I was just talking to someone about the fact that maybe 10 years ago, once you bought an expensive jar of cream, pot of gloss or eye shadow or whatever the person at the counter told you to buy that would “make you look decades younger”, you owned it.
Like a car.
You bought it, drove it off the curb and the value went down $3,000 right off the top.
Much like a now used car, a now used cosmetic item was not returnable.
But in the last 4-5 years, all stores where cosmetics were sold, shifted their policy about returning make up.
Longs, Macy’s Bloomingdales, Nordstrom’s, Neiman’s, MAC and Sephora, took back cosmetics that didn’t fulfill the salesperson’s claims and pretty much all you had to say was “it didn’t work for me”.
Maybe some people think this is tacky, but it’s not like trying to return worn underwear.
After all, make up prices have gone up exponentially while competition has increased with more and more outlets selling the call of the siren lipstick color that you just have to have this season which is really just a retread of last year.
Mascara used to average under $20-maybe in the $15-17 range-they now have gone up to $28-32.
In Hawaii, the lower range is the cost of plate lunch in a politically incorrect styrofoam container.
The upper range in Hawaii wouldn’t buy you a tank of gas for the average car.
The point is, whether you make minimum wage and only shop at Longs or Macy’s, or make a ton of money and only shop at department stores, that’s a lot of money and represents an hour of more work to buy a lousy product that doesn’t work.
More cosmetic companies have built their own storefronts competing with department stores.
Cosmetic companies sell product on their company store websites, often with better samples and incentives. And they ship for free with a purchase incent.
Heck, even Macy’s built out a section of hip and trendy brands like Too Faced, Philosophy, Urban Decay etc.
But yesterday the tide showed signs of turning.
I purchased a pretty blush from the MAC counter inside Macy’s less than 2 weeks ago. And try as I may, using a brush a sponge and then scraping the product to file off some loose product, I couldn’t get it on my face.
I’ve had products that test on your hand and disappear on my face, but clearly this product was faulty.
I was running in-between appointments and thought it would be easy. For a Sunday early afternoon, Macy’s was pretty slow and had only 2 MAC salespeople. I waited for 5-10 minutes browsing.
After awhile, I wandered over to the hip and trendy area to see if they had the new Too Faced Natural eyes palette and decided to ask the salesperson there about returning the MAC product.
I asked nicely.
The unexpectedly normal make up looking salesperson asked if there was something wrong with the product, and no, it was not oozing with a weird smell, but YES it was faulty in that I couldn’t get it on my face.
Maybe she was a “floater” because she didn’t have a face full of make up, but she refused to take the MAC make up back.
She informed me that Macy’s policy was to not take make up back if there was nothing wrong with the product.
I asked her when that happened and the policy went into affect in October, but because of holiday sales (opportunities to sell more and avoid irritating customers), they were only starting to enforce the new policy. She offered that MAC was a leased space, and they might take the product back, but refused to budge.
The problem with that situation and response was:
- There was something wrong with the product because it failed to perform, and
- Macy’s election to enforce the policy now vs last October reads to me as they enforce the policy selectively.
This person had the obstinate firmness that meant she wouldn’t budge and again suggested to go to the MAC counter.
When I gave up, she sent out a saccharine “have a nice day”.
Went back to the MAC counter, the MAC salesperson/artist noticed I was back, excused herself from putting lipstick on the Japanese tourist with her family, and refunded my money in less than 3 minutes.
Clearly Macy’s needs to review the buying process, or at least mine:
- Check gwpaddict.wordpress.com to see who is doing a gift with purchase, coupon or other incent.
- Check out sephora.com if they have a gift with purchase I’d like.
- If there’s a promotion at a store we have in Hawaii, I usually get in my car, take time out of my day to physically appear at the counter, and buy the product.
If the retailers did a little research about shopping behavior, the same holds true for a lot of items that people could buy in a store-If they find it online cheaper and they don’t have to get in their car to buy it, they buy it online.
Why would they waste time and gas to go to the store?
Online retailers have struck down the “I need to try it on” customer buying objection by making returns as easy as putting it in a box or envelope and returning the item POSTAGE FREE.
Heck, they will send UPS to pick it up.
Moral of the story?
Be nice to the customers that physically appear in the store, cuz brick and mortar is a dying concept.