A letter to Williams-Sonoma…

— Sent via email on Monday, December 12th to Williams-Sonoma —

Hello —

I write to Williams-Sonoma today with a heavy heart based on a recent experience at your store in the Columbia Mall in Columbia, Maryland.  After letting the emotions settle for the weekend it is something I feel I cannot let go unmentioned. 

Saturday afternoon I walked into the store at the Columbia Mall that was mildly busy, making a pit stop at the first display that I encountered.  Within a minute or two, another customer had walked in behind me and went to the area that held the espresso machines which was an area that was in front of me.  To my surprise, the staff member that was standing closest to the door said not a word to me and walked straight past me to the customer that was standing near the espresso machines and inquired if she needed any help.  The customer did, the staff directed her to the area she needed (french press was the item needed) and then the staff member walked by me again and did not acknowledge my presence.  Not a word.  She walked past me twice, within arm’s reach and said nothing, I felt invisible. 

Rattled by that unusual experience, I did my best to shake it off and continue with my shopping.   20 minutes of walking the store and looking at the wonderful items I finally came upon the item that I had been looking for.  Excited, but still uneasy as other staff members were walking around the floor and not one had made any effort to acknowledge that I was shopping in their store, I made my way to the cashier.  It was great to see that there were four registers open.  However, I picked a line that had a customer that was a “line stopper”.  Without going into too much detail — the “line stopper” was requiring a manager override on a price, and included a credit card application process.   Clearly the process was going to take longer than usual. 

I stood for over 15 minutes while all the other lines moved and other guests were checked out in on average 2 – 3 minutes.  Completely deflated that I had waited – unnoticed by any staff member but by numerous customers — patiently and without any huffing and puffing, I returned the items I had intended on purchasing to their rightful location and walked out.  To add insult to injury, as I was walking out the door (not scowling or angry looking) the same staff member that had snubbed me when I walked in looked directly at me and said NOTHING. 

First and foremost, I understand that during the holiday season customer cashier lines and the atmosphere in general is more bustling and busy.  However, my recent experience this past Saturday left me not only walking out of the store WITHOUT the items I had intended on purchasing but with the feeling that I was not welcomed into the Williams-Sonoma clientele base.   At this time, I am not confident that I would ever step foot into a store or purchase another product from Williams-Sonoma again.

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