Oh good lord. That’s what I said when I got off the plane after a blissful week+ getaway with my wonderful fiancé. My blissful state quickly gave way to several emails from community members, plus two upset emails from personal shopping customers. Upset about what you ask? Anthropologie’s increasingly shitty customer service.
Sorry to put it so bluntly, but the situation calls for such swear words. I am amazed at how quickly the goodwill of Anthropologie’s cute Holiday 2018 collection has turned into a pure dumpster fire of horrible business decisions. That’s before I talk about two more emails in my inbox from the Urban Outfitters ‘dispute management department’ (one from Anthro and one from Free People, Urban is the parent company of both).
Firstly, let’s talk about the community emails I received. In large part everyone who wrote was disappointed in Anthropologie’s choice to hold an extra 50% off sale promo this past weekend, but making all purchases final sale. Anthropologie is far from the only retailer to do final sale on bigger discounts. That part doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that so much of Anthro’s stuff is online only that it seems crazy to tell customers they can’t return an item they’re taking a chance on. Further, the quality issues have not been solved at Anthropologie, so a customer may very well receive a previously worn item, an item that has been damaged, returned and somehow put back into the queue for sale, or — as in my case — the wrong item altogether!
At the same time that Anthropologie is tightening its fist around its return policy to a rather Draconian degree, it’s also making more and more items final sale. Is this really a wise business decision? Hang on, before I get to that…
…let’s talk about the other thing I’ve received a bunch of emails about. Several people have reached out to me (sometimes mistakenly thinking I work for Anthro, which I do not!) about either an item missing from their Anthropologie order or receiving the wrong item altogether. Alas I myself was a victim of the latter and it’s turned into pure hell. As I shared in the comments of this post, I had ordered a coat during Anthropologie’s Black Friday sale, and I received…a pair of shoes. Not willing to chance the shoes getting lost on the way back to Anthro’s warehouse, I brought the shoes to a NYC Anthropologie and returned them in person. The store couldn’t give me a receipt (there’s no way to indicate wrong item received in Anthro’s system which is another great business decision) but the store was very helpful and promised to reach out to Customer Service on my behalf. Which they did — later that day I got a thank you message from Anthro’s customer service for returning the incorrect item I’d received.
Now Anthropologie is claiming that they never got the shoes, and I am livid. I’m not alone either. I’ve received at least 12 — TWELVE — emails from customers in the same boat as me, including two of my personal shopping clients. We all received the wrong item in our orders, we all either sent back or returned the incorrect item to a store, and ALL of us received a terse email from Anthropologie saying our accounts are on hold until we return an incorrect or altogether missing item. In two of the cases Anthropologie is claiming their warehouses never received the item they sent back. Great customer service!
Likewise, I received an equally terse email from Free People about a hold on my account. Free People, who you may remember from the same comment as my wrong Anthro order in this post sent my order to the wrong address, claimed it was my fault, and then told me rudely to file a claim with my credit card company because they would not be refunding me for their error. So, I did file a claim and of course my credit card company told Free People that duh, they were in the wrong. And now Free People has put a hold on my account until I pay them the money for an order they sent to the wrong address.
So quite plainly, it seems to me that Urban Outfitters as a corporation has adopted a stance of “We hate our customers and don’t trust them.” This has at least been my personal experience since Thanksgiving (ironic). I mean, I’m just a Managing Director at my job but doesn’t this seem like a really dumb business decision? I don’t know, maybe a retailer should be treating its customers with respect and gratitude? Just an idea. Maybe I’m crazy.
As someone who has passionately loved Anthropologie since 2003 and spent probably close to $50k there, and certainly over $10k at Free People, plus all the money I’ve made for them via personal shopping clients, movie/TV shoots and so on, it’s shocking to be treated this way. Who has time to deal with idiotic customer service decisions for days? Especially when there is no way to reach an executive customer service rep who can actually think off-script??
I can’t even muster anger about it anymore. I’m just sick of shopping being so hard at Anthropologie and Free People. It shouldn’t be hard to spend money! It should be a joyous, enriching experience that makes me excited to shop there again as soon as possible. I work a day job. I’m planning a wedding. I’m caring for my Mom. (And I know that you community are also living busy lives.)
It’s a total first world problem, but I don’t want to have to deal with crappy final sale policies. I don’t want to have to deal with increasingly hard to follow return policies that don’t make sense when the quality of items are not that great. I’m over having to wrangle with un-empowered, poorly trained customer service reps and policies that don’t make sense. I spent yesterday returning every non-gift I’ve purchased from Anthro and Free People since Thanksgiving. I couldn’t even look at that stuff without feeling burned.
There are too many other great shopping options out there. I’m putting my spending dollars to retailers that 1) reward me for shopping there, 2) show appreciation for me being a loyal customer and most importantly 3) have customer service and quality control! I can’t tell you how awful it feels being treated like crap by two brands I’ve loved for so long.
I’m OVER IT. I’ll still talk about Anthro here because I know y’all love them, but I canceled my Free People partnership/sponsorship and I can’t imagine buying anything from Free People, Anthropologie (or BHLDN, which makes me so sad with my wedding coming up) for a good long time. I just can’t be one of those Influencers who lies through my teeth when brands treat us like crud for the money. It’s not worth my moral compass being knocked off of True North.
So no. No more Anthro or Free People purchase until they fix this crap.No I’m not using my January birthday discount at either store. Happy Birthday, Eff You seems to be their message anyway.
I want to show them with my wallet that I think their customer service sucks, I think they’re alienating loyal customers, and I’d rather spend where my money is welcomed and I’m not made to jump through hoops if an item doesn’t work out.
I know you have thoughts community. Please feel free to discuss in the comments. (I have a super heavy January travel schedule, but will join the discussion as I can!)