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As reported elsewhere (New Heels thread) I had discovered some wedge heels had been available at Zara for £40 during November/December 2018, but I had only found out about them, mid way through January 2019.

These:

Zara zip up wedge.jpg

The pair I'd found were at Brent Cross, and reduced to £30 in their sale. The pair I saw were an EU40/UK7.  During the same visit I bought some flat calf length boots that looked they might be useful in the impending wet/snowy weather we are promised during the next 4 weeks. The boots were reduced to £20 (from probably £30). Both styles were from their TRF range. (TRF = cheaper/budget.)

The flat boots fitted okay, but the stretch shafts were loose - as usual, although they looked like they might be slim enough. I had decided to visit a couple more Zara stores, before giving up on the wedge boots, as the boots looked really attractive.

A local store (Home Counties) was tried last Wednesday, with no luck. They had the wedges, but only in a UK5 and UK6. 

On Friday I went to Westfield London (aka White City), to look, and to return the £20 boots. No luck with the wedges, only one pair UK7 found. Close, but no prize! While there, I decided to return the £20 boots. There was a queue for returns, but at the time I didn't want to carry the boots with me to Primarni as it's quite a trek from Zara. Well, it took 30 minutes to get my money back. The 'shower of shyte' that passes for a returns system, has the counter staff checking and re-hanging every returned item, before a refund was made. It took very nearly 25 minutes to get to the front of a 10 person queue.  One person (we'll call her 'princess') has two full bags of returns. Even with the discounts from the sale items she had bought, the two receipts that were refunded ran to £175 and £60. How could someone make that many mistakes when selecting clothing? Two FULL bags of returns. Incredible. Another one of the 10, one full bag. Not that this would be a problem at Marks or J.L. but Zara staff have to re-hang and tag where necessary every single item...... So nearly 25 minutes to get to the front of the queue .... :angry:

And then, and then ..... The assistant had to call the floor manager to authorise the £20 cash refund.  If that didn't add to the delay enough, their internal communication system wasn't working. The assistant called for a manager several times, without getting a reply, which should have told the assistant the manager wasn't receiving the call and she should have tried the store public announcement system - the manager told her in front of us. It took over 5 minutes for someone to appear, which of course blocked the assistant from doing any more returns. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: 

 

You would be forgiven for thinking Zara would now be at the top of my 'avoid at all costs' list? Having made the time to go to the West End proper, I decided to go to the Marble Arch (end) branch of Zara in Oxford Street, not least because I planned to go to Primarni which is quite close to it. 

Nothing on the ground floor, but UNBELIEVABLY,  I found an EU41/UK8 (fits like a UK7.5 but fits me) on the first floor, which I then took to the ground floor to buy. Some 8 minutes into queuing,  I put the boots on a low counter, and walked out - leaving the boots behind. I wasn't prepared to spend a further 10 minutes queuing to get to the front of another queue to buy something, having already spent 30+ minutes getting my £20 back earlier in the evening. Okay, so they will sell, so no loss to Zara, but at my  time of life, I have more import things to do than waste time queuing to buy shoes (of questionable quality).

It's not like I'm going to lose much putting Zara on my banned list, and neither is Zara. But I was one of many people who had a bad time in two of their stores, and it won't only be me who decides they are not worth visiting again. Other stores I have complained about in the past, have gone bust (House of Fraser, and New Look being two notable ones). While Zara is (I believe) a privately owned company with a (now) mega-rich owner, a bad shopping experience can lead to a bad shopping business. 2019 is going to be another tough year for high street retailers, and given my recent shopping experience, I won't be surprised if Zara begins to close stores.

Edited by FastFreddy2

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Are you going to lodge a strong (written) complaint with Zara over the all-round time-wasting you experienced, and especially the protracted returns system?   I think you should - in your usual eloquent style.

I don't often buy clothing (or anything else) that needs to be returned (particularly in-store), but my rare recent experiences were all positive.   First, there were the two pairs of boots from ASOS that didn't fit  (curses!), readily returned FOC by courier and refunded within days.   Then, there was a man's jacket from Amazon (poor quality and fit) which was refunded even before it had arrived back at Amazon.   Finally, there was another man's jacket (one of two identical: one being too small, the other just right) ordered for store delivery at Next and returned to store, refunded almost before I got home.   Of course, paying online by credit card makes the whole thing a lot easier, before and after any return becomes necessary.

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1 hour ago, Puffer said:

Are you going to lodge a strong (written) complaint with Zara over the all-round time-wasting you experienced, and especially the protracted returns system?   I think you should - in your usual eloquent style.

If I thought it would achieve anything, I might be tempted. But realistically, the best option is Twitter (Zara must have an account) and I would need to open or reopen an account to do that, when I really don't want to waste any more time on them. I've put the unpleasant experience behind me, and any possibility I might buy from them again. 

 

1 hour ago, Puffer said:

I don't often buy clothing (or anything else) that needs to be returned (particularly in-store), but my rare recent experiences were all positive.   First, there were the two pairs of boots from ASOS that didn't fit  (curses!), readily returned FOC by courier and refunded within days.   Then, there was a man's jacket from Amazon (poor quality and fit) which was refunded even before it had arrived back at Amazon.   Finally, there was another man's jacket (one of two identical: one being too small, the other just right) ordered for store delivery at Next and returned to store, refunded almost before I got home.   Of course, paying online by credit card makes the whole thing a lot easier, before and after any return becomes necessary.

And there we have a good reason to avoid in-store purchases, and returns. A protracted returns procedure the very reason I gave up buying from House of Fraser, which was just as effective as Zara seems to be during the sale period.

 

As a reminder, I had returned some shoes to HoF Oxford Street bought online. I saved them the return carriage cost by making a personal delivery. Showing the delivery note with all my details, wasn't enough for the supervisor to put the money back in my account, I had to present the c/c too. Not usually required these days, but it was part of their procedure. Not only did I have to present my card, but I also had to 'sign in' the receipt. The supervisor didn't like my signature compared to the signature on the card. A heavy verbal debate ensued. My stand was that I was returning goods, not taking them. Would a crook return products (I was entitled to return as the delivery note confirmed). If I returned the goods by post, HoF would have pay carriage, and neither card nor signature would accompany the goods being returned. Worse still, during that time I could sign up for 'instant' store credit, and walk out with £200+ worth of goods based on providing a name and address. The supervisor conceded this too. I got a credit on my card.

A day later I got a phone call from the store General Manager, who was apologetic and agreed all my points regarding the return procedure. But it wouldn't be changing. Well, how did that work out for the group of stores?  

A painless returns policy 'made' Marks and Spencer. That policy took hundreds and hundreds of pounds off me over the years. Many retailers realised it gave customers comfort when buying, so have copied their procedure. John Lewis and Screwfix being obvious nominees for the 'copycat' awards. Both offer pain free returns, both are very busy businesses. That isn't their only attraction of course,  but pain free returns mean customers will take products away to try (JL) or buy more than they need (SF) knowing surplus can be easily returned. Not that everything bought with a view to returning if necessary, gets returned. A side benefit of the 'easy returns' is that the returns window is sometimes missed. Been there, done that. :blink:

New Look started to make life difficult for buyers, when they decided any discounted stock could not be returned. Anything you bought in a sale, had to be kept - unless bought online of course. Idiotic? Same was true of Select. No in-store purchases at all could be refunded, only store credit was offered instead, unless you bought online!! Like New Look, Select is another retail group shrinking fast with high street shops just disappearing. Of course Select quality was never great anyway. A pair of their shoes I wore for the first time, all but fell to pieces. (Written up elsewhere.) 

I like to support the high street, and loathe the Amazon business model, I don't see why a high street should offer a lower service than one I get online. Just doesn't add up to me.

But 30 minutes queuing for returns to be processed - not acceptable Zara.

 

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Interesting, Freddy, and certainly illustrating the growing advantages of online shopping.   I find myself buying 'over the counter' (of almost anything apart from food) quite rarely these days as the speed, convenience and greater certainty of buying online wins hands-down, quite aside from any potential 'return' requirement.   The halfway-house is ordering (and maybe paying) online for collection at a local shop, with the likely advantages of speed, not missing a courier and minimising delivery charges.   The sealant I wanted on Monday from Screwfix was in stock locally when I checked late on Sunday evening - but only one tube.   So, a few minutes online secured it before someone else bought it and I had no wasted journey.

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