Looks like my TTTAMT comes early this week, as Sephora really shot itself in the immaculately pedicured foot today, and I’m here to lament all about it! As is common for retailers this time of year, Sephora rolled out an unprecedented lucrative offer this holiday season, rewarding its VIBs (Very Important Beauty Insiders) with a $20 off $50+ coupon.
According to the Sephora website, the coupon was supposed to be sent out to VIBs via e-mail in late November. I only found out about this offer yesterday when a quick scan of my Facebook newsfeed revealed that yesterday was the last day to implement Sephora’s exciting promotion. I vigorously searched my e-mail archives, my spam box, and the Sephora website for this alleged e-mail, to no avail. Since I was busy at work all day, I didn’t have a chance to investigate this situation any further, but I did fire off a quick e-mail to Sephora to request my VIB coupon. I didn’t get a response until late last night, which I didn’t see until this morning, and the rest is documented in the e-mail that I sent them below.
I live on the East Coast. I did not receive this e-mail until this morning (12/12/12) because it was not sent to me until last night after 10:00pm EST. Since I work standard business hours on the East Coast and don’t stay up late to wait around for a phantom email response, I couldn’t exactly jump and call customer service in the middle of the night EST. Pursuant to the directions of your email, I just called Sephora’s customer service number and referenced this email — which states that I can use my [never received] coupon through 11:59 today. Sephora’s customer service told me that this is not the case, and that the promotion is over. No coupon will be sent to me and I cannot take advantage of this promotion.
Please be advised that I did not receive the coupon for $20 off $50 — not in November, not in December, and not in my Spam mailbox. Furthermore, I only found out about it yesterday, incidentally because I “like” Sephora on Facebook and I happened to see the announcement pop up on my newsfeed. I did not have the opportunity to call Sephora yesterday because, as I mentioned before, I work for a living and can’t just lollygag on personal calls to try to clear up an issue which was a clearly a result of someone else’s negligence. Specifically, I never received the coupon–and this is not the first time that I, as a purported “VIB,” did not receive coupons that my fellow VIBs (and fellow users of gmail with analogous SPAM filters) have been able to enjoy.
I have been a very dedicated, loyal, and vocal supporter of Sephora for years, and I have spent A LOT of my discretionary income there on all sorts of products. Feel free to peruse my purchase history to ascertain just how much I personally contribute to the Sephora profit margin. I’ve always highly recommended the store to friends, written glowing reviews and blog posts on the amazing products and fabulous selection that your store has to offer, and I certainly appreciate the company’s reciprocal appreciation of my pecuniary adventures at its stores by awarding me the VIB privilege, but what good is the privilege if Sephora’s e-mail notification server cannot extend a courtesy to me to send me e-mail notifications in a timely manner (or, you know, like, EVER)? Think about how much more good it would do if a self-proclaimed beauty product enthusiast like me were given more opportunities to procure even more items due to glitzy promotions! In the end, you’re only tarnishing your own reputation and diminishing the pool of top-notch consumers.
I am extremely dissatisfied with the fact that I never received the coupon, and, upon my attempt to rectify this oversight, I was faced with a brick wall and that, even though the below email clearly and explicitly stated that if I “were still having problems,” I could “use the coupon through 12/12/12 at 11:59PM,” your client services representative with whom I spoke less than an hour ago said that this was not the case and that no promotional opportunity would be honored. Thanks a lot. I’ll be doing my Christmas shopping at ULTA, or Soap.com, or Saks, or anywhere else but Sephora, because you just treated one of your most loyal customers like total garbage.
Happy Holidays. I hope that yours are full of more cheer and graciousness than mine.
Now, I know that I sound like a crazy “EXTREME COUPONING” housewife with nothing better to do or a whiny entitled brat who didn’t get a kickball participation trophy or whatever, but honestly, if you’re going to sell overpriced beauty products to the masses and contribute to the collective conscience this notion that it’s okay to spend $23.00 on an eyelash curler
$350 $175 on a Hello Kitty Graffiti Backpack
(ps, see Hello Kitty rant here
), then you should at least make giving back to your brand loyalists a priority, and make sure that while doing so, your database of VIBs and their e-mail addresses is up to date and properly functioning. And if an oversight is pointed out to you, it’s probably a good idea to ameliorate it, not send out an automated e-mail response that fails to address the question raised by the customer, or provide inept over-the-phone customer service. All smart retailers know that it’s way better to stroke the customer’s ego and make her feel important in lieu of brushing off her concerns with a blasé side-eye.
Heck, J. Crew, the hegemonic purveyor of ludicrously priced merino knits, sure knows how to love its customers. It sends out cutesy reminders and about eleventeen sale alerts when something cool is happening. Card members get the five star treatment. It’s great. Bloomingdale’s certainly knows when to eat crow, apologize profusely and offer compensatory consolations
when it does something wrong. Even easygoing Birkenstock offers a lifetime guarantee on its fugtastically comfy shoes and a thousand other retailers avidly play the price adjustment game. So why can’t Sephora just e-mail its erroneously omitted VIBs some coupons a few weeks after their expiration dates and make some exceptions to rectify their own mistakes? It practically guarantees at least $30 in their bank (more like $330 if said coupon goes my way–where do you think I do half of my holiday shopping?). Just sayin’…