Friday, June 01, 2007

Nordstroms - Customer Service Gone Bad

Today was a day off. A day off from work, a day off from sewing, and a day off from home improvement projects. Apparently, it was also a day off from Nordstrom's famous customer service.

Today was a mother-daughter day with a trip planned to the Mall of America (MOA) with two goals: 1) have a professional bra fitting at Nordstroms for both of us and 2) find two or three new trendy summer outfits for DD.

DD was super excited about the professional fitting at Nordstroms and had set aside more than $100, willing to part with the cash for one or two well fitting, professionally fit bras.

I had a professional fitting done about six months ago at Nordstrom's at the MOA and had been thrilled with the customer service. So much so that I have shared my story many times.

Six months ago, when I arrived at Nordstroms inquiring about a fitting, I was greeted pleasantly and told how long the wait would be (minutes). I was brought into a large fitting room, complete with a comfy chair, where the fitter introduced herself, took some measurements, explained that I was wearing the wrong size and why, talked about proper fit, and then said she would go get some for me to try on.

She returned with almost ten different bras, all different colors and styles and the uncomfortable (for me) part began. As I tried on the various styles she would comment immediately on what fit well and why. We also exchanged pleasant small talk. She was extremely courteous and friendly. I decided on three new bras that day and she took them to the register for me.

As the sale was being rung up, she carefully explained how to care for them, how long they should last and then asked if I would like to be on her mailing list. She explained that she would call if a style arrived in the store that she thought would work for me, or if one of the styles I had just purchased was going to go on sale or be discontinued. Well, of course I said yes. She also handed me her business card at the end of the transaction and invited me to call her if I had any questions or needed anything else.

Doesn't that sound like a wonderful shopping experience? Can you see why I shared it with so many people always adding "no wonder they are so well known for their customer service."

That is why my DD was so excited to go today. She too wanted to have a shopping experience like that (and find a great fitting bra). Unfortunately, today was an entirely different experience. Honestly, if I hadn't been there six months earlier I would seriously be questioning the Nordstrom's customer service reputation.

Everyone in the department appeared to be extremely rushed and busy. It was a Friday morning at 11 a.m. While it was busy it didn't seem crowded like we had seen it on weekends. We deliberately choose to go on a weekday morning so it would not be as busy.

When we inquired about a bra fitting we were told to go "sit over there" and that it was "kinda busy so it might take awhile." We went and sat where we were told. No big deal, we had all day open.

Someone came out and asked who was first and DD chose to go first. Off she went to be fitted. About five minutes later a fitter asked who was next and off I went.

Lucky me...not only did I get a fitter but a trainer, and neither one introduced themselves this time. Okay, fine, they were busy training and had other things on their mind.

When all three of us were in the large fitting room - which had no chair this time - I explained that I had been professionally fitted six months ago but had a problem with the fit of the one I was currently wearing. I had brought all of the tags from my previous purchase in case they didn't have my information on file. Not only did they not bother to look up any information, but they didn't much care about what I liked and didn't like in my previous purchase. Okay, maybe they don't keep the information on file and I misunderstood her the last time I was there.

The fitter listened to the problem I had with the one I was wearing, offered a few reasons why it might be happening, took a measurement and left - - - with the trainer - - - leaving my dressing room wide open - - - because the door wouldn't close unless you pushed it closed. (Think about it...what do you do in a store dressing room? That's right, and you certainly don't want the door wide open do you?)

And wouldn't you know it? Every time they left the fitting room they left the door open. Okay, fine, I just remembered to close the door after them. But, in my opinion, closing a fitting room door isn't even considered customer service - that's common courtesy.

They returned with three for me to try and I hated all of them. I explained what I thought was a potential problem with one of them. Fitter explained why it wouldn't be a problem. I explained that I didn't wish to spend $80 only to find out it wouldn't work. Fitter wondered why I didn't know it could be returned. Hmm, I guess if no one ever explained to me that it could be returned that would explain why I didn't know. With the return policy in mind, I said I would consider the one she suggested.

I think they were irritated with me because I kept asking for different bras. Isn't that part of what they are trained to do? They know the styles, the brands, and where they are located in the department - I don't.

The styles they brought in were not what I wanted. I knew what I wanted - something identical or very, very close to what I was wearing. So they left again - leaving the door open behind them - and returned with a few others. As I tried them the trainer just stood in the corner of the room. It was a bit of an uncomfortable situation for me and I sure am glad DD didn't get two of them as she was already unsure of the whole process.

The additional choices they brought were okay and fearing that I would not get any other choices I decided to go ahead and purchase two of them, knowing I could return them if I didn't like them. They took the two styles I choose and said they'd meet me at the register.

As I left the fitting room I saw DD browsing in the bras. I asked her if she had purchased hers already and she replied no. Turns out her fitter had only brought in two for her to try and then left the room. DD didn't know what was going on. She didn't know if she should wait, if the fitter was coming back, or if that was all she was going to bring her. She waited a bit longer then got dressed and left the fitting room. Perhaps I'm being a bit self-centered here, but I would think it is Nordstrom's fitter's responsibility to explain to their customer the process.

DD decided to just purchase one off the rack, guessing at her size, knowing that she could return it if it didn't fit. All of the staff at the register overheard us discussing the obvious miscommunication in the fitting room with DD's fitter - the fitter herself was right there and said she had been helping "one of those two ladies" (pointing at us) and no one even said "oh I'm sorry about the mix-up".

This time when we rung up our purchases we didn't get the smiles, or care instructions for our new purchases, or an invite to be included on the mailing list. Obviously we were taking up some of their precious time and they couldn't wait to be done with us so they could move on to the next customer.

DD thinks I'm nuts for even suggesting that we go there for the professional bra fitting. She didn't think there was anything special about it at all.

Me? I was amazed that I had not been treated the same as the last time I was there. I have to admit I am extremely disappointed as my expectations were pretty high based on my last visit. Granted, it wasn't horrible customer service, it's just that I can get that level of service from any department store - Macy's, JC Penney, Bloomingdales...I expect more from Nordstroms.

So, what was the problem? Did a co-worker just suffer a family tragedy? Did the sales staff just receive notice that there was going to be layoffs? Did the commission structure change? Did we come at break time? Did we not dress properly? Did we look like we didn't have money to spend?

I don't have the answers. I do know that I plan on returning my purchases next week. I can't keep them as every time I would wear them I would remember today's shopping trip.

I also know that I once couldn't wait to share my great Nordstrom's customer service experience. Now I can't share it without adding the flip side of the story. Pin It


  1. You should send this entire post to Nordstroms - hmmmph! You are better than me because I wouldn't have bought any and when the fitter asked why I would have explained in 10 letter words so that I totally irritated the H*ll out of her as she had just done to me. Please return those suckers quickly - Nordstorms has had your money way too long in my book for such bad customer service!

  2. I agree with Carolyn - Nordstrom will want to hear this story! I shop almost exclusively at Nordstrom because I have a perfect personal shopper. I HATE shopping and Jane does it all for me. She would be horrified to hear your experience!

  3. What a difference anyone can make in someone's day. You don't have to be a policeman or fireman to be a hero...just treat people nicely and you really make a difference in life! What a shame.

  4. Being from Canada and never having been to Nordstroms I would agree that the experience sucked. However, I would suggest in the future why don't you call up the lady that gave you such wonderful service (you got her card right?) and make appointments for you and your DD. That way you are ensured to have a similar experience (good one). Even if you can't make appointments, you could at lease find out when she was working, and a time that is usually less busy.

  5. That's just shameful. I agree that Nordstrom should hear about this. My friend is a retail manager for Macy's and I know that if it were her team, she'd totally want to hear this and once she did she'd correct the situation asap.

  6. My thoughts while reading this were that you should immediately copy this post and forward it to Nordstrom's. You might has well have been shopping at Walmart for all the help you received. We are willing to pay extra when we receive help and service, not willing when we don't.

  7. Hi Sharon -

    Thanks for linking to my blog. I would also say that your second Nordstrom experience was atypical. With any company, it can depend a lot on who you deal with, but I would say a vast majority of the time, you'll have a great experience with Nordstrom.

    Because I'm a guy, I've never been fitted for a bra. However, I would think with Nordstrom, the experience should be like the first one you described - everytime.

    I agree with the other commenters - you should definitely print this post out and send it to Nordstrom. I would be curious to see how they respond and am 99% confident that they will give you a very sincere apology.

    All and all, Nordstrom is known as a legendary customer service company. They are known as such because a vast majority of the time, they do provide service like your first experience.

    Sorry to say that you had a negative experience. My advice would be to send Nordstrom a letter and give your local store another shot.

  8. Thank you EVERYONE for your comments and advice.

    I was really hesitate about posting a complaint online, but I must admit I felt better once I did so. I do understand that we are all human and we all have bad days. However, DD and I had planned on spending a lot more time and money in that store and changed our minds after the fitting.

    I think I will contact the Nordstrom's manager because I belive the service was, as Service Unlimited said, quite atypical for Nordstroms. Also, where I work is very focused on serving the public - in fact I'm currently on a customer service improvement team looking at ways we can improve - and we would want to know of a negative experience so we could try and correct it.

    Thanks again for your comments and
    I'll let you know what happens.

  9. Sharon: Great. I look forward to hearing what Nordstrom says and seeing what they do. Best of luck! (Please keep me in the loop!)



Blog Widget by LinkWithin