Frustrating Experience at Coach


1 <3 Lyndee!
Oct 19, 2007
I genuinely don't think that I'm *that* fussy when it comes to customer service. As someone who worked in retail for almost 6 years, I would never want to be the type the customer that employees dread. I also think, though, that the level of customer service needs to be 'on par' with the type of merchandise that is being sold. I'm not necessarily going to expect anything amazing from, say, a dollar store, but if I'm shopping in a luxury boutique, I expect to be treated excellently. Let's face it- luxury items tend to be hideously overpriced, and for me, customer service is interwoven into the brand's image- you shop at Chanel or LV not only because you like the bags, but also because the staff will bring you champagne (for example).

Obviously, another key element of the 'luxury boutique experience' is the quality of the merchandise. When you're buying designer, and paying a lot of money for the priviledge (lol) of doing so, that item better damn well be pristine. No scratches,no tarnishing, etc. etc.

If you've been following trends in designer bags, you'll have noticed that Coach has been trying to increase their brand stature- to no longer be your mother's handbag, but to be a luxury brand comparable to some of the bigger names in the handbag industry- not Chanel or Hermes, obviously, but maybe around the level of entry-level Louis Vuitton. And as such, Coach prices has skyrocketted in the past 5 or so years.

Generally when I go into Coach, I get good to excellent service. The staff are friendly, my items are wrapped and packaged nicely, and I leave the store feeling great about my purchase. This past Friday, though, I had a not great experience, and to tell the truth, it still bothers me a bit.

I needed to exchange a wallet that DH had bought me for my birthday. While he had gotten me the right style, I had really been hoping for another colour, so after getting the okay from him, I decided to exchange it. While looking on the Coach website that morning, though, I saw a different style of wallet that looked absolutely gorgeous- so I decided when I went in that I would get that wallet (the vintage hamptons slim envelope, if anyone is curious).

So off to the boutique I go. I get there, explain I need to do an exchange and everything is okay. I see the wallet on want on the shelf, look it over in person, decide it's really pretty and that I'll get it. While the floor model was a bit scuffed, I assumed that was just because it had been handled by a lot of customers.

I go to the cash to do the exchange. The wallet I was returning, which was still wrapped in its tissue and gift box, was taken to the back, and my SA went to get my new wallet. The actual cash transaction went fine (the new wallet was almost $100 more, so I had to pay the difference), I was handed my shopping bag, and off I went.

About 5 metres outside the store, I realized that the hadn't bothered to put my new wallet in a box. Now, if you know anything about luxury handbag boutiques, you'll know that it's all about the box. The packaging the item comes in is, in some ways, almost as important as the item itself. And while I realize that sometimes stores run out of boxes, the wallet I had returned had come in a box. So why hadn't I got my box back?

I pulled my new wallet out of the shopping bag and decided to give it the once over before I left to go home. And thank god I did. My new, insanely expensive wallet had a huge scratch (like, ripped leather) down the back.

This was really upsetting for me. Hadn't anyone noticed this huge scratch before the gave me the wallet? So I went back into the store, approached the saleswoman and explained I needed a new wallet, showing her the scratch.

The next part of this process was really frustrating. The store had 3 other 'brand new' wallets- and every one of them had a major scuff! I'm not talking about an indent in the leather, but actual damage to the wallet. A few of the salespeople tried telling me that it was the nature of the leather, but come on- other companies use distressed leather (think Roots, for example), and that doesn't mean their products are damaged.

After a few minutes of inspecting each of the wallets, I apologized and explained that I needed to return the wallet I had just bought, and that I'd be buying the one I had just returned back. When you're spending $$$ on a wallet, that wallet needs to be damn near perfect. The salespeople were a bit put out by this, but you know what? It's my money, and they did not have a 'vintage hamptons' wallet which was not damaged. So the cashier voided the previous transaction, and they brought my old wallet out- but without the box. I actually had to ask to the box back. Oh man, this drove me so unbelievably crazy. (It's hard to explain the box thing to people... but trust me, it's important).

So I left the store feeling slightly frazzled, for a few reasons:

- the 'okay' customer service: while the original SA helping me was fine, the box thing really bothered me, as did the snarky attitude when I stated I wouldn't be keeping a damaged wallet. I wasn't being agressive, I didn't yell or throw a fit- I was downright apologetic, if firm in my opinions. But I left the store feeling incredibly embarrassed, as if I had done something wrong- a feeling one should never ever have when leaving a boutique!
- I was honestly a shocked at the poor quality control. Every single wallet had a major flaw. These problems should have been caught well before the item was shipped the boutique. Although the SAs said the leather was 'delicate,' it seemed to me that it was just cheap, more than anything else. If the leather can't last in the box and plastic that it came in, how the hell was it supposed to last in my handbag?? You don't spend $$$ on wallet to have it fall apart in a month. Poor materials = unacceptable.
- I later discovered that a charge had gone through on my credit card, so I'm probably going to have to go in next week to have them fix it... ugh. This is just annoying.

While this experience doesn't mean I'll stop shopping at Coach, or stop using the bags I already own, I'm definitely going to hold off on going to the boutique for a while. The experience was frustrating and embarrassing- and ultimately, incredibly disappointing. I've never had a problem with Coach before- but seriously affected my impressions of the brand. If Coach really wants to be able to justify their high prices, they need to treat their customers like gold. This includes well-made products designed to last, and godammit, it includes gift boxes and proper packaging.

It's enough to make a girl want to run to LV and never look back!

To end this story on a happier note, I've started using the wallet I kept, the original one DH bought me, and I'm really happy with it (it's made of different materials- canvas with a patent leather trim and lining). The colour is growing on me, too. And hey, at least this way I didn't actually end up spending any more money!!:wlae:
Jul 4, 2008
Enjoy your wallet. Me too I won't be satisfied if the bag or wallet that I'm buying is not near perfect. I'm paying a lot of money on the item it better be good and no visible flaws or I won't be a happy customer.


I Need More Cowbell
Jan 26, 2008
I'm sorry about your experience. I read a post yesterday in which someone was talking about a large scratch on a Zoe bag that her mother had just purchased (and carried for one day) . . . your words "You don't spend $$$ on wallet to have it fall apart in a month" reminded me of their frustration as, appparently, the Coach SAs acted like a bag becoming scuffed up after 1 day of use was no big deal (!!!!!!!--my money needs to go a lot further than that!).

I'm glad that you realized that the wallet was scratched soon after you left the store, and hopefully, it all works out well with your credit card.


Ahhhh...I'm falling!
May 7, 2008
Hey CanadianStudies! I am glad someone else made reference to Roots leather!!! I almost feel like I'm talking to myself when I mention Roots here. In Toronto, almost every 3rd person is carrying a Roots flatbag around. I have been keeping mine in storage lately because of my new love for Coach.

I am so sorry that has happened to you! It's terrible how the SAs behaved when you do a return. I was so nicely (slightly aggressively) encouraged to get a Coach Carly but it was too heavy. I returned it a couple days later and was pushed to get an exchange for another bag or a credit. When I insisted on a full refund I got an, "Okaaaay!" in a half shout with an angry tone from a SA. I was so put off by that that I have avoided that boutique and put me off buying retail. Sadly, this was the first place I made my first Coach purchase...and probably my last.

I think it's a regular occurrence because another boutique in the higher end area a few of the SAs are even snarkier and ruins the niceness of the remaining SAs there who are truly nice. Now I only go to one. They've been so nice to me and even waived the shipping fees to JAX to repair my handbag. I think they're the nicest because I have interacted with them the most (and bought lots from them too).
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Apr 23, 2007
Never been to a Coach store (we're Coachless here in Scotland) but agree with you on customer service. I was looking to buy a LV bag in a specific colour (grenade) . The first SA was really lovely - let me try on an Ivorie one etc and took my order (they were getting it in specially for me).

One week passed, then two, three and four. Week 5 I phone the store "um, it's not arrived - should be here in a week or so". I mention this is wk5 and the person says "it's coming from Paris and they can take their time sometimes".

So...another wk and another passes by. Meanwhile LV put the price up adding another £60 or so to the original price:cursing:

8 weeks after I'd originally placed the order I goes into the shop and asks if it has arrived yet.


"Um...that's 8 weeks now AND the price has increased since I placed the order - will you honour the original price?"

"Paris can be a bit slow - and no, you'll have to pay the full price"

"But the first SA said I couldn't pay for the item before it arrived?!" [I had offered at the time]

"Not my problem I'm afraid" :shrugs:

"OK so when EXACTLY will the bag arrive - it's been on their website for the last 2 months with a 2-3 day delivery timeframe...I assume they are coming from the same location!"

"Yes, so why didn't you just buy it from there?" - sorry but WTF?!!! not that it's any of their business but when I'm spending megabucks on a bag I want to inspect it before I take it home.

I was furious so told them to forget it and stormed out of the store. I haven't been back and won't EVER buy from that store again (and I probably won't buy LV either - it's overpriced and overrated IMHO).

When you are spending your hard earned cash on a luxury brand, you expect a certain behaviour from the SA and being rude, arrogant and downright nasty isn't what I'd be expecting!


Oct 9, 2007
I also had a very frustrating experience at my local boutique a few weeks ago that I posted about. I encountered a very rude SA who gave me attitude about returning an unused wallet that I had a receipt for, the tags were still attached, and it was still in the original packaging. I won't return to the boutique for a very long time after that experience (if ever). However, I will continue to shop at the outlets because I've consistently had outstanding customer service. They have been more than helpful and always go the extra mile to make sure I'm happy with my choices.


Sep 8, 2008
I know what you mean about the box! I recently purchased the new legacy stripe cosmetic case from a boutique. They handed me the bag and when I got back to my car, I see its just got a piece of tissue paper around it and no box. I know it seems silly to some, but when I spend $128 on a make-up bag, I want a box! However, I always have a pleasant experience at the outlets. Everyone is so nice!


New Member
Oct 27, 2007
I agree wholeheartedly; it is unacceptable to give sub-par customer service. And I notice that if you are making a return or exchange, rather than a purchase, you're made to feel as if you are inconveniencing the SA and as if you should be apologetic.

Personally, I hope that you shared the above w/ the management, and depending on their respose, the corporate offices in the form of a letter. It is good to "call them out" regarding their poor service on that occasion, particularly if your other experiences have been positive. It will help them to give better service if they have honest feedback from a knowledgeable and loyal customer.

In the DC metro area, I've always received great customer service at Coach stores, as well as on the customer service telephone line and to echo corkel2, the SAs at the outlet are always nice.


Passion for Fashion
Apr 3, 2007
I'm sorry to hear about your negative experience. They should have been happy to order you a new one since all the ones in the store were not up to par. As a SA myself I believe that a customer should not leave the store with anything less than I would be happy to take home in terms of quality. I figure if you're spending that kind of money it should be perfect.

I know there are several negative experiences mentioned in this thread, but it's important to keep in mind that people tend to talk about the negative times more than the positive times. I'm not trying to defend the actions of the snarky SA's but it makes me sad when people decide to stop shopping at coach boutiques because of one negative SA. I don't know a single SA at my store for instance that would be negative at all. If they were they would get in big trouble for it. Even if I have the most annoying, rude, difficult customer in the world, I am polite and gracious toward her.

The other day a woman came in shopping for shoes and one of the SA's started helping her. She wanted to try on several different styles, each in several different sizes such as a 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, way beyond the normal foot's range of size variation. Dozens upon dozens of shoe boxes were opened, but that's not the problem. She was so rude towards the girl it was horrible! She would say "that's not right" and literally throw shoes, box lids, etc, at the SA. And the SA was only doing what the woman was asking. On top of all this, the woman didn't even buy anything! I was so impressed at how the SA kept her head in all of this.

I do think that the highest customer service should be provided for each customer no matter what, and I'm a big stickler for this weather I'm shopping or working. It really bothers me to hear about negative SA's, especially when I know so many who really go out of their way to make the customer happy.

As for the box issue, when something is purchased the SA will ask if you would like it gift wrapped. If you say no, there is no box. One can always request a box, however. With a return, they knew the item was for yourself, so probably didn't see the need to ask you if you would like it gift wrapped.

So, don't be distressed if you buy something that's not in a box. It's not the SA's being lazy. It's just what they're taught. It's just the way the company works. However, they should be more than happy to give you a box upon request.


Southern Girl!
Oct 3, 2008
It's so dissappointing to hear about everyone's bad experiences with the SAs. Fortunately, I have had a great experience with my local SAs. They even know me when I come in and say "Hey Girl!". And I really do think that makes me feel more comfortable buying from the boutique. I usually pick up a little something every time I walk in. I love going over there and seeing all the new stuff. And when I leave they tell me goodbye and I say "I'll be back". They always reply "I know, Girl" with a grin. I think the customer service makes a big difference in whether I purchase something or not.


O Holy Grail...
Jun 9, 2008
I'm starting to think that the good SAs are concentrated in the outlets. I hardly EVER hear of bad service at the outlets, and more and more I hear of awful service at the boutiques. I just don't get it. I'm glad you like your wallet!


Sep 16, 2008
I feel the best SAs are in the outlets too. I just called the manager of my local outlet this morning because when they did my chargesend, the receiving outlet didn't process my credit letter like they were supposed to. The manager said she would take care of giving me credit for the credit letter amount back to my cc and said she'd also add back the $10 shipping fee as a credit to my cc for the inconvenience.

Every time I go in there, half of them know my first name (pathetic I know because it means I am in there way too often) and the other half know my face and at least say hi, nice to see you again.

I am not saying my boutique is rotten, but not nearly as cheery and nice.

Nancy in VA

Bal & Legacy Lover
Aug 21, 2006
canandianstudies - your post was very well worded - I would fire off a letter to Coach telling them about your experience - they need to know that some of their salespeople need to improve their customer service and attitude. I am so sick of salespeople with attititude - dont they know the cusomer is always right?