Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Dear Austin Reed...

I was in your Bluewater store yesterday.

I do not shop very often, and I don’t do it in person, if I can help it, but my daughter was home for the half-term break and she loves to shop, so the husband and I took her out for the day.

I decided to look for shirts while I was out, because it hardly seemed fair that I should spend all day in Top Shop and Urban Outfitters with the daughter and not do some shopping for myself. I live in jeans and shirts, and I do like to look neat and tidy, so proper, fitted shirts are a must.

The only other customer in the shop was an old bloke, who didn’t buy any of the gloves that he spent several minutes groping. Nevertheless, the two young men at the counter decided that they were doing a better job talking to each other than servicing my needs, during the ten minutes that I spent looking at the various designs, colours and sizes of shirt on offer.

I liked one or two of your shirts, and might have considered trying something on, but I didn’t feel welcome in your little emporium; there was no sense that I was valued, no welcome smile or nod, let alone a word of greeting.

I don’t know what it was that put your sales staff off. I don’t know whether it was my well-groomed appearance, my newly cut hair or my manicure; I don’t know if it was my Moschino jeans, Lacoste shirt, or my Rag and Bone jacket; I don’t know whether it was my good jewelry or my Tom Ford glasses; perhaps it was the fact that, in my late forties, I’m not quite the demographic you are used to catering for; or perhaps my size twelve figure isn’t standard enough for you. Maybe the fact that I was carrying shopping bags from Armani and Calvin Klein upset your staff. 

I have no idea why I wasn’t served in your shop, and, honestly, it doesn’t much matter to me. Competition on the high street and in the shopping mall works in favour of the consumer at the moment, and, right now, I can get a discount just by paying in cash instead of on my credit card; come to think of it, I can get a discount just by being pleasant in some shops... Of course, it’s my nature always to be pleasant; it’s rather a pity the same can’t be said of the sales staff in the Bluewater branch of your business, which, should you be remotely interested, I won’t be visiting again any time soon.

With thanks...


  1. I think it might be compounded by age...I became invisible as I approached 50. I couldn't even get their attention to pay for things. Strange, since my earning potential is so much higher than theirs...

  2. For those of you in Europe I wear a size 38 and in the US about a size 6.

  3. It's not you, it's them. Over thirty years of age we become invisible, but I would still lay the blame on poor training and bad manners.

  4. Love the fact that you just showed how monied you are ;)

  5. In Waitrose in Bath yesterday I was struck by how all the men and women on the meat, fish, cheese and deli counters were polite, attentive, charming and helpful. In contrast their 'youth' colleagues, were miserable sods. The deli counter folk were all 60+.

    It's something to do with age, experience, a lifetime of understanding and appreciating manners and civility, and knowing that life isn't out to get you and that people deserve your attention and consideration.

    I was a shop worker when I were a lad, and I was a miserable sod. It doesn't excuse the Austin Reed ignorants, but I'll bet that they were both under 25.

    If not then maybe they were just gits, and there are plenty of those about if you care to look for them, which I don't.