I remember reading this piece by PJ over at http:/atouchofblusher.blogspot.com/2007/07/can-i-return-this-please.html”>A Touch of Blusher,, entitled, “Can I return this please”, where to draws attention to how in the UK, return policies are somewhat lacking compared to our American counter parts, and nodding my head in agreement._
I always read in wonder and awe, when the girls on Make Up Alley buy products, and can easily return a product if it is not to their liking, or to quote, “back it goes”._
In England, generally cosmetics cannot be returned. Never mind if the product is a load of rubbish; unless it is faulty, there is no way you can get your money back without a fight. If you just changed your mind well…you’ll have to be a braver woman than me._
When I have shopped with US stores; off the top of my head, Everyday Minerals and Mad Minerals, I have had positive experiences with them, even though in BOTH situations, my parcels went missing and the senders gladly replaced my items. I also noticed how generous US companies are with samples. As a rule of thumb, you don’t get any freebies shopping with UK companies, even when you purchase a lot (as I have done with Boots, and HQ Hair, for example). HQ hair has tried to adopt a Sephora like approach to samples, such as letting you choose some freebies but when I did this, the samples never arrived, and looking round on forums, there were quite of a lot of packages missing freebies – and to be honest, I can’t be bothered chasing them up for a few sachets._
(I personally haven’t had a very bad experience with a US seller, (I did with a Canadian seller, because I didn’t realise Canadian post was s-o……s-l-o-w…..and she ignored my queries but hey-ho) and I am sure some people have, feel free to share your tales of woe…)_
It also got me thinking about the stereotypical make up counter assistant. They used to fill me with fear…_
In England, (I suppose like anywhere) it is pot luck. However, generally SA’s are fairly passive, whereas in Asia, they really try and grab you as soon as you appear at the counter. I remember being grabbed, age 15 by a woman trying to sell me slimming cream. No, no I said. Yes yes she said, pointing to my stomach. It was PUPPY FAT, ok!_
This is a real example of me at a counter:
Me: …………… (waiting)
Them: So, I’m wearing a pink with green dress and some frills and then I’m gonna get some new shoes……….
Them: ..but I don’t have any munny til Friday so I’m gonna have to find something in the sales cos……..
Me: (Quietly – I hate to butt in) “Excuse me”
Them: Oh, Kirsty**, you get this...
This: I’d like to return this bronzer.
Kirsty: Why, what’s wrong with it?
This: Well the case has cracked and I’ve only had it for….
Kirsty: *snatches* Errr, where?
This: Where that giant crack is?
Kirsty: Oh right.
This: *feels nervous. Boyfriend is backing off*
Kirsty: Did you drop it?
This: Well it’s been in my handbag but I didn’t drop it.
Kirsty: It looks like its been dropped.
This: No, I didn’t drop it.
Kirsty: Does it still shut?
This: Well yes, but it comes loose after a bit.
Kirsty: But it still shuts.
This: Yes, but that means I get powder everywhere.
Kirsty: Because someone dropped it.
This: I didn’t drop it.
Kirsty: Did someone else drop it.
This: Not. That. I. Know. Of.
Kirsty: Errr Lisa. Do you think this bronzer has been dropped?
Lisa: Well, yeah.
This: I didn’t drop it. *Starting to get angry*
Kirsty: Well if you dropped it its not really our fault.
This: But I didn’t drop it, the case is very fragile because I only used it a few times.
Lisa: But I dropped one once and that’s what it looked like.
Kirsty: *huge sigh* I can’t give you a refund, or a credit note. I might be able to change it fer yer.
Kirsty: Oh no, we don’t have any left.
Me: You are f**** kidding me.
** Kirsty is not a real SA I know, fear not.
Anyway. I have all kinds of similar experiences (never with a product I just didn’t like; only with products that were damaged, or that had crap packaging, I don’t even return things that give my rashes!). I remember using a high end cleanser, I’ll give you a clue, the brand has two letters beginning with E and L, and this product was SPECIFICALLY for sensitive skin. I returned it cos it made my face itch. The SA usefully said, “Why don’t you use it as a shower wash?” – With my £22 pound cleanser? Are you mad?!?! However, the company with E and L generally will take things back if they cause an allergic reaction (but not if you don’t like it.) I returned a blush to the E and L once, which had a bizarre clicking features. Every time I shut it, a load of dust would come out of it. I took it back and the girl immediately said to me it was because I wasn’t shutting it properly. I showed her twice how I shut it. No, no, no, let me try said the SA. Sure enough we were covered in a mist of brown dust. You can have another one she said.
I remember a SA giving me the wrong colour lip colour; I went back half an hour later and she refused to exchange my lip gloss, which was fully sealed of course even though it was her mistake! There has to be times where common sense and intuition prevail rather than policies.
At the end of the day, if I receive terrible customer service, I will not buy from a company again. When I have had excellent service (which of course exists on many UK counters) I have returned to them again and again. I think the UK retailers with ridiculously strict rules need to learn a thing or two from US retailers who no doubt have the attitude that they want people to shop with them more than once. Since we get charged extortionate prices in the UK, I am sure the retailer could fit the bill sometimes, in order to keep loyal customers…
(Side note – I used to work in a retail store, where the store policy was refund in 7 days and a credit note for up to 14 days. Normally for non cosmetic items, the return period is 28 days, so imagine how many people turned up unhappy that they only had a week to return their goods – it almost felt like entrapment, since 7 days is a short period of time to return a product for a working, busy person. This was especially tricky if it was a gift since most people buy in advance. We sent so many unhappy people away with the products because they wanted a refund, and if I had my way, I would have offered it to them since it is hardly worth someone scathing about your store and customer service. Also people have spent good money on the goods, and why should they be lumbered with something they don;t want to keep? Bad, bad policy. )
Different counters vary with policies of course and customer service. Now I am sure that the brand everyone worships, spawn of EL, MAC, has plenty of amazing SA’s although it is the counter that people mention to me more than any other about having crappy service. (well, there goes my chances of ever getting any MAC freebies.) I have 5 counters local to me, (I don’t know them, but i could tell you all about their social life) and I have also visited the flagship stores in London where I had the most horrid service ever;
The SA’s (all six of them) ignored me for thirty minutes. When I finally got some attention, it was with ratty young lady who couldn’t help but walk off to tickle a fellow SA. I bought a tub of Basic Red Pigment – apparently it is so fine that a lot of the powder sinks. Well, when I opened it the jar was a quarter full – I kid you not. So I called up the MAC Pro store, the same girl answered (her voice was etched in my brain) and tutted at me,
“Tut, tut. Actually the powder is very fine that’s why it looks like you only have a tiny bit. Obvious, right.” Er – no. Because, a. you did;t tell me. b. It wasn’t a bit empty, it was 3/4 empty. You know what I said to her?
“Oh right, thank you, bye”
Damn my British politeness!
On the plus note, the store in Liverpool which is 50 Min’s away has much, much nicer staff and a generally pleasant atmosphere, but it is a shame its an hour away.
Either way I hope that the polices in the UK catch up, even just a Little to how it is in the US. It does truly amaze me with how quick US companies are to accept refund and offer exchanges, or replacements for items. I suppose it makes you feel like you have more control over how you spend your $$$. In the UK, once you have bought something cosmetic, the chances of getting your money back are slim. Therefore, I will have to be a. extremely careful about what I buy in the stores and b. I will probably stop buying cosmetics in the UK altogether because it is such a rip off anyway.
Thoughts. experiences, opinions? (Don’t lynch me, I am currently suffering from the dreaded insomnia…)
I wish I could sleep anywhere too…