Gap UPDATE: String of Service Let-Downs

I don't shop retail all that much - we all know I'm cheap. When I do shop a retail establishment, I expect that that higher price tag will bring a level of service I don't get when scrounging through random piles of cast-offs at the swap meet. I expect to have the luxury of easy (read: hassle and argument-free) returns and of easy shopping. This is what retail establishments are supposed to provide, right?

But I returned two pairs of boots to Piperlime, both delivered and signed for by them on the 5th, and I've yet to receive even an email confirmation acknowledging the process. I even emailed them, explaining that tracking information says they've received the boots, and was flat-out told that their records show they aren't there. Since then, I've received AND returned a pair of boots from with zero confusion or delay - so I know it can be done... just not by Piperlime.

Piperlime's sister company, Gap, is just as irritating. During a 30% off sale, I searched on their website for their "Sloan" slacks and checked the filter for size 2. It brought me to the product page, and I placed my order... only to discover today - a full week later as I was checking on the tracking status - that I'd somehow ordered a 2P. I did not search in the petites section, and I did not filter for petites. How did I end up with a 2P on my order? Must have been bad luck. Good thing the sale is still going, right? Well, after work I raced to my local BR to buy my size 2s, lest my size sell out and force me to wait more multiple weeks for an online exchange, only to find out that the same pants are NOT on sale in-store... even though they are currently displayed in the back with all the other sale items.

To top it all off, I came home to a shiny new AllSaints delivery and pulled out my long-admired Stallion Dress to try on. Hm. Ok. The self-tie belt is completely missing from the garment.

Sigh. I'm even more bothered and frustrated than after an unproductive day of swap hunting - at least there, you expect shopping to be an ordeal, and you can be ready for it. I guess I am not a hardened, veteran retail shopper and have not been desensitized to poor attention to detail and slow service. I will have to wait and see what kind of solution AllSaints offers, but I know I will never shop at Banana Republic or Piperlime again. I will stick with Amazon, Endless, and Nordstrom, who have all provided excellent, speedy, friendly service through purchases, returns, exchanges, and defective item issues.

Do you all find chain stores to be equally frustrating? Can we compile a list here of the good ones, versus the ones to avoid?

UPDATE: Allsaints responded to me this morning and said they would check the warehouse for a belt to send to me. I'm going to ask about the possibility of a return as well. To their credit so far, the response time was very fast.

Gap Update: Although initially telling me that their system would not allow an exchange of my pants for the correct size, after I explained what I'd been through, the associate assured me she could return the 2Ps and then give me the sale price on the 2s. I'm about 80% happy - would be happier if my Piperlime returns had gone through and allowed me to use my gift cards for the purchase, and if I'd gotten the right size to start with.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Stephanie replied 6 years ago

    Rae, I have exactly the same experience when I shop retail. Which is why I do as little of it as possible :).

  • Ana replied 6 years ago

    I never buy anything at Target or Forever 21 that I would ever consider returning. Their return policies are pretty terrible. Zara's isn't much better. It's just not worth the hassle.

  • MNsara replied 6 years ago

    Rae, what rotten retail luck :-(

    I happen to think there's a real lack of attention to detail, to getting things right the first time, to anyone caring if they do a good job, . . . do I sound cynical enough?

    Yes, there are certain retailers and certain employees within stores that are great, but that's the anomaly.

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    Fleh. I hear you. And I hate Ann Taylor - I just wrote them a THIRD e-mail asking to be taken off their e-mail list until they change their $25 minimum shipping charge to Alaska. Got a rude and snooty response.

    I am considering SYC just to be done with the shopping and returning hassles!

  • Mo replied 6 years ago

    Both Target and JC Penney only take the returns in store, even when I bought online. The nearest Target is 40 minutes away - and I shipped my car back to CA 4 months ago thinking our move was imminent!! PITA for sure.
    I also have had relatively slow credit on returns to Victoria's Secret and super slow for Karmaloop. Old Navy and Gap seemed reasonable time-wise, as I can recall. But since I just returned an ON skirt today I'll check my calendar to verify.

  • taylor replied 6 years ago

    Sorry Rae :( That is no fun!!

  • Cynthia replied 6 years ago

    My least favorite service has to be Sundance. FORever to process returns. No notification. No free shipping ever; certainly never a free return. And everything pretty overpriced to begin with. Nevertheless, somehow they know my aesthetic so I occasionally order.

    Amazon, Endless and Nordstrom, sure, all great. I've never had a problem returning anything at Target. Anthropologie has great, no questions asked customer service. I've never had problems with Boden, either.

  • lyn* replied 6 years ago

    Dear Rae,

    *HUGS!* I have recently had a lot of bad luck with "service" too! UGH.

    My Le Chateau order apparently "cannot be returned in stores" if I am not in Ontario. I'm not driving 4 hrs to return something! And there is the WRONG belt on one of the skirts - when I called them, they were very confused why a size 4 skirt should NOT have a size 8 belt! UGHHHH.


  • rae replied 6 years ago

    Uh oh, I have impending returns to AT and maybe Karmaloop as well! Yikes.

    Mo, I never knew Target only accepted in-store returns - they sell so many things not available in-store, too. Weird.

    Cynthia and Lyn... just. wow. It boggles my mind that stores can stay profitable with service like that. Especially the size 8 belt on the size 4 skirt. : /

  • Jyoti replied 6 years ago

    Aw, that sucks. I definitely expect retailers like Piperlime, Gap and Allsaints to have good customer service and return policies; their price point certainly justify it. I generally try not to buy anything I'm not at least 98% sure about so I don't have to deal with returns.

    Just as an aside, lyn, there's no love lost between me and Le Chateau. I at one point had a job at a certain French-Canadian chain and I wasn't happy with how the company treated customers or employees.

  • replied 6 years ago

    "I expect to have the luxury of easy (read: hassle and argument-free) returns and easy of shopping."
    I don't have the luxury of returns in most shops. I mean I can return an item if it breaks down or is faulty in 30 day, but not because I've changed my mind. I understand that are shops that do that in the US, but I suppose it's kinda difficult as a business model so they have to be extra organized, and not all shops are like that. That's why I like to go the store, to gauge right on me the garment. I've had bad luck with on-line buys too! And even more awful returns policy

  • JulieinMI replied 6 years ago

    Went to Macy's to return a pair of boots that I purchased online. I am completely sure that I never received a sales slip in the box. Should be OK because I purchased them with my Macy's card. After I don't know how much time, the manager says that I never bought the boots there. I leave, go out into the mall, and in my purse find the online order which I had printed off just in case this happened. I was too sick of it to go back in, but I am not finished yet!

  • Mochi replied 6 years ago

    I'm very lucky to be in an urban area where I have the luxury of ordering online but returning in-store. The only retailers I can think of where I can't are obviously and Endless, etc. (And I have an order with Boden processing, but you say they're fine to deal with.) But I hear you--that sounds ridiculous.

    Una, what the....will they not let you simply unsubscribe? And what's going on in their heads?

  • Debora replied 6 years ago

    Oh, Rae! That really stinks! I wouldn't give them my business again, either. Another vote for excellent customer service from Nordstrom's and Amazon. I wanted to add Zappos to the list, too. I've never had a problem with them. I hope you are able to resolve these issues.

  • replied 6 years ago

    I sympathize -- my husband ordered me an Ann Taylor sweater for Christmas. They sent the wrong size, color, and style. He's still trying to get it straightened out! Multiple Ann Taylor peeps have been sending confused and contradictory emails. Get it together, Ann T!

  • glam on the inside replied 6 years ago

    Sorry to hear about these hassles, ladies :(
    I recently returned a dress that didn't fit properly, feeling a little anxious because it had been on sale and sometimes stores get snitty about returns on sale items. The woman who served me was very nice about it, but my 6 year old stood next to me whining loudly, "don't return it! It's sooo pretty!!!"
    Fortunately the cashier ignored him, so I didn't have to resort to taking a folded cardigan from the nearest display and stuffing it into his open mouth.
    I'm in Australia so I won't comment on particular stores - I'll just wish you luck for the other returns you want to do.

  • Jjsloane replied 6 years ago

    I have had generally good luck with Gap (always return in store), piperlime is usually too pricey to order from but I have returned once with them and didn't have an issue, but also didn't track it that closely timewise. I find the best CS from Nordstrom, Endless, Boden and 6pm (which makes sense since they are Zappos, but I've never ordered from Zappos) Boden once credited my return before they registered it in their system because it had taken awhile to show up. 6pm refunded me for shoes I wore once that lost a button. Amazon can be hit or miss depending on the item and if it's them or another seller. Mostly I've been happy with them (except when they sent me a broken vanity table for DD after returning same item in same condition)
    Oh and Esprit returns have been a breeze too - prepaid sticker and adequate notification of receipt.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Urggghh :(

    Just so frustrating.

  • rae replied 6 years ago

    JulieinMI, yikes! Please don't give up on that return! You doubly have to get your $ back now, IMO.

    Debora, thanks for remembering Zappos! I only ordered with them once, years ago, but the return was so quick and painless.

    LOL @ Glam. Looks like the kiddo needed a mission briefing before the return!

  • celia replied 6 years ago

    That is frustrating.Hope you have better luck from now on.

  • ironkurtin replied 6 years ago

    Whoa. You'd think with the economy so slow they'd go overboard with the service. What a bummer.

  • rae replied 6 years ago

    Just added new AS developments to original rant.

  • Debbie replied 6 years ago

    Banana Republic has some great things right now and I placed an order. I wanted to buy them in the store but if I ordered on line I received 30% off. Makes no sense to me but if I save 30% I have more money to splurge with.
    Banana Republic's service has been very hit or miss for me lately. The coupon issues are frustrating.

  • cciele replied 6 years ago

    Wow, Rae that sounds so frustrating! Ugh. Some retailers definitely need to get there online/brick-and-mortar coordination together. That's one reason I consistently shop at Nordstrom -- great service. Also Endless and Anthro and REI.

  • elpgal replied 6 years ago

    Gosh, can't say I am surprised to see several of my non-fav stores in there.

    Currently, I am disliking F21, Zara for their return policies.
    Karmaloop lost an item I returned several years ago and never replied to me again.
    I dislike shopping at Bloomingdales because the store closest to me has appalling customer service. Returning Target online purchases in store is a PITA.

    OTOH, Gap will send you a replacement item (but charge you) if you call them with your current order number.

  • rae replied 6 years ago

    Gap Update: Although initially telling me that their system would not allow an exchange of my pants for the correct size, after I explained what I'd been through, the associate assured me she could return the 2Ps and then give me the sale price on the 2s. I'm about 80% happy - would be happier if my Piperlime returns had gone through and allowed me to use my gift cards for the purchase, and if I'd gotten the right size to start with.

  • velvetychocolate replied 6 years ago

    I've been very lucky with online orders - up until the great coat debacle with Talbots. Since then, I'm leery of ordering *anything* at all. I received a "We're sorry" e-mail from Talbot's with a great coupon offer and free shipping, but I'm so daunted that I'm afraid to order online with them ever again. I hate to say it, but I don't think I'll shop there at all in the future, either in store or online. Pretty bad, but that's how disappointing my experience with ordering from their site was. Even though I could get some great deals, I don't want to wait four days to hear that my order went through and then another few days to be told the item is no longer available. Hate to say it, but even if everything was 99 cents, I still would be leery of ordering.

    It might well be that because my first experience with ordering stuff online on a regular basis was with Amazon, and their service is top-notch, maybe I got spoiled in advance? Fast forward to Nordstrom - truly excellent service. I get great service from Macy's online too, and awhile back I even ordered a few things from Target - good service there as well. It's not even just about speed of shipping or even 'free' shipping - I just want to know that my order was received, it's being processed, it's being shipped etc. Actually, I don't need five million e-mails explaining every step in the process - I guess what happened with Talbots is that I placed my order and then heard basically nothing for days on end, only to get an e-mail days later saying the item I'd ordered was 'no longer available' even though I could find it 'in store' via their website, and the item was still being advertised on their site. Most disappointing and annoying online shopping experience I've *ever* had.

    Overall, I think I'm slowly veering toward 'team store' when it comes to clothes - whereas I used to be 'team online'. I'll still order from trusted retailers' websites where I've already had a good experience, but I am unlikely to take a chance on anything new (to me).

    Sorry to hear about your frustrations Rae - I would be really annoyed if a dress I'd ordered came with no belt and I couldn't get a resolution, and even more annoyed about a huge hassle trying to exchange some pants from a regular to a petite. Geesh.

  • glam on the inside replied 6 years ago

    Glad you've been able to make some progress but agree it would have been nice to get the right items the first time. :S

  • DeniseP replied 6 years ago

    Rae, what is a swap meet? I've heard that term from several posts here, but don't understand how it works.

  • rae replied 6 years ago

    DeniseP, a swap meet is a place where pretty much anyone can rent out a space and sell whatever they want. Usually people sell used things, but some also sell new stuff that they import from China or whatever. Prices are much lower than regular stores, because there is very little overhead, just the $50 or whatever they pay for the space. I get a lot of my clothes from places like this that sell clothing for $1 a piece (hence my blog: One-Dollar Wonders).

    Also, I'd like to add to the list of places I'll never shop with again: Quicksilver. I know it's a junior's store, but many of you have kids, so I thought I'd mention. Their return policy swears up and down that you can return any online purchase in-store but, when I received my order, it said I must return by mail (at my own cost) because I used Paypal. There is absolutely no mention of this in the return policy or anywhere in the order process. No one at Customer Service cared one bit. I feel it is a purposeful misrepresentation, meant to make customers feel better about ordering more items, thinking they can safely return to a store if needed. Just horrible!

  • Kristine replied 6 years ago

    I've had a slew of these experiences. I've been shopping for boots for nearly two years and recently decided to order a bunch in hopes I'd find one pair. Boots from Piperlime, Nordstroms (2 pairs!) and Zappos ALL had inaccurate calf measurements.

    Nordstroms and Zappos at least have free shipping, but I still have to go through the trouble of boxing them and dropping off the packages. If they can't take the trouble to measure correctly I'm not shopping there any longer. This was the first time I ever shopped at Nordstroms so I was really disappointed. They weren't cheap boots.

    I'm starting to check out more small local shops, including consignment stores. It's nice to support local businesses and then I can be sure the fit is right.

  • Meredith1953 replied 6 years ago

    Wow! I don't do too much online ordering for clothing but regularly order shoes from Zappos (they are so great and I LOVE the video reviews!). I have occasionally ordered from BR and Ann Taylor, and Eddie Bauer. Was lucky enough to always to be able to return to the brick and morter stores in our local Boise, ID mall. They were great and no questions asked. I guess I have been pretty lucky! I haven't ordered from Endless yet but I hear they are good.

  • Jonesy replied 6 years ago

    Such sad tales....I can commiserate. I have had a really cruddy experience with Fossil's online store. I will not be shopping there again.

    Kristine, about the calf measurements: My understanding is that they measure one size of a particular boot (probably something in a mid-range size like an 8?) and then give that calf measurement. So, it's not going to ever be accurate for all of the different sizes of that particular boot. For me, for example, I wear a size 11. As the size of the boot goes up, so does the calf circumference (e.g., a size 6 and size 11 of the same boot will not have the same calf circumference, typically). So I have a tricky time because my calves are around 14.5 inches, which isn't too small, but paired with the size 11, can be tricky. Even if they list the calves as being 14.5, they are usually larger for the size 11, since the general measurement was taken on a smaller size. Hope that makes sense :).

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