Insights / News

Gasping for Air – GASP Jeans Tries to Spin its PR Blunder

Gasp

In a social media world, customer service can be what makes you or breaks you. Unless you want a tweet-storm to follow, perhaps you shouldn’t call your shoppers “undesirable” time-wasters.

It took less than 24 hours for Keara O’Neil’s email exchange with Gasp management to go viral.

On Monday, she emailed Gasp after an encounter with a sales assistant at the brand’s Chapel Street store.

In her email, Ms O’Neil explains that she entered the store on Saturday with friends to look for bridesmaid dresses and a hen’s night outfit. She claims that the male sales assistant kept pressuring her to buy the dress and then made inappropriate comments about her size and whether she was worried about the price. Feeling uncomfortable in the store, O’Neil left. The comments that followed her? “Have fun finding something at Supre” and “I knew you girls were a joke the minute you walked in.”

Attitude by sales staff is unfortunately quite common place. What is shocking is the response that followed, which has led to a social media explosion of epic proportions.

Rather than an apology, O’Neil received a typo-ridden response (laden with cringe-worthy misuse of the word “whom”), justifying the employee’s behaviour.

Gasp Facebook

“Our range is worn by A list celebrities to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry to name only a few… Similarly these items are priced such that they remain inaccessible to the undesirable.

“Insofar as our employee goes; Similar to our product offerings, our employees are selected with a similar approach. Chris whom served you is a qualified stylist whom has a sixth sense for fashion, and Chris’s only problem is that he is too good at what he does, and as I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented, generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store.

“Chris is a retail superstar, who possess unparalleled ability, and I am sorry you feel upset by him, but he knew you were not going to buy anything before you even left your house.

“So if you would like to do us any favours, please do not waste our retail staff’s time, because as you have already seen, they will not tolerate it. I am sure there are plenty of shops that appease your taste, so I respectfully ask that you side step our store during future window shopping expeditions.”

Gasp is now promoting their PR faux-pas with mixed reactions.

Roots FacebookThe Gasp response is in sharp contrast to the values expressed by James Connell, VP, E-Commerce and Marketing of Roots Canada at the recent Online Retailer Conference in Sydney. His talk “Delivering for our customers” last Wednesday outlined the importance of positive communications with customers in a world where social media is so prevalent. Roots has a team ready to pounce when a customer experience has turned sour.

Mark Rowland, Managing Director of StyleTread, agrees. StyleTread is known for engaging social media like Facebook to communicate with their consumers. The consensus from the experts at Online Retailer was that when you turn around a negative customer experience with positive customer relations, you may very well end up with your most loyal consumers.

Gasp seems to be taking the view that any publicity is good publicity. But in a difficult economic climate where retailers are feeling the pressure, perhaps encouraging consumers to “side step” your store is not the best marketing strategy. With experiences like Keara O’Neil’s, it’s no wonder that more and more shoppers are turning online to avoid encounters with judgmental sales staff.

 

Natasha Sholl

Article by

Natasha is a content creator for The Media Pad, publisher of Power Retail. She has a background in law and communications and a passion for all things retail. Natasha loves analysing and problem solving all of the challenges and trends that come with new media and the online retail space. Natasha is a yoga addict and reluctant running devotee, both of which are offset by her serious caffeine addiction and obsession with baking. Follow Natasha on Twitter and Google+ or connect with her through LinkedIn

Benchmarking Banner

10 Comments

    • Skye
    • 30th September

    The “whom” killed me!! What a douche.

    Reply
    • Michael
    • 1st October

    GASP = SCUM
    I have done more for the world than the total combined SCUM, sorry GASP, company has in it’s total life and as for Chris i thought arseholes could only sell shyt.

    Reply
    • Tara
    • 1st October

    A new Melbourne Blog has made an important announcement following the controversy!

    Check it out!

    http://muddythrills.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/we-the-people-of-the-retail-industry-have-an-important-public-announcement/

    Reply
    • Suz
    • 3rd October

    I’ve always thought their clothes were trashy and heinous to be honest, clearly their staff and management match! Disgusting treatment of any customer.

    Reply
    • greg
    • 5th October

    Maybe GASP should be looking at the anti discrimination laws of our country

    Reply
    • Pex
    • 5th October

    I hope nobody hands over their ‘hard earned’ to this disgrace of a company ever again. You are in the PEOPLE business.
    No doubt, when profits drop as a result of their arrogance, Gasp will come our screaming about the evils of online retail!

    Reply
    • chris
    • 11th October

    Gasp is selling to a subculture of people called “cashed up trash”

    Reply
    • aimie
    • 18th October

    i personally thought chris was lovely when i recently bought my formal dress from the store

    Reply
    • Olivia Retail Manager
    • 18th December

    “Attitude by sales staff is unfortunately quite common place”
    And unfortunately so are d**khead customers
    Disgusted with GASP but we are not all the same and in most cases we are just nice people trying to make a living. Hopefully I never encounter Ms. Scholl in my store. My kindness might kill her

    Reply
  • It is this attitude that can be so well avoided by shopping online instead. I am sure the designers and people who make this clothes still need their jobs and this should not be affected by one d#&$h$*# of a sales scum.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (Required)

  • (Required but will not be published)

Power Retail Ecommerce Resources