Sunday, January 8, 2012

J Crew - MacAlister shearling wedge boots

J Crew's MacAlister shearling wedge boots (55817, $250) comes in dark chocolate or nut. They run in whole sizes. They're now $169.99 online and $149.99 in-store.

Size 7 - I am 7.5 or 8 and usually size up when shoes run in whole sizes. I definitely would not take a 7 in the MacAlisters. They were very tight on my feet. I would go for the 8 for sure. It's really a cute little bootie and the shearling feels like a dream. Yes, those are the cafes in harvest weed (sz 6) that I'm wearing. Love them.

A vent, I guess. On  The Mothership I often see comments like -- it's not on sale at my store, or they told me my store didn't have it. If it's one thing that bothers me about J Crew it's two things:

1) B&M associates & telephone service - J Crew in-store retail associates are faaaaar too quick to say they're out of an item without even checking the sales floor. This issue extends to personal shoppers to a degree. I called mine a couple weeks ago looking for something. She said she looked everywhere and they didn't have it. I was in the store 2 hours later. Literally 2 hours or less. I drove right over not too long after speaking w/her. There it was, hanging on the rack. There was only one of the item, but there it was in plain sight; not on up a display. I couldn't decide if she was embarrassed or not. I want to believe that she took a good look around, but I wouldn't put a bet on it. I realize it's 'just a job' for many of them and they don't want to be with the company long term. However, the SAs work w/the merchandise daily and I expect more than what I see and experience. I'll bet I'm more knowledgeable about product information than a good lot of them. Therefore, it truly irks me when they cut me off mid-sentence to say they don't have something when I call on the phone. Can ya just check, please?! It's possible there was a return that you didn't see or a customer was trying on one in the fitting room and now it's back on the rack. I.e. when I was in the store on Thursday, I saw the wynter sequin stripe sweater in XXS and L only. I wanted to try a S on. Not to be found. I came in the next day and there was a S. As I said, some of them will cut me off before I can even finish and not only is it wrong, it's rude. It seems there is a bit of turnover in personnel, and not just due to the holidays. That can be stressful to those that stay and for employees that are new to the store.

2) Pricing - JCAs are very good about reporting information on The Mothership when it comes to pricing. Please let me know if this is inaccurate, but it's is my understanding that in-store price cuts are company wide. So even if your store, or another store you call doesn't have an item physically marked as on sale, when they ring it up it should show the most current, in-store price. For example, the bubble necklace in modern red is now $89.99 in-store. I imagine it's easy for the ticket gun to miss a markdown if there is only one of the item. Of course guns don't ticket the items themselves. Missed markdowns are human oversight. I can see how it happens. A SA thinks there are no more red bubble necklaces and doesn't even check the floor when s/he gets the markdown list. Missed markdown. You call to see if the necklace is on sale and the associate will tell you it's still full price because no one marked the ticket down. Whether you are in-person or on the phone calling to find an item, feel confident about asking them to ring it up and check the price if you believe it to be on sale. If you're nice about it, they should be nice in return. I realize this isn't always the case, but being nice and appreciative of their time -- yes, yes, even though it's their job! -- is usually going to yield a favorable response. J Crew has had many promos to move merchandise and I'll bet a lot of it would've moved if the correct prices were listed. Whoever is in charge of the markdowns in each store should have a serious sense of ownership about their duty. I know I'd want the information to be impeccable if I were in that position.

Chime in...

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  1. I had an experience in the store where the computer was showing an item in stock, but the SA couldn't find it no matter how hard she looked for me.

    On another occasion turned out CC and I knew the item by name but the part-time SA had no clue what we were talking about. I handed him the catalog and said, jokingly, of course, "here is some study material for you." :D

  2. Rose - If it's just one item, I'm not surprised if the SA can't find it in stock. We know their computers are behind the times, so inventory mgmt suffers. It's SAs like the one in your example #2 that need to brush up. That was a good one :)

  3. -- oh, but I will give the SA credit in that the online product name doesn't always match how it rings up in-store.

  4. I had this issue today. I was actually looking for a full-priced top at J. Crew and I was quickly brushed off by the sales associate, who told me that whatever was on the rack was what was available. She did not offer to even check in the stockroom or check a different store for availability. I couldn't agree more, it's definitely rude. It wasn't like I was looking for a clearance top from two seasons ago.
    If only I didn't love J. Crew so much!

    I've had better luck with their "we will find it for you" service, I've only used it once but the girl who assisted me couldn't have been more helpful.

  5. Grace - The WWFIFY has been pretty good. I agree :). The attitudes are better, definitely.

  6. Thanks for the irl of the Macalister Shearling Wedge. My order from last week is on it's way. I overpaid for them during the 25% off promo if there was 40% off in stores. Hopefully, I'll wear them alot if old man winter ever really arrives here in Maryland. :)

    As far as cs, could you imagine if JCrew hired JCA's for the job? Lol We'd run a tight ship. It would be the rest of the staff that would look like slackers. :)

  7. Cool boots! Wish I was brave enough to wear them. :)

    As for the sa and pricing comments, you're so right! My ps will look items up for me, but I don't trust any of the rest. Since they work on commission, you'd think they'd try harder to make sales instead of turn people (in store and on the phone) away.

  8. Great points about sales associates not bothering to look for items or immediately saying we don't have anymore. I'm most annoyed when I'm told that the store didn't get an item, or that it's sold out only to get to the store and see a rack full of sizes of the item.

    This hasn't happened in the store in my city, but it has in other places.

    Rose, I LOVE your "study material" comment!!

    JustVisiting, Oh yeah, JCAs would be great!! My ps tells me often that I'm much better at knowing product names than she is.

    Great post, as always, Gigi!!!

  9. I ordered these during an earlier promo and thought they were really comfy and cute (I sized up as well). I paid a much higher price though, so returned them, as I didn't need them "that" much. I'd re-buy at the 40% off in store price for sure.

    As for the CS in store, ugh, it's just so annoying. I have 2 stores nearby and they always have price differences. One store is always clearing out at a lower rate (smarter IMO). If I mention it to the PS at the higher store, she'll call to verify with the other store, and then match it. So perhaps some stores price differently and it's up to the manager/district mgr? Not sure. My other PS knows her stuff really well, so she always knows what I'm talking about and will do a major search for me. Other SAs though...many don't have a clue. I called in about the palm beach necklace during the promo stuff, and they had no idea what I was talking about. I'm like, can you just grab the freaking catalog in front of you and look at it? Argh. Rose, the "study material" comment is hilarious and spot on.

  10. Crap, I just lost my lenghty comment, GRRRR.
    What I wanted to say is that as in any other company there are people passionate about their job and people who are not, it is difficult to generalize. I never experienced the attitude you are referring to (SAs not willing to check the stock) but I always try to call when they are more likely to have the time to do it (ie early morning or early afternoon when there are less people in the store). It also helps to have the style number as opposed to "I am looking for the Lucinda" (which as you pointed out they might know by another name).
    I also appreciate that the PS don't work on commission or they don't show it by fighting over potential customers (the last times that I was at Bloomingdalws that really turned me off).

  11. Hi! :) I have the male version of these from last year, sized down two sizes and they fit well. Only issue I had was how high the higher top of the shoe was, but it is only a bit of a bother, and when you need a good, warm, run-around shoe, these are hard to beat. I do like the female version, especially the wedge. Super cute.

    I received your e-mail, btw. :) I will e-mail you tonight, running around a bit today (including looking for a new computer, THANK GOD!).

    In re: pricing and SAs in stores, wow, well, let's just say there is a reason I tend to do everything on-line with either my on-line PS or when one of the fab promos come up. Sometimes I get the short end of the stick (often items get really good markdowns in stores), but I would rather know that I had a good experience with sales staff, receiving totally new items (usually, anyhow), and not having to constantly be on the hunt for the best price.

    Shopping at the stores means I get shopworn items, rude service (sort of crazy that people act this way in stores that NEED our consumer dollars), and the hassle of going out with my toddlers. Ugh.

    Talk soon!

  12. Ema, corporate does keep track of their sales and they receive perks/prizes (whatever you want to call them) when they reach certain amounts. So, even if they don't work on commission (although I think they do as my ps always writes down the amount I spend, pre-tax), there is some compensation for their sales. I believe the managers do not receive this perk, probably since they already make more money. I know this, as my ps has turned down the manager position because he makes more money as a ps with his sales,

  13. Thanks Gigi: this just drives me nuts about the B&M: I think downtown SF has gone downhill since this fancy schmancy remodel. I see them giving misinformation all the time: they told a customer that there was no Ipad case to match the Iphone blue case but Stonestown had tons of them. The SA made it sound like the product was never made! The veteran SAs are pretty attentive but there a lot of new people who could use "study material"! This is also the store that had no signs up for the storewide pre-Christmas promotion of 30% off your purchase.....

  14. I handed him the catalog and said, jokingly, of course, "here is some study material for you." :D

    Jokingly? Really? I read this comment earlier today & for some reason it's sat hard with me all day.

  15. ^I didn't really read that comment as a joke, either, but I do think that it's not too much to ask of an SA to know the current catalog thoroughly.

  16. I can agree that the sales associate should know about the latest/greatest as best they can…but I can relate - I've been in my career now since 1985 & despite required CE & my own innate desire to learn more - I still can barely keep up with the "latest & greatest" & I've not been able to always answer with exact authority the correct answer. Can anyone in any profession stand up to such scrutiny & claim to know the very latest about every product, condition, medication, etc?

    Could you (you being the collective reading audience) claim & be able to stand behind said claims to know everything about your profession at a moments notice?

    More importantly, would you want someone to stand in front of you in public (in this case a retail store) & have your dignity (jokingly or not) put on display? How well would you hold up?

    I've never worked clothing retail & thus have never worked for JCrew..but I have a soft spot for anyone who gets humiliated in public. It's demoralizing. Jokingly or not.

  17. JustVisiting - I know! What's up with winter. I guess things are shifting due to global warming. I remember a rainstorm in June last year, which is unheard of, esp in California. Oh yeah, we'd JCAs would run a tight ship if employed in the company. ;)

    math teacher - Glad you think the boots are cool. I just think they're a necessity as I transition some of my footwear to lower heels and flats.

    rynetta PhD -

    Ema - I always feel for you when Blogger eats your comment. ITA there are winners and...their any company. I am definitely not suggesting that all employees are like some of the ones I've experienced. You're in NY and corporate is in that city. The SAs in those stores absolutely have to be on point, providing the best service. After all, it was one of NYC stores that failed to recognize Lauren Hutton when she was shopping. And she's in the catalog... with pants named after her! I imagine that info was read on JCA and reported back to the stores.

    As far as product info. I rarely ever refer to it by name. I have a script I follow when I call around and offer the style number right away. Some of them don't want the style# and prefer a description, which is silly because they can look it up right there on the register. I've been treated as a fellow associate, which was funny. So I've modified my script to be clear that I'm a customer.

    As stated below, the personal shoppers are definitely on some sort of incentive. Returns count against them. Regular sales associates, managers and other personnel (merchandisers) are not on incentive. That's my understanding.

  18. dinagideon - Thanks for chiming in. Hope you have fun w/your new computer. The Mr. must be geeking out in a search for it. I'm guessing...

    I'm with you on having a good experience in store or on the phone. I paid higher than the current price for the liquid silk skirts, but it doesn't bother me. I was excited to get it at the sale price I did and had a good time that day. And as you said, if you have to bring your kids out...I get it now ;)

    math teacher - Thanks for chiming in. I know from a former mgr that the mgrs don't make commission. She didn't get into what the personal shoppers make and I didn't ask.

    Maggie May - The new SF store is beautiful, but it feels disjointed. They're probably still getting used to the new layout and I've seen lots of new faces. It was probably hard to go into the holiday shopping season after such a big change. But yeah, you'd hope they'd know about "iAccessories" since the devices are so popular.

    Keilexandra - I agree, given that a number of the catalog pages repeat. It's an easy thing to thumb thru and much faster than taking a stock walk. Particularly since not all stores get all of the items and surely customers are driven into the stores by items they've seen in the catalog.

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  20. Jane - I've taken umbrage at things I've read in comments. I try not to do that because I don't always know the writer's intent. In this case, Rose specifically mentioned that she said it jokingly. I wasn't there w/her and the SA, so I don't know how he interpreted it. We can't know if he was hurt or offended. I totally agree that none of us know everything about our profession. And in retail in particular it changes all the time. Each day they come in, the employees are given information about the newest promo, merchandise, etc... It's gotta be difficult to stay caught up. My gripes, therefore, are more about *how* the employees provide service. Just look. Just try. Just seem interested in doing what you're there to do, which is sell stuff.

    I have worked in both retail and food service. I'm very sensitive and know you have to have at least one layer of extra skin in any job where you deal directly w/the public. It doesn't mean that the employee has to accept whatever is dished. In those jobs I grew to learn when people were mean spirited, were trying to one up me, teach me to mind my place as somehow I was their servant for that period, when they were humiliating or trying to jeopardize my job. I didn't get that vibe w/what Rose said.

    I really appreciate your comments and the way you handled sharing what you wanted to say. :)

  21. Does anyone know the commission rate for J.Crew personal shoppers?


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