Another Day, Another Corporate Complaint to a Store I Used to Like

Friday, September 25, 2015

 I've already told you that I make special requests at the grocery store & call businesses to tell them when their street signs are misspelled & that I aspire to dress like a crazy old person before I am crazy & old (or at least old, because this post may prove to you that I'm already slightly crazy).

It should come as no surprise, then, that when I get riled up about something, even something very minor, I am occasionally the type to contact corporate offices to lodge formal complaints. I try to be polite in doing so, but, well... I do so. I know most people don't - they take to social media to complain, or they whine to their friends, or their stew silently - but I figure that if I'm mad at a brand, I ought to tell 'em so.

That's how I ended up emailing Francesca's while on my vacation last week, a letter I am both proud & embarrassed to share with you here.

And look, I know: The story you're about to read tells of a total first-world problem, which is to say that it's not actually a problem at all. I know that. Please trust that I care about a great many actual issues & regularly write to my elected officials about them. But does that mean I can't also give a shit about sweater swindling? I think not.

Hi, Francesca's folks,

I purchased a wrap made of sweater material in-store at your Hilton Head Island, S.C., boutique on 9/15. The item, not available online, is described on its store tag as "Tribal Pattern Ruana." In store, it was displayed next to a sign that said "sweater wraps" were 30% off, with fine print saying the sale excluded ponchos, shawls, & a few other select styles.

When the Francesca's employee checked me out, my item did not ring up with a discount. When I asked why, she told me my item did not qualify as a "sweater wrap," but when I asked what would qualify - & asked her to specifically show me which products fit the bill - she was unable to do so. Her colleague was similarly unable to pinpoint was a "sweater wrap" was. It seems that nothing, then, counts as a sweater wrap at Francesca's - & therefore nothing is eligible for this sale price.

When I returned home, I noticed that the tag on my item said, "A MUST-HAVE WRAP!" It's made of sweater-material, it's self-described as a wrap... surely it should\ qualified for the sweater wrap sale, right? I went back the next day (9/16) to clarify. During this visit, another Francesca's employee told me that, despite my item *seeming* to be a sweater wrap - & saying "wrap" on the label - it did not qualify for said sale because it didn't have sleeves. Apparently sleeves are what makes an item a "sweater wrap" & not just a shawl, which is how she described my item (despite the label saying otherwise). She offered to return my item, if I was dissatisfied with the price; I chose to keep it because, well, I like it - I just can't, for the life of me, figure out why a sweater wrap doesn't qualify for a sweater wrap sale.

While I see on your site that all the items similar to the one I purchased do not qualify for this sale - because indeed, they don't have sleeves - I have to say: This sale seems to be dishonest bordering on scammy. Aside from the final employee, no one I spoke to seemed to have any idea what actually qualified as a "sweater wrap," a vague term seemingly invented by Francesca's for the sake of confusing customers into thinking their purchase is eligible for a discount... & then buying it anyway. The sale terms are much clearer on your website, which simply says that all sweaters are on sale, but this was not the case of the wording on the in-store signage.

Though I very much expect not to hear from your customer service team (just as my tweet to your corporate account went unanswered), I couldn't help but take the time to tell you how negatively this whole situation has impacted my view of the Francesca's brand. I kept my full-price sweater wrap because I like it, but frankly, if I can help myself shopping there in the future, I will certainly take my business elsewhere.

Thanks for your time,
I confess that halfway through writing this letter, I thought about how amused you guys might be to read it - because it is just such a ridiculous thing to write - & so I started to really play it up for the fine folks at Francesca's. The part about this experience souring me on them a bit, however, is not at all a dramatization.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some crocheting to do & some kids to shoo off my lawn.

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