Monday, 27 April 2009

If in doubt, complain!

Now i'm what I think most people would class as typically British when it comes to complaining.

If i'm in a restaurant and my food isn't as hot as i'd like, i'll eat it anyway. Poor service? Doesn't affect my tip. But this week I made my first proper complaint about Warehouse (the clothes store, not a storage facility!) and i've never felt so good about myself! In fact, i'd recommend it to anybody:

Two Fridays ago I popped out in my lunch hour and bought this skirt. Although some might say it looks like a nappy, I think it looks great. I'm happy with my bargain and all is well with the world until....The next morning I pop on the skirt only for it to immediately rip right down the back, not even on the seam! Despite having other plans, I immediately take off the skirt and drive down to Brent Cross, my nearest shopping centre, to return it. The only Warehouse in that particular centre (and within a 15 mile radius of my home) is in the Fenwicks department store. So having found the exact same skirt in the exact same size I went to the counter to exchange it. I didnt even have any intention of complaining about the fault (caused by the poor and flimsy quality of the fabric, if your interested!) I just wanted the same skirt I had originally paid for. Only it wasnt that easy. First I was told that I couldnt exchange my skirt within that store as it was a concession within a department store. (There was no sign stating this anywhere) Then the assistant had the audacity to imply that I had ripped the skirt on purpose to get a new one. Now i'm definitely no criminal mastermind, but what;s in it for me to rip a skirt one day only to go out of my way to get the exact same one the next day? Madness!!

I was dismissed and told smugly that if I had a complaint to contact head office. I left the store feeling let down, insulted and angry. And still in possession of a broken skirt. The next day I did two things: Went to the store where i had originally got the skirt (they were great and swapped it straight away) and wrote an email to the Warehouse head office. In my email I explained what had happened, that I had inconvenienced myself going back to their store when I didnt have to, how hurt I felt my the insult from the staff, and that I wanted them to do something about it.

The results were three fold:

1. It felt cathartic to write the letter and feel that I was getting my say.
2. They wrote back and apologised, convincing me I was right to be angry and to complain (see left)
3. They sent me a £15 voucher to encourage me to try their products again.

One afternoon last week I popped down to Oxford street with my boyfriend and spying a Warehouse, I decided to head inside and spend my vouchers. However everything is soo expensive in there, and I didnt have the faith to pick something up and have to go through this whole process again. So for £14 (with a £1 voucher in change!) I got:
It made me feel better knowing that my complaint had been taken seriously, and that they cared enough about my custom to try to win it back. And as I headed into that store when I saw it rather than turn right around (having angrily promised never to set foot in a Warehouse store again just the week before) it obviously worked!

My advice if you think you have cause to complain is:
1. Dont argue in the store! It probably isnt the assistant's fault and even if it is they generally dont have the power to fix it!
2. Write an email or a letter, rather than call. The person on the phone will only make you angry and you wont be able to get your point across as clearly.
3. Say exactly what happened in as clear and concise a manner as possible.
4. Tell them exactly what you want. Whether its a formal apology or financial compensation, you probably wont get it if you dont ask!
5. Include your address and telephone number. You wont get a response without these, but its amazing how easy it is to forget!

And finally, don't feel shy or embarrassed about making a complaint. The saying "the customer is always right" is popular because its true! Particularly in today's difficult ecomony shops need your loyalty and your custom, and they know you won't keep going back if the quality and the service is shoddy. You have all the power, so why not use it!?

I'm still not convinced about the quality of Warehouse's goods by the way: one voucher doesn't stop the feeling that you're receiving Primark quality goods at triple to quadruple the price. But it will make me pop back in now and again and keep an open mind.

And with my final rant on the subject finally over, I really do feel better!

Lots of love,


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