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.