in London where I’ve never had good service, despite visiting it often and spending copious amounts. I get looked up and down by the SAs, then promptly ignored while they go back to their conversation, which must be hugely riveting cos they never glance my way again, let alone talk to me! It’s also a ‘C’ brand lol.

  4. says

    our Sephora stores can often have the worst staffing. they’ll challenge you for days on end about a product, saying that they’ve never known anything of the sort existed…and when you finally let down, they’ll say “but i dunno..i’ve only been here for a couple months”. Yea, okay.

    Our MAC counter/stores aren’t much better. If they’re in Nordstrom, they’re constantly trying to pre-sell you for every new collection that comes out–BUT they rarely have photos of the products or even descriptions! So, unless you’re addicted to beauty blogs, how else are you to know what they’re describing?

    The MAC stores have absolute tranny-esque girls working in them..many of which seem to think that they are doing the equivalent of obtaining a PhD, because they work in the place. I try to steer towards the older SA’s if I have a question, because they seem to be a bit more comfortable in their own skin.

  5. Wendy says

    Gotta go with you on the MAC front gosh its one of the biggest turn-off It’s true what my mother says Nice is best! And in the US OMG all the sales peoples in Saks fifth Avenue are pushy its like there lusting after you, thats why i shop online or go to the mecca known as sephora.

  6. says

    I actually really like most of the MAC girls in Canada, had a few bad experiences in the past but most of the girls are helpful and friendly. My only gripe is that most of them have no idea about upcoming collections, or sometimes they don’t even know the product names of the current collections.

    On the other hand I steer clear of department store SAs as they’re extremely pushy, especially Shiseido. Somehow every Shiseido counter SA always picks on me when I walk past trying to get me to buy something. One lady told me I was developing lines and need a good cream….-.-

  7. says

    Ive been lucky as a friend worked for MAC so i always got great service from her and her collegues.

    I dont like going to many of the classic makeup brands like lancome, dior et al as i find they nearly always look down on you, especially when you tell them that you cant wear any of their foundations as theyre all too dark (i have VERY pale skin and like it that way) Clarins though i must say were lovely and she was very apologetic that the foundations didnt match my skin, but gave me samples to try anyway without any pressure to buy.

    Benefit again is hit and miss, sometimes they can be great and let you play with their products and sometimes they want to cover you in everything they can get their hands on and make you look like a clown!

    I have to say the ones i LOVE the most (as have to give positive ) is Illamasqua. Theyre SO nice on in Cardiff!!!

  8. Li says

    The MAC store in Cambridge has a particularly bad SA, she once said “excuse me darling”, stepped in-front of me (on my foot) to faff and put something away and then went off without offering assistance. I deliberately don’t buy from her when I go in, pointedly, no commission for frumpy galumpy!

    There’s a fabulous, incredibly made up, YSL SA . I’ve never ever got on with the girls at No 7, there’s something a bit snotty about them and that is molasses you’re trying to sell me, not tinted moisturiser.

    Space NK must do something about their stock levels.

    YSL, Guerlain, Givenchy, Chanel and Benefit (with the exception of one or two) have all been good to me and I always go back if I’ve had experienced good customer service – it makes all the difference.

  9. Francesca-Mae says

    I find that younger girls on make-up counters annoy me…or the ones who are wearing too much make-up and you go close up to them and their skin looks cracked. Make me think “I’m sooo not buying your product!”.

    But, I’ve not run into too many bitchy ones; they always seem really nice at boots. My favourites have been the ladies who just will always do their best to help you, helping look for the right shade or giving you tips. For example, I was in my local boots today, and asked a girl where the Barry M products were (stupid me had walked right past them!) but she was lovely and actually took me to where they were and asked if I needed any more help. Lovely girl :)

    It does go down to what time/day you go to these shops. I find Saturdays are the worse!

    • Row says

      Hi Francesca-Mae

      I wonder why people that work on make up counters SOMETIMES have such bad make up on! If a SA has great make up its bound to make us want to invest in the same products. But if they are wearing something hideous, then YUK! We won’t be going for it.

      Generally people are quite helpful. Although I was at YSL yesterday and the woman literally just stared at me. The whole time.

  10. Michele says

    The scariest counters are the Trish McEvoy counters. Those “girls” look like men…not drag queens but men! And they look like they would cut you if you looked at them sideways.

  11. Denise says

    I’ve been to lush and I was looking at shampoo and the sales lady is like, “Do you want to try this shampoo for smoothing and conditioning. You need it.”

    It didn’t help that my cousin went along and laughed with her. Along with everyone else in the store. :C

  12. says

    Long time reader / first time poster. Really enjoy reading the blog, keep up the good work. Will definitely start posting more oftenin the near future.