New York & Company Risks Customer Relationship With Return Mishap
As is my custom here in this space, I like to bring to light retail experiences that either are worthy of praise or derision. Unfortunately for cross-channel women's apparel retailer New York & Co., this post falls into the latter category. The source for nearly all of my retail stories, my wife Stephanie, brought to my attention this latest incident involving her sister Christine and New York & Company.
Here's what happened: Christine — a loyal customer of New York & Co. — went to her local New York & Co. store to return a sweater that she'd received as a Christmas gift. She was told that the store couldn't give her a credit for the value of the sweater because it was out of the cards that store credits are put on. To compound matters, New York & Co.'s in-store staff was neither helpful nor sympathetic. They gave her three options (none that satisfied her goal of getting the store credit for the sweater and being on her way):
• get another item in the store of equal value;
• come back another day and hope that the store has stocked up on merchandise credit cards; or
• take the matter up with the company's customer service department.
Christine left the store without returning the item (she didn't have the time that day to shop for a replacement item). She chose to call New York & Co.'s customer service department to see if it could be of any more assistance than its in-store staff. While the customer service rep she spoke with did apologize for the store running out of the merchandise credit cards used for returned items, there was little she could do except to tell Christine that her best option would be to go back to the store another day when it would likely have the cards available. She did send a coupon to Christine for her next purchase, but it wasn't unlike the multiple coupons she already receives on a weekly basis from the brand. Not much solace there.
The problem is that it's now incumbent on Christine to find time in her schedule to make a return trip to New York & Co. to exchange an item for the store credit she's looking for — a task that very easily could have been taken care of the first time if the staff would have just printed her credit on a receipt, which is a common practice for many retailers. Look, I'm not saying that mistakes aren't going to be made occasionally. We're all human. My beef is with how New York & Co. handled the situation.
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times: Retailers should view customer service as an opportunity to satisfy and win over customers, not as a problem. New York & Co. could have handled this situation by being overly helpful and sympathetic to a loyal customer. (And I'm sure Christine wasn't the only customer who walked away from the store that day dissatisfied, especially in this post-holiday period when returns are plentiful.) But instead it chose to push off the problem on the customer, never a recipe for success.