It was Sunday, a day of rest, but not for my family, no. No, they would be awoken early and dragged past a toll and through a tunnel onto the island of Manhattan, so mama could score some juice. Well, exchange some juice—a perfume I’d purchased only days prior, one I’d opened and sprayed and subsequently despised. First we had to juice up the car with gasoline and deice the windows, preparation for the 100% chance of snow. We’d make a day of it, I lured, promising chocolates and hotcakes from Max Brenner’s café in lieu of the children’s museum.
We ate, paid for parking, and then I was on my way, off to see the wizard. My wizard was Judy, an employee at MiN NewYork (a favorite store I’ve introduced to readers of this blog and extolled to close friends) with whom I’d spoken a day earlier. I’d phoned to see if there was anything the store could do about this very recent regrettable purchase. “I’ve opened it and sprayed it, and I can’t stand it. The dry down smells like my grandmother’s dresser, to the point where I have to look away. I still have the box and the receipt, and I’ve only sprayed it once; is there anything you can do?” She asked if I lived in the area, which I took to be a good sign. “Sort of,” I said. “About an hour away, but I love your store, so—“
She told me that they’d hate for me to leave with a bad experience, and asked if I could come in the next day, so we could exchange it for something I love. Sweet Judy Blue Eyes, I love you. They’d be open until 7pm. Done.
I stomped snow off my boots before pushing open the door, greeted with a warm gust of sweet perfumed air. Judy wasn’t there, so I reiterated what she’d said, and the employee told me that Judy shouldn’t have said that, that she’s still in training, that they never accept returns of opened fragrances, that they can’t resell them, it’s useless to them, but…Okay, they’d make an exception, this one time. Then he offered to help me find something I’d love. So, we sprayed samples, etc., and I narrowed it down and was ready to purchase a different scent, one that cost $70 more ($230 plus tax), so I’d need to pay the difference. As I fished for my wallet, another employee came to the counter and insisted that they couldn’t make the exchange. Jesus! Who’s in charge? Apparently Mindy was in charge. The employee had to text her for an official approval. Despite what Judy had said, despite his promise of a one-time exception, I was told they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do because Mindy said so. Mindy is Mindy Yang, VP and Curator of the store.
Wait. What?! I don’t understand, how was this now happening at my favorite store? There’s no way a brand that prides itself on great service would treat a customer this way. The best they claimed they could do was to offer me 15% off my next purchase, for your inconvenience, but they couldn’t take the merchandise back or exchange it or do anything. I had wanted so much to do business with them, but they were making it so hard. Something had to be wrong.
I took to twitter, hoping @minnewyork might take a second chance at making things right. It got to the point where I wanted to write to customer service, typing only with my middle finger.
I explain on phone that I opened scent & hated it. Employee Judy: “Drive in. We will exchange it.”@minnewyork refuses to honor her word — Stephanie Klein (@stephanieklein)
@stephanieklein Stories change, but policies do not. Would you try to return an open bottle of wine? Same rule applies. — MiN New York (@minnewyork)
@minnewyork Policy makes sense but wasn’t reiterated over the phone. Had it been, end of story. Who makes that trip o’wise? — LL (@Sticksel)
@minnewyork I understand wholly. However, what I find disheartening (w/out a horse in this race) is that the customer is presumed wrong.1/2— LL (@Sticksel)
There were more tweets, so feel free to dig them up. These were the choice interactions I saw. And, look, I’m not in the habit of returning fragrance, (though I’ve heard that Sephora, Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom, and SAKS will gladly take returns on opened and used fragrances, no questions asked), and I wasn’t looking to be refunded. I was even willing to spend more, and I would’ve left, as the employees had said, happy and anticipating my next purchase with them. Instead, I am deeply disappointed that they chose not to honor the word of their employee, despite what their return policy says on the receipt and site (a policy their employee clearly didn’t know either).
My friend David (and Julia Roberts) just put it best: “Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”