Where customer service goes to die in the Big Apple

hollisterAs someone who used to work in a well known and overpriced high street card shop, I was constantly dealing with customers and often on the receiving end of the more ungrateful and rude ones. With several friends who have worked in retail, bars or in restaurants, I am always very aware of how I speak to and treat the staff wherever I go, but at the same time, am equally aware of and infuriated by bad service. I’m never afraid to speak up when I feel that staff aren’t doing their job properly and that’s exactly why I made a point of not only speaking to staff but also to write this post in the vague hope of either improving matters or simply venting my irritation.

hollister (1)I don’t think I have ever been so shocked by the terrible customer service I received when shopping in Hollister in New York. I don’t usually shop in Hollister because quite frankly anywhere that makes you shop in the dark and pumps out a scent so strong it gives you a headache is just ridiculous. My family wanted to go in, so I went with them, but I really wish I hadn’t – the shop left me so annoyed! Now don’t get me wrong, I know that Hollister, and sister-brand Abercrombie & Fitch, have a specific style and that the sullen, bland staff that seem utterly devoid of personality or facial expressions is a big part of that. I just don’t understand who, up on high, decided that these people were the ones to hire – that customers would rather be ignored than helped.

Although I have been in the store many times before in the UK, I have never experienced the ridiculous level of service that I did while in The Big Apple, but it is also significantly lacking over here as well. I must stress that the following examples all happened within one visit to the store:

  1. First of all, we were made to queue outside the store like cattle when we knew that the shop was empty, customers leaving the shop confirmed this and we found out ourselves when we reached the inside. Why do they feel the need to make shoppers wait outside? Trying to make it look more exclusive and lusted over? Well the reality is it just makes us angry and in actual fact, several people left. I too would have left if my family didn’t want to go in. When a couple of people didn’t notice the queue and walked straight into the store they were actually told to leave by some guy who thought he was a model.
  2. When we were finally allowed in, I picked up a top to take a look at it, before I could even unfold it, another vapid, empty shell came over and completely ignored me except for snatching the clothing out of my hands and folding it back onto the display. When I asked her why she just did that, she ignored me again and walked off.
  3. When I found a dress I liked and couldn’t find my size, I asked another member of staff to find one for me. He bumbled about not having any more in stock after checking the rack I told him I had just checked. Then he walked off for 15 minutes before returning and saying he couldn’t find any others. When I walked into the next room, I found another full rack of them – all in my size.
  4. Finally after all this faffing around, we made it to the changing room, we stood waiting with a few items to try on. The girl in charge of the changing room turned to look at us and the small queue forming – all holding armfuls of clothes. Then she turned back around and carried on hanging up clothes. We assumed the changing room was full. Ten minutes later, she turned around again and said, “Oh, are you waiting to try on?” It turned out all the changing rooms were empty and she just hadn’t managed to put two and two together when a queue was waiting outside!
  5. When I was in the changing room and needed a different size, I asked her to get me one and she just looked completely blankly at me. I gave up and just sent my mum out instead.
  6. By the time I reached the till, I was fuming to say the least. Once again I was forced to queue – now I don’t mind waiting to be served, but when you are queuing through three rooms in a shop when the tills are full of staff who are busy chatting or just incredibly slow at serving – I get a little pissed off.
  7. When I was finally served, the guy on the till asked me how I was doing and if I found everything I was looking for, turned to his friend and rolled his eyes. I replied, “Well yes, except for the clothes and manners.” Again, blank looks and ignorance. He didn’t even care when I made a point of complaining about the above and tried to give excuses like fire hazards for the queuing and slow service. I wasn’t having any of it.
  8. On the way out, my mum picked up something she hadn’t noticed earlier and while she was looking for a different size, another member of staff came over snatched it out of her hand and shouted at us, “Can I get you a different size?” Before we could even reply she folded it back on the shelf and strutted off. What a joke.

hollister-surf-7132I can’t even be bothered to write out the full list because it just makes me angry, but here are the worst examples and I can tell you that I was not the only person who was getting annoyed by the terrible service. I’m not someone who likes to complain or put other people down, but I have to wonder where on earth these brands are getting staff like these. They really seemed completely unaware of basic manners and that is something I just can’t stand. Since when did brand identity and image become more important than actually helping the people who are paying your wages? I took great pleasure in reminding them of this, although I’m really not sure they even had a clue what I was going on about.

When we were out there, my sister, who is oh so much more fash than I am and is studying fashion out there at the moment, told us that apparently the company is going under and that it will be shutting down before long. Sadly it looks like the NYC store will remain open as a flagship store, but who knows. The fact that the store was empty when I was there says a lot. Regardless, you have to hope they keep some of the stores open just so that there is a place for these ridiculously rude employees to hide away in the dark. Keep them there, I beg you. At least then we don’t face running into them everywhere else!

Have you received terrible customer service? Where and what happened? What do you think of Hollister staff?

4 responses to “Where customer service goes to die in the Big Apple

  1. Bad customer service really gets my goat! I worked in retail so expect to be served in the same way as I served customers – I think everyone should be made to do this as a way of learning manners :-p Trained through the right company mind. If I ever go to NYC, I’ll keep Hollister off my list. It sounds awful. I tried one in England & wasn’t fussed. There’s a hype that’s built up around it, which obviously brings the custom but I can’t imagine creates loyal shoppers x

    • Exactly! The worst people are the ones who work in retail then go on to be horrible to staff once they are out of the business, but I just don’t understand why some people find it so difficult to give good customer service. You’re right, its a great way of learning manners and really changes the way you treat people. I never liked my retail job and only did it for the money, but I still did a damn good job and made sure the customer had everything they needed. Yeah I really wouldn’t bother going back, I personally resent the idea of spending money there because of the custom and treatment. I think you’re right, people get swept up in the hype and the brand name – they don’t think about what they are actually getting for their money x

  2. Oh my god this is appalling! I’ve worked in customer service before (Primark and Vision Express, the opticians) so I can completely understand why some staff may be off or uninterested because retail is HARD WORK and it’s difficult to maintain the levels of optimism when you have customers ordering you around but THIS is on another level wrong. I’ve never been in a Hollister shop tbh and I don’t plan to. Good riddance to them! xx

    • It really is the hardest job I have ever done – trying to be polite endlessly to rude customers, or worse, the ones that ignore you completely! But this was just beyond bad customer service – reading back over the post I actually can’t believe that all of this happened – it’s just ridiculous! I wouldn’t waste your time there! xx

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