Of Dushku, Marlow & Rumpelstiltskin

The shopping credits on this next photo of Eliza Dushku in Maxim (see parts 1 & 2) include Free People sweater & Catriona Mackechnie lingerie — the latter of which isn’t even a lingerie brand, but a seller of many lingerie lines. :sigh: But if that was frustrating, I couldn’t even see where the lingerie ended and the sweater began.

I contacted Free People. Their website’s 800 number is really only for assistance with orders — and decidedly not to place orders of sweater styles worn by Eliza Dushku.

I tried to get the press contact; my telephone operator had no idea what I meant. I asked for the corporate offices; they aren’t allowed to give that out (not on her script), so she referred me to the website’s contact form. Ugh.

Knowing that Free People is part of the Urban Outfitter’s family, I tried the corporate site. I called their Philadelphia, PA number. I explained that I wanted the media or PR person, that I wanted information on a sweater seen in a magazine, but I was told that I could not be connected to anyone without knowing their name.

I can only conclude that, like nearly all the rest of the folks with apparel to peddle, the Urban Outfitters retail family does not want press.

They do not give you access to such a department online. They will not assist you when you go through the effort to call them — at several numbers. They won’t list help, offer help, or help in any way unless you know the names of staff members.

I told this all to the woman who answered the Urban Outfitter’s corporate number.

She hung up on me.

I did not swear; I didn’t yell or call her names or otherwise behave like a jerk. I was obviously frustrated — in that mystified “how stupid can a company be” way.

(Tell me, how’s that Rumpelstiltskin public relations working for you, Urban Outfitters? Think it will help you meet the demands of today’s consumers in today’s economic marketplace?)

But I guess I still greatly underestimated how stupid that company can be because I was shocked when she hung up on me.

I mean here I am going to great lengths to help promote their products (something Maxim should have done in the first place), something the manufactures and retailers should be helping me to report (if not announcing it themselves), and I’m being hung up on? Honestly!

It was personal now.

I called back. I asked the same unidentified female voice for Tedford G. Marlow. (He’s the “President, Urban Retail” and I figured he’d want to know what sort of cluster-fuck this all had become.)

She wanted to know why; I slowly said that I had a problem with Urban Outfitters retail division and wanted to speak to the president. Silence. I thought she hung up on me again, but instead there was another female voice — a recorded one. I had been sent to some unknown extension, the recorded message of which said neither anything about Mr. Marlow or what the hell this woman did.

This time I hung up.

Because if I was going to have to tell the story of what had all just happened for like the hundredth time, I wanted to be sure I told it to someone who was going to give a damn.

And I’m guessing that’s you, you darling blog reader you.

Oh, and yeah, I’m using every email address and contact form I can to relay this story to parties who should be interested. From investors and board of directors to shoppers and fashion bloggers. The folks who could — who need to — do something about such marketing messes and customer service blunders likely won’t do anything. They should, but they won’t.

So it’s up to me — and I know where I won’t be shopping.

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