I thought I was doing great. I had found Christmas dresses super-on-sale, and had ordered them. In October. I was so far ahead of the curve it wasn’t even funny. It only took one year (and now I don’t even remember which it was) for me to be without outfits for the girls heading into December for me to learn that stores sell out fast.
So this year, I did what I’ve done for the past several years: I stalked Children’s Place until they posted to their fancy holiday boutique, and then I stalked them some more until the dresses went on sale. It’s where I’ve purchased the girls’ dresses since Bee was two. I wasn’t super-crazy about them, but I liked them well enough. And at $20 a piece, I liked the price plenty. There was no way I was going to beat that. Plus, the styles were something I thought the girls would adore. So I ordered them.
This, for Gracie:
I’m not crazy about the fake lace top, but it’s a bit steampunky, and Gracie looks so good in grey. A little edgy, a little sophisticated, just like my girl.
Not my style at all. In fact, I’d rather not buy it. But I liked it more than my other options, and Bee would fall for the girliness of it – the red floofy flowers and the bubble hemline. (In fact, everything I don’t like. But as Bee keeps pointing out in aggravated tones, her style doesn’t have to be my style. Point. But I’m paying.) So since she would
like love it and it was so cheap, I went ahead and ordered it. The dresses and another $100 of uniforms and things to tuck away for Christmas. Because you might as well when you’re paying for shipping.
The order arrived just a few days later. I had the outfits laying out so the girls could try them on right away, and that’s when I got my first clue that things might not go as planned. Gracie fell for Bee’s dress and Bee fell for Gracie’s dress. Because: my life. Somehow I convinced the girls the world wouldn’t end if they wore the dresses I had picked out for them. Because don’tcha know the girls have finally separated in sizes: Gracie has finally moved up into 10-12 or kids’ Large sizes, which means they can’t just swap clothes. (This is important later.) So they try on the dresses and…yeah, not so much. Gracie’s steampunk dress came way to close to the top of her thighs, affecting a 1950’s cutesy doll look. And Bee’s dress wasn’t much better. So Bee tried on Gracie’s dress – the one she liked better, anyway – and it fit nicely. So I had one thrilled 8-year-old and a dress-less 10-year-old. No matter. I’d just exchange it.
Everyone who thinks that’s what happened, raise your hand.
See, the holiday dresses aren’t offered in-store. It’s Children’s Place’s clever trick to make you order online and drive you mad with all the returns. I called Customer Service to see what we could work out. I just needed to exchange the red bubble dress from a size 8 to a size 12. Customer Service had trouble understanding me at first, but eventually explained that they couldn’t perform an exchange. I would need to return the dress, then they could credit me back what I had paid. Then I could order the dress I wanted in the new size. Two problems: they expected me to pay for return-shipping, and the dress was $12 more than I had paid. So I would be out $10 for shipping, and then another $12 for the same dress, and if the dress didn’t fit, I’d be out another $10 for another round of return shipping. Potentially $40 for the pleasure of shopping at their store, with no dress to show for it. Yeah, so not going to happen.
I kept my cool and played the helpful,-but-concerned customer. I pointed out how much money I had spent and the fact that I just needed a size-exchange; couldn’t something be worked out? The agent eventually found a coupon to reduce the cost of the dress to what I had paid before, but couldn’t address the shipping cost – the one now, or potentially the one I would incur if the second dress didn’t fit. I asked if I could return the dress in-store. I could not. I asked if an exception could be made if I ordered the second dress right then on the phone – nope. Did the stores have inter-store mail that could be used (surely something could be arranged) – except it couldn’t. I pointed out how I was losing money on the deal and asked where the incentive was to shop at their retail establishment, especially when every other retailer offered no-hassle returns or returns in-store. She offered nothing. Not even a coupon on a future purchase that would both ensure I recaptured the $10 I’d pay for shipping and guarantee them additional revenue. I was so disappointed in how little Children’s Garden worked with me to resolve the issue. I even wrote a concise, but clear and polite email to Children’s Garden explaining my predicament. I haven’t received a response.
I hated to do it, but I finally told the customer service agent that if she or a supervisor couldn’t work with me to resolve the issue that I would return the dress on my dime (as I had no choice) and would not purchase a replacement dress from their store, since I had zero confidence that I would find something that worked without incurring further cost. I would also no longer be buying anything from them online, since I was no longer sure that I wouldn’t have to send it back, or even in-store since I was so dissatisfied with their customer service. It hurts, because I’ve practically clothed my children in nothing but Children’s Place since they were little. But what is the incentive to keep doing so?
So. We’re down one holiday dress and one clothing retailer. Take one guess which one bugs me more.