I feel the need to clarify my post from yesterday since it seems that the intention is lost on a small few and I want to be very clear. First, I am saddened and disappointed to have to write about this because I have been a huge supporter of the Lululemon Brand. Most of my readership comes from outside of Vancouver and as such, many of you rely on the Angel Services of others. Particularly for Lab Items that are sold exclusively in Vancouver. I occasionally make posts about the Lulu Lab of items that catch my eye, or when there is news such as a new lab website with beautiful imagery of the newest items available for purchase. And as such those posts promote those items to readers which increases requests for angeling (favours from friends). I am partly responsible for the hype (which has always come from a genuine place) and I owe it to you, my readers to give you an explanation when these items are no longer available to you and why. It was a post letting you know that Angel Services for the Lab items has changed and that there are now strict limitations on 5 items per design per guest. It was also an explanation of the events that occurred.
Secondly, it was a post expressing my disappointment in how Nancy, my friend, was treated in regards to this policy. Nancy has made weekly visits to the lab for the past year and it has never been a secret that she does what she does. Some employees have been members of her facebook group. I don’t understand why the issue wasn’t discussed with her directly at an earlier time. To me, not addressing it or acknowledging it is an acceptance of it. But instead, all of a sudden there is a vibe when you go into the store, your followed around, you get grilled, you realize a file is kept about you and items are removed from your hands. Are those actions that need to be taken if your store policy is firm and transparent and clear to all? It seems to me that there is a bit of confusion and lack of commitment to the policy and a lack of decisiveness in the direction they want to take with the policy and who they want the labs client base to be. Currently the policy is (after a few edits yesterday it’s still quite vague) that “limit is based solely on availability”. If the item is still available after two weeks are we then allowed to make another purchase? Because the purchase in question was still fully stocked on store shelves when Nancy made her return visit a week later. You have a guaranteed sale here as apposed to having items sit on the shelf waiting for someone else that may or may not come. When there was a Lululemon ambassador retreat last month, the store was liquidated of inventory within a day, people were disappointed to show up at the lab and not see anything they wanted. The complaints of lack of inventory is an issue with supply and demand and Nancy simply represents the demand of these items and was unfortunately treated unfairly. I don’t see a difference with Nancy purchasing 5 items or with 3 subsequent customers coming in and buying 15 and clearing out the shelves. The 4th customer is still disappointed with no circle scarf and it’s not anyones fault. It’s no secret that the regular Lululemon stores operate on the scarcity model and that stores are often sold out of items within hours of boxes being opened. The Lab continues to emphasise the point that they have limited runs and limited time. If the lab is trying to limit up selling on ebay then they should allow phone orders or charge holds were they can control the pricing, know the client they are serving to and not have to worry about implementing ecomm or deal with shipping. Local pickups. Nancy would then simply be doing what she is already doing, and Lululemon is still selling to individuals and the perception has changed. Seriously though, what a problem for a company to have. Yes there are growing pains with the expansion that is happening but don’t allow the customer to be the collateral damage here. If the Lab is meant to be a museum experience then they need to clarify that and be forthcoming and clear with the policies and their statements.
Physically removing items from someones hands crosses personal boundaries and is degrading and embarrassing. The practice of limiting purchases or restricting shoppers is not illegal by any stretch and it is not the customers fault when the policy is vague and unclear. We are simply there to shop and go about our business in our merry way. In the end, it is Lululemon’s prerogative how they chose to do business. Why post this part of the story publicly? because it is relevant to my readers and it holds the company we offer our money to accountable and opens up the discussion. Lululemon is a corporation and we shouldn’t feel badly or shy away from offering feedback that may hurt their feelings or their image. I think sometimes we get clouded by the culture/mantra/manifest and need to remember we are still paying money for the items we purchase and we want to feel good about those purchases and not badly.
I have faith in Lululemon and know that in the end they will do right by their customers that enthusiastically purchase items eagerly on ‘Upload Thursdays’. It’s not a matter of ranting at Lululemon over not getting to purchase an item that I missed out on, it’s the principle of how the customer is treated and valued. I expect them to be as great as I know they can be and great like they were when the client base was much smaller. Expand your policies and customer service to meet the large scale of customers you are now serving.
“Listen, listen, listen and then ask strategic questions” Lululemon Manifesto.
Lululemon has made a statement on the main facebook page that expresses there wishes to resolve this issue privately with this statement:
We appreciate all of you reaching out to share your feedback, and we’re very disappointed to see so many of you upset. As mentioned previously, the lab is a much different concept from the rest of our stores in that everything is designed and created in store. They don’t have the capacity to create in larger quantities than what they do now, and aren’t able to order more stock if things sell out quickly.
To ensure a fair opportunity for everyone, a limit is placed on items purchased for all guests at the lab. The limit on items is not a new policy and one that we feel is fair based on the intent of the lab, as well as plain old product availability. The lab is happy to see their designs make their way across the world; the limit is based solely on availability and is not limited to just one person.
Anytime one of our guests has a negative experience at any one of our stores, we work with the store and with that guest to take his or her feedback and try to work with that guest to find a resolution. Since this is an issue about a particular experience with one of our guests, it will be handled privately between the guest and the lab. We ask that you please respect the lab while they deal with this issue with this particular guest privately. As always, we welcome your feedback, and if you wish to share details of your own personal experience, please feel free to share that feedback here: http://www.lululemon.com/feedback/.