Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bras, Customer Service and When it Crosses the Line

I don't know any woman who enjoys shopping for bras. I know I don't. In fact I know many women who think there is some kind of conspiracy among bra manufacturers who are determined to make a mockery of us every time we set foot in the lingerie section of any department store. Not only do we have to hunt for the sizing as we meander through rows and rows of bras that are meant to entice us, we also have to try them on because who knows if the full figure bra from one manufacturer is going to fit the same as the one from the competitor.

It's frustrating, and humbling...unless your built like Heidi Klum of Gisele Bundchen, then I suppose you should stop reading this post right now. Probably I wouldn't want to be your friend if you're built like them anyway, I would develop a complex. As if I don't have one already.

Now back to bras, customer service and when it all crosses the line. I spent years working at Nordstroms in a number of different cities. Nordstrom is known for it's impeccable customer service and prides itself in the mantra, "The customer is always right." I've learned over the years since my days at Nordstrom that not every Nordstrom lives up to this, and that in and of itself is disappointing to me. The last time I went shopping for bras I naturally went to Nordstrom where I knew I would get great customer service, a knowledgeable sales associate and perhaps hold onto some of my dignity at the same time. But what happened while I was there was interesting to say the least.

I'm usually pretty clear on what I want, and try very hard to be pleasant to the sales associate. Since I spent many years in their shoes, I know what it's like to have a crabby customer and I definitely don't want to be one of those. I gathered up my variety of bras, asked the sales clerk to check on something for me and found my way through the myriad of colorful tables displaying all kinds of distracting undergarments and settled into the dressing room. And so I proceeded to try on my assortment and amused myself in the mirror trying not to laugh out loud when something was way to big or way to small. Meanwhile, I waited for my sales associate to come back...did she have to go to the warehouse herself to get my question answered? Or maybe she decided to sew me up the newest rendition of Le Mystere' any case I waited for what seemed like an eternity.
Now you and I both know that waiting while you're trying on shoes is one thing but waiting while you're trying on bras is a completely different experience altogether. Imagine my surprise when a new rather young looking sales associate knocked on my door to see if I needed anything. By then I wanted to wrap my arms around her and invite her to name my next baby, of course I don't plan on having another baby, but you get the point. She came in took over for the sales associate who by now had caught a flight for Siberia and managed to talk me into quite a variety of different garments I would usually not have entertained. She was fun, knowledgeable and exactly the kind of girl you want waiting on you when you're half dressed in the lingerie department at Nordstroms.
Right about the time she was doing the final fitting there was a knock at the door. Our eyes met across the dressing room floor and like two schoolgirls caught we shared an uncomfortable giggle. My original sales associate was back from Siberia and she wanted to see how I was doing. Finding my voice I said, "Oh, I'm good, I have everything I need." Expecting her to leave us alone I looked back at my sweet young helper and smiled. We both paused for a moment to see if she would go on and leave us alone. That's what I would have done, the sale was lost to her and she knew it. But, apparently she missed the Customer Service 101 class and unlocked the door to my dressing room and walked right in.
In the history of my adult shopping life, and believe me I've done some shopping, I've never ever had a sales associate barge in on me and then begin to demand that the person who has rightfully earned the sale leave the room so that she could take it over. Nevermind the fact that I was standing there half dressed, what was so shocking was the blatant disdain and disregard this woman had for her co-worker much less me the potential client.
And so I did what anybody who knows anything about customer service would do...I politely but very firmly kicked her out of my dressing room and informed her that she had crossed the line of appropriateness.

I still don't like shopping for bras, but I do know this...if that ever happens to me again, I'll be shopping on the internet from now on.


Carla Burke said...

hahah. Shopping for bras is one notch better than visiting the Gyn. lol!

Ally Johnson said...

I completely agree!

Diane Markins said...

Funny story, but a sad commentary on the trend toward lousy customer service. I use a "bra-shopping" story in one of the talks I do about self-image. I get re-sized only if I've gained or lost 10 pounds, otherwise I order online!

Diane Markins said...

Very funny story, but sad commentary on the trend toward lousy customer care. I use a "bra-shopping" story in a talk about self-image. I get re-sized only after losing or gaining 10 pounds, otherwise I order online--never having to contend with gidget or Tiffany in the process!