Nordstrom Customer Service Sucks

Nordstrom Complaints and Reviews

I think Nordstrom sucks at customer service. Given that Nordstrom is known for customer service that may come as a surprise to many, but, in my opinion, it's true.

If you think Nordstrom's customer service doesn't suck, well, I'm here to tell you the opposite: Nordstrom sucks at customer service.

The emperor has no clothes, folks. It's just branding spin. I'll tell my story quickly and you too can post your negative Nordstrom customer service experiences below. Yes, this is the place to do it.

It's November 2014 when I'm posting this and if this page ever ranks in the search engines for "Nordstrom Sucks" or "Complain About Nordstrom" then you'll eventually see plenty of other folks weighing in with negative Nordstrom reviews and stories about why Nordstrom sucks at customer service and perhaps other things. It's the stuff that gives branding people nightmares: the truth that deflates their carefully crafted messaging bubble.

Call me petty but when I get mad at a vendor that doesn't treat me right, I go out of my way to get even. I wrote this page ages ago for another company, and had so many people share customer service complaints about that vendor that I created a second page to capture all the unsatisfied customer stories. I'll be very surprised if the same thing doesn't happen for Nordstrom.

If you work in customer service, for any brand, this will probably give you insights into the twisted psychology of the customer: when you do wrong by us, it can make us crazy angry and we will take to whatever airwaves we can to let the world know. We post on Yelp that you suck. We trash your reputation on Twitter. We write negative reviews wherever we can. We tell all our friends. It's our only remedy, our only way to fight back. Sorry, but deal with it. The better you treat us, the less you have to worry. In other words, although it may seem like I am just trying to let the world know that Nordstrom sucks (and, yes, that is part of the agenda here), there are some great customer service lessons to be learned from this article.

My Nordstrom Sucks Story

My Nordstrom customer service horror story is a simple one. I bought an expensive suit from Nordstrom one weekend and asked to get the alterations done such that I could pick the suit up the following Friday because I was attending an important event that Saturday and needed to look great.

Friday comes along and I pick up the suit. On Saturday, I'm excited for the big event and go to put the suit on but...crap, it's not my suit!

The jacket is huge on me. Massive. The pants don't fit well. My wife concludes: "Neither of those are yours."

It's time to go to the event, and I have no suit to wear. So I have to wear a wrinkly pair of khakis.

On the way to the event, I call Nordstrom. I explain the situation, even mentioning that I had hoped to be wearing the suit to this event and am now wearing the rumpled khakis instead. Yes, they acknowledge. There has been a mix-up because somebody else has also called and they've got your jacket. Come in and we will get you your suit.

The thing is they don't really apologize. They don't seem to get that it's a big pain in the ass for me to drive to Nordstrom because they screwed up or that the suit is now not going to be used for the debut event I purchased it for.

On the way to the event, I realize there's a Nordstrom customer service survey at the bottom of my receipt, so I fill that out on my smartphone. I explain that they ruined my day. I mention angrily that they should comp me on the suit. That's a big ask -- but seriously, they completely dropped the ball on a very simply task: keep track of a customer's suit, make the alterations they want, and give it to them when they come in the store.

As Nordstrom customers, we are not asking Nordstrom to build a rocket ship, are we? -- this is not rocket science -- it's very basic customer service and they flopped in the biggest possible way.

When a customer is angry, there's a short window of time to cool them down. My online survey pretty much tells Nordstrom I'm livid, but they sit on it. Truly great customer service would have had somebody calling me within twenty minutes. At minimum, email me: "We are very sorry. Please give us 24 hours to investigate and make this right." I wouldn't be writing this article right now if that had happened.

Also on the way to the event, I tweet the following to my 18,000 Twitter followers:

Completely screwed by @Nordstrom. Their "good service" is evidently just marketing bs. Will shop elsewhere in future. Avoid them. #aaargh

My vision of me looking and feeling great for the event is flipped on its head. I look terrible. I'm annoyed the whole morning. I should be enjoying the day and instead I'm thinking about how Nordstrom screwed me. How many days does one have in a life, anyway? This one is ruined because of Nordstrom. I just can't shake it.

There's a break between the event and the evening reception. I decide I need to get this Nordstrom thing behind me. Otherwise, it will ruin my entire weekend. So, I drive out there with suit.

I don't make a scene but they can tell I'm pissed. My salesperson calls his manager. Everyone is apologetic. The manager tells me he's seen the information I provided when I filled out the customer service survey online in the car, so he knows exactly how pissed I am. He also knows I think they should comp me on the suit because they screwed me over. It's good that they are apologizing but I tell them what I'm thinking: "Listen, if you've got my suit, I just want to get it and get the hell out of here. I either want my suit or I want a refund."

They bring me into a dressing room where there's another suit on a hanger, and they do some checking. "OK, this is your jacket." I say "That may be my jacket, but I don't think these are my pants either. They are the right length, but they barely fit at the waist. Unless, I've gained 10 pounds in the last week, I'm pretty sure these are the wrong pants too."

To prove my point, I put on the pants. The tailor says there's no way to take out any more fabric in the waist. They offer to get me a new pair of pants, but I'm thinking "That's more time I have to spend with these guys who screwed me over, and I'm going to have to drive back again."

At this point, I'm thinking I just want to leave. I'll eat the $800 I spent on the suit if I have to. If I never wear it, that's fine. (It's an $800 lesson I paid to learn that I hate Nordstrom and Nordstrom sucks at customer service -- a sad conclusion given that my family periodically drops a ton of money there and I was starting to think about spending more with them prior to this debacle.) Or maybe I'll wear it every so often and just suck in my gut that entire day. Or I'll lose ten pounds so it fits. That's something I should probably do anyway.

I grab the suit and explain to the guys that I'm leaving. The manager knows I'm pissed and pulls me aside: "What can I do to make this right for you?"

OK, that question seems fine, but it annoys the crap out of me at the time. Here, I am, the customer, frustrated to the point of not even being able to think straight, and you're asking me "How can I solve this problem?"

In other words, you are putting the burden of problem solving on me, the customer. You're not offering me any options at all. You're putting me in a position where I have to ask for something when this is the point when you should be offering me something. Don't make me think. Don't make me have to beg for consideration for the troubles you've caused me. Just make it right.

The guy could have said "Here is a nice tie that we picked out for you. Please accept it as a gesture of apology." or "Here is a gift card for $200. We're very sorry about this and hope this makes things right for you. We'd like to keep you as a customer." or "I've spoken to senior management. We will be crediting your credit card for this purchase. We know you and your family do a lot of business with us and we want you to come back."

I leave the store still pissed. In the car, I tweet this:

Tip for @Nordstrom. After screwing a customer, don't ask "How can we make this right?" Just make it right. Don't make me solve it for you.

Later, way way later, I realize that Nordstrom had tweeted back to me a couple of times. Some credit for that, but in their tweets they had asked me to DM them with the details. To me, Twitter DM is all spam. I hate going into DM on Twitter. The customer service lesson here is this: just because somebody Tweets and has a Twitter account doesn't mean that Twitter is their favored way of communicating. If you Tweet back to them, give them a few ways for them to contact you. Also, know that there's a good chance the person won't see your response.

By the way, if you search Twitter for "from:@Nordstrom DM" you will see many of their tweets to unhappy customers. There are tons of them. So, clearly, lots of people are unhappy with Nordstrom customer service and are saying that Nordstrom sucks. This is just people using Twitter. It doesn't include all the unhappy Nordstrom customers who are not on Twitter.

Sure, you can blame me for some of this. Why did I wait until a week before the event to buy a new suit? Why don't I have more suits? Why didn't I try on the suit? Why didn't I think of something when the guy asked me how to make things right? Didn't they apologize profusely and offer to make things right, so didn't they handle the situation well? What matters is that I don't think they handled it well, and as for the other stuff about me not trying on the suit, blaming me for that is shooting the messenger. I shouldn't have to assume people are idiots when I buy from them, especially when they publicly brag about being so great at customer service.

Anyway, long story short, I'm still pissed at Nordstrom. I don't plan on buying from them again, but you never know. Over the years, I've said this same thing about a number of companies that did me wrong. Citibank never made it off my boycott list. HP got off the list. AT&T Yahoo, no. Southwest Airlines, yes (finally gave me a credit after they lost my bags on both legs of a flight). It pained me to think about not buying from Southwest because I love them. I booked several flights on United to get even, and finally at some point, they called me and gave me a credit, and now I am back with them. For Nordstrom, I'll probably divert a few grand in spend and time will heal the wound in a year or so, or maybe this will end up being a lifelong Nordstrom ban. We'll see. As I said earlier, this is the twisted mind of the customer. I know I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

OK, now it's your turn. If you think Nordstroms sucks, feel free to post your story below.

My hope is that these negative Nordstrom reviews will set the record straight. Despite this brand's intentions to convince us that they have excellent service, I suspect they are dropping the ball more than they'd like us to know.

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