Saturday, December 13, 2014

On How I Decorated Toddler O's "Big Boy" Room Using Pottery Barn Kids (And Then Vowed to Never Shop There Again)

To say I loved Pottery Barn would be a tremendous understatement. I'm essentially the anti-Phoebe (from Friends) in that if given the option to live in a Pottery Barn catalog, I'd happily begin packing. I spent my college and law school years perusing their catalog and website, dreaming of the day when my house would look so impeccable. Once Husband and I moved into our house, I slowly began furnishing and decorating using primarily Pottery Barn purchases.
Our living room alone contains two armless chairs in a unique red/white pattern, an entertainment center designed to accommodate our Playstation video game console, a rug that I tracked down in a New Jersey store, two iron lamps with coordinating shades, and four panels of brown blackout drapes. Throughout the rest of the house are countless Wood Gallery Frames, milk glass lamps and shades, a fully stocked desk with architect lamp, and, in our bedroom, the most gorgeous (though admittedly potentially tacky and old lady-ish) drapes I've ever seen.
When Toddler O was born, my love of Pottery Barn extended to the Pottery Barn Kids store: changing pads and covers, more Wood Gallery Frames, a personalized "Anywhere Chair" (of course) slowly increased his collection of Pottery Barn wares. This fall I began to focus on his "big boy" (aka crib free) bedroom. He'll be moving out of the nursery to make room for Baby Girl so I wanted to start decorating before I got too miserable.

I spent hours on the Pottery Barn Kids website considering bed options (bunk beds, trundle?), playing with room layouts and reviewing sheet choices. I made purchased of sheets, shams and lamps as budget and free shipping promo allowed. I even contacted Design Services for help in selecting the perfect bedroom furniture for a boy of almost three.

So reading through all this makes it sound like I've spent a small fortune at Pottery Barn and yes, the truth is I've probably spent a lot. But I'm also clever about my spending. I buy Wood Gallery Frames on sale using the $25 off $50 promotions I receive a few times a year. Our living room drapes were virtually free thanks to the Rewards Certificate I earned after buying the living room furniture. And that rug I tracked down in New Jersey? It was marked down to under $200 from over $800.

This all brings us to my current situation. My final bedding purchase for Toddler O's room was the duvet cover. It cost $14 to ship so I had been patiently waiting for a free shipping day. With Black Friday right around the corner I knew it was only a matter of time. On November 26, I got an email for free shipping and immediately began sorting out my order: the duvet cover, of course, and, because I was so pleased, a lunch box for Toddler O to use at preschool in the new year. The lunch box was full price but I reasoned that should it go on sale I'd just call for a price adjustment. 

Little did I know that on November 24, 2014 Pottery Barn Kids ceased doing price adjustments. On anything. Ever. I get 2-3 emails a day from Pottery Barn Kids and not one mentioned this. No word of the change in their website either. So when less than two weeks later I saw the price of the lunch box drop $9+, I called Customer Service. A rude representative informed me that they no longer did price adjustments and then refused to transfer me to a manager. She claimed a manager would call me back if I left my information. That was on Tuesday. As of Saturday I've received no return call.
In the meantime I emailed Customer Service for clarification. I pointed out that since lunch boxes ship free I could just return and reorder to get the sale price so wouldn't it just be easier to just price adjust. Nope, they replied. It's more fun to just alienate and anger customers over a fraction of their sales totals. 

At this point I'm enraged. It's not the money; it's the principle. I've never heard of a major company not price adjusting and standing behind their customers. Perhaps I'm spoiled by retailers such as Nordstrom, LL Bean and Anthropologie and their extremely liberal return and price adjustment policies, but Pottery Barn Kids had previously been among these stores...until two days before I placed my order! The Pottery Barn Kids' Facebook page is filled with angry customers who experienced the same frustration as me, down to representatives refusing to transfer them to a manager! Clearly I'm not the only unhappy camper regarding this issue.

Still being a lawyer at heart, I wrote a lengthy letter detailing my plight to the President of Pottery Barn. Since I already had reordered the lunch box and plan on returning the $22.50 version next week, I wasn't asking for anything. I just wanted her to know that as a longtime customer I was unhappy with the policy change and would be reconsidering future purchases.

Here's where it gets ridiculous. As I said previously, the Pottery Barn Kids' Facebook page was filled with complaints similar to mine. The other roughly 50% of comments regarded the quality of items received and/or frustration over delayed or cancelled orders. Those comments were all responded to with a generic customer service message asking for additional details at an email address. The price adjustment comments? Simply ignored. As if they weren't even there. 

So being the helpful little thing that I am, I posted the address to which I had mailed my complaint and encouraged others to do the same. Within an hour, my post had disappeared! This went on a few times before finally I realized I could no longer comment on the page. I'D BEEN BLOCKED! For posting an address where customers could send feedback that might actually be acknowledged. As a test Husband came out of Facebook semi-retirement and tried posting the same information and his post vanished too. I messaged Pottery Barn's Facebook account (because I can't even message Pottery Barn Kids anymore) to ask the issue. I've yet to receive a response and don't expect to as the same trigger happy minion probably oversees both accounts. 
This is just outrageous to me! Change a policy of you want: it's your company. But to ban customers who are simply posting an address for feedback is ridiculous. (FYI: the address is searchable online but you have to remember that Williams Sonoma is the parent company of Pottery Barn.) I hope in the 3 or so hours that my and Husband's posts were visible some people jotted the address down and will follow through with a letter. It's the only way there's a chance to give this company feedback. Their social media representatives are clearly not interested in reading it. 
Direct any complaints about the Pottery Barn family of stores to the following address:

Sandra Stangl
President - Pottery Barn
Williams Sonoma, Inc.
3250 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco CA 94109 
Right now just looking around my house makes me ill. To know I've spent so many thousands of dollars at a store that treats their customers with this level of disregard, particularly around the holidays, is sickening to me. Granted I understand that Pottery Barn Kids is in the market of making money - they aren't a charity - but what's the outcome here? I won't buy Toddler O's furniture at Pottery Barn Kids. Heck, if they had been willing to price adjust over the phone, I would have ordered a matching backpack on the spot. But now how many sales have they lost (both from me and from the countless other unhappy customers) because they weren't willing to budge over $9 on an order placed two days after a policy change? It's not like there aren't plenty of other stores that cater to borderline ridiculous children's décor and gifts. I'll find somewhere else to shop. My recommendation is that others do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Pottery Barn would be envious at how cute Toddler O's big boy room turned out!