Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Counter girls..the good the bad and the ugly.

Hey Guys,

How do you feel when you run out of a high end brand cosmetic and realise you will have to brave a trip to the dreaded department store counter's?
Personally I don't care anymore, but I remember how I used to feel when I knew I was going hauling at the queen bee counters...Terrified, self-concious,and Pretty insignificant! It shouldn't be like this! A trip to a counter especially one where you are potentially going to spend alot of money should be a fabulous experience,the staff should treat you with respect and you should leave feeling good about yourself and your purchases! Sadly it seems this is not always the case...

I was over at Charlotte's blog again the other day and read a post about her poor treatment at a MAC counter which quite frankly appalled me! (read Charlotte's post here)

This post got me thinking about my experiences at various counter's and compelled me to write this post...

If you are a regular reader of my blog or follow me on Twitter you will probably have realised that I'm somewhat of a shopaholic, and spend an awful lot of the time I shop perusing the various Make-up counters,therefore have had plenty of experience, good and bad with the staff on them.


When I buy MAC nowadays I always go to the PRO store in Nottingham because I can only get my discount in these stores,When I first became an artist and nipped to the Meadowhall MAC counter,I was given this information rather rudely when trying to buy a foundation there,'fine' so off to Nottingham I went...
I arrived at the Nottingham store and approached one of the assistants who was pretty 'offish' that was until she realised that I was there to apply for a Pro card and to buy a great haul from her! Only after she had had a good look through my Porfolio,c.v and a huge bundle of scripts from T.V jobs that I had done.,did it seem that I had passed her test and was granted permission to be treated like a member of the human race...'thanks love!'

There are, however some absolutely lovely staff at the MAC store in Nottingham and I haven't actually seen the above mentioned girl for ages, this gives me hope that perhaps staff behaviour is monitored and customer service is as high a priority as it so rightly should be.


I don't spend a great deal of time at this counter as my personal experience is not the best,I just find the women here snotty and unhelpful,maybe its my age or the fact that I look about 16 that leads them into thinking I wont be purchasing, and am not worth wasting their time on...Never mind  I'll just pop over to another counter and you can watch me haul it up from the comfort of your high horse!!


Now to me Benefit is a counter where the girls have received some decent training or at least bothered to listen to their training! Every time I go to Benefit I feel as though I have made a new friend in whichever assistant has helped me out.I love it.Fun brand Fun assistants!!


The Chanel counter is a new one for me.Until recently I've always felt it was a brand for 'grown-up's' but I'm so glad my opinion has changed!!! I love my local Chanel counter,the girls are fab!! They are incredibly helpful and make you feel so comfortable,a little too comfortable for my Visa's liking "/!
I went there today actually (for the spring 11 palette!!) and had a lovely chat with one of the girls about the reputation of  'counter girls' and apparently Chanel have got a terrible reputation for having rude,stuck up staff..thankfully she informed me that this is something she is trying to do away with!


OK to me this is where it gets weird,I love Lush as a shop and I realise that the staff are not on a counter but I had to mention it!!  I literally hate going into Lush and would avoid it at all costs if it wasn't for everything in there being so delicious!! Now I'm certainly not saying that the service  here is bad,no,no...its quite the opposite,the staff are too friendly,they don't leave you alone for a second!!!! Each and everyone of them acts as though they are high on a concoction of bath balllistics and happy pills and I personally can't take that level of faux nice!
 It seems to me that there is an extreme method of training for the employees of lush and its one that would have me welcome a dose of rudeness from a clinique girl!

Now I'm not short-sighted enough to blame a particular cosmetic brand for the way their staff treat customers I know many cosmetic companies have almost boot camp like job interviews for staff (MAC in particular)
Obviously the service we as consumers receive depends on the individual salesperson,counter etc but I would like to know why the Image of a counter girl hasn't changed in as far back as I can remember,and which companies are prepared to do something about it!

I plan on doing a little more delving into certain cosmetic companies training and discipline procedures and will be doing a follow up post if I gather up any interesting research.

What are your experiences at the counters good bad or ugly? I'd love to know!


  1. Thank you for mentioning me lovely. Do not get me started on Lush! I was in the leeds lush on friday and when I was paying the girl virtually asked me every detail about my life, Do I have a job, where do I work, am I student, where do I study, What do I study? Honestly I only wanted a few bath bombs and came out feeling drained from all the questions!
    Benefit in my opinion are way to pushy, again on friday in leeds I bought a mascara from benfefit and she was so busy with the new blush and when I said I only wanted the mascara she was like " ok I was only telling you" but In a real huffy way.
    The Nars staff in leeds are so so so nice, I cant fault them at all! I did notice a lot of the staff in harvey nics in leeds looked quite up themselves to be honest, not all but a fair few. xx

  2. Also when I visit these counters I always feel I have to look my best which is certainly not the case when popping into boots etc. It shouldn't be like this but for some reason it is and I can't see it changing anytime soon x

  3. I'm quite young looking for my age too (30 next yr) so I find if I'm in my casual clothes I get treated very differently to when I go in on my lunch break in my suit/office wear! The snooty counter staff really put me off & some of the general Boots staff have been so much more helpful. I'm looking forward to your follow up post x

  4. I love 99% of the staff at the Nottingham MAC store! I had one not long ago that was virtually deaf and I had to keep repeating everything I said - quite annoying! (maybe I speak quietly)
    The worst customer service I've had was at an Estee Lauder counter in Debenhams, she was really rude so I thought stuff this I'm goin' Boots! xo

  5. This was an interesting post. I live in the U.S., (in Tennessee) and I spent many years on the front lines of cosmetic retail. While I'm not claiming there are not rude salespeople at cosmetic counters here, I will say that if we had behaved in some of the ways you described where I used to work, every single one of us would have been summarily fired. I worked at the Estee Lauder counter, btw. We had hefty daily sales goals and that was plenty of incentive to be cordial, helpful and friendly to every customer who approached our counter.

    To give perspective from the other side of the counter, I could tell horror stories about rude, abusive customers who felt that simply purchasing an eye/lip pencil sharpener (at the time, sharpeners cost around $3.50) meant that they could demand a boatload of samples, monopolize your time & treat you like dirt. I've had people talk to me like I didn't have two brain cells to rub together, I've been verbally attacked, and I've been physically threatened - usually during Free Gift weeks, as that brings out the worst in every customer.

    I guess the pendulum swings both ways with negative experiences. I will say that I am grateful unto heaven that I no longer work retail. I still purchase expensive cosmetics, but all those years on the front lines ensure that I still have contacts at every counter & hear of all the promotions first. I go out of my way to be kind and appreciative of the help each beauty advisor gives me. It's a thankless job, for those who have never worked it.

    ~ Dawn

  6. Loved this post! I totally agree with what you're saying. I look quite young but I'm 22 and sometimes when I go to high end brand makeup counters the sales assistants can act so snotty!

    I was just at the Chanel counter the other day and the sales assistant was so friendly and sweet though!


  7. uch an interesting post always love reading about different counter experience.

    Totally agree about Lush haha they all ask abit high off the ballistics! I mean what male wants to apply body butter to your arm in the middle of a shop full of people! ha only in Lush hey.

    However can't say I found Benefit to be the same as you. I get what you mean about the friendly staff but I just see it as a marketing thing to get to buy the products.
    They targets are so high that they actually aim to sell atleast three products with every free makeover they give.
    When I last had a 'makeover' with them thet SA actually asked if I was thinking of purchasing anything mid makeover! Crazy.

    Fab post.

    Fee x

  8. eek ive only just noticed these comments sorry! Bad blogger!!!
    here goes haha...

    @charlotte hey hun no problem im addicted to your blog i dont think it'll be the last mention i post haha!! Yeah there aren't actually many good reviews of benefit ive noticed since posting, I must have the exception counter but it is a tiny tiny tiny one and not in a big city so prob just more laid back country types maybe??
    And omg!! I was going to say about how i felt i had to go dressed in my best clothes with an expensive handbag whenever i'm off to a counter that i haven't been to before!!! what's with that? screw them! It makes me mad to think that some staff can make you feel like you are not worth a dime..they need to realise that they only work for the brand they didnt create it!!!
    I might go dressed in rags with a netto carrier bag next time i go hahaha!!! *and breathe* xxx

  9. Think its best to break it down so i dont bore y'all!!
    @Beautifulyoubeauty blog
    Yeah it's crazy...Its definitely takes a certain individual character to behave like this *cough,closed minded,unhappy with their own lives,cough* hehe xxx

  10. @lucy hey hun!!
    That happens to me alot im a bit of a mumbler especially when im applying make-up i talk to my brushes "oh there u are mac 190!" v.embarrasing in front of uber gorgeous models!
    I like the tiny girl in MAC notts with the red hair i havent been for ages though is she still there d'ya know? xxx

  11. @Dawn Hey hun,
    ahh i never knew you worked on a counter!
    the U.S sounds like it may be a better place to go for the high end me a ticket pronto! I know what you mean about rude customers,I have worked in loads of shops and used to work in a beauty salon,and had my fair share of rude customers its infuriating either side of the counter.. it's basically never ok to treat another person with such disrespect and I pity people who think that it is xxx

  12. @ R Thanks chick!!! think the snotty ones may be jealous of youthful looks hehehe xxx

    Hey hunni!!
    Dont get me started on LUSH hahaha such a shame and im sure its getting worse! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to go on a lush training course...hmmm...pixielashes undercover that would be fun!! I could do spy make-up and everything!:)
    Think ive def been blessed with the best Benefit counter so far then, i actually haven't heard anything good about another one yet!eek! Oooh that would have annoyed me pushy sales people make me angry!! I dont know anyone that enjoy's been given the hard sell! and think its unfair on the more vunerable customers,surely companies lose money either way!! xxx

  13. I recently went to YSLto be colour matched (wrong colour - 1st mistake), and the woman proceeded to take ALL my makeup off, including the massivee amount of undereye concealer i spend ages blending and layering every morning! She did it so fast i couldn't stop her! Completely ruined my shopping trip as i obviously had to go home! then she told me i should use a darker colour to 'lift' my skin. Erm, i'm pale - i deal with it and if i want to be darker i'll use fake tan, NOT an orange foundation. What a cow. xxx

  14. oh god its shocking int it?? darker to lift your skin hahaha!!!!
    I'm not sure if these women have to have any actual make-up artist qualifications...or if they just go through the companies specific training programme!?? as I have heard no end of stories just like yours!
    I do think that the only Make-up experience some of them have is of their own daily routine, and this is why every one comes out looking like a tangerine!!
    I just went out to dinner with My grandad and his wife and she told me that she went to the Givenchy counter to buy a specific eyeshadow today and the girl asked her if there was something she would prefer from Clarins as the Givenchy girl was in the office photocopying something!!! Disgusting!!!!!
    Love Nat xxx

  15. Maybe sometime early last year, I went to buy my first MAC lipstick. You don't even want to know how much effort and research went into the purchase, I have been terrified by the 'counter girls' before and I knew that I wanted to know exactly what lippie I was going to buy, Angel. So off I pranced to the MAC counter, I was dressed nicely (for a student, ha) and all excited. I said "May I have an Angel lipstick please" to the mua, to which she replied *I KID YOU NOT* "Ermmm, I think Angel was part of one of the collections, it was limited edition. We don't have it anymore"
    Ok, seriously? Angel has to be one of the most well known MAC lippies out there right? So anyways, I went to look at the other lipsticks and picked out Angel instantly, only then did she go fetch it for me... Seriously disgusting service. Not a smile or nothing..snooty bitch. :( (and yes, to this day that still enrages me!)

  16. Oh some are just Shocking aren't they?? It baffles me how certain MAC assistants get their jobs as the interviews and training to be on a MAC counter are pretty tough,all I can say is the snotty ones must be damn good actresses to get through!!

    Angel a limited edition was she on crack or something?? I reaaaallly want Angel,Ive never had it! Im taking a trip to MAC soon for Vegas volt and Angel hope they have them and didnt go out with a collection hahaha ;)

    It would still be making me angry aswell,I cant stand bad manners on anyone,and especially when you are purchasing something expensive,so wrong!

  17. I work at Clinique and personally thing i give every customer a great on counter experience. I saddens me that other people dont always make this effort.

  18. I love going to make up counters because I make up some story about how I'm buying a load of new make up with my birthday money, they make me over and then I tell them I'll come back later after I've looked at clothes. You just have to be confident and dress like you have money XD. It's a bit cheeky but it's just making the most of the service they provide.

  19. Totally agree about this, and Charlottes comment about always feeling like you have to look my best. For example when popping to my local MAC counter, it's about 15 mins away from my house so if I get a moment on a busy day and need something I just pop out and don't bother with the face. Some girls are lovekly but others just look and talk to me like I'm an idiot and I don't feel satisfied when I walk away with my purchases, I don't want to be brown nosed, just treated like a equal human being! Most of the time I feel like they are there to promote themselves and not the brand!!

  20. I also work for a flag ship store counter for a top named cosmetics company and the training we are given is first class and extremely in depth....but in response to some of your comments and my personal have to understand that the training is held only 3 times a year and joining near christmas and gift time is a very scary thing when your thrusted into the lions den of a packed department store not really knowing what to expect and cannot always answer peoples questions....but I always explained I was new and I would go and find out for them if I am unsure.So you never know that girl at MAC may have been new and everybody has to start cant expect a trainee surgeon to go and do life saving surgery on his first day.

    In regards to "cosmetic girls looking down and being on high horses", I am a woman who has been brought up that manners do not cost you anything in everything I do, I am polite, and NEVER in a million years would look down at somebody who stepped into my counter for what they are wearing and if somebody does then they shouldnt be in retail as we get tarred with the same brush! It is also in my training that you ask EVERYBODY if they would like some help, if anything it is the customers that look at me like i am an alien ....but it is my job and I have to do it...especially as we have the pressure of mystery shops every month.

    I also would like to point out in response to someones comment about the questions they are asked when purchasing products...yes I completely agree from a customers view, I too would be like what the hell?...but again from our point of view we are just doing our jobs as the company are VERY strict on us getting certain details from our customers and if we dont; we get it in the neck. It is not our choice to ask the questions, but we are the ones who have to face the angry faces and nasty comments from the customers. Just my last shift, I was shouted at several times and spoken to like I was a piece of dirt because I simply asked somebody to repeat what they said because I couldnt hear them and wanted to help them. It sometimes feels like we cant win....and with all this you have to still have that smile on your face to greet the next customer.

    Dont get me wrong I agree with what you are saying, but I just felt the need to explain "the cosmetics girls" side which you dont see. It is a very hard environment to work in and there are hidden pressures, but despite this I am extremely proud of the company I work for due to being a loyal customer previously.

    I also would like to point out to people who say they go to counters with no intention of buying anything but will get made up because they want nice make up for their day out spending money elsewhere.... that lady (possibly man) has just spent time and effort doing your make up and talking you through everything, making it a nice experience for have taken time away from customers who really WANT to learn and get advice about using the products and treating skin conditions (because some counters are skin care aswell as make up) for their confidence. It just innoys me as its taking the mickey out of us and like we just stand around doing free make up for people who cant be bothered to do it themselves in the morning, which arent what the counters are there for. The counters and staff are there for people who are genuienely interested and want to know/learn more about the different brands.

  21. I live in the states,ad I have experienced rude behavior at both MAC and Bobbi Brown cosmetics.

    MAC: oh my goodness, I don't even know where to start. I'm not a huge fan of their products (don't kill me, lol).

    I went to buy Vegas Volt, and the SA kept on asking me "Are you sure it's not Morange?" (in a condescending manner). I politely kept telling her "no, it's Vegas Volt" she then proceeded to try and put the tester on my MORANGE! Finally I said " Don't you dare put that anywhere close to my lips. Do you understand English?! I said Vegas Volt!" Of course I walked away ashamed for having yelled like a weirdo.


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