Zara Rant

Chrissy ON Oct 17, 2012 AT 8:28 am


At the weekend I bought a jacket and a couple of tops at Zara. This last year I have been enjoying Zara, finding for instance their jeans the perfect fit. It’s a shame that now I can never go to Zara again.

The jacket had the security tag left on it. Who has time to return to Oxford Street after work on a pointless exercise to have a tag removed that should have been removed in the first place? Nobody. Who would think this experience was fun, shopping at the end of a busy and tiring day, or looking at it in the closet unable to wear it fearing that it would set off security in other shops, airports and besides it’s a giant black security tag – unwearable.

I stood in the long, long queue and handed over the jacket. Assistant glared at me. Demanded ‘Have you got the bill? I need to see that right now.’ Wait a minute, I said, this is not the correct response, treating me as if I’ve stolen the jacket and glaring with a sultry contempt. Really salted my already smarting wounds.

I said the correct response is ‘I’m terribly sorry that someone didn’t take the tag off. This is entirely our fault and must have inconvenienced you terribly. Let me at least offer you a gift voucher for at least your fare back into town.’

An incredulous ‘Yeh right’ smile curled across his face and he said he would get the manager whose name sounded like Blavitch. I asked him what his smile was about, ‘Nothing.’ I asked him if he was ready to apologise yet. Nothing.

The manager arrived and I asked him his name. He told me ‘We are not allowed to give you names. It’s the rules.’ I asked him what he was going to do about his staff’s incompetence greatly inconveniencing me. ‘We’re only human.’

Really, I said. Human beings have names. They are not kept in a company where they are forbidden to say their own name if that indeed is the case. I asked, is it this dehumanisation process that makes you feel you can treat people with such surly arrogance? I’ve returned the jacket, none of which is my fault. I am treated with suspicion and laughed at when I ask for an apology.

Blavitch shrugged. ‘I can give you the number of head office if you want to take it further.’ I’m not sure if Blavitch understood everything I was saying or only pretended not to. With his thick Eastern European accent and whispering tones he was not a great communicator. None of the staff I met were good communicators. At my initial purchase the sales assistant did not look me in the eye, just fumbled endlessly with security tags, he was very slow.

They took the tag off and I returned one of the tops. ‘Why are you returning this?’ said the assistant. To pay for the inconvenience and my time and fare.

It seemed to help make a point. ‘Oh,’ he said sheepishly. My blood was boiling and I stormed out. Incidentally, the security tag set off no alarms either at the initial purchase or when I returned, so although the garments are security tagged they are useless. Although now I suppose Zara security tags have achieved one goal. I am not going to shop there again, so I suppose that is some kind of deterrent.

I swooped into All Saints on Regents Street feeling I needed retail therapy to restore my confidence in shopping. It was as if I’d fallen off the horse and if I didn’t immediately get back on it I’d be scarred for life.

Yes, All Saints are double the price of Zara but they are worth it. Not only as a shopping experience but in the quality of the garment. One floral and skull printed draped top I wore to interview Katy Perry only to find she was wearing the same one but told me she had it in both colours.  Call me old fashioned but I love to have my taste validated by Katy Perry and I love the assistants in All Saints.

The comparison is shocking. Every assistant was attentive as if they were part of the human race, as if they actually enjoyed fulfilling people’s needs to have beautiful clothes. Not one but three asked to help. Could they get another colour, another size, could they take them to the changing room for me? It is an enormous shop but it felt like a small boutique. And the assistants? They really are human, and that’s all we ask.

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