Friday, September 01, 2006

Making Amends

Maybe a few of you out there read my post about the awful experience I had with Anthropologie last spring. In a nutshell, I placed a rather large order with them through their online site, and I wound up with only one item from my original order, along with several items that clearly belonged to a customer whom I refer to (somewhat) fondly as Sally Teenager. (It’s also possible that in a parallel time-warp fictional universe, the items were ordered by Carrie Bradshaw for her wardrobe during Season Three of SATC.)

Sometimes orders are botched. These things happen. So you call customer service and tell them what happened, and they fix everything for you immediately, right? Well, sadly, not with Anthropologie. When they learned about what had happened to me, they told me I’d have to wait while they conducted an investigation, and in the meantime they refused to either refund my money or send me the items I had actually ordered. To make a long story short (you can read the full story here), after about a month, they finally returned my money, and I vowed to never, ever shop with them online again. (Please note: I’ve never had an unpleasant experience in their stores! Their salespeople are quite nice, but they don’t sell petites in the stores, only online, and so it goes…)

Much to my surprise, several weeks ago a customer service agent from Anthropologie left a comment on my blog, apologizing for my experience and offering to make amends in the form of a $25 coupon. And to her, I would publicly like to say: THANK YOU. I do appreciate that she contacted me, and I appreciate the gesture. But what I truly hope is that perhaps someone has really listened, actually heard me, and that things will change. Sadly, my bad experience with them last spring was not my only—there was another the spring before, but I won’t go into that here—and I’m sure if this happened to me twice, then it’s happened to many other people out there.

Let’s hope they’ll consider what other online retailers do and use that as a model. I shop frequently with J.Crew, and the few times I’ve received an incorrect order, they’ve sent the correct items out immediately, no questions asked. This is also true of Athleta, an online and catalog retailer (and a smaller business than the other two) that sell exercise wear; when I called to inform them they’d sent me the wrong pair of exercise pants, they sent me the correct pair just a few days later.

Shopping is an emotional experience. We may feel excited when we purchase something new, and along with that excitement we may feel anxiety until we receive the order. And when we get the order and it’s wrong, we’re disappointed. We shouldn’t be made to feel worse, to wait longer. Shopping is rarely just about the merchandise. Often when we buy something new, we’ve already psychologically placed it in our lives, thought about how we’ll wear it or use it or display it. All retailers need to remember this. It’s like the Otis Redding song, “Try a Little Tenderness”:

She may be weary
Oh, young girls they do get weary
Wearing that same old shabby dress
But when she gets weary
Try a little tenderness…

*photos from