Monday, 12 March 2012
Our trip to Clarks to buy the my twins first shoes was insanely stressful this weekend. I was sadly even more excited about buying shoes for the boys than I would have been about buying shoes for myself! But what a let down? What has happened to the wonderful experience of visiting a shoe shop and actually having experienced and caring staff to look after your feet?
Buying your children's first shoes is meant to be a treasured experience. This is why I was so disappointed with our first trip to Clarks at Freeport. I took my 14 month old twins there on Sunday and felt quite upset by the experience. I was surprised at first that you don't have a member of staff to help you for a measly ten minutes. Instead you have a ludicrous system involving queuing for a ridiculously long time to get their feet measured by someone that won't help you any further.
After my boys feet were finally measured we looked at the shoes on offer and I wanted to ask if you had a particular brand in a certain size. I asked one of the shop staff who wasn't busy. She told me you had to get a ticket before quickly disappearing. When I find the ticket machine it has no tickets left in it. I explained this to the member of staff when she eventually reappeared, who went off to get me a ticket. Eventually our number was called but when I went to find the same member of staff I'd previously approached had called my number. But within 10 seconds of calling the number she had already moved on to help somebody else.
Trying on the shoes was no better. There was nowhere to sit down and we struggled putting shoes on the boys whilst sitting on the floor having people trying to get past us to look at the displays. The member of staff didn't really fill us with confidence as to whether the shoes fitted properly either.
Eventually we left with two pairs of shoes, no lovely feeling of pride, no first shoes photo and no desire to return to Clarks. I was very disappointed with the customer service we received. Buying your children's first shoes is meant to be special.
This morning I received a reply from Clarks who are very unapologetic about the whole debacle.
Dear Miss Smith
Thank you for your email and I was sorry to learn of your disappointment with the service you received from the factory outlet in Braintree.
We do our best to choose friendly and efficient people to work in our shops and always train them in how to deal with customers and I'm sorry this was not the case.
May I explain that our factory outlets are run as two separate businesses and you will not get the same service you would as from our full price stores.
I have rung the store and spoke to Richard the manager, who was concerned to learn of your complaint. He has explained that on busy periods they do not use the ticket machine, but have two assistants with clip boards that explain the procedure. They will arrange to have the children measured and will also ask if you would like them fitted. If so they will hand you a ticket. Once you have found the shoes you require a fitter will fit them.
Richard has asked me to apologise if you were not aware of this, but they do have several signs in the store explaining this procedure.
May I also add that the factory outlets do not take photographs. If however you would like a more personal service and a photograph, then please visit your nearest full price Clarks store.
Thank you for taking the time to write to us and I do hope this incident has not deterred you from using our brand in the future.
Now in my opinion - no matter where the store or what kind of store it is, you should always receive the same level of customer service if the Clarks brand is attached to it. Clarks clearly don't see it that way. Result: Poor show by Clarks. Outcome: Next time I'm going to Startrite.
Dear Ms Murphy,
Thank you for your reply. I strongly feel that even if a store offers reduced priced items, they shouldn't offer a cut-price service. If a factory outlet is run as a separate business it is still under the brand of Clarks. That means that it shouldn't compromise on the quality of service. It's a shame that people that buy the Clarks products in your factory store are treated as cattle instead of valued customers.