Don't mess with a 'retail superstar'

29 September 2011

203512_169771083078133_5146468_n Sometimes it’s great to come across a company that are so far up themselves that they don’t even know where the normally-accepted levels of customer service begin, end or even exist. That’s the case here in a reply to a complaint to the exclusive GASP clothing store in Melbourne, Australia.

Shopper Keara O’Neil had a bad experience with sales assistant ‘Chris’ when shopping there for bridesmaid dresses for her forthcoming wedding. She explains the scenario in her complaint letter...

I had the privilege of shopping at your brand new Chapel St store on Saturday 24th September with my three bridesmaids in tow. On the hunt for bridesmaids dresses and a hens dress for myself we walked into the store and were automatically pounced on by a male staff member, I understand that this is protocol for many retail outlets and ours is no different.

The staff member was initially funny and extremely helpful with sizes etc. I chose a bright pink dress to try on but was unable to do the zip up so asked for the size up, when I eventually got the correct size and came out of the change room I was unable to discuss the likes or dislikes of the dress with my bridesmaids as the sales assistant kept saying “you should just get it”, when I told him I would think about it, he pulled me aside and whispered “Is it the price your worried about”. By now I was extremely frustrated, and again told him I’d think about it, I walked back into the change room and closed the door behind me, only to have it pushed open with the sales assistant half standing in my change room, again whispering “I think you should just get it”, when I gave him attitude and said rudely, “I already told you I would think about it”, he then replied, “With your figure I really think you should buy it”.

I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that, but considering the attitude used to deliver such a statement I can only imagine that it was an immature dig in relation to my healthy size 12 frame. I got changed in a hurry and walked right out of the change rooms and out of the store, I could hear the sales assistant yelling out to me, but I just ignored him and continued to leave, assuming my bridesmaids would follow. After waiting down the road for my bridesmaids to come out of the store I was told by one of them that the sales assistant yelled out “Have fun finding something at Supre”, when one of them approached him in regards to his comments, he replied “I knew you girls were a joke the minute you walked in”. When my bridesmaids walked out of the store another two customers walked out with them, they too could not believe the immaturity of the sales assistant.

I have worked in retail for 12 years and have come across an array of customer complaints over the years, none of which come even close to what I encountered on Saturday at your store, I wish I was exaggerating but unfortunately for your company this person actually exists and is working in one of your stores. I am pretty laid back and was quite happy just leaving your store, it was my bridesmaids who felt the need to say something to him………I dread to think how many customers he has not only offended but how many customers have left your store due to the pressure placed on getting the sale, and then to be harassed when that sale hasn’t taken place.

Ring me, don’t ring, not fussed………I’m just one retailer notifying another of an extremely inappropriate sales assistant.

Keara O'Neil

Sounds grim. You’d expect that GASP would be falling over themselves to rectify the situation wouldn’t you? Nope – here’s their reply, from area manager Matthew Chidgey...

Dear Keara O’Neil,
Having now had the privilege of having both version of events, I am now in a position to respond to your complaint.

From the very outset, one thing that you should be mindful of is; Our product offerings are very, very carefully selected, so to ensure that we do not appeal to a broad customer base. This is something which is always at the forefront of our minds when undertaking buying duties.

The reason for this is to ensure that we only carry products which appeal to a very fashion forward consumer. This by default means that the customer whom is acclimatised to buying from “clothing for the masses” type retailers, is almost frightened by our range, sometimes we have found that this type of customer, almost finds our dresses funny, and on occasion noted comments such as 'it looks like a dead flamingo'. When we receive comments like this, we like to give ourselves and our buyers, a big pat on the back, because we know we are doing our job right, and modus operandi is being upheld.

Our range is worn by A list celebrities to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry to name only a few. Now, as one might appreciate, the style counsel for these types of celebrities are not ones to pick “run of the mill” type clothing, and they do so on the basis to ensure that the styles are cutting edge, and only worn by a select few. Similarly these items are priced such that they remain inaccessible to the undesirable.

Insofar as our employee goes; Similar to our product offerings, our employees are selected with a similar approach. Chris whom served you is a qualified stylist whom has a sixth sense for fashion, and Chris’s only problem is that he is too good at what he does, and as I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented, generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store.

Whilst I concede that you work for chain retailer, unfortunately that does not make us like for like. It is probably fair to assume, a lot of what I have said in this email, either doesn’t make sense to you, or you totally disagree with it all, which is what I would expect (unless of course I have you totally wrong – which I doubt).

Let me guess, you would never, ever hire Chris in the course of your duty, would you? This is the very reason, why your comment “from one retailer to another” is so disproportionate, it’s almost as though we are in a totally different industries. Chris is a retail superstar, who possess unparalleled ability, and I am sorry you feel upset by him, but he knew you were not going to buy anything before you even left your house.

So if you would like to do us any favours, please do not waste our retail staff’s time, because as you have already seen, they will not tolerate it. I am sure there are plenty of shops that appease your taste, so I respectfully ask that you side step our store during future window shopping expeditions.

Thank you for your enquiry.

Magnificent. Not unsurprisingly, the emails have gone ‘viral’ and GASP have been forced to shut down their Facebook page following the outcry from enraged consumers. We’re on GASP’s side – you don’t mess about with ‘retail superstars’ like ‘Chris’.

TOPICS:   Complaints


  • When F.
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  • Milky
    what a bunch of out & out cunts.
  • Fox b.
    Gasp = KNOBS!
  • Julia R.
    I went in there years ago to buy a dress for dinner and was treated with distain so left without buying anything. The assistant worked on commission apparently. Big mistake. Big mistake.
  • The B.
    Flip side is, a large chain should now turn around to her, say "we're not all bastards, come and have a free/discounted dress on us" to show what good guys the industry are, tehy'll get loads of free publicity and kudos from it. But yes, they are arrogant crunts of the highest order.
  • Boris Z.
    To be honest I don't think that any of this GASP stuff is really suitable for a bridesmaid. I''ve told my mistresses not to shop there anymore. Any shop that allows commoners inside in the first place is beneath them. P.S. Tulips have hit 40k a pop! Toot-Toot!
  • PakkiBastard
    Classic, Free publicity..!!!
  • teh_man
    @ Julia Roberts Perhaps if you are not intelligent enough to know the difference between "disdain" and "distain" then you didn't deserve to be there in the first place.
  • Bloke
    So he was a "qualified stylist", then? Well, that makes all the difference doesn't it? The world is drowning in unqualified stylists. Or maybe they mean "qualified" in the sense of being limited.
  • John
    This is in Austrailia? I've heard their fashion is about 10 years behind the times. What was 'Superstar' Chris wearing, a shellsuit?
  • rostron71
    Matthew's response would have been more impressive if he knew how to use commas correctly. Or maybe he really does talk like C3PO.
  • Dick
    They should just put up a sign in the window saying no riff-raff.
  • samuri
    Was due to go in with my Girl friend we need 4 bridesmaid dresses plus the wedding gown, not bothering now was the gf's quote
  • Tom
    Surprised gap has not sued for a simular name. There website says they are having a large amounts of order so it seems to have worked.
  • Soap
    When attempting to be this condescending, it's always a good idea to ensure your standard of written English is flawless. Which Chris's isn't. It does, however, give a wonderful insight into the kind of jumped-up, pseudy person we're dealing with. I bet he's short, too.
  • Julia R.
    @teh_man I'm an uneducated prostitute that married a billionaire and saved a shipbuilding company so you can shove your pedantry where my customers used to shove their cocks. P.S. A good pedant might notice I misquoted myself. And look; you can't even type 'the'. Ha ha ha! Youre a looser!
  • oliverreed
    Has nobody got a picture of Chris yet and subjected him to internet humiliation like that chubby oriental kid years ago, stereotypically I have the image of a Gok Wan alike mincey pole smoking college reject in mind for Chris - can anyone prove me wrong?
  • Kate
    The email writer had an interview on the telly last night. He looked like he bats for the same team. So did the shop assistant for that matter. Then there is the cattiness they both exhibit. Add in the fact they both work in supposed high-end women's clothing. I know I'm probably reinforcing stereotypes, but I've formed the personal opinion that they are probably gay and doing each other, hence the PR fella backing up his lover in the return email. Then again, who knows, maybe they're both straight and I'm completely off track...
  • Unpleasantly A.
    Regardless of the stature of store, the assumed financials or taste of the customer, or the degree to which the employee may or not be trained, it is unexcusable.Both the employer&employee should know better,&both should have apologized&left [email protected],rather than continuing the brawl for the sake of publicity, entertaiment, or their arrogant, rude, and partisan behavior.The mere fact that the male gender Chris followed a female into her dressing room, unasked, unwanted, and clearly not warranted since she had already dismissed him and close the door--that would be considered illegal in some places, as would be harrassment, slander, or libel. If he put his hands on her, it would move up to assault. It is obvious to me that 'stylist Chris' is arrogant and unprincipled. I would guess he wouldn't act that way w/his preferred clients; if Kim K. told him she wanted a different size or closed the door in his face, he would not treat her the way he did this innocent customer. Nor would he have mistreated a potentially less valuable new customer like that if a 'preferred client' was in the shop, as it was incredibly crass and inappropriate. Even beautiful rich people know there's a problem if they see or hear someone else being mistreated without provocation. I'd never bother to go there ever again, period. Bad dog, GAPS!

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