Beyond Disappointed in Dorothy Perkins

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.

wpid-0106151658.jpgI 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.

2:10 p.m.

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!


15 responses to “Beyond Disappointed in Dorothy Perkins

  1. I was not familiar with Dorothy Perkins until receiving your blog post. Wow. As I read it, I thought that this company’s products sound like just what I’d love to find. That is, until I read further down about your nightmare hassles and the callousness of the company’s responses–or lack thereof. It’s hard enough for us plus-sized, tall women to clothes shop without adding that much trouble to the experience. Although I love to shop online and I buy lots of my clothes through mail order, now I will make a point to avoid them and to tell my friends about your problems with Dorothy Perkins. How disappointing.

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Agreed! I am just gutted that this experience went so far south! I’ve loved the retailer for YEARS and this has just been an utterly disappointing experience. 🙁 Things were so much better when they were processing orders from the UK, but that changed several years ago. It’s been downhill since then but this latest experience just took the cake – and any desire I have to buy from them again in the future. 🙁

      Thanks for reading & commenting!

  2. I too had never heard of this retailer before your mention of them. My interest had been initially piqued at your recommendations when you first placed the order, but after all of this hassle… no way. Never. Untraceable tracking numbers, wildly varying sizing, horrendously misjudged receive-by dates, and incompetent and unapologetic customer service reps… and to top it off 28 days to process a return! Unbelievable. I’m hesitant to buy clothing sight unseen online via retailers with stellar customer service reputations; there’s no way I’d step into this morass intentionally. Way to lose a potential customer, DP!

    Keep on escalating until you get satisfaction.

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Hi Sandra, thanks for reading & leaving a comment…I am just so upset that it’s come to this. I’ve loved them for years, and this was one of the most disappointing online experiences I’ve ever had. 🙁 Hopefully I’ll find a retailer who’ll be able to fill the hole in my wardrobe, since I won’t be ordering from DP again!

  3. Wow! I’ve shopped ASAP brick and mortar stores while in the UK and really enjoyed them. I’ve considered ordering items online, but have always been hesitant. For certain, I won’t ever partake in either activity after reading this. So many other companies to purchase from, ones that actually respond to and care for their customers.

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for leaving a comment. It’s quite sad that things have gone so badly downhill in the last few years with DP, and this was just the final straw. 🙁 Some friends recommended City Chic and Asos, so I’ll be checking those out – from what they’ve said it sounds like those two retailers pay a lot more attention to giving their customers a quality experience.

  4. *at, not ASAP.

  5. *actually meant to say *at DP*. You get it. Love their stuff, but not worth the hassle.

  6. Having worked at their customer services myself in the UK think they are a terrible company with really bad policies. I found it so had to give good service due to the procedures they had set in place made the most simple complaints incredibly difficult to handle. The most general compensation they would offer would be a gift goodwil gift card which is really bad considering most customers complaining never wanted to shop with the brand again after a bad experience with the company. Working there. completely but me off ordering online from any of their brands (ie topshop, topman, burtons,, bhs,Wallis, miss selfridges) please everyone stay away!

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Charlotte – wow! Thanks for the insider’s perspective! It’s so frustrating when you’re working for a company that won’t let you serve the customer — and I’m a little relieved, I have to admit, to know that it’s not just me who had such a negative experience with the company. I really appreciate your commenting, and this just reinforces that I will definitely NOT be shopping there again.

  7. Wow as if an adviser actually gave you their personal email address I was told not to do that. They must either be new or scared that you will file a complaint

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Charlotte – It looks pretty official; last night I went and posted a link to this entry on their FB page and also connected with some others having issues, which seemed to get their attention. The email assures me that I can reach her directly at this address, and the .sig says “Customer Care Advisor, Arcadia,” with their actual physical address on it. I did file a complaint last night with one of the international bureaus, maybe that did something…?

      I’m going to pack the two dresses that don’t fit at all back up, and send them back, and see how it goes. I’ll keep updating as I get more info. 🙂

  8. Yikes! I wish I had seen this earlier. I’ve ordered from them once before with no problem but right now I’m waiting on a dress that I ordered three weeks ago to get here. Was guaranteed it would be delivered 4 days ago, so I hope that mine comes within the next week as yours did. I’m now also totally put off from their site by my experience and from reading yours!

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Julia – I just saw this (for some reason WordPress isn’t notifying me of comments), so please pardon the delayed response. Did you ever get your dress? I hope so!

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