Tuesday, June 17, 2008

FROM RUFFLES TO RANTING...

Excuse me coming over all Mary Portas and "I'm bloody right and I know everything about shopping" but she is, (LOVE her) she does and well, I am and I do. It was in fact she, who jogged my memory about the annoying Reiss credit note in my purse as Reiss was featured (as a good example) in her programme last night.

I take back what I said about Reiss. While I don't have a problem with the design of their clothing, other than it being a little over designed sometimes; I do have a problem with the bright sparks they employ in their Bluewater store. The only reason to visit Bluewater is for the ease of the experience. It's a mall. You're not going to stumble into any cool photography exhibitions or get inspired by the street style. It's so...comfortable there. The staff at Reiss however, seem to have perfected the knack of being intrusive, whilst simultaneously being unhelpful. The last thing I want in the Reiss changing room is to be looked up and down, then verbally re-styled by an 18 year old shop assistant from Dartford, when all I want is another size of the overpriced T-shirt I'm trying on.

I ended up returning the T-shirt because it had too many design features. You know when you just want a T-shirt to be a T-shirt? I don't need a grown on sleeve AND a contrasting cuff AND a weird seam detail. It's like that thing of removing one accessory before leaving the house. And come on, £45? When I returned it I was reminded that Reiss does not do refunds because it is a high street shop that is trying to be a designer shop and thinks that not doing refunds makes it classy. (Selfridges does refunds, as does Net-A-Porter.) So there I was with my crappy credit note, knowing that the only thing £45 would buy me in Reiss was another overpriced, over designed T-shirt with too many tricks up its sleeve. I meant to go to a Reiss in central London as their staff seem to be generally human and less retarded. But oh that sweet, short, non congestion charge laden drive and free parking had me won.

I walked into the shop. I picked up a couple of T-shirts in my size, neatly replacing the other sizes. I browsed. A streaky fake tanned sales assistant clocked me and scowled. I continued on my way around the (almost empty) store with an armful of T-shirts. Instead of putting them in the changing room for me or asking if I needed help she stalked me - as you would a potential shoplifter. I saw a man concealing packets of raw meat under his jacket in Tesco's yesterday. He looked like a shoplifter. Me? I look pretty much like a customer who doesn't mess up the pile of T-shirts because she once worked in fashion retail.

Eventually I headed to the changing rooms and stood waiting outside looking for help for about five hours. No one came so I eventually pushed open a curtain to find an empty changing room, at which point another girl appeared, flung the curtain back and demanded to know how many items I had; then told me I could only have four. I don't know what she did with the dress she took away and I could see no sign of her when I emerged, so she lost her employers a £160 sale. At that point of slightly exasperated mild humiliation I knew I would never buy anything from Reiss again.

Everyone keeps talking about recession, belt tightening and the credit crunch; and it does feel a little weird to talk about shopping when your gas bill costs more than a Balenciaga bag. But what has happened is that I've become more discerning about where I shop and what I'm prepared to buy. If the experience of being in a shop is unpleasant and obstructive rather than enhancing, then there are plenty of other places eager for my money. What they're doing at Reiss is a caricature of the snooty shop assistant through the eyes of an Essex girl. In fact, the staff could do with a little field trip down Bond Street and Sloane Street. They'd find that the vibe in the stores they're trying to emulate is far more pleasant and professional than the one they've created.

11 comments:

Rose said...

I know exactly what you mean about when the sales assistants stalk you! You feel like turning right around standing right in their face and saying 'I'm not stealing, I'm just looking around at a lesiurely pace, but I will leave if you don't stop tracking me, okay'.

The place that made me laugh the most for this was Claire's Accessories! My friend made me go in here to look for fancy dress stuff, now admittedly they may not have liked that we were laughing when trying things on, but there was no need to insist I take a basket and look me up and down like I'm a criminal.

It's a shame about Reiss, I've always found them helpful but I can imagine that the Bluewater vibe might be a bit different.

All the woman at Bluewater think your life would be improved by hair extensions, blonde stripes, those wide fake nails with white bits from the cuticle down and orange limbs.

Bluewater is great for an easy shop as you say but I do feel a bit like an alien and like I should perhaps fake tan and pink track suit up before I go so as not to be the odd one out.

The solemn cat said...

That is so true! My boyfriend was shopping there for a jacket a couple of months ago and we were followed round the shop. One guy was reasonably helpful, but the rest? Sullen and watchful.
He did end up buying a jacket, only to be sulkily told at the the counter: "We don't do refunds". He hadn't even asked!!
It's their loss though – he bought a new suit recently and didn't even consider Reiss. And the suit (Ted Baker) is much better quality than a previous Reiss one.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with fake tans and pink track suits?

Lola Is Beauty said...

Everything

Anonymous said...

Oh, I totally agree (not about Reiss - I gave up shopping there, everything ended so badly when I tried it on!) - but about that kind of sales attitude. I had an unhappy experience recently at a slightly upmarket high street retailer - bought a pair of shoes, only for the soles to start peeling off a couple of weeks later, and the store refused to even apologise for it, let alone provide a replacement. (The conversation with the manager included the priceless line from her "You know, you have to expect that this will happen after a couple of weeks". ???!!!) And every time this sort of thing happens, I'm reminded that I'm better off spending a bit more money (at, as you say, Selfridges, Harvey Nicks, Sloane St etc - or even better, by flying to Milan!), for the peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, or if I change my mind, I'll be treated with a modicum of courtesy, and won't have to have an argument with a fifteen year old about whether a refund is appropriate.

And, as The Solemn Cat says above, I am now also really strict about not going back to places where I have a bad experience.

(I have actually never posted a comment before, but this really is an issue that makes me grumpy - though I daresay that makes me sound like a slight lunatic! Anyway, it is a good opportunity to also say that I love your blog!)

Anonymous said...

"The staff at Reiss however, seem to have perfected the knack of being intrusive, whilst simultaneously being unhelpful"

HA HA HA AH AHA HA HA HA

That just set my weekend off perfectly! Thank you my witty, witty friend-- bp

Lindsay said...

What a mare!

Taylor said...

that is so awful!!! as a shopgirl myself, i know it goes a million miles to be cheery and helpful. don't be afraid to talk to someone's manager if you need to (and you DEF needed to). any manager should rightfully be embarrassed if a customer is getting awful service.

btw i have never heard of this horrific shop in america, haha. what snoots.

Lola Is Beauty said...

Anon 12.53 - that's it, it's the arguing with 15 year olds that's the worst! Glad you like the blog - thank you...

Taylor - I think it WAS the manager who stalked me!

notnow said...

I think Reiss staff might be intrusive because they work on commission. Me and my husband were assisted (a bit too eagerly) by an assistant in the Leeds. She kept badgering us with stuff we didn't eve want and she even waited with me while my husband went to try some stuff on. I thought she was just being over-friendly until I overheard a conversation between some staff at my local Reiss store that implied they worked on commission.

Also at same store, husband was considering buying a suit. Salesguy was so keen to make the sale he gave this spiel about how a particular brand of designer suits are supposed to be designer but they are not even made in Italy, they're made in places where production is cheap like Turkey. So I asked him where Reiss suits were made, he checked the label and said Morocco. WTF?

Despite the nonsense sales patter, husband needed the suit so we were about to pay for it. I was checking it at the till because I was worried about their no refund policy when I spotted a badly sewn seam on the jacket shoulder where the white inner stuffing was coming out. Needless to say, we left it! I know we should have grounds for a refund where an item is faulty but I'm sure they would have made it very difficult for us.

Anyway, all in all I wouldn't buy stuff from there again.

Anonymous said...

Reiss has had a few bright moments but on the whole it has always been a bit 'fur coat no knickers.' If you're going to overcharge your customers make sure your clothes are well-constructed at the very least. The fact that they now have a dedicated accessories store is laughable, they seem to place themselves alongside the likes of Margaret Howell or Agnes b in terms of retail status but in truth they've more in common with Miss Selfridge or Warehouse. They could take a few lessons from COS; a smart shopping experience - beautiful, well made clobber at decent prices. I can imagine Reiss being very popular amongst the bluewater massive though...