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27 September, 2011

THE GAP in quality... the price of fleeting fashion

Let me start with a disclaimer. I have not done everything according to "the books" in the story I am about to relate. Nonetheless, I feel that the experience I had does not reflect exemplary customer service. In the end, I have decided that the keyboard may not be mightier than any figurative sword, but it's about all I've got left.

For Christmas, I received a very nice blue and black flannel from THE GAP. The shirt was a medium, and it barely fit before washing. After a few weeks' delay (due to my schedule), I managed to make it into the Downtown Seattle location of THE GAP to try to exchange the shirt for a large. They did not have a large in stock there, but said they'd be happy to have the shirt held at another location. Just to be sure, I tried on a large of a very similar (but not the same) flannel that they had in stock, and it seemed to be a perfect fit.

A few days later, I went to the Redmond location of THE GAP and picked up the large shirt they had held for me. MISTAKE #1 that I made was that I did not try on the shirt before taking it home. I was in a hurry and, since I had already tried a large of a similar flannel, assumed it would be perfect. When I got home, sure enough, the shirt did not fit. It was absolutely huge, and it also had a weird variation in how the top button was latched, which differed from the medium of the same exact product code. Odd.

MISTAKE #2 is that my schedule resulted in me not managing to make it back to THE GAP to exchange this oversized shirt until the first week of March. MISTAKE #3 is that I did not have a gift receipt. Thus, when I went to the Downtown Seattle store to exchange, they informed me that they no longer were stocking this shirt, because it had gone out of season. As a result, in the absence of receipts, they could only credit me the old-stock price of $29 (the original price of the shirt was $54). Grudgingly, I purchased another shirt from THE GAP, that was currently in style, for $54. At this point, I am now down $29, but such is life, and such is the penalty for making a few mistakes, and taking too long to handle an exchange.

The new shirt is a gray, Western-style shirt with metal snaps that have white overlays affixed to the metal snaps. Very cool looking shirt. I wear it once, and one of the white overlays falls off in the washing machine.This surprised me a bit. There was nothing that said the shirt was dry-clean only. Nonetheless, I grabbed my Super Glue, and reattached the overlay. I wear the shirt a second time and, while wearing it, a different button falls off the shirt while I'm just sitting doing nothing. At this point, I decide that I should really return this shirt.

MISTAKE #4 is that I probably waited a month from the time that the second button falls off the shirt before I get around to going back the Downtown Seattle location of THE GAP. When I go to my closet to grab the shirt, I notice that yet another button has fallen off the shirt, and the overlay piece is just sitting on the floor of my closet! It fell off the shirt while I wasn't even wearing it! I bring the shirt and the two missing buttons into THE GAP. They ask me if I have a receipt, which I do not. They tell me that I can only exchange the shirt for the old-stock value of $29 because it is now out of season (it's summer by this time). At this point, I am not happy, but I very politely explain my lengthy story, and they call the manager over to speak with me. The manager tries to make it right. She agrees that this is messed up. The solution is that she will order a replacement of the shirt from the warehouse, at no charge, and she will also give me a gift card for $20, which brings me almost back to Even Steven on the entire amount that I am into clothing from THE GAP (including the original loss of $29 from the first round, minus $9 difference).

I feel like this is a victory.

But alas, it's not that easy...

A week or so later, I receive a package from THE GAP. I leave it on the kitchen table for a few days because, at this point, I am not particularly excited anymore about anything from THE GAP, and I've learned to expect the worst.

Finally, I open the package.

The replacement shirt is missing two button overlays. And they're not even in the damn bag! They actually sent me a shirt that was missing buttons straight from the factory!

Back to THE GAP. This time, it's September, and I'm at the University Village location. I tell the manager my story. She tells me that it has really been too long, and they've really done all they can do. She understands my frustration. The solution this time, which is not entirely satisfactory, is that she refunds me another $6 (a discount on the defective shirt), and suggests that I try gluing the two buttons (from the original version of this shirt) onto the missing spots on the replacement shirt. I agree, because I realize I'm not going to get a better solution than this. And, fool that I am, I spent another $60 dollars on more clothing! I'm a glutton for punishment, right? Or a devoted customer... you be the judge.

I am pretty sure that it won't be long before more buttons fall off the shirt, and then I'm probably going to have to just suck it up and realize that clothing from THE GAP is not meant to last more than a few wearings. Further case in point, which is one that I have not even bothered to raise during my visits, is the fact that I have a quarter-sized hole in the back pocket of a pair of 1969 jeans that are less than 2 years old, and have probably only been washed 15 or 20 times. Contrast that with Levi's that I've had for a decade and have no rips, and I just have to believe THE GAP clothing is made to not last.

The staff at THE GAP have been nice. They've never been rude to me. They agree the quality should be better than it is. But I don't feel particularly satisfied with my Christmas Gift Experience... it ended up requiring multiple visits to multiple store locations, only to end up nearly even, but with a slightly defective shirt.

Here's to finding out if THE GAP searches the blogs for customer stories...

12 September, 2011

Moments: Red Truck (1/30/2006)

Forty days and forty nights.

Looking out the window again. The red pickup truck is still there. The rain is still falling. Did Seattle deserve a great flood, or what? I wonder, will the red truck move before tomorrow? The view being the same, it's sort of like reliving yesterday. Steel-gray sky. Whatever. Maybe should think about better words to describe the sky. The red truck (again) catches my eye, as it's the only - well, almost the only - bright-colored object in view. And, as red trucks go, it's pretty drab, at that. Rusted-out near the wheel wells, paint faded. Almost an orangey-red. Could be a Ford. Or a Dodge, or a Chevy. But that's not my specialty so, without further investigation, I'm just guessing.

So, I lied about the brilliant colors. The building behind the red truck has a reasonably bright-blue roof. That's something, right? The neighbors have a bright-yellow milk crate in their backyard, amidst an otherwise brownish-grayish yardscape.

I don't know what I'm expecting to see out there. Perhaps this is just a realization that urban-world or, for that matter, any-world, is not particularly colorful. I mean, this isn't the tropics. Yet, I am still focused on the lack of color.

An orangey-brown flower pot is near the yellow crate. Large pot. Didn't see it until I moved closer to the window. Green barbecue cover, too. Saw that, but didn't think it warranted mentioning.

What am I looking for? I don't know. Maybe I should stop looking. But probably it's better to keep examining this landscape until it looks like home, instead of a holding pen.

Moments: From My Window (1/29/2006)

The sky is steel-gray, or maybe it's lighter than that. I can't really picture steel. Call it brushed aluminum, then, I guess. But from here, I'm trying to appreciate this view that I never particularly asked for. But looking on the bright side, as I now am, I can see what is one of the islands or hills or whatever. Seattle has so many of them. Who can keep track? Maybe it's Magnolia. It's definitely not Mercer. That much, I've learned. The beautiful power plant sits off to the left of the plane. Why does anyone ever get stuck with a power plant near their home? Seems like this junk could go underground or on some platform in the ocean.

Large black dog is led down 8th by a woman in a scarf. The dog was gigantic... wolf-sized. Or maybe the girl was tiny? This is not pleasing me, but I'm losing the moment, so let's bring it back. Out the window. A chimney sticks up straight ahead. I can sight along the sharp 50 degree angle of the roof that holds it. Moss covered on the north edge, but clean on its south side. Weird how just a few inches is the difference between moss and not. A few inches, distinguishing a favorable environment from a tundra. Is the light really that different between those two spots? The moss knows.

I still can't see why this view is special. It's expansive, but everything in my line of sight is drab. Too low to really see the mountains. I've always come by this neighborhood from above, and thought that to the west was a somewhat stark or barren or industrial-looking landscape. But now it's my view, so I guess I'd better start seeing the beauty in it.