Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ulta-mate Store Nightmare

As you may have guessed, this post is regarding the fabulous makeup super store Ulta. I made my first purchase from Ulta a couple weeks ago. In that purchase I bought the Benefit They're Real mascara I've been blogging about. So disappointing, it's still as horrible as ever. After calling Benefit they told me it sounded as though I'd gotten a bad batch and that I should call Ulta to get reimbursed. I called Ulta customer service because I'd bought They're Real online. I was told by the rep (after she asked why I didn't like it) that I should definitely send it back and they'd refund me. She then said that it would be better if I lived near a store and returned it that way because the process of sending items back for a refund can take a good deal of time. I asked her what I needed to bring as I'd purchased my item online. She looked up my account and told me all I needed to bring in was the mascara, free gift I got with purchase, and my packing slip. I wrote it down, confirmed that was all I needed, then got off the phone. The nearest Ulta to me is about 35/45 minutes if traffic isn't horrible.

I called the Ulta nearest to me right after and confirmed that they would allow me to return it in-store and again asked what I needed to bring in. Past experience has taught me to ALWAYS double- or triple-check. She confirmed what the customer service rep had told me. I then asked if they could hold another item for me that I intended to exchange my mascara for. She said they'd hold it behind the counter for 24 hours.

I made the trip out there today and it was a NIGHTMARE.

I waited in line and when it was my turn I was lucky enough to get one of the store managers (or at least I thought I was lucky at the time). She was super sweet and I told her about my experience and she was shocked. She said she loved They're Real and was wearing it without a problem. It did look great on her lashes, but she also had natural sky-high lashes, so singing it's praises with 1 coat on when your lashes are already so long they look fake isn't really going to convince me it works. But again, she was very sweet. She told me she was new and didn't know how to do a return like this and that she'd have to get the other manager on staff. Then she said the other manager couldn't come out from the back and that she was going to try to do it. She looked at my packing slip and asked if I had the free gift with purchase. I gave her that and the mascara. She then said she needed to see the email confirmation I received when I made the purchase.


I told her I could easily bring it up on my DROID, but she said I needed to print it out. Ummmm last I checked Verizon isn't selling pocket printers so I thought it was pretty clear that wasn't happening with me standing at the counter. I explained to her that I'd not only spoken to Ulta customer service, but that I'd also spoken to a really nice rep form their store the day before. She then said she'd call customer service and see what she could do. 20 minutes later she said there was nothing she could do. I was a little surprised because typically from my experience, stores/companies with good customer service would acknowledge the misinformation and figure out how to resolve the issue. She told me I'd be better off sending it in.

I was about to leave when she asked if I wanted to try their tester of They're Real to see if perhaps I'd like to exchange one tube for another. I told her I couldn't try it on because I already had full eye makeup on. She chuckled and said she was a makeup artist and could remove the mascara without touching the rest of my eye. That I wanted to see. I was a bit hesitant, but figured that if they could give me a tube of They're Real that worked for me I'd be content. I went with her to the Benefit cosmetics area and the second we got there she started walking in circles looking for someone. She then said they had just called her to the back and that she'd be right back. She grabbed a pump dispenser of makeup remover and two tissues and said, "This is the gentlest stuff we've got. Just pinch your lashes with it and wipe it off and then I'll come back and help you apply They're Real."

She began walking away and then said, "Or you can just apply it yourself, I'll be right back."

I stood there for a moment trying to figure out what in the world was going on. Looking at the makeup remover I wondered if I was really crazy enough to attempt to take off all of my mascara on one eye to then use the tester. If you know me, you know I'm a germaphobe, so testers that directly touch your skin/lashes and can't be tested with a q-tip gross me out. At that point I was pretty done with the situation and just figured, what the heck. I very carefully used the makeup remover and managed to get just about all of it off without completely destroying the rest of my eye makeup. I waited and waited and she didn't show up so I grabbed the tester and figured I'd save time and just see if it worked. It was ok. Still some clumping, but that could be because my lashes had just had mascara on them and residue from the remover had probably been left behind. Who knows? Definitely not an ideal way to test mascara. So after applying it and wondering what the heck I was doing, I waited for her again. I waited for another 15-20 minutes by the Benefit counter.

She never came back!

I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that perhaps she'd been called to deal with another crisis in the front and perhaps had forgotten me by mistake so I went back to the front of the store. 4 people in line, 1 being rung up, 1 cashier, no manager. I waited another 5 minutes for an opportunity to catch the eye of the cashier and ask her for my bag of things (mascara, packing slip, and free gift). The second she handed me the bag I was out of there and went straight to the parking lot where hubs and my boys were waiting in the car for me. I looked at the clock the second I got in the car as I was buckling and telling hubs not to ask about my experience and realized I'd been in there AN HOUR! Wow.

Anyway, I ended up calling customer service again when I got home and speaking with a supervisor. She was appalled by what had happened and said there was no reason for her not to return it given the situation. She ended up offering to exchange it or give me credit for the mascara. I chose the credit.

Bottom line, I don't think I'll be going to the store near me any time soon. It's newer (opened in May) and I understand a few kinks have to be worked out with any new store (I worked beauty retail and in a music store for years in my teens), but this was over the top. Not to mention that the store is very disorganized and you can never find someone on the floor. Oy vey. Anyway, in the future I'll only be purchasing things I know I like/will like or that aren't so expensive so that if they don't work out I won't mind just chocking it up to another trial and error fail. I know lots of other makeup lovers adore Ulta, I just wish I'd had the same experience.


  1. That is horrible! It is so unfortunate that stores can still be so oblivious to the importance of quality customer service. I wouldn't return either!

  2. It really is! Customer service is KEY! I didn't blame her/them for the fact that I hated They're Real, but I did hold them accountable for providing customer service in returning it/exchanging it. It was seriously nuts!


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