Is the Zara peaked shoulders blazer worth the bad service?

by jennine on November 22, 2009

Today, Rocky and I went to Zara so he can get some new clothes. He hasn’t bought new clothes in a while, and a friend of ours wears quite a lot of Zara menswear, so we decided to go check it out. We selected some clothes, then proceeded to the men’s dressing room which was empty. So we went to the dressing room, and Rocky tried on his clothes. He normally likes me to be around so  I can help him decide what to get, and give feedback on what fits and I usually do some encouraging to try on different things.

The only time we were approached by the sales men, was in the dressing room when he came up and told me,  ‘You need to wait outside.’ which, taken aback, I complied. He also told a woman helping another man she had to leave. She ignored him, and stayed in the dressing room until they were finished. I told them, perhaps they should reconsider their policy, because I’ve never been told to leave the dressing room from any other store, and that it must be a common occurrence for women to help the men in their lives select clothes.

Annoyed, I went downstairs to have a look around. Since I went to the Zara opening last month, I’ve been wanting to check them out. As before, I saw a lot of cute things, but nothing that really moved me to try on, until I came across the peaked shoulder blazer, a blazer ‘inspired’ by Balmain. There was only “Larges” left, so I tried it on to see if I liked it, being skeptical as I thought it would only look good on someone super skinny, or with no boobs. I really loved it, and Rocky offered to get it for me, but it was just too big, so I went to find sales help, and spotted two ladies, putting clothes away and chatting.

image credit

Me: ‘Excuse me, do you work here?’

Sales lady 1: “Yes.”

Me: “Do you have these in any smaller sizes?”

Sales lady 2: “That’s all we have, it’s on the floor.”

Then they continue their conversation. I’m still standing there.

Me: “Do you think you’ll get any more in?”

Sales lady 1: “Yeah, maybe. We get shipments two times a week”

They continue their conversation.

Me: “Um, Excuse me, but when do the shipments come in?” I’m annoyed at this point.

Sales lady 1: “Monday and Thursday”

Me: “So should I call on Monday?”

Sales lady 1: “Maybe you should call on Tuesday.”

Me: “Thank you.”

I left the store with mixed feelings, I love the blazer, but seriously, I never wanted to set foot in a Zara store again. I might have chalked it up to jaded workers, but the Zara store on Michigan Avenue, opened less than a month ago. What’s more, is it felt like I had to resort to Guantanamo Bay torture techniques just to get any information about the clothes. The menswear sales people told me I had to leave the dressing room, but if I weren’t there helping Rocky with sizes and fits, he wouldn’t have bought anything, because not once, did they offer to help get another size, or to see how things were going.

As far as the ladies with the blazer. They acted like I should be so happy that they would even talk to me. Which is absolutely ridiculous, for any shop, much less Zara. It seems like these days when retailers, and designers are hurting more than ever, that there would be NO room for poor customer service. People talk about ‘saving fashion’ by shopping, but what exactly are we saving here?

I love the blazer, but is it worth it to buy from a retailer with poor customer service?

UPDATE: Many of you had kindly pointed out that this is a policy in many stores because of loss prevention. I did not know this at the time, and was not given an alternative to help Rocky select his clothes.

UPDATE 2: Because I was taken aback by this dressing room incident, I had completely forgotten about a top hat that I took a liking to. It was too big, and I had asked the dressing room clerk where the other hats were so I could find a smaller size. He just simply told me there was one on display, and one ‘somewhere else.’

Top image background  by abbylanes / CC BY 2.0 Jacket illustration by Jennine Tamm Jacob.

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alexandra keller November 24, 2009 at 8:53 am

i think service is spotty at lower price chain stores, but then a lot depends on management and training too - i should know - been there done that!

Shay November 24, 2009 at 10:37 am

ugh, I’ve had similar problems in H&M. Loss prevention or not, I think it’s so over the top that you can’t take a pair of shoes into a change room to try them on! What, am I going to steal them in my purse? The other thing that always happens to me in these stores is I ask for another size, they tell me they don’t have it and then I go back and find it myself. Grr, but on the other hand they pay the kids who work in these stores so little that I’m not surprised they don’t give a shit about customer service.
.-= Shay´s last blog ..Recent Purchases… =-.

Beverly Koehn November 24, 2009 at 11:24 am

Perhaps management should be reminded about hiring rule number one: hire for Atttitude first and skill level second.

Hana T. November 25, 2009 at 1:43 am

I feel your pain. I have recieved bad service like that at a Aveda store in Roosevelt Mall in LI. I asked the sales a question and they give me one worded answers and keep chatting with one another. It made me super uncomfortable like I was getting in the way of their conversation. Horrible experience. I didn’t buy anything and left the store.

EmilythePanda November 26, 2009 at 11:42 am

Honestly, if you get bad service, you need to talk to a manager RIGHT AWAY. It’s the only way to get something done. And if the manager doesn’t help you out, you have to call their boss. People should NOT be treated poorly, especially if you are a customer! They are just going to be losing potential customers with their bad manners and service!
.-= EmilythePanda´s last blog moon =-.

Meghan November 26, 2009 at 9:12 pm

The “only one person” rule is fairly standard in most retail establishments, I think - usually it’s due to loss prevention, but it’s also fire code sometimes. At my job we especially try to discourage couples from being in a room together - we just ask them to wait outside, which I don’t think is wrong.

Overall, to be honest, I think you’re being a little hard on the Zara employees. The questions you asked totally make sense, but for a newer employee or a younger one or a poorly trained one - they might not think to give all this information. At a mass retailer like that you can assume they have a ton of staff, high turnaround, and probably such a high volume of intake that it’s difficult to provide four star service. I still think they should give it, but to expect it is setting yourself up for disappointment.

jennine November 26, 2009 at 10:26 pm

well, i don’t think i’m being hard on them. they were pretty rude in both the mens and womens section. honestly, i’m used to non-existent service, but this was not like that. besides… i shop a lot, and this is the first post i’ve written in 3 years of blogging about bad service.

Meghan November 26, 2009 at 11:19 pm

I’ve been a long time reader of your blog and, very true, this is the first post I’ve seen about service… perhaps I reacted sensitively because I’m in a service-based retail job myself and I always worry about negative feedback. Plus, it’s easy to forget when reading online that the way things are said don’t come across when typed… and I was not there to see the body language. Someone told me once that customer service is at least 60% body language and I’d agree.

Apologies if my comment came harshly - I love your blog and have for years. :)
.-= Meghan´s last blog ..Thanks. =-.

jennine November 26, 2009 at 11:26 pm

oh no worries at all, i just didn’t want anyone to think that i was just complaining for the sake of it. my husband and i both left agitated, and it was just weird all together.

i totally respect retail jobs, they are hard, especially dealing with the public… but i’m sure you don’t get much negative feedback because it’s important to you.
.-= jennine´s last blog ..Happy Thanksgiving! =-.

Judy December 6, 2009 at 10:01 pm

As a Zara employee (I’ve only been working 3 weeks) I can not only relate but understand too… the reason women can’t enter the change rooms to help their men with their fittings are not only for loss prevention, but because it’s not allowed in the women’s changerooms either. Men aren’t allowed to stand by the foot of the curtain for their significant others… or wives.. or whomever they’re helping with. That would be a little creepy considering all the change rooms are placed side by side to each other, and we don’t exactly have doors on the rooms so they could be getting a view to the other change rooms, and/or be a pervert/accomplice to steal shit. That’s why there is USUALLY one person assigned to fitting to help you with sizes and such. If not that store needs to seriously review their store policy. Now if you came to Zara Fairview in Toronto, Ontario (Canada) I guarantee your service would have been exponentially better. I know how you feel though as I’ve been in a couple of Zaras that I’ve completely blacklisted in my mind FOREVER… shitty service, employees who didn’t know shit, employees who completely ignored me, employees who were flat out RUDE…. PS. Go back for that blazer if you really liked it! Call the store and ask to speak to the manager. Tell him/her that you were treated like shit and they will be fired or reprimanded. Good luck with everything!

Legally Chocolate April 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Ok… the good news (depending on how you look at it) I purchased that jacket and the matching pants last week. The white courdoroy textured jacket was $99, pencil pants were $79.00 I was soo excited about how amazing they looked… the texture of the fabric was lush, however the craftsmanship was ABSOLUTELY HORRENDOUS! Its made soo poorly, the back puckers unlike a real suit… worst than forever 21… more like KMart (for emphasis).

Why are the prices so high, but quality so low? Its not worth it… unless you like wasting money. I lOoooove the style, but I can’t bring myself to throw away money on it. I think I’ll return it Monday!

Market Publique June 3, 2010 at 6:08 am

That’s horrible about your Zara experience! I have recently started shopping there because their shoes are fabulous and the blouses that look like silk are actually silk.
I’ve been to three of their stores in NYC and they are usually pretty helpful. In the UES one a sales person started me a dressing room and handed me her Zara business card. Brenda, if I recall correctly- she made an impression.
I guess it depends on the store!

fashionista September 16, 2010 at 1:04 am

I completely understand how you feel, Ive been in to the downtown vancouver Zara before and the employees dont really acknowledge you or even pretend to care. They act like they are so much better than you and that their job isnt to help you at all. Its super discouraging because they can have nice stuff, but the question that can come up is, is it even worth it? shitty customer service makes you want to avoid a store .Zara knows nothing of customer service, and thats what their job is. As someone who works in retail, at my store, we ALWAYS greet people. we always make them feel welcomed or acknowledged, and our manager makes sure of it. Its never a good feeling to walk into a store, see a sales associate glance up at you but not waste their breath to say ” hi there, welcome to ____”, its a shitty feeling to feel like you arent welcomed or youre not good enough to be greeted.

HP December 30, 2010 at 10:52 am

Zara offers the worst customer service on the planet. They either fail to train their employees or they purposely train them to be rude. Their return/exchange policies are draconian and they will either:

a) make you feel like a criminal for wanting to return something
b) make you feel like an idiot for wanting to return something
c) deny you the ability to return/exchange something

I believe they do this on purpose - it’s some kind of directive from head office to keep sales up and returns down. I hope that consumers have a enough self respect to not put up with up this. Why would you willing hand your hard earned money over to a nasty corporation that treats you like dirt? Shop where you’re treated with dignity.

Stores should not treat customers like dirty because they can. They should treat customers like gold because they should.

Vote with your wallet people.

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