On service, scarves, supply and demand

Retailers in America are responding to the recession by offering customers champagne as they browse according to the New York Times. Good idea, if you ask me. As well as making the customer feel all warm inside (literally and figuratively), supping a tipple or a brew is clearly going to make you linger for longer, thus upping the chances of a sale. In fact I don’t know why more stores haven’t cottoned on to this. The article goes on to discuss improvements in customer service generally, illustrating with an example from Hermès about a sales assosciate who searched high and low for a particular bag for a customer. Whoopee. My experience with Hermès is this.
1) Covet scarf seen at press day.
2) See scarf in Liberty pop-up Hermès shop. Alas, not available in my colour. “Can you order it?” “No, try Bond Street.”
3) Attempt Bond Street. Ignored. Finally served. “None in stock but we can call you when it comes in.” “Great! When is that likely to be?” “No idea. But I could keep you updated?” “Thanks.”
4) Times passes. Finally a month later, a message to say the scarf has still not arrived. (Translation: “We give up.”)

In Selfridges this week I decided to try my luck one more time. The apologetic Hermès sales associate looked in a drawer but didn’t have my scarf. I moaned and groaned. “What can I do?” I huffed, “why can’t you order one?” Her explanation was that they just don’t do this. Demand is greater than supply, they simply can’t keep up so they don’t, i.e. they don’t have to try, the customer will still come back. How lovely. And then I realised that she has a point. By making it difficult to get what you want, what happens? You want the bloody thing even more! Well, I’m not playing that game Mr Blanckaert*. I’ll take my money elsewhere. I know The Shop At Bluebird has some very nice scarves and the customer service there isn’t half bad either.

*executive vice president of Hermès

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8 Responses to On service, scarves, supply and demand

  1. Couture Cookie says:

    I read that article too and suddenly I understood why it was impossible to get any browsing done at Coach and Kate Spade last week. Nothing more annoying than 4 salespeople (at the same time, taking turns) breathing down your neck, complimenting your hair, your coat, your taste in their merchandise. Yes, thanks, can you leave me alone so I can actually pick out something I want to buy!

    Not that your experience at Hermes sounds like it was anymore pleasant, but still! What about a happy middle or something?

  2. Pina Colada Kisses says:

    Yeah it is not fun to be hassled while browsing….

  3. All Women Stalker says:

    Interesting..a happy middle will be wonderful. I hate salespeople who are too nice. I hate salespeople who will do nothing to help. Haha


  4. Make Do Style says:

    Ah conspicuous consumption – at the one end Hermes and the other Primark.

    Still a bit rich of them being 'not bothered' about your want.

  5. That's Not My Age says:

    Galeries Lafayette en Paris has a champagne bar right in the middle of women's fashion, which is both lovely & dangerous at the same time!

  6. Blogarella says:

    Hermes know how to keep us dangling from their little fingers. I called every day for about 3 months to be put on the waiting list for a Birkin. The assistants always insisted they didn't know when exactly it would open but that I should make my calls earlier, rather than later. One fateful day I forgot to call at 10 and rang at 1, only to be told that the Birkin waiting list had opened that morning and was now closed for another half-year. Crazy! Bx


  7. WendyB says:

    Damn, I've always plied my customers with Champagne. Bitches be biting my style.

  8. M says:

    luxury retailers do need to up their game when it comes to customer service, sometimes it's a salesclerk shadowing you and other times it's the your're not worthy of this store look…crappy service both ways

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