I’ve talked in the past about some of the things I dislike (and some of the unfortunate patterns I’ve noticed) when shopping in high-end department stores and boutiques, and whenever I share one of those stories, you guys respond in kind – it seems as though we’ve all experienced genuinely rude (and sometimes downright demeaning) treatment while trying to do something as simple as buy a bag or a pair of shoes. Luxury goods should be a luxurious experience from beginning to end, but too often, it just doesn’t work out that way.

What I’d like to talk about today, though, is the complete opposite of that experience: when you go into a store where you don’t have a previous relationship with any of the sales people and everything goes exactly how it should. I like to treat myself to Fabulous Amanda Day every few months, which is a day of shopping, pedicure, lunch or whatever I want, but all to myself, no buddies allowed. (Try it, it’s so relaxing.) I was having one such day last Friday when I decided to head to Soho to look for a new pair of shoes and found myself in the Miu Miu boutique on Prince Street.

Boutique staff can often be intimidating; I’ve heard a zillion stories of people being looked up and down and then passed over for service in the stores of some of the most famous brands in the world, and I’ve even had it happen to me a handful of times. At Miu Miu, though, I was helped quickly, everyone in the store was beyond friendly and welcoming and I walked out with a pair of shoes I absolutely adore, which you can see above. (Seriously, Miu Miu’s oxfords are so comfortable and perfect, even without socks. They’re exactly what I’ve been searching for for months.)

My purchase didn’t require anyone to go above or beyond to source a product or to solve a ridiculous problem, just like most boutique visits don’t require any customer service gymnastics. All of the little stuff, though, was handled perfectly. When they didn’t have my size in stock, I was brought a size in either direction without having to ask. That might not seem like much, and it might seem like an obvious move on the part of a sales associate, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a shoulder shrug and no offer of additional assistance when I’ve hit that same roadblock elsewhere. As a result, I ended up with a pair of shoes over which I’m positively giddy and the store has earned another loyal customer.

In the spirit of Friday and all the shopping the weekend hopefully holds for all of us, let’s celebrate the great sales associates or the brands whose boutiques you love to visit the most. Who has given you a genuinely memorable luxury experience, or who simply does a great job every time you visit their store?

(Psst: My shoes aren’t available online, but if you’re looking for a pair of good oxfords, Net-a-Porter has the same shoe in stamped snakeskin for $510.)

P.S. Please consider supporting our small, bag-loving team by clicking our links before shopping or checking out at your favorite online retailers like Amazon, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, or any of the listed partners on our shop page. We truly appreciate your support!

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Alexandra Davidoff

    I looooooove those shoes! Practical and pretty.

  • Midge S

    I tried to buy a Steuben hand cooler from Neiman Marcus for my mom.   They did not have the one I wanted, the sales person called around, no luck.    They took my info, kept searching and within 3 days I had the hand cooler, hand carried/couriered to my office in time for my mother’s birthday.   It was only a $300 item but they really went the extra mile for me.   I cannot afford to shop their often, but NM still gets my business whenever I need something special. 

  • Sandra Rowley

    I used to purchase designer goods from several places, both online and in store.  It is not that I experienced terrible customer service from any of the stores in question…it was fine, but not that true “attentive exceptional customer service” that I always get from Nordstrom.  I have several people at my local Nordstrom that help me and I am never disappointed.  In the event that a purchase is not right for me, whatever the reason, they always make it right and I leave happy.  Kudos to Nordstrom and their employess for the exceptional service and return policies.  I know that I will leave happy and with things I truly love.  

    • Cate

      This. Nordstrom ladies and gents are fabulous–nice and helpful!

  • Canwill2

    I agree with Sandra below. Nordstrom has by far the best customer service. I purchased a pair of boots a few seasons ago. A week later, I saw the boots 1/2 off at another store. I happened to be out of town when this happened, but i called my Nordstrom just to see if the boots were on sale. My sales lady said “no ” and asked why. I told her I saw the boots on sale and she said no problem. She did a price acjustment over the phone without 1st verifying that I was telling the truth! Exceptional customer service at Nordstrom !!

  • Chiyong

    Honestly, the area in which I live is great because I have so many pleasant experiences that the few bad ones stick out as good customer service is the norm.  I have a few exceptionally positive experiences though that I can think of off the top of my head.  For example, today, I was shopping for a business trip and had a very attentive salesperson at Banana Republic.  Considering that this is a mall brand, someone who is able to make suggestions and follow up with me while not being overbearing is greatly appreciated.

    While traveling a few years ago, I stopped by a Barney’s on my last day and had some very polite salespeople assist me with a minor purchase (Co-op sweater and James Perse top, both on sale).  They were friendly in dialogue without it being contrived or forced.  What really escalated their customer service was that I forgot my credit card at the store.  They did not have any of my personal information, so they contacted the credit card company who in turn notified me.  I really appreciate the extra mile that they went.

    Louis Vuitton has always been amazing to me as well.  My first purchase was a Reade PM from the Robert Wilson line.  They bent over backwards for me, which was nice as I was a working teenager in my standard uniform of jeans and a t-shirt purchasing a then $500 bag and not this location’s standard customer who leaves with multiple bags of merchandise.  I purchased a mini bag charm a few years later after some other purchases there.  I initially had a salesperson (which actually turned out to be the store manager) check other stores to see if different options of materials were available for their mini bag charms.  After calling me a couple of days later to inform me that they weren’t able to locate any, I decided to purchase the suhali leather version they had in stock.  I had a different sales associate when I went into the store, but they were delightful as well.  They don’t disregard me or follow me around as if I’m a potential thief because of what I’m wearing.  If I’m just browsing that day, they don’t make me feel unwelcome and if I wish to purchase an item, there is always someone immediately available to assist.

  • Kemilia

    First off, I love those shoes! Patent oxfords will be stuck in my head until eventually I find a pair for me.

    I bought an iphone case at Norstroms last week–excellent service as usual. The Tiffanys staff is always so nice when I stop in to look at the “sparklies” and then head over to the silver side to have a bracelet repaired, sigh.

    And my local Ace Hardware–just last weekend they helped me with a problem I couldn’t handle (all I will say is that it was yucky and involved me having to buy a hacksaw)–they even handed me a notebook and pencil to draw a picture of the problem.

    I think cs is improving overall, the poor economy has maybe taught people a lesson–we need these customers!

  • FashionableLena

    I agree about Nordstrom’s customer service.  The amount of help given just for me wanting to purchase an iPhone case was phenomenal.
    Also, the Michael Kors store has great customer service as well.  I have been to several in different states and malls, and all had great customer service.

  • Jo

     Without self knowledge, without understanding the
    working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot
    govern himself and he will always remain a slave.

  • Sandy_h

    im shocked reading all these comments (and a bit jealous) – in vancouver, all the “higher end” stores have AWFUL customer service….

    • chriss

      Have you been to the Ferragamo boutique on Robson? I don’t get to go back to Vancouver very often but whenever I do I’d stop by the store and have always gotten amazing customer service, even when I’m just browsing. 
      But yes, by and large, what you said is true of most boutiques in vancouver…unfortunately! 

    • Millie

       Agreed, especially about the jealousy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a really good customer service experience in a high end store here. It’s always kind of a shock to go to the US and have customer service people actually talk to me. I bought a wallet on sale at Nordstrom in LA once — the store was super crowded and they sales people were swamped and the sales woman still found time to dig through the stock in the back of the store to find a wallet without a scratch on it for me, without me asking. It wasn’t an expensive wallet either, only about $170. I also had a great experience in the Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique in LA, even though we were sweaty and gross from walking all the way from The Grove. They were very kind and relaxed, not snooty at all. Like Amanda said, it wasn’t that they went above and beyond. They were just unexpectedly good at their jobs.

      In Vancouver I think the only place I’ve gotten really good customer service is shopping for eyeglasses. Even at makeup counters I usually have to chase someone down to get served.

  • I went shopping at the Givenchy boutique in Paris FSH during my trip there, and while the in-store experience itself was very pleasant but not exceptional, it was the after-sales service that I appreciated. I received an email from the SA that helped me, thanking me for my purchase and saying that he hoped to see me again on my next visit to the city.

    I suppose that’s SOP for him or Givenchy, but I think that was a very nice touch. I’ve left my email address with a bunch of stores and SAs before (LV, Goyard, etc.) and have never received a similar email.

  • I must congratulate Amanda and Meg for choosing to write about this subject, praising the good service of the Miu Miu boutique. More often than not we encounter snooty assistants that spoil our experience for designer splurging. I reside in Greece and although greeks are very friendly by nature you wouldn’t think so if you visited our top brand boutiques in Athens. I was very surprised to hear that you too – in NY – have similar unpleasant shopping experiences, I always considered NY as the number one destination for top service. Anyway,  the point is that by praising the good ones we encourage others “who listen”  to become better. I really hope your kind message is put accross. Oliana – starbags.eu

  • A Reader

    I have had more than my share of rudeness, racial profiling, and the like, but I have never, ever had a bad shopping experience at Nordstrom. And that is why, when I want a special treat for myself or someone I care about, I always go there first. I suppose you could say I’m a customer for life.

  • As someone who works at a clothing store that prides itself on customer service, I’m very critical when I shop at other stores. I no longer shop at the Victoria’s Secret PINK in Soho because of the rude and terrible service I received there in December (I still shop at the 34th Street store, I got great service there!). Anyway, in February I bought a cute Kate Spade iPhone case at their bus popup, and a week later, it fell out of my bag, which was on the floor, and cracked open! I brought the case to the Soho boutique, and they exchanged it, no questions asked! The sales associate was very nice and helpful, I know I’ll be going back to that location in the future.

  • Mighty Lambchop

    I went to the Chanel boutique in the Bellagio in Las Vegas last fall. I only went to buy nail polish but I was treated just like I was buying a bag. The sales assistant was so friendly, genuinely interested in my nail polish obsession and mad me feel totally welcome. She shared some Chanel history with me and we talked about the recent fall nail color collection that had sold out.
     It was such a relief to have an experience like that since I was always much too intimidated to ever set foot in Chanel. I may be brave to actually go into another Chanel store now!

  • Great post idea!

    I  was at Chanel on Worth Ave and mentioned a pair of my shoes needed new heels because I was wearing them down.  I asked where they would recommend I send them.  The National Sales Director happened to be in from New York and he asked me to drop them off the next day and he would personally take them to New York.

    Of course I fully expected a bill and was incredibly thankful.  What did I get?  Not much more than a week later my shoes arrived at home with new heels plus new leather heel and toe caps but no bill.  I offered, but no. 

    The great customer service was not in that I didn’t get a bill but in their interest in solving my problem.  What cost them very little has paid off in many additional purchases.  Chanel has my business and Claire in PB is outstanding.