Should Retailers Care About #Gaspfail in Australia? Yes

By Bob Phibbs

It was a story out of some reality show which I initially dismissed...and then found all the links to the story... I now call it the Paris Hiltonization of retail...

Woman goes to shop in store with friends. Gets inappropriate help from clerk that is seen as pushy and argumentative. Customer complains in email. Company responds rudely. Social media flares up and company takes down their own Facebook page. Company confirms details and Twitter is ablaze.

The Scoop
According to the Melbourne Weekly, “Keara O’Neil emailed Gasp on Monday after an encounter with a sales assistant at the brand’s Chapel Street store. In her email complaint, Ms O’Neil said she entered the shop on Saturday with three friends to buy bridesmaid dresses.

She said the male sales assistant ‘‘barged in’’ to her changeroom and repeatedly encouraged her to buy a dress that did not fit her.

When the customer said she’d think about it, he asked whether it was the price she was concerned about. Ms O’Neil says she reiterated that she’d think about it, allegedly prompting the response: ‘‘With your figure I really think you should buy it.”

Ms O’Neil said she got changed and quickly left – but not before a parting shot from the salesman: “Have fun finding something at Supre.”

The response though is the thing that got the attention which as much spit in the face of the complainer, not wishing her to return and not seeing them as anything other than someone who never belonged in their store or would buy anything from them. At the same time saying how celebrities love them.

Complaints soared on their Facebook page so they deleted the comments. Things got so out of hand they deleted their own page!

Now a shrewd person has setup a complaint page on Facebook with 1700 likes. People are flaming the brand to do things to the merch and the store.

The word HUBRIS comes to mind - even for an edgey brand like Gasp.

Watch the Video Coverage : Customer's Ultimate Revenge

There are a lot of moving parts in this story from the edge they want their clothes to have, their edge with who they hire, the edge with which they serve customers and respond to complaints.

Unfortunately, edges can cut you. Deeply. Especially when no apology was offered or communicated to date.

The Herald Sun just posted a screen shot of "Chris'" personal Facebook page which I'm sharing at left click to open and read his buds congrats.)

Several posters say, "No wonder people shop online." It got me thinking, maybe retailers like you reader should be exposed to this story.

[Update Friday, Gasp is lapping up the negativity as a badge against those people who aren't our customers. You can read more about their justification and love of spotlight here.]

[Final update: Gasp has said they are closing that location with no further word.]

Me? I call it the Paris Hiltonization of Retail

Apologies not given, a brand owning their rudeness, was it all a media stunt for publicity?

What would you do if you were the:

  • 1) Salesperson and customers were treating you badly.
  • 2) Shopper and salesperson was rude.
  • 3) Customer service person handling the initial email complaint.
  • 4) Person in charge of social media, i.e. Facebook

The Complaint Letter

Gasp's Response Letter

[Update: 1:30pm their Facebook page is up again and customer's just have to weigh in]

Please comment below.

The Retail Doctor's FREE Retail Assessment Tool

Where does your store excel and what do you need to fix? Find out where you stand against best practices in retail sales training, marketing, social media and more with The Retail Doctor's Retail Assessment Tool.

Start Your Assessment Now