I popped into Debenhams on Oxford Street last Saturday to check out the black|Up make up counter, the French cosmetics brand aimed at darker skin tones.
Nothing could have prepared me for the unprofessional, hideous behaviour of the two members of staff on the black|Up cosmetics counter. I had already obtained permission from Debenhams PR to take photos of the counter and politely explained this, giving the name of the manager who they should confirm this with.
This wasn't good enough and I was quizzed suspiciously, had to repeat on numerous occasions why I was there and who I had spoken to (because clearly I was speaking a different language wasn't I?!) and forcibly told, "No!! You contact head office in Paris and they will send you pretty pictures. We don't allow photographs. You need to have the information which tells you the origins and history of the company." Ok.
My attempt at explaining that my readers didn't want to read corporate spiel, that they just want to see the products fell on deaf ears and she continued to roar that I needed to email head office.
**eye roll** x 100 at this point.
I really don't take kindly to unwarranted rudeness, even more so when it's combined with nonsensical behaviour which the black|Up counter staff appeared intent on displaying that afternoon. I was fuming but didn't show it, and waited patiently as one of the consultants swanned off, presumably to get the manager. She didn't say where she was going, her colleague told me a couple of minutes later that she had "gone to check my story and get the manager." Ok.
As I waited, I witnessed the consultant who was still present, bark at two customers who had dared lift up samples to look at, from the counter she had just been polishing "Do not leave your fingerprints on the counter!!", she shrieked in a thick French accent. My friend and I exchanged incredulous glances.
What. The. Hell. WHO DOES THAT?!!
A senior member of Debenhams staff arrived five minutes later with the original consultant in tow, he was friendly, professional and polite - all the traits you come to expect from somebody working in a customer focused environment. I quickly explained why I was there and he said he was just going to quickly check with the staff member I had originally given as a named contact.
He returned a couple of minutes later saying "That's fine, no problem. We were expecting you." Upon realising that I wasn't a competitor trying to steal their product ideas or some random chick who had arrived to take pictures of make up for the sheer hell of it, I noticed the two black|Up consultants quietly confer with the Debenhams staff member. However at no point did either of them offer an apology for the way they'd initially spoken to me or make any attempt to make amends by asking what it was I'd like more information on, etc
I would have found it really helpful to be talked through the numerous products they had on display, but did either of them offer to show me the products or sell the brand to me in a positive light? Like hell they did! As I tried to take photographs of the lipsticks, I was abruptly asked to move as a customer makeover was about to commence. No problem, but it was the manner in which I was asked to move that I didn't appreciate.
**sharp intake of breath**
I must have been at the counter in total for approximately 20 minutes and it was the longest 20 minutes of my life - so far this year. I didn't swatch a single item and was generally made to feel uncomfortable and as if I was in the way. It's taken me a full week to write this post as the expletives that were rolling off my tongue last Saturday afternoon would probably have found their way on here, has I tried to tackle this blog post last Sunday! I needed to calm down before speaking about my experience, but even as I type about it now, I can feel the anger rising up in me again.
The whole point of the visit was that I wanted to showcase the brand on my blog, and I came away with no more information than I had prior to my arrival. I still want to go back and play with the products, but I want nothing to do with the staff members on that counter. They were a disgrace and need to undertake an intensive course focusing on how to deal with members of the public aswell as how to perform basic customer service! I've never left a make up counter feeling as disappointed as I did last weekend.
These are the photos I managed to take. The bright lighting that was bouncing off the counter didn't agree with my camera at all, but you get the general gist of the products available.
I'm not usually interested in body oils but the intensity of colour in black|Up's version made me take notice.
The rudest SA can be spotted in one of the pictures, giving the makeover I was 'shooed' out of the way for.
Nightmare experience aside, black|Up is still a brand that I'd like to take time to explore further. I was quite impressed by the wide choice of lipgloss and lipstick shades and I'm keen to go back and see how they swatch. I'd also like to to check out their foundation and concealer too when I have time. I just DON'T want to deal with the two witches that I had the misfortune of coming into contact with last weekend!