If you have ever doubted the power of social media look no further than the Gasp fiasco. Woman goes into shop, woman gets treated badly, woman decides to let everyone know about said bad treatment and wham the whole world finds out. Facebook and Twitter went into overdrive and by the next day Keara O’Neill was a hero of the people. The explosion on social media was quickly followed up by mainstream media with ACA, Today Tonight, The 7pm Project, Sunrise (just to name a few) all televising what has to be the worst example of customer service in Australian retail history.
To make matters worse, Gasp, clearly with no grasp of the power and influence of social media, defended their position and went on to dig themselves further into an early retail grave. The Gasp story probably originally had a life span of two days but thanks to their grandstanding area store manager, this could go on for weeks.
I won’t name the area store manager because he has had enough (deserved) negative publicity, including one of his very unflattering status update broadcast on social media sites for all to see his true colours. If you are going to take a strong stand (positive or negative) you must know that you are usually just one click away from people finding out more about you and sharing that information.
There are a few lessons to be learnt here:
- Customer is king! Treat them as such.
- Never put anything in writing that you aren’t willing for the whole world to see.
- All publicity is NOT good publicity.
- Be kind to your fellow human beings – why hurt someone for no reason?
- Never ever ever underestimate the power of social media – news spreads like wildfire in a matter of minutes.
- Always have a ‘positive’ strategy to handle negative feedback online and offline.
On a funnier note check out this brilliant video from Absolutely Fabulous. Could this be the Gasp sales training video?
Follow Keara on twitter and thank her for standing up for herself because in doing so she has hopefully told retailers that we, as customers, will not put up with such shabby behaviour. We need retail to prosper for the sake of a secure economy – don’t make it so easy for us to shop online.
#GaspFail has been very entertaining reading over past few days – what will be next?
Just in case you hadn’t seen the emails yet here they are. As tempting as it is to correct the atrocious grammar on the Gasp email I have left it there in all its glory. Emails are in order of when they were sent. Oh and Gasp, in the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman “Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”
From: Keara O’Neil Sent: Monday, 26 September 2011 3:14 PM
To: GASP Subject: customer complaint-Chapel St store
I had the privilege of shopping at your brand new Chapel St store on Saturday 24th September with my three bridesmaids in tow. On the hunt for bridesmaids dresses and a hens dress for myself we walked into the store and were automatically pounced on by a male staff member, I understand that this is protocol for many retail outlets and ours is no different. The staff member was initially funny and extremely helpful with sizes etc. I chose a bright pink dress to try on but was unable to do the zip up so asked for the size up, when I eventually got the correct size and came out of the change room I was unable to discuss the likes or dislikes of the dress with my bridesmaids as the sales assistant kept saying “you should just get it”, when I told him I would think about it, he pulled me aside and whispered “Is it the price your worried about”. By now I was extremely frustrated, and again told him I’d think about it, I walked back into the change room and closed the door behind me, only to have it pushed open with the sales assistant half standing in my change room, again whispering “I think you should just get it”, when I gave him attitude and said rudely, “I already told you I would think about it”, he then replied, “With your figure I really think you should buy it”. I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that, but considering the attitude used to deliver such a statement I can only imagine that it was an immature dig in relation to my healthy size 12 frame. I got changed in a hurry and walked right out of the change rooms and out of the store, I could hear the sales assistant yelling out to me, but I just ignored him and continued to leave, assuming my bridesmaids would follow. After waiting down the road for my bridesmaids to come out of the store I was told by one of them that the sales assistant yelled out “Have fun finding something at Supre”, when one of them approached him in regards to his comments, he replied “I knew you girls were a joke the minute you walked in”. When my bridesmaids walked out of the store another two customers walked out with them, they too could not believe the immaturity of the sales assistant.
I have worked in retail for 12 years and have come across an array of customer complaints over the years, none of which come even close to what I encountered on Saturday at your store, I wish I was exaggerating but unfortunately for your company this person actually exists and is working in one of your stores. I am pretty laid back and was quite happy just leaving your store, it was my bridesmaids who felt the need to say something to him………I dread to think how many customers he has not only offended but how many customers have left your store due to the pressure placed on getting the sale, and then to be harassed when that sale hasn’t taken place.
Ring me, don’t ring, not fussed………I’m just one retailer notifying another of an extremely inappropriate sales assistant.
And their reply….
From: GASP Online Enquiries Sent: Wednesday, 28 September 2011 11:58 AM
To: Keara O’Neil? Subject: customer complaint-Chapel St store
Dear Keara O’Neil,
Having now had the privilege of having both version of events, I am now in a position to respond to your complaint.
From the very outset, one thing that you should be mindful of is; Our product offerings are very, very carefully selected, so to ensure that we do not appeal to a broad customer base. This is something which is always at the forefront of our minds when undertaking buying duties. The reason for this is to ensure that we only carry products which appeal to a very fashion forward consumer. This by default means that the customer whom is acclimatised to buying from “clothing for the masses” type retailers, is almost frightened by our range, sometimes we have found that this type of customer, almost finds our dresses funny, and on occasion noted comments such as ’it looks like a dead flamingo’. When we receive comments like this, we like to give ourselves and our buyers, a big pat on the back, because we know we are doing our job right, and modus operandi is being upheld.
Our range is worn by A list celebrities to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry to name only a few. Now, as one might appreciate, the style counsel for these types of celebrities are not ones to pick “run of the mill” type clothing, and they do so on the basis to ensure that the styles are cutting edge, and only worn by a select few. Similarly these items are priced such that they remain inaccessible to the undesirable.
Insofar as our employee goes; Similar to our product offerings, our employees are selected with a similar approach. Chris whom served you is a qualified stylist whom has a sixth sense for fashion, and Chris’s only problem is that he is too good at what he does, and as I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented, generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store.
Whilst I concede that you work for chain retailer, unfortunately that does not make us like for like. It is probably fair to assume, a lot of what I have said in this email, either doesn’t make sense to you, or you totally disagree with it all, which is what I would expect (unless of course I have you totally wrong –which I doubt). Let me guess, you would never, ever hire Chris in the course of your duty, would you? This is the very reason, why your comment “from one retailer to another” is so disproportionate, it’s almost as though we are in a totally different industries. Chris is a retail superstar, who possess unparalleled ability, and I am sorry you feel upset by him, but he knew you were not going to buy anything before you even left your house.
So if you would like to do us any favours, please do not waste our retail staff’s time, because as you have already seen, they will not tolerate it. I am sure there are plenty of shops that appease your taste, so I respectfully ask that you side step our store during future window shopping expeditions.
Thank you for your enquiry.
GASP Online Customer Care
From: Keara O’Neil Sent: Wednesday, 28 September 2011 4:10 PM
To: Keara’s friends ?Subject: FW: customer complaint-Chapel St store
Dear friends, family and colleagues,
PLEASE READ THE BELOW THREAD
For your enjoyment I have decided to forward an email from a lovely employee at GASP Clothing, one who funnily enough chose to remain nameless. In quoting the company I have been advised to do them a favour and “not waste their retail staff’s time, as there are plenty of other shops that would appease to my taste”. To quote the gutless employee, I am what they consider to be a “broad customer”, if you too fit into this category then I suggest you also “side step” their store, as they have so bluntly asked.
Replying to the below email would be pointless, therefore I ask instead that you forward this email onto friends, family and colleagues, and by all means feel free to post on facebook or twitter, after all we would be doing GASP a favour by forwarding the below response on.
As my boss Alex has kindly reminded me, the internet is a very powerful tool and one in which a customer like myself would be silly not to utilise.
As shocking as it is, this email is real!! Happy Reading.