Friday, December 16, 2005

chic bust: galeries lafayette return policy

to be fair, galeries lafayette does try to go the extra mile to welcome foreigners/tourists to its shops-- with welcome staff that speak multiple languages, 10% discount cards for tourists, etc. however, i had to have a laugh at their return policy, spelled out in detail in their big christmas catalog. the page i am referring to is titled "le client est roi" [the client is king], which would make one think that they are adopting the american customer service attitute.....but this is one of the listings:

Remboursement de la Difference: Si vous trouvez moins chers ailleurs, avec la meme offre de services, nous vous remboursons la difference, dans un delai de 30 jours, sur presentation du justificatif d'achat.

Translation--
We will reimburse the difference: If you find it cheaper elsewhere, with the same offer of services, we will reimburse the difference within 30 days, with proof of purchase.

on first read, it sounds dandy and fair. but read closer-- the second part of the sentence, reading "...with the same offer of service...," sounds a bit ambiguous to me. and probably one of those french things where they would rather argue over the subtlties of their return policy for hours rather than give you your money back....

anyone out there actually tried to use this policy? let us know....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

chic shopping tip: press sales

here is the lowdown on the press sales in paris. if you work in PR or fashion or have good connections, you can get invited to advance sales, which happen several weeks before the twice-yearly sales. [translation-- they are happening now!] we went to a zadig & voltaire sale the other day, where scads of hip-but-nearly-identically-dressed young women were waiting out in the cold to get in-- only to find out that the cashmere, zadig's hot item of the moment, had all been snapped up by the first few who got in. lucky for me, i had baby lucie in the stroller, and got to enter tout de suite, bypassing the line and drawing some very mean stares from the hipsters in the cold.

not on the invite list? well, if you see a big line of greedy looking girls huffing and puffing in the cold, ask what sale it is and jump in the line. might be worth it, if you have the time. and make friends with store employees and sign up for mailing lists whenever you can.

mode & merveilles sale this weekend

looking for unique holiday gifts? stop by the winter salon held by mode & merveilles, a cooperative of up-and-coming designers. funky clothing, bags, jewels and more are on sale--check their site for ideas of what they offer. saturday, december 10th from 11am to 9pm and sunday from 11am to 7pm.

9 /11, cour Debille - 75011 Paris
Métro Voltaire

quick curls

as you probably know by now, french women are as into their "brushing" as big apple girls are into getting their hair blown-out. to follow this season's trend in curls, sephora champs elysees, the headquarters of the mega beauty emporium, has a special deal going on. stop by the style lounge frederic fekkai [named after French hottie hairdresser to the stars], and in 20 minutes you'll have a head full of curls. [11am to 9pm] the price? 12 euros! quel bargain! and while you are there, check out the other quick beauty fixes-- the brow bar, quick peeling center, etc.

Friday, October 28, 2005

fall sale: mode et merveilles

this just in: a sale of cool stuff by up and coming young french designers on nov. 5 & 6-- see info. on their site, mode et marveilles

chic bust: returns at monoprix

ok, so i frequent my monoprix on an almost daily basis-- i mean, 3 times a week, minimum. most of the cashiers know me by now, and even watched me go through my pregnancy and no know baby lucie. anyway, a few weeks ago i had purchased a storage bag to stash away a bunch of baby clothes. as soon as i tried to zip it up, the zipper broke-- basically, it looked nice, but was a piece of crap. so i finally got around to taking it back today, receipt and all. had to wait in line, then had to wait for a manager that i'd never seen before to do the return. she frowned at the date on the ticket, then opened up the storage bag to see what i'd done with it. i had explained the situation, the faulty product. she didn't seem to believe me, and even had the nerve to say to her colleague that she thought that 'madame had tried to put too much stuff inside the bag before zipping it up,' not caring that i was standing right in front of her. she then proceeded to give me the refund, not at all pleasant about it.

what i want to know is this: since when do workers at monoprix get personally offended about the quality of the merchandise? i mean, really, did she make the darn thing herself? will she loose money on it? non, non, et non!

and the best part is that they have a new ad campaign that promises to make your experience more comfortable, more sincere, more friendly. hah!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

chic bust: new petit bateau store

ok, so when will these stores get it? a lovely new petit bateau store opened up by my place a few months ago, and me being a jeune mere, i was quite excited. i've been in the shop a few times w/ my daughter in the baby bjorn, but this time i took the pousette [stroller], and realized something that i had not noticed before-- that the baby stuff is all the way in the back (inconvienient), and that to get there, you have to navigate a step, go a few more meters, and then navigate two more steps, then two more. i do consider myself a citified stroller pusher, and can do buses, curbs, etc. with the stroller with ease. but why try to make a shopping experience more complicated?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

fashionable betting

ok, so we all know plenty of online time-wasters, from reading up on the starlets of tomorrow on celebrity baby blog to checking out the daily offerings on shefinds or dailycandy. well, i've just read about an even bigger, more interactive time waster-- the fantasy fashion league. similar to the fantasy football stuff american men have been playing for years, you sign up, join a team, and set about predicting which designers will get the most 'play' at events like the oscars and emmys. the motivation? besides getting you through a slow friday afternoon at work, the winner gets a $1000 dollar shoe shopping spree at zappos.com.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

build-a-bear parisian style

you've seen it in malls across the US-- the cute store that lets you create your very own teddy by picking out his fur, his stuffing, adding a little satan heart, and then watching him get stiched up and come to life. well, enfin, this cuddly concept has arrived in the city of light. galeries lafayette has opened a bulid-a-bear workshop in its haussman store in paris. and if your child should ever loose his/her cherished teddy, the bear has a barcode inside to make sure it gets back to its rightful owner. ahhhh, the comfort of technology.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

chic must: sushiland

now this is customer service-- a new sushi resto opened in my 'hood, and we tried it a few months after it opened. since we have the baby, we decided to see if they do take out, which is rare in paris. sushiland (154 rue Faubourg St. Antoine, 12th; 014.46.28.03.22) happily obliged, had our order ready within minutes, included all the relevant condiments, etc., and gave us free beers because our order was to go [often, in France, you pay a cheaper price for things that you take out-- they gave us free drinks instead, which was fine.] food was great too, which makes it all the nicer. went back again by myself last week for the second time, and not only did the guy recognize me and baby lucie, but sat us down, gave me tea and muchies while he prepared the order! vive la sushiland!

Friday, September 16, 2005

chic bust: airfrance airport lounge

so i am a bit obsessed with baby-friendly things at the moment, but i guess that's what happens when you become a new parent.... anyway, baby lucie had her first trip to the US last week. on the way there, we enjoyed the air france business lounge at the de gaulle airport. decent spread of breakfast goodies, nice chairs, etc. overall, not a bad place to wait for your flight. unless you have a cranky baby. who needs to be changed. would there be a baby changing station anywhere nearby? of course not! do they have showers for weary business travellers? sure. would they have something as simple as a foldable changing station that easily mounts on the wall in the bathroom? no! my husband claims that this is because the lounge is really for 'business travellers'-- but i have to say, there were plenty of kids there and babies have to pay to fly too [lucie even has her own frequent flyer card]....

chic bust: inconvienient baby shopping at Okaidi and BHV

ok, we'd assume that those who design stores for babies and kids would have their parents in mind as well, right, as we are the ones with the wallets!? not so....the other day in okaidi [next to square trousseau, paris 12th], i had my 3 month old in a baby carrier. i waltzed in to the big chain store to peruse their baby clothes. not only did i have to walk through the entire 'big kids' department, but then i had to go down to the basement to see the baby stuff. a bit annoying with the baby carrier, as this baby is getting heavy! [the first time i went into the store i had the stroller with me, got annoyed that the baby department was downstairs, and left!] this time, once downstairs, i begin to realize that i'm getting a backache looking at the clothes-- and i realize that it's because the baby clothes have all been hung at baby height-- i.e., 2 feet off the ground! --bending constantly while trying to keep your baby from falling out of the baby carrier, not a fun thing. and what kind of baby would be down there looking at clothes him/herself anyway? baby lucie is very fashionable, but it will be a while before she is checkng out the racks herself....

and now on to BHV, which i frequent regularly. BHV is in the midst of a major renovation, moving thier departments all around, renovating others, etc. so yeah, it is harder to get around that usual with the stroller. but not only did they make the special kiddie/nursery bathroom a 'public' bathroom [meaning that there is always a huge line now], they also moved their baby stuff from the 2nd up to the 5th floor! now, i've practiced taking the stroller up the escalator a bunch, but 5 flights is a bit much... and even if i had a child who was walking, it would be tiresome dragging him/her through the entire store.

would the store designers out there think about making things baby/mommy friendly? after all, moms buy for baby and but also for themselves....and goodness knows that we need all the help we can get when trying to drag a baby around the city to go shopping!

chic must/ chic bust

after living in paris for 3+ years, i've come to see customer service [or lack thereof] and either a "bust," someplace to completely avoid, or a "must," someplace where i'm sure to get the customer service i deserved for my hard-earned euros....with that in mind, i'm going to post on the musts/busts of my daily life in paris, a vous de jouer.....

Monday, September 12, 2005

"vintage" at printemps

as we have seen in countless magazines featuring mk olsen & sadie frost, vintage is big this fall. so instead of scouring the racks of musty duds at your thrift store, you might opt for an easier (albeit, less fun) route. printemps, one of the big grands magasins in paris, has taken the dirty work out of vintage shopping. their expo, tresors vintage, features patent leather bags and shoes, jackets in worn-in velvet, and embroidered 70s looking duds. from sept. 8 to oct. 8, printemps haussman, 64 blvd haussman, 9th.

your own personal sneaker

ok, so monograms are big-- i mean, in the US last christmas, every little thing from a keychain to a ll bean boat-and-tote to a bathrobe could be found with a big swirly monogram. what is the obsession with having something [or everything?] with your initials on it? maybe it's because it looks chic-er-- like it was made just for you, or at least you had put your mark on it somehow. monograms make something ordinary look unique, or at least a bit different from your neighbors. nike now introduces a way for the bold (and those with a modicum of style sense) to go one step further-- nike id allows you to custom choose the colors and design of your bag/watch/shoes to make something truly unique. top it off with your initials, bien sur, and you have an originial piece of fashion history. at least until they go out of style, that is.

chic sports gear

in the US, former models design yoga & exercise gear for brands such as puma-- in france, they go one step further and have real fashion gurus designing the stuff. nathalie rykiel, daughter of grande dame of fashion sonia rykiel, and famous in her own right for her chic sex-toys sold alongside her titilating lingerie, introduces her version of comfy, elegant yoga and pilates gear. the line is called karma rykiel body & soul, and features yummy items as cashemire wrap sweaters, silk jersey workout pants, and even yoga mats. so the truly chic will never have to sacrifice style for good karma. opens sept. 15 at 6, rue de grenelle, paris 7th.

post-baby blogging

as some astute chic shopping fans have noticed, i've been on a bit of a hiatus this summer--well, more of a maternity leave, actually- after the birth of chic bebe lucie. lucie is now 11 weeks old, and finally allowing her mum some time to get back to the blogosphere, so stay tuned for more regular updates on shopping and customer service in the city of light....

Sunday, June 12, 2005

up&coming designer sale in montmartre

those-in-the-know know that there are several up&coming designers in the montmartre area of paris....and the best way to discover them all is coming up at a sale from 16-19 june. check out local favorites such as pamp'lune [for kids], gaspard de la butte [women's fashion], emmanuelle zysman [accessories], anis, patricia louisor, and futurware lab, all on sale! a taste of the sales before the big sales.....

location: paroisse de saint-jean de montmartre [access from the rue andre antoine], place des abesses, 18th arrondisement, from june 16-19.

Friday, June 10, 2005

closing of a paris shopping temple

la samaritaine department store, built in 1905 on the banks of the seine at pont neuf, will be closing for at least 6 years, it announced yesterday. apparently the structure of the building is in such bad shape that it will need 3 years to study the structure and another 3 to update and make renovations. so shoppers beware, as of june 15, you'll have to cross the samaritaine off your list. tant pis-- and just before the sales!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

the soldes!!

Dreaming of investing in a classic French handbag or drooling over a cute little dress in that left bank boutique? This is the time to go bargain-hunting in Paris. Shops, department stores, and boutiques all over France will be celebrating in the soldes, the government-regulated sale period that takes place twice a year. (Note that sale dates differ by region; dates above are specifically for Paris.) Prices are first dropped by 20-30% and decrease as the weeks go by, often ending up at 70% off the original price. Chic Shopping Paris’ advice: get to the stores early for the best selection; try the items on before the sale period (if possible) to save yourself time during the sale; and dress in layers—fitting room lines are often horrendous and shops are often overheated. Bon shopping!

The details: from 24 june to 23 july [about 6 weeks long] at shops, boutiques, and department stores all over Paris

Thursday, May 19, 2005

paris faves?

do you have a favorite paris boutique, museum, or performing arts place? i am in the midst of updating a travel guide on paris, and with a city this size, it is nearly impossible to narrow down the choices! so if you have faves, put up a post and let us know!

chic & cheap at h&m

after lagerfeld's outstanding success designing a line for cheap chic emporium h&m, designer stella mccartney has been tapped to do the same this november.....so mark your calendars, girls, and get ready to line up. [i went to one of the paris branches of h&m on the day lagerfeld's collection launched, and for the most part, it was gone within hours.] happy shopping!

Friday, April 29, 2005

heures d'ouverture [or should i say 'fermature'??]

for the most part, life in france isn't that hard to get used to-- retail wise, that is. there are, however, just a few things that would make life oh-so-much easier for those of us who are errand- and shopping- obsessed.

if they asked me how to give the french retail economy a boost, my first idea would be to make all lunch closing hours the same. now, i don't mean that there should be some big legislation on when merchants can and cannot close-- we already have plenty of red tape going on here in france-- but it would be nice, say, if merchants would talk to their neighbors and just kind of agree to all keep the same hours. this would clear up mountains of confusion for the working folks who try to squeeze in an errand or two after lunch, and it would cut down on frustration too. i walked to a shop on the other side of my arrondisement the other day at 2.15pm, thinking i was safe from the dreaded lunch hour closed door. no luck. they didn't open back up until 2.30pm. now, if this wasn't a rainy day and i weren't 7+ months pregnant, i would've waited it out. instead, i huffed and puffed my way home, vowing never to go back. the worst part was that all the surrounding shops were open.

the other big debate is sunday shopping... after being here for 3 years, i 'd like to think that i've gotten used to nearly everything being closed on sunday, but i haven't. it is just plain frustrant to want to be able to get some groceries or drop off the drycleaning on a sunday afternoon, and not be able to. even a half day on sunday would do, and i swear businesses would boom. just look at the few sundays a year when the shops are open, during the sales. stores are packed, customers happy and shiney. so please, someone out there, think towards the future, towards keeping the little shops open....or we will all be forced to drive out to the burbs to go to the huge hypermarche that is open 7/7.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


provencal fabrics at l'isle sur la sorgue
Posted by Hello

marche at l'isle sur la sorgue
Posted by Hello

the chic shopper does provence

Along with fabulous food, inviting sunshine, and chilled rosé wine, Provence holds many treasures for the shopper. Before your trip, check the website of the ville you are visiting or stop by the tourist office when you arrive to get the weekly marché schedule—markets in Provence are particularly inviting and are a bargain hunter’s delight.

At the markets, you’ll find great deals on everything from handmade soaps [including the famous savon de Marseille] and lavender sachets & bouquets to gorgeous Provencal fabrics by the meter and made up into table clothes, baguette holders, pillows and more. The south of France is also the place to stock up on Provencal pottery with its bright colors and patterns and the santon figurines that are used in Christmas nativity scenes.

Don’t forget to leave some room in your carryon for the delicieux artisanal jams, pestos [called “pistou” in these parts], and tapenades—all the yummy flavors of the south, packaged for you to enjoy later chez vous or at an impromptu picnic. Large bags of herbes de provence, a blend of several different herbs used in Provencal cuisine, also make great gifts.

Other regional foodie specialties include calissons from Aix-en-Provence [diamond-shaped sweets made from preserved melon and almonds], Avignon’s papalines [oregano liqueur chocolates], and Carpentras’ berlingots [hard candies in various flavors]. Olive oil is also a big production in this region, along with wine [especially rosé], and liquorish-flavored Pastis.

To carry it all home? Buy a traditional market basket with leather handles or some of the newer versions in fun, bright colors. And if you aren’t over your weight limits yet, snatch up a set of Petanque [or “boules”] to play in your yard when you get back, to remind you of the laid back lifestyle in this part of France.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

the scents of paris

Paris has long been known for its famous perfumes—and, indeed, it is probably one of the most purchased souvenirs from the City of Light. While you can find a wide range of the popular names at the grands magasins (or even at duty free!), the off-the-beaten-path perfumeries hold scented treasures that are not to be missed.

In the left bank’s St. Germain area, start with cult-status favorite Iunx (48-50 rue de l'Université, 7th), which sells over 60 unique fruity and woodsy fragrances that you won’t find all over town. Touch a button or lever to spritz the scent into the air or try one of the sniffing stations in this sleek modern boutique. Looking for something a bit more traditional? Stop into the bourgeois boutique Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier (84bis rue de Grenelle, 7th) to sample some intoxicating fragrances, inspired by travel and nature and using only the highest quality ingredients. An added bonus? They also sell beautiful gloves, in honor of the 17th century tradition of a king’s advisor selling both items to tout Paris.

For some more interesting olfactory research, pop over to Frederic Malle (37 rue de Grenelle, 7th). Monsieur Malle considers himself an “editor” of perfumes and has gathered nine top noses to create scents under his brand, Editions de Parfums. The vendeuse in the shop will ask you about your current fragrance habits, the type of scents you like, etc., and will then propose a few perfumes for you to try. Don’t get too excited though—while the scents are strong and very unique, you probably won’t be allowed to smell them all, for fear of contaminating your nez.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"leche vitrine"-- a favorite pasttime

leche vitrine has got to be one of my favorite french expressions-- literally, it means "window licking" but is the equivalent of the american expression "window shopping." as these last few weeks of winter drag on, doing a bit of window licking is a great morale booster and reminder that printemps is soon on its way. the soldes are finished, making way for bright and inspiring colors. [nevermind that it is snowing in paris and we can't really wear the new stuff in the boutiques....] minty and lime greens, baby and fuschia pinks, khakis and bright whites are all over the place here. pink seems to be making it's comeback for the ump-teenth year in a row, but that's okay-- it feels fresh, once again, and the melody playing alongside it is "april in paris." my advice for beating the winter doldrums? bundle up, put on your most comfortable kitten heels, and hit the pavements for a bit of drooling over the new spring things.

Friday, February 04, 2005

starbucks invades paris: bien ou pas?

like many americans in paris, i was secretly thrilled when starbucks announced its opening in paris last year. since then, i've been there on occasion, to relish a superhot extra large boission or a muffin, treats from home. although it seemed destined to become a hangout for the local expat community, more and more french have taken a liking to it as well.

last week i had a starbucks craving and so i stopped by the odeon branch after a long day of shopping tours. i was surprised to find that not a single table was open, and in fact, i had to wait to get a chair. gaggles of girls from the nearby lycee made up a few tables, as did neighborhood college students and the random american student. for the most part, though, it seemed like the french way outnumbered the americans.

is this a good thing? will the french abandon their cafes for overpriced, 5 euro coffee drinks? je ne crois pas. is it the latest trend from the US? i think so. i still have mixed feelings about it, and as long as it doesn't replace the neighborhood cafe, pas de probleme. the most pathetic scenerio, i believe, is seeing tourists, in paris for only a limited time, lining up to pay beaucoup for a latte, when they could be paying half the price and gaining oodles of ambiance by going to a nearby cafe. if you are just grabing a hot cup of joe to take with you on your stroll along the quais, great. but if you want to see the real paris, sit in a cafe and watch the city go by.

Friday, January 21, 2005

hermes: the sale

during the 'soldes' in paris, several big brands have off-site locations. one of the most infamous is hermes, held in an old theater [salle graveau] on rue de la boetie. it is only slightly advertised in french newspapers, so those in the know know to call the store on fbg st honore before the sales start to get the special sale dates. this year it is a week long, from the 17th to the 21st of january.

upon entering the sale, you are asked if you are wearing any hermes merchandise, which is duly noted on a little card that you are given. you are also handed another card, which, in no less than 4 languages, tells you that it is strictly forbidden to resell hermes sale merch and that all sale items carry an identifiying "S" mark.

this is a serious sale, and by this i mean that you had better have your elbows out, ready to push and shove your way to your chosen item or items. prices are pretty good-- the classic twill carre scarves which are about 250 euros in the stores are 135 euros at the sale. [some of the models sold this year can be seen on ebay for $500+!] ties are 63 euros and great leather cuff bracelets run from about 90 euros up. what else is there? everything from pret-a-porter to beach towels to shoes and belts.

but the focus is on scarves, scarves, scarves. to do the scarves justice, one must move around the giant square counter, looking at nearly every pattern, unfolding it, throwing it back, and asking the person next to you to change places with you so that you may move on down the line. looking for something specific or love the scarf that just got snatched by the lady next to you? ask the sales ladies-- they will search the piles for you and even make suggestions. another tip: if you are a big fan or if you can't find what you want on one day, go back. they put out new merch everyday, so try, try again!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

my favorite stop for gifts

ever since i found the fragonard boutique several years ago, it has become a favorite stop for gift-buying and a place that clients love-- hardly any woman can enter without buying something. fragonard is a perfumerie that has been around since 1926 with factories in the south of france. they have great smelling soaps for 3.50 euros [my fave are the ones that say 'madame' and 'monsieur' on the back], natural scents for around 18 euros, embroidered travel 'pochettes' [check out the ones with the astrological signs on them in french] and pillow cases, etc. and the packaging is classic and refined but just a bit fun. my absolute favorite part of making a purchase here is the simple yet elegant way in which they quickly giftwrap it for you-- usually using two tones of simple tissue paper with their logo on a sticker. in all, gifts that guarantee an instant smile on anyone's face and utterly french. can't get enough of your favorite scent? check out their website-- they ship worldwide.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

doing the soldes

as most of you chic shoppers out there know, paris only has big sales twice a year-- once in january and once in june/july, for a period of 4 weeks each time. this is regulated by the french government, not sure why exactly, but something to do with giving everyone an equal chance in this socialist society. anyway, the sales are only announced a few days beforehand, although by living here for a few years, you get some idea of when they will start.

this year's january sales started wednesday, jan. 12. by this date, pros and shopaholics have attended the by-invite-only advance private sales and sensibly stay off the streets the first day of the sales as it is utter madness. the french save up vacation days to be able to hit the sales first day, and tourists flock to the city as well. although i had done some advance shopping, i still couldn't resist the leur and was out and about doing a bit of babyclothes shopping with a friend.

starting in st. germain, i arrived early to see lines outside of several shopping hotspots. these shops were not even yet open, but the queues were 10s of people deep, dying to get their grubby hands on whatever bargains they can find. armai, paule ka, tod's, and eric bompard all had loads of people outside. are there really big bargains, though, you ask? i think it all depends. if you are not at all finicky, then perhaps you'll find a bunch of stuff that you can't live without. i find that if you don't plan in advance and decide what exactly you are going after, you end up with a bunch of stuff that you don't need. [well, do we need any of it, really? that's a whole different discussion....]

the first days of the sales, the reductions are only 30-50%. they increase as the weeks go by, but then again, if you wait, the must-have item might have disappeared. my advice? go before the sales, try on what you want and make a plan. avoid the department stores on the first few days and seek out out-of-the-way branches of the shops you like, as they are likely to be less crowded. happy bargain hunting!

Monday, January 10, 2005

return story no. 2

our apartment being hundreds of years old, we don't have central heating. so when our trusty heat-blasting portable heater broke down 2 weeks shy of its warrenty expiring, you can bet that stan the frenchman and i hightailed it back to BHV to see what oculd be done. we first entered the main store, heater trailing behind us in our granny cart, to be told that we needed to go to the apres-vente shop, a few doors down. no problem. we arrive, and it looks like a proper shop where you take household appliances to be fixed, prices mounted on the wall and all. stan goes up to explain the problem, show the warrenty, BHV guy says that no problem, they'll send it back to the company to see what can be done. it should be back in 3 weeks or so.

now, when i heard 3 weeks, alarm bells went off in my head. this was our main heater. it is january. suprisingly mild at the moment, but that could change at any second. i bellied up next to stan and told BHV guy that this was not acceptable. stan started to blush, afraid of my americanstyle tirade that was to ensue. i calmly explained that:
1. i was 4 months pregnant and
2. that it was january and this was our main heat source and that
3. they needed to give us a replacement for the one they were sending away, as it was not at all our fault that the appliance was faulty.

stan blushed some more. BHV guy said no way. i thought through my tried-and-true french 'negotiation' skills---first, be polite and ask what you want; if that doesn't work, appeal to the emotional level by givng them a sob story [see above]; and if that still doesn't work, argue until you are blue in the face and have everyone in the store staring at you. if this doesn't work, ask for the responsable and start again.....

as i'd followed all of the above, i asked for his responsable [manager], and was told that he would tell me the same thing. i said fine, but i wanted to hear that from him. BHV guy left and came back, a heater trailing behind him. i smiled. stan blushed and whispered to me that we didn't really want to take this thing back with us, did we? and i said no, it was just the principle of the matter. i didn't really care about the heater [well, i did, but it wasn't the same as what we had just left for repair and it was huge!], i just wanted the effort to be made, because i knew it could.

bottom line here: if you don't get what you want in french store/boutique/ restaurant/office, try the steps i've outlined above. hopefully you won't ever get to the third part, whic is great and we love france when things work smoothly. but if they don't, try, try agin.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

customer service-- does it exist in paris?

i've been back in paris for a week or so, always a bit of an adjustment period after being in the US-- land of fastfood filled airports and, sigh, easy returns. spend some time in my hometown buying and returning, just for the joy of being able to do so with ease. -- buying on impulse, finding the item useless or ugly or cheaper elsewhere, then returning it with no hassle.

during my purchased-filled xmas vacation, i wore my new chic parisian boots. until one day i could no longer remove them, the zipper pull having completely fallen off. i pried them off, chucked them in the bag and decided to deal with them in paris.

so as i said, i've been back for a week-ish, and decided it was time to muster the courage/energy/frenchspeakingskills to return said pair of boots. jumped on the metro, boots and receipt-- critical piece of info. here, as the boots were only just over a month old-- and plumped up my feathers, ready for battle at the shoe store minelli.

i was pleasantly surprised to find the vendeuse helpful [although not friendly at all], and told me to pick another pair of boots for an exchange, as they no longer had the first style in stock. hmmm. really liked first pair of boots, but ok. tried on everything in the store in my size, with help of serviceable saleswoman, who kept retreating down the stairs to fish out other pairs that i might like. after about 30 min. of this, i decided what i really still wanted was my boots, the ones i had come in with. i asked her if it would be possible to call the other branches of the store. as it was nearing lunchtime, she said it would take a while, but she would try. i volunteered to return in a hour. i did, and alas, no boots were found, and i ended up with a pair that i didn't like quite as much, but hey-- the important point here was that i didn't have to beg, scream or plead to get my way and i was relieved to the point that i practically skipped my way out of the store.

moral of the story? if you find a shop that is accomodating and easy to work with in france-- stick with it! minelli will now be on my top ten list of favorite shops, for this very reason. and yeah, i know, there is a certain je ne sais quoi allure going on in the snotty, we-won't-help-you-until-we've-finished-our-cigarette-and-even-then-maybe-not salesperson in some boutiques, and it can be fun if you are just visiting. but living here means that you expect a little more, and might even go out of your way to get it.