Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Would You Pay To Try On Dresses?
The woman on the other end of the phone is checking her diary to see when she can fit me in to try on bride dresses.
“Would midday suit?”
“And we will require a payment of £25. I can take it now if you have a credit card at hand.”
“A payment of £25.”
The staff member at Browns Bride put it a certain way.
I asked if, put simply, she meant the charge was to enter the shop and try on frocks.
She pointed out they would refund the money should I buy one of their dresses.
Browns in London now also run the exclusive Vera Wang bridal outlet. Women who want to visit both boutiques are charged twice, even though they will – unless loaded or insane – will probably only buy one dress.
That aside, surely it’s just offensive to ask for payment to enter a shop?
“Hello Miss Maxwell. I believe you are wondering why we charge customers when they make a booking?”
She explained I would be paying for a service refundable against purchase.
I asked why no other top end bridal designer shop charged – Sassi Holford, Suzanne Neville, Pronovias at Harrods or Temperley to name but a few.
And why no other service I can think of charges you to consider purchasing their products.
It doesn’t sound the sharpest thing to do while the world is in economic dire straights.
B&Q doesn’t charge you to look at their kitchens, or indeed for an hour-long appointment with a designer to show you how it would look in your home.
A car salesman invests hours every day showing customers his motors. It’s his job.
The annoying bit was, I ventured to the manageress, that friends who have been to Browns say it’s lovely.
A number of designers are showcased under one floor, which is time-effective for a bride like me who is behind schedule.
Oddly though, no one I’ve spoken to remembers paying to look at gowns.
Perhaps it’s a new thing? Would you pay? Or perhaps you have?
I sighed. “I disagree fundamentally with your policy but I tell you what, I’ll pay £25 to come to both stores.”
“Rules,” she said, “Cannot be broken.”
I countered that rules are there to be changed slightly to take into account the individual needs of the customer.
My mother was flying down, the expense of a Big Day was making my head spin – come on, let’s be reasonable, was my friendly gambit.
“Ladies fly from all over the world to come to Browns Bride and we cannot change the rules for any one person.”
I’m sure she meant it to sound exclusive but I thought it insufferably crass.
I thanked her and bid farewell.