Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ask and You Shall Receive

I'm home in Michigan this week due to the death of a family member, and I just want to apologize if I fall a little behind on posting, the quality isn't as high as usual, or if my posts come up at weird times. Please bear with me and I promise I'll be back on track soon!

After writing my post on Urban Outfitters last week, I decided to stop in their store in Cambridge, MA to try on a few of the dresses I'd discussed. This is one of the downsides of blogging... if you're constantly following what's new at various stores and websites, and then talking about how great this or that piece is in a post, it's very hard to resist going out and buying your favorites (well, whether it's a bad thing is debatable, but my credit card isn't particularly happy about it). Lucky for my bank account, the process of trying on all these dresses that looked gorgeous on the models on the website quickly limited my choices, and others had lower quality materials and construction than I'd hoped, and I ended up buying a dress that I hadn't even mentioned in the post.

It looks better in real life, trust me. The fabric is incredibly soft and comfortable, the drapery on the sleeves and at the waist is very pretty, and it really isn't that low-cut on me (though I'm planning on wearing it to the funeral today and I'm definitely wearing a cami underneath). I'm normally not drawn to styles reminiscent of the 70's, but the dress has a sexy, modern Stevie Nicks vibe going that I really like.

Anyway, when I took it home that night and tried it on for the second time, I noticed a tiny hole in the armpit area. Luckily I wasn't leaving Boston until the following afternoon, so I went into the store and looked around for the dress in the same color and size to exchange. Of course, there wasn't one, and while the other colors were very pretty (especially the bright blue), I really needed another versatile little black dress and didn't want to exchange.

The store was busy and I had a hard time finding a salesperson to talk to, but I finally found two employees working the fitting rooms, explained the situation and asked whether they had any other dresses in this color and size anywhere else in the store. They said they didn't. I was pretty bummed, but I decided to try one more time, and eventually I found the saleswoman who rang me up the previous day. She recognized me and as I told her what happened and asked whether there were extras in the back room or anywhere else when she interrupted me and said "we don't have any more but I can at least give you a discount." Score!

She took off about $9 (the dress was $58) and told me the sale was final. I figured that I could easily sew up the hole with a couple stitches, or if I was really concerned, bring it into my tailor next time I stopped by (I'm guessing that with a hole that tiny, a tailor would fix it for free).

Though this wasn't a huge deal (and I'm still stuck with a dress with a hole), the experience made me realize just how much you can get when you really ask around. Whether it's a restaurant (going out for a special occasion only to get stuck at the tiny table next to the kitchen is always a bummer) or if you're trying to get on a waiting list for a highly coveted purse or lipstick, politely asking the person serving you whether there's anything they can do can go a long way.

Another thing I learned is that asking nicely is only half of the job, you need to find someone who appears to know what he/she is doing (often the manager or the person running the cash register) who will know what the store or restaurant can or can't do for you. If I'd only talked to the first two salespeople, I wouldn't have gotten the discount, but finding the manager (who also happened to be very friendly and happy to help) made the big difference.

These policies often vary from store to store and even person to person (I don't know if it's Urban Outfitters' official policy to give 15% when a piece of clothing is slightly damaged or if she just made that up) so it's good to ask around to see what you can get. And again, politeness is key, and if you're not getting the response you were looking for, keep your cool and just find each person's supervisor until you get a definite answer. And if there's a store, restaurant or makeup counter that you frequent often, try to make friends with one of the employees. Knowing someone on the "inside" can make a big difference when it comes to receiving the best service.


Anonymous said...

Why are you apologizing for not blogging?! Family comes first and I'm so sorry for your loss.

Meg said...

Thank you, I really appreciate your comment.

Catherine said...

My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your family member. Also, I agree, you don't have to apologize, just take care of yourself :)

On your blog entry, I totally agree with you about asking around. After I started working at Gap, I now know so much about a costumer's options and what you can do when you're shopping. My aunts and uncles often tell me about their problems with certain items of clothing and they're always surprised and happy to hear that they can still have this or that done. I also tell them what to do if they run into a cashier who tells them no. From my experience, I usually try to check with a manager before giving an absolute no to a costumer unless I know we cannot absolutely do this or that for them.

With that being said, I also know how it feels when you have a costumer who doesn't know when to stop asking. It also feels degrading if a costumer won't take your word for it and keeps asking numerous workers the same question. I had a costumer who was absolutely rude to my manager and didn't take her word. So she asked me right in front of my manager. Yeah, it wasn't a nice scene.

So I say, definitely talk to one sales associate. If they sound knowledgable, trust them but I'd say definitely talk to a manager if it's something important. There are a lot of bad sales associates out there. I've noticed when I go shopping. However, some are just new and really don't know all the options costumers have.

So I say, don't be afraid to ask the sales associates questions and if you feel it's important, definitely ask to see a manager. Managers can do a lot for you depending on the situation.

Besides that, I've learned myself not to be afraid to ask for help when I'm shopping or at restaurants.

Meg said...

Catherine- Great comment! It's good to hear the opinion of someone who's worked in retail.

You are totally right about the benefits of asking, but also knowing when to stop and not push. I don't think my post conveyed that well enough; the first salespeople I talked to were very busy and brushed me off, and it was only because they didn't seem like they wanted to help me or give me a straight answer that I went and asked another salesperson. Asking one person and then their manager if you still think there might be something they can do is a very good rule. And not taking someone's word and asking a manager or another salesperson in front of them is extremely rude (you must have been mortified).

Again, I'm so glad you commented, I think your expert advice is a lot better than mine!

The Glitterati said...

Meg, I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

Your new dress really looks very lovely though. (There's no delicate way to bridge those 2 thoughts without me sounding like an insensitive ass, so I won't try.)

Meg said...

Haha, thanks Glitterati! Both of your comments cheered me up (in very different ways, obviously). And don't feel like an insensitive ass, I have those moments all the time where I can't figure out a way to bridge two comments, there has to be a Seinfeld episode about it.

On a side note- after two days of wearing it, I'm really happy with the dress and I've found that depending on what you wear under it (or don't wear under it), it can work for a lot of different occasions. Definitely worth checking out if you're near an Urban Outfitters.