Recently, Sarah of Fat Girl on a Bike posted a few complaints about Junonia‘s new triathlon gear. Soon after, Anne Kelly, president and founder of Junonia, left a long and thoughtful comment in response, as well as a request for customers to continue providing feedback on their products.
How much do I love that? I’m no triathlete, but I do shop at Junonia (this suit for $29.95 is one of the best deals I’ve gotten in the last year)–and I know they’re a godsend for women who are sized out of Lane Bryant, etc., so I love them even more for that. As much as we complain (rightfully) about the lack of plus-size clothing options out there, and some of us complain about virtually all of the decent options being online-only, there is an upside to being a niche market: We get to deal with smaller companies who will bend over backwards to get things right for us.
I ordered something from B&Lu not long ago and fucked up entering the promo code that had been the inspiration for my order. So the order went through at full price, and it was all my fault. I e-mailed their customer service addy, explaining that it was my fault but asking if there was anything that could be done, and I had a response from one of the owners within 15 minutes, telling me it was no prob and she’d taken care of it. Add that to cute clothes, fair prices, and genuinely plus-sized models, and I want to freakin’ marry B&Lu.
On the local level, when I went into Vive la Femme to interview owner Stephanie Sack a couple weeks ago, I was welcomed like a long-lost friend–and so was the other customer who came in while I was there. (Look for that interview here soonish.) Stephanie and Other Stephanie, her darling employee, knocked themselves out finding us stuff to try on and giving us very honest opinions of how the clothes looked–including, “No, that’s not working, don’t buy it.” Stephanie’s mission is to send fat girls out of her store with clothes they love, not just clothes that mostly fit or look okay or get the job done. Fillyjonk had a similarly great experience at LeeLee’s Valise in Brooklyn.
Most shopping experiences–if you’re not a socialite with gobs of money and 0% body fat–just do not go that way. I’m not gonna get a personal response from the president of Lane Bryant within 15 minutes if I write to tell them that some of their denim smells weird, you know? (In fact, from what I’ve heard, those who have written with that complaint have pretty much been told, “Um, yeah, we know.” Meanwhile, nearly a year after the Right Fits were introduced, that problem persists, as I recently verified with my own nose.) The manager of my local Avenue is not going to spend an hour bringing me shit to try on, telling me how fabulous I look in some things and that I shouldn’t even consider buying others. And we all know what a blast it is to deal with Old Navy’s customer service. But places like Junonia, B&Lu, Vive la Femme and LeeLee’s Valise actually make a good-faith effort to respond to their customers’ feedback and deliver a better product or experience next time. They behave as if they actually give a rat’s ass about our satisfaction and our loyalty, not just our dollars on a single transaction. They know they depend on both word-of-mouth and repeat business; alienating customers is simply not an option.
So today, just for one day, let’s not talk about the dearth of affordable plus-size clothing or the insane cuts and shoddy construction, or the crap treatment we’ve gotten while shopping. Let’s talk about the awesome customer service experiences we’ve had–’cause I know lots of us have had them, and they’re something worth celebrating.
It doesn’t have to be about a plus-size clothing company–though if you’ve had a great experience with one, please do recommend it here. Just tell us about a time when you were treated fabulously, when a problem was resolved to your complete satisfaction, when someone went above and beyond to make sure you knew they actually cared about keeping your business. It doesn’t happen that often, but man, it’s nice when it does.