September 2011 - Melbourne: a client, a bit chubby (size 42), enters the trendy boutique of the Australian brand GASP, with two friends. They're looking for bridesmaids’ dresses and an evening gown for their bachelor girl party. They come across a salesman ('Chris') who, after receiving them well, but seeing that they decided not to buy the dresses they tried on after all, begins to mock them and tell them that the brand does not have clients that size. Urged on by her friends, the client addresses herself to the customer service of the brand to express her surprise at this treatment. The response of the PR Manager is unambiguous: his reply is that GASP is for a trendy and very fashion conscious customer (implying thereby that the client was not) and that she had been dealing with one of their best salesmen ("retail superstar"), whose only problem is that "he is excellent in everything he does" (implying that the opinion of the client counts for nothing). He then adds, "as you know, talented people in general cannot bear to waste their time, which led him to ask you to leave the store" (so the client made him lose valuable time and should not have come to GASP).
Shocked by this response, the client posted the conversation on the Internet: the uproar that ensued on social networks is easy to imagine. The buzz spread beyond Australia to ignite the entire Anglo-Saxon world ("I can't believe GASP called themselves fashion forward... Sweetheart you sell polyester dresses u ain't no Prada"). Invited by an Australian television channel, the representative of the brand stuck to his guns as we see in this video:
December 2011: After refusing to apologize to the customer for more than two months, GASP suddenly changed its tune. "This apology is genuine. We would also offer Keara and her friends to come into our stores and pick out a new outfit, and GASP will match the value of that outfit, and we will give it to the Make a Wish Foundation for Christmas”. The owner and CEO of the brand herself apologized. Maybe it was as a consequence of this that the store where the incident happened had to close down, boycotted by clients, and the brand had to launch a -90% discount campaign to revive its sales?
Moral: GASP should have adopted the company rules and regulations of the Stew Leonard supermarkets, which contain just two clauses:
Article 1: The customer is always right.
Article 2: If the customer is wrong, reread Article 1.