As all plus-size ladies know, when you find a clothing retailer who makes outfits that flatter your figure, you stick with them. Such has been the case with me and Dorothy Perkins, a UK-based retailer I discovered nearly 15 years ago while studying in London. Since moving back to America in 2007, I’ve made a point of ordering multiple dresses from the retailer almost every year.
Unfortunately, inept customer service has now all but guaranteed that I will no longer be ordering from the retailer.
Ordering from Dorothy Perkins’ website has never been easy. When I first returned from the UK, the company had no US shipping presence. This meant ordering from their UK website and paying international costs to have the dresses sent from overseas; the last couple of years, they’ve added US distribution. Unfortunately, with the US distribution center, I’ve noticed a steep downturn in the quality of Dorothy Perkins’ service.
It started small: instead of listing the UK sizes (which I was familiar with, given that I’d, you know, lived there and worn the clothes), they listed the US ones (which are typically a size up from UK). Early on, this wasn’t made clear, so ordering clothes from the site started involving a fair amount of guess work. I had a couple of misses, but overall was happy to get a couple of dresses a year that fit far better than anything I could get from US stores. The cuts and fits suited a plus-size figure, and eventually items were even offered in “tall” – perfect.
But the last few times I’ve ordered, I have to say – it’s been a disappointment. And with my most recent order, my faith in Dorothy Perkins has been utterly shattered.
Things started out okay. Midway through December, I took a gander at the sale section of the site, picked a few dresses that looked like they’d be my size, and placed my order. The free shipping option guaranteed that the items would be in my hot little hands by December 31st. Great!, I thought, no need to worry about shopping for New Year’s Eve attire! Maybe I’d be lucky and the dresses would even arrive ahead of schedule, since the 31st was quoted as the latest date the dresses would arrive. But as the days wore by and we passed Christmas, crawling towards 2015, I started to get nervous.
Still. The site had said the dresses would arrive by December 31st. So it wasn’t until the mailman came and went on the 31st that I started to get annoyed.
I tweeted at the retailer’s social media accounts (@Dorothy_Perkins and @Ask_DP, and does anyone else think it’s weird that retailers always have 2 separate accounts for answering customer service issues, with the one that actually responds rarely including the brand’s full name?) asking where my order was. They asked me to follow @Ask_DP and send my order number. I did, and was told that the order couldn’t be tracked (well, yes, I know, because when I got the tracking number in my initial confirmation, it said that orders beginning with the three letter code “RML” were un-trackable). When I expressed aggravation and disappointment, I was told – essentially – to sit tight and wait, and that the company wouldn’t be offering any sort of compensation for the lateness of the package’s arrival because of their terms and conditions.
Never mind that if they hadn’t quoted a definite delivery date of Dec 31st at the latest, I’d have sprung a few extra bucks for faster delivery.
As the days passed, I kept tweeting about how my dresses hadn’t shown up yet. Each time, @Ask_DP would tell me to follow them and DM them my order number. Each time, I’d say I’d already done that and they hadn’t been helpful, and if they had a different answer to let me know. Each time, they’d fail to reply to that request.
Well, the kicker came yesterday, when the dresses I’d hoped to have for New Year’s Eve turned up on my doorstep almost a week late…and in the wrong sizes.
To clarify, I don’t mean they arrived in sizes that didn’t fit. I mean they arrived in sizes I hadn’t ordered. All three dresses. Still, I know there are discrepancies between UK and US sizing, and I know that different designers have different sizing (though one piece was labeled almost five sizes larger than what I’d ordered), so I tried the dresses on.
Dress number one was a cute maxi dress with a black top and polka-dotted skirt. The sleeves kept slipping off my shoulder. Definitely not something I could wear, and definitely not the size I’d ordered it in.
Dress number two? Well, let me just say I have no idea how a designer would think that someone would have that much on top and that little on bottom. The skirt barely covered my behind, while the bodice of what was supposed to be a form-fitting dress was loose, not fitting at all. If you’ve ever met me, you’ll know I’m not exactly lacking in the bust department, so I was pretty shocked to see that this was the case. Of course, this was the dress that was nearly five sizes larger than I’d ordered, but still. There must be some really short, REALLY chesty size 26’s out there.
Which brings us to dress number three. A gorgeous pleated maxi dress, black. The neck on this one was a bit more fitted than the other maxi dress, and it was a flowy style, so I really hoped it might somehow work out. I pulled the dress on, straightened out all the various layers, and…realized that the cord that was meant to tie it at the waist – the cord that would give the dress some shape, rather than making it a pleated mumu – was missing. It was definitely supposed to be there, because there were small loops to hold it in place and the image on the website showed a shaped dress, but there was no cord in sight.
I tweeted Dorothy Perkins’ accounts and raged about the fact that they’d been so unhelpful in regards to the shipping, then raged some more about how on earth my order could have been so badly mangled. (Remember: arrived late, wrong sizes, BROKEN DRESS.) I got a reply asking me, AGAIN, to send my order number so they could help me work things out.
I re-followed the @Ask_DP account and re-sent my order number. That was this morning.
I’m still waiting for a response.
At this point, I’m glad I held off writing my initial complaint to the Better Business Bureau, because @Dorothy_Perkins provided me with plenty more to include in the letter. (Like, say, a copy of this blog.) At this point, I want them to pay the return shipping on the two dresses that were wildly outsized, and expect some kind of markdown on the third dress – which I can at least buy a ribbon or cord for on my own – since it wasn’t delivered in the state it was advertised.
I’m profoundly disappointed. This is a company I’ve loved and shopped with for over a decade. I have dresses from them that I’ve owned for nearly that amount of time. And yet, they failed so completely to fulfill this order. That could be excused if not for the cavalier attitude they showed when I raised my inital concerns about shipping times, and if they were able to get their website in order so it didn’t promise unrealistic shipping dates to customers.
So, it’s with great sadness that I have to say: I can no longer recommend ordering @Dorothy_Perkins online to other shoppers, unless those shoppers don’t need their clothes within a set timeframe and don’t mind dealing with the hassle of returning incorrect items. It’s a shame, because they’re one of the few retailers whose offerings have been flattering and of decent quality, over the years. If you live in the UK and can get to their retail outlets, by all means keep up your purchasing. If, however, you’re trying to take advantage of the brand from afar…
Well…caveat emptor, because apparently they don’t hold themselves to the standard of fulfilling their website’s promises.
I’m still tweeting @Dorothy_Perkins and trying to get a refund on my items, and a markdown for the one dress that may be salvageable. I’m also in the process of looking for the executive in charge of customer service, as this entire experience will likely lose a loyal customer and informal brand ambassador for the company.
Should the company choose to re-engage with my inquiry, I’ll update this entry to reflect that, the steps they take, and the ultimate resolution of this issue.
Update: I’ve now received a DM from the company via Twitter, asking me to send a photograph of the missing piece so they can determine an appropriate discount. Since the piece is missing, I’m not sure what they think I have in my possession to photograph, so have sent them an image of the dress as shown on their website. I’ve also finally managed to create a return slip for the other two dresses, without any guidance from the company’s social media team on how to do so. A request for information on how to directly contact their customer service department, also contained in the DMs, has thus far been ignored.
Update: Have just received an auto-return confirmation from the @Dorothy_Perkins website, saying I should allow up to 28 days for them to receive and process my return. Unbelievable.
Update: Repeated requests for a direct email address for the head of customer service have been answered with a catch-all customer service address by @Ask_DP.
Update: A couple of friends have read the blog, and recommended two alternative retailers: City Chic, based out of Australia, and Asos (which I didn’t realize carried plus sizes). Just two ideas for anyone who’d like an alternative! I haven’t tried them yet, but definitely plan to.
UPDATE: Jan 7, evening
I received an email this morning from someone claiming to represent customer service at Dorothy Perkins, apologizing for my experience and stating that the company is willing to expedite my return and expressing their wish to follow up on this experience with the the appropriate members of staff. They have said they are willing to pay for return shipment and reimburse costs associated with the return of the items to the warehouse. I’ve been told that I can use the email address as a direct line to a specific customer care adviser. I will be mailing the package back in the next couple days, and will update once the matter has been concluded. I really appreciate everyone who read and shared this account of what happened.
OVERDUE UPDATE: March 3, 2015
I’m pleased to say that after a few phone calls and a few more emails, I was able to return both ill-fitting dresses to Dorothy Perkins. The company also let me keep the dress that arrived without a waist tie (and refunded the money), so I’ll be looking for options for waist ties some time soon. The parent company (Arcadia Group) also reimbursed the cost for sending the package back to them in the UK. Thank you again to everyone who commented and shared!