Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

Tales in (bad) customer service – Zara, Oxford St

A couple of weeks ago I started a series on bad customer service, based on an experience I had at Pure Pharmacy in Dublin Airport. Well, no sooner had I posted that than David Beggs, a director at Pure, got …

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 15:30

   

A couple of weeks ago I started a series on bad customer service, based on an experience I had at Pure Pharmacy in Dublin Airport. Well, no sooner had I posted that than David Beggs, a director at Pure, got in touch to say that he had read my post, he was sorry that I had a bad customer service experience, and that he is now taking steps to improve service at Pure, including hiring a meet’n'greet employee; holding an emergency meeting with staff (about which I feel quite guilty, truth told); and putting together a staff training manual on customer service.

In short, he did everything I would expect him to do in response to a customer complaint: he acknowledged the fault, apologised for any inconvenience and outlined steps to be taken to improve the experience in the future. I was really impressed with how he handled it and will 100% be returning to Pure (a) to see how his steps have made a difference and (b) to pick up last-minute toothpaste (always toothpaste!). Now, let’s move on!

Yesterday, while in London, I went shopping in Zara on Oxford St (I tweeted about what a soul-destroying experience it was; literally, one thing in the whole shop fit me). I ended up buying a khaki shirt, and when I went up to pay for it, there was a queue of around six people. No big deal – this is England, after all, and there are lots of people there. There were three cashiers on duty and the queue was moving fairly swiftly, so I was shortly at the top of the queue.

Behind the counter, two of the cashiers were having quite an involved chat, so I decided to wait in line until I was called; by the level of conversation and moving around, I thought that maybe one of them was signing off on a return, or helping the other, and I didn’t want to get up into either of their faces and start tapping my feet. I’ve worked in retail, and I know that sometimes you just want the customer to wait while you get your business finished. So I waited. Maybe 30 seconds passed, and Dude number 2 looks over at me, sighs heavily and taps the counter. Honestly, like you would do to a dog: tap, tap. Come on.

I was a bit dumbfounded, and I approached the till at something approaching a crawl, knowing that at that stage I should have said something and / or walked away, but also being very aware of my “tourist” standing. I can’t be the only Irish person who’s kind of afraid of talking in London in case people go, “ah, an Irish bumpkin”. He scanned my shirt and I inserted my credit card, and throughout the whole two- or three-minute transaction, he continued his conversation with his friend. He did not say a single word to me.

Now that, in my opinion, is really rude. It’s not that I want to have a chat with him, but his job is to serve the customer; he should say hi, he should ask if I found everything I was looking for, he should ask for my credit card and say please and thank you. And I mean, he was obviously well able to talk.

Have you had any bad customer-service experiences lately? Let me know – rmaccabe@irishtimes.com