A classmate of mine from school is getting married soon, and asked me where she should go look for a lehenga. I told her the names of a few stores in Chandni Chowk, Shahpur Jat, and a few other areas of Delhi. She visited a particular store in Chandni Chowk this week, and came back to me with this –
“These are some issues I faced-
1.guard doesn’t let me take my handbag inside the shop- says it’s too big? What? Really? I’m going to steal a Lehenga in a tote? Okay! So after arguing, I leave it there taking out my precious stuff.
2. The shop is empty, being a wednesday (Oct 15)
3. A guy on first floor asks us what do we want, I shout.. Bridal. He says come up
4. My mom( with knee troubles yet braving Chandni Chowk with me) and I climb up and the guy asks us rudely- do you have an appointment? I say..excuse me? And lo- he tells me… We don’t show any lehngas without appointment. And turns away. Showing no interest, not asking us politely to wait or telling us a process to take an appointment or basically any concern for a customer who was ready to spend a good amount of money in your shop. We left and that’s that. So, shouldn’t they advertise this somewhere? Outside their shop maybe? Or before ppl climb up a flight of stairs?”
I’ve copy-pasted a part of the email she sent, and boy – was she angry!
After reading this, I felt terrible! I had recommended a store to her, based on my positive experience in the past. Turns out, the store doesn’t care about giving her the same experience – in fact, they don’t care about their customers!
Or, is it?
Turns out, in India – the customer cannot be passive about customer service.
Yes, that’s what I said. YOU, the customer, need to do something about it. Hate me for saying it, but it’s the only way out. Mehak (of WedMeGood) and I discussed this today, and she’s also received similar emails about stores we both highly recommend sometimes. They are usually the ones who get a lot of orders, and are therefore more complacent about customer service.
Let’s talk about what you can do.
Take Om Prakash Jawahar Lal, for example. I got my wedding lehenga from there, and my sister also got the lehenga she wore on my wedding from OPJL. But when my SIL went there, on my recommendation, the whole family was annoyed with their customer service. It was terrible. A lot of girls have written in saying similar things have happened with them at OPJL. Turns out – it depends on which salesman you get! This is, of course, pure luck. I went to OPJL again recently to shop for a friend’s wedding lehenga, and we had a great experience again! Totally depends on which salesman turned up in front of you. Does that mean there’s nothing you can do about it?
Read on, read on.
2 years ago, I was at Frontier Raas, shopping for my wedding trousseau. It was sale time, and the place was a mad house. I went to the sari section, and picked 4 net saris to try on. The salesman started to drape it on me without any cloth underneath it. What do I mean by that? When you try on a net sari, you will get zero idea of what it will look like if it’s draped as is. Stores generally bring out satin fabric in similar shades to drape on you underneath the sari. That way, you can truly get a sense of what the sari will look like. So I asked the salesman to please get a cloth in a similar shade. He said, “during sale time, we don’t do that. You have to try it on as is.” Annoyed, I left the saris there without trying the rest and started to walk towards the exit. Then I thought, this is such a stupid rule. Nobody will buy any net saris from them if they have such a policy during sales! I wanted to ask the manager why they have such a rule, and suggest they change it, for their own good. Because it was absurd. So I found the store manager, and asked him about it. He said, “we don’t have such a rule!” Ah. The salesman was probably just tired of draping women in saris for days in a row, and wanted to get rid of a customer who was making him do hard work that he wasn’t in the mood for. The manager asked me to stay, and quickly called for another salesman to show me the saris along with a fabric to try on underneath it. He called for tea (the ultimate bonding beverage between 2 Indians!) and I got to try on the saris peacefully. I walked away that day with a good feeling about Frontier Raas, instead of a shitty one which would’ve led me to bad mouth them for the rest of my blogging (and beyond!) life.
What did this teach me?
My experience at a store in Delhi is in my hands. Well, mostly. When I visit a store, and a salesman or woman is being annoying, rude or “making up store policies to get rid of me” – I have a choice. I can either be passive and let it happen to me and walk out of the store in a huff, thinking “I don’t want to drop to their level and argue with them!” or as we like to say it in Hindi “aise logo ke munh nahi lagna chahiye” – which I’ve done plenty of times in the past. OR, I can find the store manager/owner, someone who cares about customer experience because they are smart enough to know what word-of-mouth means for their business, and explain the situation to them calmly and clearly. 8 times out of 10, the manager/owner will get you a different salesman or tell the same salesman to treat you better. What happens the other 20% of the time? The manager is also a dufus and you’ll think to yourself, “Argh Shinjini! What was the point of this?! Now I’m even more mad at them forever and ever and ever!”
Uhmmm…Take a chance, will you?
And you can come vent to me if it doesn’t go well. I’m always here to hear.
My point is – don’t be passive. If they are rude to you, don’t run away. Stand up for yourself, and go to the person in charge. SAY SOMETHING. Let them know you are a potential customer, and should be treated right. There is a chance the manager will be like “whatever, we don’t care” but atleast you would’ve tried. Atleast you would’ve done your part. You can walk always thinking – “atleast I gave it a shot.”
Of course, you don’t have to do this. It’s just a suggestion.
As for what we, as bloggers, can do for you, is this – we can warn you about those few stores that our brides have had a bad experience at. But like I said, not everyone has that experience. Some of them have a great one! If you read how many girls have faced rude and snobby salesmen at Om Prakash Jawahar Lal, you would think – no one must visit that store! The truth is – thousands of girls still do. They still get a million orders. And life goes on. Because when you see a bride in a beautiful lehenga, she’ll tell you it’s from OPJL and gush about how awesome their collection is. And you’ll google them and read some bad reviews. But you’ll still go there because you’re hopeful you’ll get a good salesman. And you do. And you place the order for your wedding lehenga. And you love it. And then a girl asks you, “where did you get it from? It’s beautiful!”…
PS. While we’ll still keep recommending stores that 8 out of 10 girls have good experiences with, us bloggers – we talk to each other. We know which wedding vendor (other than trousseau designers too!) has been doing a good job, and which one is truly terrible. The one with whom multiple brides have had bad experiences. They go on our blacklist. Yes, we have those too! But we’ll never name names here, because we believe in promoting what we love instead of bashing what we hate. You’ll have to be our mother to get those names out of us. But if we’re helping you plan your wedding, we have our ways to make sure you avoid the “bad ones” – so don’t worry about it! And a word of advice to wedding vendors – when you give a bad service to a bride, we don’t read too much into it. But multiple brides come to us and say your service was terrible? Yeah, it’s the world of the internet, buddy. Everyone knows everything. So stop living in a bubble where you think “a few bad experiences don’t count.” Yes, they do.
PPS. When I had visited the store my friend went to, they had asked me to leave my laptop bag at the entrance (no, they didn’t say anything to my friend’s mom about her purse – obviously. Who does that?) Guess what I did – I was like “no way! I am NOT leaving my laptop bag at your entry! Like, no way!” I probably scared the guard so much with my absolute NO and “don’t even think about it” that they let me take my big fat laptop bag in with me.