5 Important Lessons from The Kooples on how to deal with customers properly

Monday, 10 March 2014
kooples

I have a temper though it does take quite a bit of work to rile me up to the point of apoplexy. In the case of The Kooples, it took 2 orders, 2 years apart to get me straight back to popping my blood pressure meds. After the worst case of terrible customer service, I decided to work up my courage to place another order albeit small just to test the waters again.

There was a sale on The Kooples website. Tempting. So I went ahead and bought another pair of sweat pants. This time around, the package impressively arrived 2 days later with a delivery on a Saturday. I opened the package and instead of seeing the sweat pants in size small, I got the medium. I have a sense of déjà vu about a similar experience not too long ago with The Kooples.

So I went ahead and organized for a return and figured I'd better call the number listed on the returns form for a clearer explanation of their exchange process. It seems rather strange to ask the customer to pay for returns shipping when they'd made a mistake with the order. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the conversation was as confusing and frustrating as my previous experience. Here's a snippet of my conversation:

Me: Can you check the database to see if you have another pair of sweat pants in small?
C @TheKooples Brompton Cross: No. No, I can't. I don't have access to the database. I'm just a store.
Me: How would you know what's available and what's not?
C @TheKooples Brompton Cross: I don't know. I'm just a store.
Me: What will happen if I ship the package back to you?
C @TheKooples Brompton Cross: Well....I send it back to Paris....and then umm....I think they get back to you. Or you could call the Paris office.
Me: I've had a lot of trouble calling the office before. No one answered. And then they had no one who could deal with English speaking customers.
C @TheKooples  Brompton Cross: *nervous laugh*  Yes. Yes....we've had a lot of customers who'd complained about that before *nervous laugh*
Me: Can you call the Paris office for me then? It's easier seeing that you work for the company and you're French.
C @TheKooples  Brompton Cross: No.....you can write an email and then I'll forward it to them. And...umm....they deal with you. I'm just the store.
Me: Wouldn't it be easier if you just called the office?
C @TheKooples  Brompton Cross: No...I'm very busy. I'm the assistant manager. I deal with 50 orders everyday, paperwork....customers.......

I admit that I did lose the plot  after going round and round in circles with this guy who insisted that I MUST write a letter, PAY for returns and he CANNOT guarantee I'll get an exchange but I SHOULD get a refund. I've worked in customer services dealing with residential customers and  corporate clients for two decades and I know when someone takes ownership of the issue and goes the extra mile or merely passing the buck. He belongs firmly in the second camp.

The last time, the convoluted exchange process was so diabolical (took 3 weeks and they ended up sending me an exchange with the SAME incorrect item. Yup, no kidding) that I just kept the item. This time around, I can't see how it will change so yes, I'll swallow my loss. AGAIN. Don't even try calling their number in Paris because they haven't bothered to assign a human to man the phones. If you like the odd item from The Kooples, I urge you to shop via Selfridges or ASOS website. They have a limited selection but I can honestly say that your shopping experience will be far more pleasant.

I thank The Kooples for teaching me a few important lessons about business.
1. Expand, expand, expand. Chuck all your money into expansion and advertising. Photograph lots of cool looking couples, preferably ones that are rocked up/shagged up/slightly inebriated (i.e. Pete Doherty)
2. You're a cool brand so inject plenty of arrogance to trick customers into thinking that they're waaaay lucky to shop with you. Because, well, you're cool.
3. Design a complex returns process so that customers would rather slit their wrist than go through the torture of returning incorrectly sent/bad quality items.
4. Appearance matters (check point number 1). Print your contact details EVERYWHERE because you "love your customers" but you've spent too much money on stationery so employ no manpower to deal with unimportant rug rats (customers).
5. Make your customers pay for YOUR mistakes. Because, well, you're too cool to admit your incompetence. (go back to points 1 and 4)


p.s. Just in case if you think this is a one off experience, check out this story here.

31 comments:

  1. How dreadful. So sorry to hear this.
    Good customer service is one of the reasons why I still deal with Net-a-Porter, who manage to send things to me on time even in far-flung Kathmandu. The two times I had a problem (in 7+ years of shopping with them), they handled it so smoothly that I now remember it as an example of good service, despite the initial snafu. A little consideration goes a long way!

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    1. Oh Ammu, Net a Porter drive me bonkers! Delivery and reruns work well, but I think their customer service is rubbish!

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    2. Oh I agree with this. Their shipping and returns are easy, and there is always someone to talk to. But when there is an issue it is so hard to get it sorted out. I had 2 refunds issued to a cancelled credit card, getting any information out of net a porter that would help my bank track the payment was a nightmare.

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  2. Grrrr , never tapped in to their aesthetic with those smug looking models so it's not a company I'm planning to use anyway . But this post will go straight to long storage memory just in case I'm ever tempted.
    Had a similar issue with incorrect size and unhelpful response from Atterley Road , however they did pay for the return and eventually refund .

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  3. Oh I'm giggling, you're goat is well an truly up but somehow you still managed to turn this into a fun piece to read.

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    1. I'm absolutely LIVID. Called their Paris office more than 10 times. Pfffffffft.

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  4. I won't even go in to their store in Leeds anymore. It's just not worth the hassle and the humiliation of having to try on clothes and stand outside to use the only mirror there is in the whole shop and like you say, the whole returning and refunding is far too much hassle. I think it's only a matter of time before everyone realises it's not cool to be treated as a second rate customer and walk with their feet elsewhere where they do get treated with some modicum of respect and consideration.

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  5. I consider myself warned. Thank you. There is no excuse for crap service, not in this day and age. I have walked out of stores, before now, because of the lack of service ( don't get me started on H&M ) H x

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  6. No business sense at all, with zero / poor service(shameful).

    X

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  7. What a disgrace! Do not tell you how inept they might be on their website before you order? I always check the returns info before I order anything and if they charge to return, then that's it for me, no way Jose. I'd report them to Trading Standards at your local council, or else the council for the Brompton Road store, Kensington and Chelsea? and see if they can help. Or, take their butts to the Small Claims Court.

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  8. OMG I am annoyed and frustrated for you!

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  9. Ah Marlene even here in France The Kooples and the likes (Maje, Sandro, Zadig..) have a very bad reputation: very expensive, very parisian (sometimes too puch), very posh and not so good quality. But boy are they trendy and VERY talented to lure your and create new needs with you. Next time you want something from them (of ever you want to throw your money away..), ask me and I'll be happy to help you although going in one of their shop ia quite the experience, mind you! Do keep in mind that their target is the young fashion victim, thin, beautiful, urban AND with a lot of money but no real taste and knowledge in clothes: who would buy clothes so expensive but so badly made but to show off (I am not speaking of you, really). I always try to warn my foreigners friends to NOT buy anything from the said shops (the one i wote above) but hey, who am I against the marketing and brand machine?! Sorry about this.

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    1. Eveange, I don't think I've met any Parisian who has said one nice thing about these brands you've mentioned. Yikes! I guess I should've known better after my first experience. They're ridiculously overpriced and yes, the quality is so so. I was only tempted because of the 50% discount. Sigh.

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  10. This sounds so poor and I am really sorry you had to experience such a terrible service... I've always thought better of them - mind you, never bought anything so far... I remember I once had a similar chat with a manager, though. It wasn't the same shop, but the manager's attitude was. At first i didn't realise the guy I was talking to was a manager, I thought he was just a customer team block. So after a pointless chat that led to nowhere I asked if I could talk to a manager to which he replied "I am the manager". I was so shocked! "What are you managing, then - the phone? " I asked him... Oh, that really set him off... I thought my phone would melt, so I put it down at the end. :) :) :)

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    1. Natalia, somehow I'm not surprised. They're so illogical to deal with. It's like talking to a fool.

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  11. Dreadful situation. I really feel for you. I won't order from Cos as they make you pay to return to germany and took 5 weeks to refund me. But the worst has to be Vestiaire collective. Three times in a row over 7 months I have bought something, paid for it then waited and waited and after countless emails and calls been told the seller no longer had the item. Refunds take less than a week but by this time they have had my money for 3 weeks and variation in currency exchange invariably mean I lose out. Appalling - and funnily enough - also french!

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    1. Okay, that's even more awful than my experience! I bet it wasn't a cheap item that you'd purchased. Thanks for sharing the story. I'll tread very carefully with Vestiaire Collecive now. I used to complain about the service here and then my Parisian friend sat me down. She said I ain't seen nothing yet until I've experienced French customer service. She's right.

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    2. Lol - we are talking over £750 in total! I totally identify with your apoplexy. I googled vestiaire and left messages on blogs and newspaper on line articles to try and raise awareness - like the Kooples they too have a pretty hefty advertising presence. Love your blog btw - read it every night. Hx

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    3. £750??!!! You win. Mine's £60 so I've got nothing to complain about. Thank you. That's really sweet of you to say so. I'm glad you like my ramblings.....even though my topics swing about like a pendulum :)

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  12. I would be going INSANE! I complain all the time about poor quality & customer service, but I also make sure I feed-back the rare good ones. It is so important. I couldn't accept it and would kick of if they didn't refund a return and postage. Don't keep it, try tweeting, posting on their Facebook page, get your money back! I've recently bought a top by them from Selfridges. It's lovely but even at half price I think it was over priced. Keep pushing, get you money Marlene!x

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    1. Some companies are impenetrable and thats what's even more infuriating. I posted about my Vestiaire collective experience ( see comment above) on their instagram page - they just removed it. Can afford people to do that...! Hx

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    2. WTH?! They removed your comment?!?!! That just goes to show that they don't give a hoot when things go wrong. Pure arrogance on their part.

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    3. Natalie, I've just sent them another email but I'll see. The husband shook his head and said, "I can't believe you spent so many hours just trying to return an item and it's their fault." BTW, they never bothered to reply to tweets. Or emails. Or phone calls. They're active on every social media platform that man has ever created yet they don't give a toss when they screw up.

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    4. How frustrating. You see Neil says the same to me when I spend time chasing things up but once I get a bee in my bonnet, it's the principle that's more important to me, not my time. I just chased a £3 refund (charged me postage twice) the company ended up refunding me the price i pay for the item (£29.99) instead of the £3 - result!! Try trading standards? Write a letter saying you are taking this further etc etc, in breach of rights re purchasing & supplying correct goods etc etc. It's put me off ever buying from them based on your experience! x

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  13. Ugh, what a pain. Incompetent customer service is my pet peeve. You'd think HK has great customer service but most of what I've experienced is downright frustrating (most customer service people arent empowered - or are unwilling to - problem solve. Sorry for your experience :(. S in HK

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    1. How are you, S?? Haven't heard from you in ages. Hope you're well. Thankfully, it's not a lot of money or else I'll be truly hopping up and down.

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    2. Hey! Sooo busy with school stuff for A. The mums here are really intense!!!! -S

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    3. It's really competitive in HK. Good luck. I totally get what you're facing at the mo. Can't say I envy you or A. Downside of growing up in Asia.

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  14. Thanks for sharing those , Vestiare C has something dodgy about the set up IMO ,so I never bother looking.
    But Zadig.....I'm a huge fan and have lots of pieces mainly from the sale shop in Kings Road . For an oldie like me the cut , colours and vibe seem to do the trick in injecting oomph,and so far quality is fine.
    Margaret Howell remains my top to go to , but a bit of Z V can be refreshingly fun.

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    1. I suspect you are right about Vestiaire - not sure it is legal to take money from people without having the goods to then send to them.....they must make a fortune in interest as for each transaction they have the money in their account for a minimum of 2 weeks. Hx

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  15. Oh Marlene, this sucks! I would be going crazy if I were in your shoes! At least you are able to somewhat let of some steam through your blog, which I have to say did make me chuckle, I know I shouldn't because its your misfortune but the way you wrote it just makes them look so stupid and by the sounds of it that's exactly what they deserve! :)

    Take care,
    Daniella xox

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