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“Somebody of Your Size . . . “ | Manolo for the Big Girl

“Somebody of Your Size . . . “

” . . . obviously can’t make decisions on your own.”

Internet friend Sabrina sent us word of this news item out of St. Louis, in which Big Girl Tia ordered a dress from Ultimate Bride to wear to a wedding, and the store decided unilaterally to order a different dress for her:

When she got the gown, she looked at the tag and noticed that it wasn’t by the designer that she thought she’d chosen. When she asked the store what was up with the dress, they told her that the store ordered another dress because they thought the one she’d chosen wouldn’t “work for somebody of her size.”

Now, Francesca’s first question is “what does that mean, will not ‘work’? Does the dress come in her size, or did they decide she simply wouldn’t look good in it? What is going on?”

But of course, from the consumer point of view — regardless of the size or weight of said consumer — the point is that the store either couldn’t or wouldn’t provide Tia with what she asked for, but rather than work with her to decide what to get instead, they went ahead and ordered something different for her without asking first!

Tia is asking for a 50% refund, but the store is not cooperating.

The story is complicated by the fact that Tia did not notice immediately that it was a different dress. In fact, the Eden Bridal dress provided by the store was so similar to the Bill Levkoff dress she ordered, that she had the dress altered before noticing the discrepancy.  This probably explains why she is asking for only a 50% refund, rather than 100%.

If you click on the site, there is a poll at the bottom, asking readers what they think Tia should do: Take the $75 back the store is offering (out of the $230.50 she paid); insist on 50% back; insist on 100% back; or do nothing since the dress she got was so similar to what she ordered.

What say you, readers?

19 Responses to ““Somebody of Your Size . . . “”

  1. linda September 29, 2008 at 9:41 am #

    Wow, she should sue the pant off that store.
    some people should not be working with the general public.

  2. SaraB September 29, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    She should get a full refund and a public apology. The manager’s (and everyone else’s) behavior as described in the newspaper story was/is abhorrent and I hope the damn store goes out of business as a result of the publicity.

  3. meloukhia September 29, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    Full refund, the dress she actually ordered for free, and a public apology. That kind of treatment is totally unacceptable, and she should make that very clear.

  4. Twistie September 29, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    I worked in retail a long, long time. There is simply no excuse for this. It is up to the customer – not the store manager – to determine what fits her needs best. If someone comes in and orders a toaster, it is not up to the store to decide that the customer really needs a microwave, or vice versa.

    Even if there was one universal body shape for WoS (women of size) that ‘does not work’ with that dress, it’s still what the customer ordered. The fact is, though, that we come in all sorts of shapes as well as sizes. What looked good on me when I wore a size eight is a good indication of what looks good on me now that I wear a size sixteen/eighteen…and is more or less similar to what looked good on me during my size twenty-six period, too. It may be that none of those things would look good on, say, Francesca or Plumcake, but they look good on me.

    And even if they didn’t, then it would be my decision whether or not to go on wearing them.

    Tia should get ALL of her money back, and that store manager should get the sack.

    In a heartening side note, over at the poll, 89% of the vote is currently for Tia getting every cent back.

  5. TeleriB September 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    The answer to Francesca’s first question is “the dress did not come in her size.” (It is in the news article linked from the blog entry.) The store manager then worked with the dress designer to find a dress that did, which would be similar to the one she had ordered. So far, so much excellent customer service.

    They missed the boat when they failed to call the customer to inform her that the dress she wanted was unavailable, and would this similar dress they had found be acceptable? And if it wasn’t, they’d have a sales clerk available at her earliest convenience to help her find a better one. That would have been cool. What they did was not cool.

  6. JR September 29, 2008 at 2:34 pm #

    What the store did was wrong, but I’m stuck on the fact that she didn’t realize it wasn’t the dress she ordered until she looked at the tag. How does that happen?

  7. dr nic September 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    I can see how she might not notice. She was ordering a bridesmaid dress. She ordered a strapless, black, floor-length dress. Several months later, she got a call that her dress was in an comes in for her first fitting. She tries on a strapless, black, floor-length dress. Especially since the article describes her as not being someone who wears dresses very often (in fact, it says she only got this because her sister asked her to). She probably would not be in tune to any differences – and the store specifically looked for a similar dress.

    But it may be why she’s only asking for half her money back, and not a full refund. Frankly, since they charged her for one dress and delivered another without notifying her, the store committed fraud.

  8. wildflower September 29, 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    100%.

    Who cares what she did with the wrong order? She got the wrong order!

  9. Twistie September 29, 2008 at 4:33 pm #

    I’m with you, wildflower.

    What’s more, the store is even more in the wrong if they entirely failed to confirm that the dress was manufactured in the needed size before taking the order. If they made the mistake of promising a dress they couldn’t actually get, they needed to contact the customer and explain the dilemma and work out a solution with her, not simply choose a solution without her input.

    They made the mistake of not finding out whether the dress came in the customer’s size. They then compounded this mistake by changing the order without discussing it with the customer. On top of all that, once the customer noticed the difference, they blamed her and publicly humiliated her.

    The fact that the customer didn’t notice the substitute until alterations had begun does not relieve the store – and very specifically the manager of the store – of any of the responsibility for their multiple instances of incompetance, dishonesty, and outright cruelty to a customer.

    The fact that Tia wasn’t into fashion to an extent that she can’t tell one strapless, black bridesmaid’s dress from another doesn’t change the fact that she was treated in a completely inexcusable manner.

  10. Dent September 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm #

    I’m on the fence on this one, unfortunately. I agree completely that what the store did was inexcusable and totally wrong. I hope that for their mistake and refusal to work with the customer after the fact they never receive good business again.

    However…

    I am torn on the fact that the customer did not verify that she got what she ordered. I realize how easy it would be to mistake a black strapless dress as the one you ordered. But wouldn’t she have a receipt to check against? I am a firm believer that when you make a purchase, as the consumer you have the responsibility of making sure you received what you paid for. If Tia had noticed the discrepancy BEFORE altering the dress, than I believe she absolutely has every right to a full refund.

    However she didn’t check until afterward. I think a 50% refund is fair considering the store can’t take the dress back after alterations.

    What if the store hadn’t deliberately ordered that dress for her instead of the one Tia wanted? What if the designer simply sent the wrong dress, and she altered that before realizing the mistake? I realize the situation is different than what I’m positing, but it’s still food for thought.

  11. SaraDarling September 29, 2008 at 11:15 pm #

    While I do agree that it’s less of a disaster than it could have been considering she didn’t even notice it was the wrong dress, so it couldn’t have been that bad, that is some seriously unconscionable behavior on the part of the retailer. While I’m no legal expert, the suggestion that the store’s behavior was technically fraud does make sense. If she paid for it with a credit card, I’d expect if she made enough of a stink with her credit card company they’d charge it back for her — while the credit card terms for most companies give one only a limited period of time to do this, they’ll usually bend on that to keep a customer.

  12. Christine September 30, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    I think the store is fully to blame. Beyond insulting her, they ordered the wrong dress on purpose and then tried to blame her for not being the correct size. From that point on, she shouldn’t have to figure out the brand names versus manufacturer’s names.

    This is an example where the owner should stand up and take the hit like a professional, apologize to the customer and try to get her the right dress, though I doubt she wants to deal with them again.

  13. Grace September 30, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    The store is to blame, and they owe her a full refund. As several people have noted, she had a contract with the store, and they did not deliver the gown she had ordered and paid for. Unless the contract had a clause stating that the store could offer a comparable replacement if the original gown was unavailable, I don’t see a legal basis for the store to claim that they fulfilled the contract.

    The store’s argument that she didn’t realize the change until after the alterations is BS – when you go in for a fitting and alterations, the gown usually doesn’t look like the finished gown, and I can easily imagine myself being confused in the same situation. The store has acknowledged that they should have told her the original gown was unavailable, and given her the choice of what she wanted to do; instead, they decided to do the switch without informing her – basically treating her like a dumb girl who could be swindled. Adding the nasty and untruthful comment about her size just makes it worse – the explanation that the original dress wouldn’t look good on someone her size is nonsensical, because a) the dress didn’t come in her size, and b) they found her a dress that was almost the same, so how was the style not suitable for her.

    I hope the store wakes up and gives her the full refund, but if this was me, I would already have filed suit in small claims for the full amount, claiming fraud. The customer relations damage to the store is already bad – I can’t imagine they wouldn’t want to get this resolved.

  14. Melissa B. September 30, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    Tia is clearly a very reasonable person. She recognizes that she accepted and altered the wrong dress, but wants 50% of her costs back since the shop did, in fact, order the wrong gown. If the shop had been smart they would have taken her up on this very sensible and fair compromise.

    I hope this story is spread all over the internet and that Tia gets 100% of her money back — 50% for receiving the wrong dress, and 50% for the appalling way she’s been treated.

  15. Melissa B. September 30, 2008 at 7:28 pm #

    Incidentally, I just Googled the size charts for Bill Levkoff (the designer of Tia’s original gown) and Eden Bridals (the designer of the replacement gown) and both go up to size 28. So I’m not sure I believe that the original gown didn’t come in her size. My guess? The salon ordered the cheaper Eden gown in the hopes that they could pocket the difference without anyone noticing. When called on their tactics, they blamed her size.

  16. Twistie September 30, 2008 at 9:08 pm #

    That’s interesting, Melissa B. If that’s the case, then the store has even less of a pinkie toe to stand on.

    Now why didn’t I think to do that bit of research?

    Clearly you inherited all the brains.

  17. Sarah October 1, 2008 at 2:20 pm #

    Exactly. Is there a price difference between the two designs and which did she actually PAY for? The conduct of the store is astounding. Astoundingly bad.

  18. Rachel of Cyberia October 6, 2008 at 8:29 pm #

    I’ve had lots of friends and relatives-of all ages and sizes- who got jerked sround by bridal stores, so this type of behavior is typical. I don’t think I know anyone who had a good experience with bridal shops.

  19. Abigail January 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm #

    Has she tried reporting them to the BBB or Angie’s List? That typically scares a company straight.