The value of customer service – Urban Decay v. Dior

For a while there, I was hooked on Urban Decay (my sister pointed it out to me).  I went on a mission to find their eye shadows, eye liners, and buy all the things that weren’t currently on the shelf, and to get as much of their eye makeup as I could (their eye shadow, liners and primer is pretty amazing.  I don’t like the rest of their line).  It was beautiful, bright, vibrant eye color and liner Mecca, and I was addicted, haha.  I bought pretty much everything I could get my hands on (and afford).  Mind you, I spend quite a bit of money on makeup, it’s one of my “gotchas”, but even the “gotchas” gotta wait until I can afford them sometimes.

So, Urban Decay had this fantastic sale a few years back.  Like major warehouse clean out or something, on the http://www.urbandecay.com website.  Long story short, they oversold their stock, somehow, perhaps a computer glitch that wasn’t tracking inventory v. sales.  They pissed off a ton of their customers, it was a huge mess.  Customers were receiving shipments that only had one or two of the 10 things they ordered in it, with no explanation, no indication on the inventory lists which reflected the original order, etc.  You couldn’t get through to their customer service lines.  Their facebook page was blowing up.  They said they’d be in touch with every one who had gotten a screwed up order sometime in the next few weeks.

Well, after trying for about two hours to get through to their customer service line, I put the phone down and said I have better things to do.  I’ll wait for them to call me, or I’ll call them back in a week or so.  I tried again in a week.  Their phones were still blown up.  I waited for three or four weeks (from the original shipment arrival date) and I hadn’t heard from them so I called again.  Jesse, I believe his name is, who worked their customer service line at the time (no idea if they’re still there or if there’s been a regime change)..was a fantastic CS rep, and really, UD should give him a hell of a raise.  The other girl.. well, she should be working for WalMart, not a high end cosmetics line, or for that matter, even a wannabe high end cosmetics line.

I finally got through to them.  Jesse fixed my order, sent me what he could fix, in the full size or whatever he could substitute for them, which worked out and gave me a coupon code to be used in the future on anything.  No exclusions, for the trouble this whole thing had caused.  He sent it via email.  I went to use it, not even a month later, when an eye palette had gone on sale, and the coupon code was invalid.  It had expired the day before the sale.  Urban Decay majorly screwed up and then gave everyone “we’ll make it up to you” coupons, and then made it expire, deliberately, the day before a sale.  If this was a regular coupon, just some thing that was out there as a bonus to random customers, I could see this tactic.  As a “we don’t want to lose you because we screwed up” “save our asses because all of our customers are pissed over this major fiasco” tactic, they needed to eat the 20% off coupon, on top of the sale.  The above description does not begin to cover the nightmare that UD’s mess up on that sale caused.  People were really pissed.

I called their CS line.  I got the WalMart female.  I told her that my coupon wasn’t working and I’d only received it in the last few weeks.  She explained to me that it expired the previous day.  I went back and looked at the email, and lo and behold, in the fine print at the bottom, it did indeed say that it expired the day before.  I said, well, I can’t believe you guys had it expire before the sale.  She said UD made that happen deliberately so that it couldn’t be used on the sale prices.  I said, that’s some of the worst customer service I’ve ever seen.  I argued with them, I tried to get them to override it and apply it.  I suspect that perhaps had Jesse been the one to answer, I might have gotten further, since he seems to understand the power of the customers’ dollar.  She just kept saying “oh, I can’t do that,” in her oh-so-snarky-but-I’m-so-concerned-about-you fake CS voice..  I said, no, you CAN do that, you WON’T do that.  There’s a difference.  You are capable, and you refuse.  It’s not that it’s impossible, or even difficult.  You simply REFUSE to do it.   I hung up with her, and I have refused to buy Urban Decay ever since.  I wrote them a long letter.  They didn’t bother responding.

I clearly don’t spend enough money anywhere to make or break a company.  I do spend quite a bit.  It is, perhaps, not THE most expensive hobby a person can have, when you compare my spending to what hobbyists spend on their respective interests.. but I spend enough that if you lost five or six customers just like me, you’d be looking at $10k a year loss.  Was it worth it, UD, to make sure that you didn’t lose that $15?

I had started buying Dior makeup at the same time.  For those of you that didn’t know, Christian Dior does, indeed, have a makeup line.  And it’s lovely.  A single eye shadow from UD is $18 or thereabouts.  A five shadow palette from Dior is $60, which works out to less per shadow.  UD isn’t cheaper than Dior.

I spend my money at Dior.  Sometimes another company, Lancome, Clinique, Estee Lauder..whoever, will get a smidge of it.  I have two Dior reps that take care of me at the Macy’s near where I used to live.  I will now travel that 30 minutes to go to that specific Macy’s to buy from them only…

Why??  Well, first, there isn’t a Macy’s around here.  Or a Dior store, but even if there were.. i would still travel.  I didn’t even realize there wasn’t one here until a month ago, when I asked at the store I was in, because I was specifically looking for a Dior mascara for a trip I was leaving on that day.  But back to why..

Because they understand customer service.  Oh, sure, their makeup is great.  I love it, and shhh, used with Urban Decay’s eye shadow primer, it won’t budge all day.  Just don’t close your eyes to sleep or squint a lot after you moisturize and the makeup seriously won’t move.  But the reason I buy Dior?  It’s the customer service. Dior’s motto isn’t “make women beautiful”.  It’s “make women happy”.

My reps keep lists for me.  I get called for every makeover day.  I get the attention of their renowned artists who travel to the stores.  I get expert advice and new looks designed for me by their artists.  The Macy’s/Dior reps keep track of what I buy, what my favorites are, what I like, what colors I favor, they’ll hold things for me, let me make “away” purchases, and then hold those things for a month or however long it is until I come back to get it.  They’ll even hold those things for me if I don’t pay for them right away.  They call me when they get something they think I might like.  When I arrive there, they cater to me, my nails get painted, they will try different things on me.  They remember and ask about my sister, my family, my son, my nephew, my job, the attorneys I work for, how situations are going.. they have a general interest.  This the difference between a company who gets to charge $60 for an eyeshadow palette, and a company who has to charge $18 for a single eye shadow.  One screams “only the best” and you know it as soon as you call them, email with them, or spend time with one of their reps.  And the other screams I just climbed out of the customer service bargain bin and my marketing strategies are to fool the customer into thinking they’re getting a bargain price for an eye shadow at $18.  And, believe me, UD employs a lot of underhanded marketing tactics, and they’ve been busted at it.  Completely unnecessary.  You’ll never see Dior resorting to that.  And Dior has been in business for as long as I’ve been buying makeup.

I even got a customer service survey from UD.  I filled it out.  I offered to provide them with copies of my receipts for my purchases at Dior.  I scolded them.  I mentioned that CS and marketing laws state that a business only hears from 4% of their dissatisfied customers.  Ninety-six percent just go away, and 91% never come back.  If I was this unhappy, it stands to reason that a huge percentage was too. Sixty-eight percent of customers quit a brand/company because of dissatisfaction with an attitude of indifference toward them from an employee, owner or manager. A typical dissatisfied customer will tell 5-8 people about their experience.  One in five will tell 20 (I personally have told anyone will listen.. :cough: ).  And it takes 12 positive customer service incidents to make up for one negative experience.

Urban Decay does not give a shit.  And because of that, I will no longer buy their stuff, except, perhaps, when I run out of the eye shadow potion.  Fortunately I can sneak that in there because I’m not actively boycotting them for some belief, I’m just boycotting them because they suck.  Of course, I’ll have to use cash so they never know that I purchased it.  😛  Just kidding.  It’s kind of like being in witness protection.  Thanks to Urban Decay for being the “base” on which Dior can shine.  That’s really all their worth these days, a stepping stone or a platform.  And it’s a downright shame.  I really loved their products.

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