Free People: Terrible online customer service

Hi All.  It’s with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have to write this [extremely long – thus I apologize!] post.  But, I simply can’t abide by terrible – no, appallingly bad – customer service.

Which is a real shame, because clothing from Free People is totally adorable.  And I love their parent company, Urban Outfitters (which, coincidentally also owns Anthropologie – hence this major, major bummer).  But back in October, in prep for my shopping ban, I ordered these jeans in moonlight (dark blue):

Brooklyn High Rise Skinny Jean (Freepeople.com)

Low and behold, the jeans I actually received were black (labeled on the package, black/noir). I thought some mistake had been made. I emailed them, and after 2 days, received this response:

Hello Rebecca,

Thank you for your email. When I reviewed your order, I saw that item 32745119 was ordered in the color Moonlight, which is listed under color code for Black in our system. I apologize for the confusion regarding this item.

If you require additional assistance or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at service@freepeople.com.

Please include this email with your reply.

Sincerely,
Amy Sizemore
Free People

My response:

Hi Amy,

So I did receive the correct colour?  I wanted a dark blue.  They looked dark blue on my monitor and I think the colour name “moonlight” is rather ambiguous and unclear.
Can you please help?
Regards,
Rebecca
My follow up response:

Hi Amy,

As per my last email, if you look at the product reviews on the item, someone else commented that they thought midnight was blue, not black:

Name:cmg1227

Location:minneapolis
age:21-25
body type:petite
FINALLY
10.12.2014-
“I absolutely ADORE these jeans. I am short (5’1”) with super short legs so I am always really skeptical about buying jeans. I ordered a 27 ( I am usually a 4-6 in jeans) and they are perfect. These jeans are stretchy and are perfect to wear all day long. However, I ordered the “midnight” because they looked like a darker blue on the site, it turned out they were straight black but I liked them so much I decided to keep them anyway. Bottom Line: These jeans are super flattering for short girls like me (:”
Just an FYI that I am not alone in thinking they were supposed to be dark blue, not black.
Regards,
Rebecca

Free people’s response:

Hello Rebecca,

Thank you for reaching out to us. You did receive the correct color for the jeans that were ordered. Free People will gladly accept unworn, unwashed, or defective merchandise for return or exchange. Take the items that you would like to return, along with a copy of your packing list, to the carrier of your choice. Inform the carrier that you’re sending merchandise to the United States, and that it originally shipped from the United States.

We do not have a returns authorization number to provide you; present the packing list to them if they have any questions about the items you are returning. There will be a form to fill out and sign, declaring what you are returning and the reason why. The carrier representative will be happy to assist you in filling out this paperwork. Make sure that you receive a tracking number and insure your package so that you can be compensated if it becomes lost or damaged in transit, and address the package to:

Free People
Attn: Returns Dept.
30 Industrial Park Blvd.
Trenton, SC 29847

You’re responsible for any fees incurred from the return, unless the item that you received was labeled incorrectly, damaged, or defective. If you are returning it for any of these reasons, please let us know.

If you require additional assistance or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at service@freepeople.com.

Please include this email with your reply.
Sincerely,
John Camp
Free People

Ok.  So I send them back and re-order in the colour “Perfect Navy”.  But seriously, moonlight is an ambiguous colour name and they did look blue.  I receive, new “perfect navy” jeans.  I try them on.  They are at least 2 sizes smaller than the moonlight pair, despite the fact that I ordered the same size.  The moonlight pair fit perfectly.  I could barely get the perfect navy pair on (not so perfect after all, were they?)!  Needless to say, now I’m really annoyed.

Me:

Hi,

I’ve just returned this order. I also wanted to let you know how disappointed I was. This was my second order of Style # 32745119 – the first time I ordered it I ordered the colour midnight, which turned out to be black. This time, I received the same size in perfect navy, however the fit is totally different from the midnight ones – these are much MUCH smaller.

I would expect better QA from a company which charges a lot for their clothing. The same size jeans felt 2 sizes smaller than my 1st pair.

I have already had to pay to send these back twice now (it cost me $28NZD to post them today from New Zealand) and am extremely frustrated at this situation. I still have not received my refund for the first pair that I returned (order Y114299313).

Can you please rectify this somehow?

Free people:

Hello Rebecca,

Thank you for your email.  I am sorry that the items in your order did not work out for you.  Once we have received your return, you will get an email letting you know that we have received it.  After that your refund will be processed, and you will receive an email once the refund is processed.  Please note it can take 2-3 weeks for us to process your return.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

If you require additional assistance or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at service@freepeople.com.

Please include this email with your reply.
Sincerely,
Jennifer Barfield
Free People

Me:

Hi,

I’m really unhappy with the service that I have received thus far in regards to trying to order this item.  You will be losing a customer over this unless you offer some sort of restitution.
Thank you kindly.
Regards,
Rebecca
Free People:

Hello Rebecca,

Thank you for your email. As of 11/23/2014, your return has not been received in our warehouse. Please be advised that it typically takes between 2-3 weeks for a SmartLabel return to be received and processed in our warehouse. You will receive an email confirmation as soon as your return has been fully processed.

If you require additional assistance or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at service@freepeople.com.

Please include this email with your reply.
Sincerely,
John Camp
Free People

Well, I think that settles it.  Free people clearly feels that automated responses are totally acceptable way to respond to their customers and clearly ignores any issues.  Their clothing are really expensive so I would expect better QA – the same item in different colours should be the same size.  At the very least, I’d expect some better customer service (at least respond to my issues).  But unfortunately, they clearly don’t value me as a customer, so I’m putting this post out there to warn all others (I’m not alone, either, now I’m scared I won’t receive a refund for two, yes two pairs of jeans!).

Any sort of goodwill/apology on the part of Free People would have been all it would take to redeem them.  But no.

Not that I was planning on doing any shopping this year, but sadly I now have to ban Free People, as well as seriously re-thinking my relationship to Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.  Major, major bummer (considering how much of my pinterest page they make up).  😦

TL:DR:  Freepeople.com sent me the wrong colour jeans, then the new pair were the wrong size, and all of their email responses have been more or less automated.  They won’t address/acknowledge the issues I’ve raised (ambiguous colour names, inconsistent sizing) – their customer service has been abysmal, and they have not offered any goodwill/compensation of any kind for my out-of-pocket international returns.

What companies have lost you as a customer and why?

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9 thoughts on “Free People: Terrible online customer service

  1. Oh my……..That is terrible~! Thank you for sharing this~!! It’s good to let people know about your experiences. That happened to me at Aldo (shoe store) once. I had to have the shoes re-soled twice because they were wearing through the shoe within a couple of weeks. Finally, I went back again to complain and they told me “they couldn’t keep re-soleing the shoe” despite the fact that the sole would wear through after a few uses. Never went back~!!

    • That is shocking as well! At least here in NZ we have the Consumer Guarantees Act – essentially protecting the consumer, and ensuring that anything sold must be “fit for purpose” – so the retailer is required to either repair or replace the item!

      But again, this goes back to QA – Aldo should have pulled the shoes from the store, and replaced them for you with something else or given you your money back!

    • Thanks for the support! When I was writing the post I kept doubting myself and wondering if I was being unreasonable! I think it’s important to support companies who DO have excellent customer service, and alternatively, put the word out about those that don’t!

  2. Rut roh! I’ve browsed their site on occasion, but haven’t taken the plunge, yet. Given this situation, I probably won’t even bother. The color mishap is unfortunate, but a common hazard with on-line purchases. The ambiguity of the naming certainly didn’t help. The kicker is that you ordered the exact same style of jeans, but in a different color and size and the fit was drastically off. That would really, REALLY annoy me, especially when returns are not free. I’m really sorry you had to deal with that! Try to find out the brand of the jeans. You might be able to get them somewhere else or at least find something similar.

    – Anna

    http://www.melodicthriftychic.com

    • I’ve never really had a problem with colours like that before! Although yes, it is a hazard with online shopping. But surely black is a basic enough colour to just call it black or even noir would have been ok (still all creative and hipstery). But moonlight?! Epic fail.

      Sadly, the jeans are a “free people exclusive”. But I’m sure there are some similar ones out there somewhere! It’s probably a sign that I didn’t really need new jeans. :/

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