NOW UPDATED: Not so Charming...

Two or so years ago when I was working near Clifton, NJ, a co-worker introduced me to a store called Charming Charlie.  I walked inside and I was in heaven!  Purses and handbags in all colors, shapes and sizes!  Accessories galore!  I could have easily bought one of everything in the store and it was difficult to restrain myself.  I don't think I ever walked out of the store empty handed.  Knowing this I limited my visits.  My wallet dictated it!

Over the past two years I've bought MANY purses.  (Too many).  The red one I carry for Valentine's Day, the white and navy nautical one that I use in the get the idea.

While I love browsing in my local store, the customer service leaves a little something to be desired.  There is always someone to greet you at the door and offer assistance as you shop, but when it comes time to check out, you're lucky if one of the three registers is manned.  If I shopped for 10 minutes, I'd end up waiting on line for fifteen.  Additionally, they had ONE changing room.  Not the CC is known for their clothing as much as their bags, but trying anything on was a MAJOR hassle.  (Speaking of hassles:  the traffic trying to get in and out of the shopping center that the store is in...NIGHTMARE!)

As a result I've turned to online shopping.  Which is just as dangerous.  All that lovely "stuff" just glowing at me from the page. At this very second their new nautical collection is screaming "BUY ME."  And then they take my favorite color (purple) and dedicate an entire month to all its many hues.  How can I NOT click?

But I'm not, and let me tell you why Charming Charlie has just lost a customer.  

It was holiday time and in the midst of shopping for everyone else, I decided it was time to do a little looking for me too.  A sweater at Charming Charlie caught my eye on line and before you can say discount, I was off and clicking.  With two items in my virtual shopping bag, I saw that I could get this very cool tote bag stuffed with all sorts of goodies for only $40.  (Normally $145...who would pay $145 for a tote even with all the goodies that it held is question I cannot answer.)  How could I resist?  Ok, so did I really need another tote?  OF COURSE!  I use different tote bags throughout the year to carry my "stuff" to work.  (You know lunch, laptop...other assorted "essentials" that don't fit in the purse.)  Yes, I swap out totes throughout the year, not unlike I swap out handbags (although not as often).  And this tote had all that cool stuff in it... Another click and into the shopping bag it went and voila(!), I'm pulling out my credit card and checking out on line!

In less than a week's time my purchases arrived and I happily opened the box.  I will admit that I was after trying on the sweater and top (and preening in front of the mirror; vanity they name is Bfth), I was more focused on the goodies inside the tote than I was on the actual tote.  Besides, I was using my holiday tote bag at the time and didn't intend to use this new bag until after epiphany. The items inside, the bag, however, were of immediate use.  The cosmetics bags were ready to be stuffed with my multitudes of eyeshadows, foundations, blushes and lipsticks.  (Notice how I said BAGS...there were more than one and I NEEDED several of varying sizes.  Don't judge me, I full admit that I am a makeup junkie!  Just another one of my under control "addictions" like handbags for all reasons and seasons.)  A new multi-colored eyeglass case definitely brightened up my day.  Red scarf was perfect for the season and...Well, you get the idea.  I was in accessory heaven!  The items I did not immediately want to use I left in the tote which I hung on the hallway closet door.

When I decided to use the bag in January I discovered a rip in the seam.

Yes, it could be easily fixed with a needle and thread, but this was brand new.  So I contacted (via email) customer service.  And they were very nice saying:

Thank you for contacting Charming Charlie. Please accept our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience you have experienced with our product. At Charming Charlie we take pride in ensuring our customers are completely satisfied with the products we have to offer. We deeply value your relationship with Charming Charlie and are committed to delivering you the very best product experience.
 Our return policy has been updated to address any quality concerns: 30 day return policy. However, current and new members of the Charm Club have a full year to receive store credit for the amount paid at the time of the transaction. Online orders can be returned online and in store. In store purchases can be returned in store only. If you are unable to return the product to the store, please let us know and we will send you a return shipping label. You will be refunded once product has been returned. If you would like to order another, please contact customer service and we will honor the price you paid for the merchandise.  
In the interim, can you please send me pictures of the damages? Please let us know if there is anything further we can assist you with.

That explains why I took the above photos. (You can see that I never even removed the tag from it.) I sent them and asked for a return label.  And then I waited and waited and waited.  Nearly 2 weeks pass before I realize that I STILL haven't gotten a return label.    So I email them again and try to explain that I don't want a refund, I just want to return the bag and get a replacement bag.  I don't need all of the extras, I've been using many of the extras.  I’m just looking for a replacement bag.  I got the following response:

Thank you for contacting Charming Charlie. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you and the delay in response. I have escalated this matter to our management team for resolution. Also, when returning the tote you must include everything that was included in the tote to receive a full refund. Please allow 3-5 business days for a follow up in reference to the shipping label.

I sent another email to try and explain why I can't send everything back (returning used items?  I don't think so) and that I don't want a refund I want a replacement bag.    Their response was:

Hi Markeshia,
 Thank you for contacting Charming Charlie. In order to receive a replacement tote, you must include all of the items that were included in the tote in the original packaging. We are willing to provide a replacement tote, but we must have the additional items back due to the Charming Charlie return policy.

You're probably wondering who Markeshia is.  I am too.  I'm also wondering if Charming Charlie really wants their original items back USED.  (One of the items in the tote was a travel mug.  Now I haven't used it yet, but can you imagine if I had?  YUCK!)   Although I don't have an exact date of when the order was placed, it has been over a month since the package arrived and clearly I am getting nowhere because no one is actually reading what I am writing.  

So here's what I sent last week and have yet to get a response to (not that I am expecting one):

 Good Afternoon,

A few things for you, your customer service department AND your management to consider:
·  MY name is NOT Markeshia. 
·  As I stated before, I am currently USING the items that were not damaged.  I understand your process, but this has gone on for far too long.  (Waiting 9 days for a return label?  I was hoping your on line customer service would be better than your in store customer service.  Not the case). I guess I CANNOT return the poorly made tote as the items are in use and NOT in original packaging.

You can keep the return label (which should have been sent over a week ago).  I have learned my lesson.  And as I state above you have lost my business.

Lessons learned here:

  • Carefully check over ALL items received in the mail when you receive them.  I was at fault for not doing so and as a result have a bag that I WILL use (eventually) after I patch it up.
  • Don't count on customer service.  I should have not waited over a week when I didn't get the return label.  I should have given them 3 business days and gotten back on the horn.  
  • When sending out emails, make sure you get the customer’s name right.  While I understand it was an easy mistake to make (I believe it was actually the customer service rep's name), it really irked me.
  • The cost of a simple tote bag has lost Charming Charlie a good customer.  If they had arranged for me to just get a new tote (and it didn't even have to be exactly the same tote, as I realize that this was a limited time offer and there may not be any replacement available), I would be singing their praises.  (And if you want a good customer service story, someday I'll tell you about LL Bean, but then again they are FAMOUS for their customer service and standing behind their products).
So to use and old phrase (and show my age):  Sorry Charlie...


At 9:44 this morning; 17 DAYS after my initial contact with Charming Charlie  today I received a message from Fedex (NOT Charming Charlie) saying the following:

Charming Charlie has provided 1 shipping label for your convenience.
Print your label by 02/27/2017 using one of these options:
Print label yourself.
FedEx Office locations can print label for you by scanning barcode below from your mobile device.
Note: Once you view your label with an option above, you may only use that option to print or reprint within 5 days of accessing the label.

With NO follow up from customer service regarding my final email of over a week ago. The same email which said not to bother to send a shipping label.  A shipping label that wasn't printed out and sent to me, but was instead just a request that must have been sent to Fedex who then filled it out.  I suppose the fault could be at Fedex (that they never sent the shipping label), but I am inclined not to think so.  No one from Charming Charlie ever got back to me in any way (they have my email and my cell number) to discuss my email of last week.   (I think it is obvious that I was pretty cheesed off.)

So now the I return the item?  I WON'T get a credit or refund because all the other items that came with the package are not being returned.  (Who the heck wants a used make up case or two???).  Do I sent it back as a show of protest?  (Which is worth considering if I thought it would actually bring about change or at least a phone call.)  Do I use the return label and send them a letter or a copy of this blog?  Do I just ignore the whole thing?

Unlike Charming Charlie, I'm willing to listen...Share your thoughts...

And thanks!


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