Monday, May 15, 2006

Public Service (or Lack Thereof) Announcement

I think by now we are familiar with the way I feel about leggings and their close relative, the stirrup pant. In my post several days ago, I mentioned that I thought thirteen-year-old girls must be partially responsible for bringing these spandex nightmares back into fashion. In this post, you’ll learn why. (And by the way, Sienna Miller, you are not thirteen, and you are NOT Edie Sedgwick.)

About a month ago I was eating lunch at my desk, and I decided to do a little online shopping. The weather was getting warm, and I’ve been wanting to shake things up a bit, so I decided I would see what kind of new skirts and tops they had at one of my favorite stores, Anthropologie.

Now, sure, we have a couple of Anthropologie stores in Atlanta. In fact, one’s just two miles that way, and the other is just about five miles that way. But I like to shop online for several reasons:
A) I wear petites, and they don’t sell petites in the store.
B) I like being able to try things on at home, with my own stuff.
C) I like the convenience of not having to leave my desk/sofa/bed.
D) I love getting packages, and this is one way I can be sure to get some!

On this particular day, I may have gotten a little carried away. I ordered twelve things (Oh, hush. I never keep everything, and two of them were sets of earrings.), including several skirts and tops to wear to work. Most of the people at work wear jeans day in and day out (or even shorts…Yikes! But it’s a technology company), including me. And I get tired of it, but I digress.

About five days later, I received a box from UPS. It was sort of small, really not big enough to hold more than a couple of skirts and shirts. I thought maybe this was just my first shipment, but upon closer inspection, I noticed the box said “1 of 1.” Hrm.

I took the box upstairs and opened it carefully. Even when I know what I’ve ordered, my heart always pounds like it’s Christmas when I open a package. I peeled the Anthropologie sticker away from their lovely tissue paper, knocked aside the packing slip, and pulled out the first item, the May Flowers skirt, pictured here. Isn’t it cute? Doesn’t it just shout “Lovely summer is here!”? Oh, I love their clothes!

I set May Flowers aside and moved on to the next item, which was…which was…Oh, I almost can’t say it.

Brown. Ruched. Leggings.

Oh yes. Brown ruched leggings. And a yellow-striped bandeau top with pictures of fruit on it. And a t-shirt with musical notes all over it. And a gold lightening-bolt necklace.

My heart was still pounding, but now from anger and confusion. Where the hell was my order? I checked the packing slip. It listed everything I had ordered, but none of this…not any of this…CRAP they sent me! This order clearly belonged to some teenager. And at that moment, said teenager, who shall heretofore be known as Sally Teenager, was probably pawing through a box filled with my really cute, appropriate-for-work clothes!

Immediately, I sent an email to their Customer Service Department. (Which, by the way, I would like to suggest be renamed simply “Claims Department,” for reasons you’ll understand soon.) When I got to work the next morning, I called and spoke to an actual person.

To both the phone call and the email, I received the following response: “We will have to conduct an investigation to see what happened.”

And my response to both: “But I told you what happened! You sent me the wrong stuff! I have Sally Teenager’s stuff!”

And their response to that? “We will not fulfill your order or credit your account until we have conducted an investigation. This may take up to ten days to complete. Please answer the following questions…” Followed by a long list of questions about the box, such as:
Had the box been opened?
Had the box been damaged?
Could I tell if the merchandise in the box had been removed and replaced with something else?

Yes, yes. I think the UPS man opened my box (after kicking it around the warehouse for a while) and proceeded to take out the really cute clothes (all twelve items of which your packing people had miraculously managed to shove into a shirtbox, and which UPS man planned to keep for himself for his, er…hobby) and replace them with Sally Teenager’s skanky clothes (which she ordered with a credit card she stole from her mother’s purse), all the while thinking that we would be none the wiser! And I could just go to work in ruched leggings, a bandeau top, and a frigging DISCO lightening-bolt necklace!

It went on like this for weeks, people. They refused to honor my order or credit my card until I sent back the stuff they had mistakenly sent. (Did they seriously think I would want to keep it?) The representative who was supposed to be helping me stopped answering my emails. I disputed the charge on my credit card. I considered contacting the Better Business Bureau. It wasn’t pretty.

I am a veteran Internet shopper. And people make mistakes. Some poor woman probably had a fight with her boyfriend, went to work, was thinking more about the fight than her job, and accidentally packed the wrong items in the box. These things happen, and they are forgivable. Stuff like this has happened to me before (although not involving the likes of brown ruched leggings). But other retailers, like JCrew, generally send your correct order out IMMEDIATELY, no questions asked, along with profuse apologies.

But not Anthropologie. After weeks with no contact and nothing to show for all my frustration, I finally received a phone call. They had received my return order (about a week earlier), and they planned to ship me the items in my order…that is, the ones they still had in stock. They would credit the rest to my account.

No. No. I had them credit the full amount, and with you all as my witnesses, mark my words: I will never order anything from them online again. Nobody did anything to help me. All they did was stonewall me, and really, act as though it were my fault that they sent me the wrong items. There was no “customer” focus—they clearly do not care about retaining your business—and certainly nothing you could call “service.” And this is why I suggest they just change their name to “Claims Department” and be done with it.

Sadly, I can’t tell you what happened to Sally Teenager. I don’t know if she was found out, got grounded, or what. She remains to us all, a mystery.

I have one bit of unfinished business to attend to, which is to call my credit card company and drop the dispute. Of course, I’ll have to fight my way through their labyrinthine “service” menu. Really, why do they say “Please call us at…,” when what they should say is “Just you try and call us at…”
Just. You. Try.

*photo from