rage against: Piperlime

i have very little tolerance for poor customer service — mostly because i don’t think it’s very hard to provide good customer service. i feel that businesses rarely lose customers over something major and catastrophic — like an e-coli outbreak or something — but over small failures to treat customers with decency.

i have permanently boycotted businesses over something as minor as failure to say ‘sorry’ and refusal to waive a one-time  late fee and now taking away my reward certificate because i want to make an even exchange. (in contrast, i have become fiercely loyal to companies that have really gone above and beyond to respond to complaints and accommodate requests. Welch’s, Nestle, y’all are awesome.)

anyway, my latest source of rage is Piperlime. my explanation has the potential to get boring and confusing, so here are the facts:

  1. i had $30 in Gap rewards (which i can use at Piperlime)
  2. i decided to spend the rewards on 2 pairs of shoes that cost $24 and $50.
  3. instead of applying the $30 reward toward the total $74 purchase, piperlime took it upon itself to divide the credit among the 2 shoes: $10 off the $24 and $20 off $50.
  4. the $24 shoes were too large, so i wanted to exchange for EXACT SAME pair in smaller size. same price, same color, same in every other way except size.
  5. this is when i was informed that my reward becomes invalid when i make an exchange. i will have to pay another $10 to get the smaller size.
  6. i couldn’t understand why they would be such sticklers when it’s an even exchange (i would understand if it were a return). after pleading with the customer service agent — i even asked if i could apply the $30 reward to my $50 shoe instead of dividing it up between the $24 shoe and $50 shoe — i got pissed and told them i am going to return everything. even the $50 pair i had planned to keep. 

now, some of you may think this is an irrational reaction for $10. you may be right. i may have anger management issues. but i also think this is a matter of principle. i EARNED those rewards by shopping at the Gap company stores, and i should be able to spend it how i want, especially since i already spent it! why can’t i keep it? why are they putting all these arbitrary conditions on something that i feel is rightfully MINE?

in my service marketing class at BU, we were taught that one of the criteria that service guarantees need to meet is that they have to be easy to collect and unconditional. while this is not exactly a service guarantee, i think that the concept should still apply here, as rewards are in place to motivate us to become loyal customers. they also exist to incentivize us to get and use their store credit cards.

i’m heading out to UPS right now to return my shoes. i don’t plan to shop at piperlime for a long long time — ever, if i could help it. i will probably avoid shopping at any of the other Gap stores as well (BR, Athleta, Old Navy). oh well, no big loss to me, because BR has been on a mission to to create the world’s frumpiest clothes and Gap seems to have just given up on using designers. i used to kind of like Athleta, but maybe it’s about time i explore Lululemon.

it’s too bad for Gap, though, because it’s widely known in the industry that it costs five times more to gain a new customer than keep an old one

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