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Customer Service: Exactly Who Is Minding the Store These Days?

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As mother of a bride-to-be, I headed to Bergdorf for some high end MOB shopping. Dressed in my best coat with the sable trim - albeit bought in 1996 but definitely not channeling a Lewis and Clark expedition - I approached the Oscar de la Renta department.

Sitting -- evidently Elmer-glued to her chair -- was the salesperson on the phone. And on the phone. And on the phone. I politely interrupted to ask when Spring party dresses were coming in. When irked enough my elbows, as they say, can be quite sharp and I finally got her attention with the phone still dangling from her hand. Her response for all the Oscar-ites to hear was, "What do you want to spend?" and "What size are you?" Excuse me, but that wasn't my question, and what if I had been a size 14 and not in the mood to share? Going through my mind but not out my mouth was, "lady, you just lost a nice commission."

Wandering through the very empty store, I found another saleswoman on the phone in the Marc Jacobs department and politely asked the same question. Her response to me, "I don't work in this department." My response to her, "then why are you sitting in this department on the phone?" No, I didn't say that out loud either, but thought it.

So ladies, tell me something? Do you think this passes for customer service at a very high end store? Did you not hear about the 9% unemployment numbers in New York City? If January is a slug of a retail month, then shouldn't you try a bit harder to make a sale?

I've seen better service at Walgreen's when I ask directions for the kitty litter. And for pure perkiness, J. Crew's youthful blondes are happy to fetch Minnie stretch pants and assume I'm a size 0 until I tell them otherwise. I may not buy every time I walk in the door, but you can bet I will from time to time.

After years spent at Bloomberg LP, where customer service is key to selling, I move like a whippet when asked to do something. New Yorkers have no patience and now is not the time to lay back in the weeds, as my father used to say.

If I'm willing to fork over hard earned money at your store, then get off your rear and work for that sale or I'm taking my business elsewhere. And I did.

Cruising through Saks a day later and on the same mission, I found a new home: there were winks and giggles with the Oscar saleswoman when sharing my desire to look "age-appropriate" though eying a dress that looked suitable for the MTV Awards or Access Hollywood.

Even the Nars make-up lady won me over with a hint of creamy Orgasm blush on my face as I headed for a business luncheon. I loved that she said "We grown-up ladies always benefit from one!"

We're all working hard these days and need to remember there's some unemployed and very capable person out there who would be happy to take your place... or mine.