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All hail Mary Portas Secret Shopper: vote with your wallet and don’t accept crap customer service any longer

By Aisling | February 3 2011 | 88 Comments

It is with undisguised relish that I have been watching the latest outing of Mary Portas. She’s intelligent, super stylish and so on top of things it’s unreal.

In short I want to be exactly like her when I grow up.

With her common sense intellect she cuts straight to the chase in every situation. I was absolutely enthralled by her last series in which she told hapless shop owners where exactly where they were going wrong and how to fix problems. Like Gordon Ramsey in Kitchen Nightmares or Sarah Beeny in countless property makeover shows, Mary sees the blindingly obvious instantly. Changing deeply entrenched habits is not as easy as it looks when a business owner has operated in a certain way for years.

In her first episode she tackled what she calls “fast fashion” – chain stores where the clothes cost half nothing and rely on volume to give them their massive profits. Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap in other words.

And here’s he bit that got me. Mary was incensed at the lack of customer service in stores like Primark, New Look and others operating similar models. But I honestly don’t expect any customer service in places like this. Help in the changing rooms? Yeah right. Tidy displays? Pull the other one. Friendly staff? Bahaha.

So that’s how bad it’s got. We have been “trained” to not expect any level of customer service whatsoever and Mary reckons that this is absolutely unacceptable. The least we should expect is a Hello, a friendly smile and an offer of help.

Now that’s not too much to ask is it? But we’re not getting it. And it’s not the fault of individual staff – there’s not enough of them, they’re underpaid and badly trained. It’s the fault of the store who are making HUGE profits. And not giving a flying f**k about the people who are making them rich – us, the customer.

In later episodes Mary moved on to tackling bad customer service of an entirely different sort. Areas notorious for pushy sales people and mis-selling are mobile phones and sofas – and she showed that they quite blatantly don’t care what they sell you, once individual salespeople make their commission and get you out the door.

What do you think? Are you enjoying Secret Shopper?

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