By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
LONDON, England — I am in London, visiting my daughter who is a recent transplant from Canada, and as anyone who has ever visited the Land across the Pond knows, no trip to the Swinging City is complete without a stop at Harrods, the world’s most lavish (and expensive) department store.
So, on Monday, Oct. 3, my daughter and I headed off to Brompton Road in Knightsbridge to pamper ourselves and traumatize my American Express card.
It had been a while since I last visited London (and Harrods), but as we wandered through the Christmas décor section, beauty products department and incredibly tempting grocery division, the all-encompassing charm of unbridled luxury and indulgent extravagance soon seduced us.
Within an hour of entering the store, we had, between the two of us, spent over 1,300 pounds, and one of the extremely well-groomed salespersons in the cosmetics department suggested we download the Harrods Rewards app so that we could start accumulating redeemable points for our purchases.
The gentleman was even kind enough to try to show us how the app worked, but for some reason, it wasn’t downloading properly, so he suggested we go to “Customer Service” on Floor Three.
And this is where, much to our chagrin, we discovered the other face of Harrods.
To begin with, we were told to take a seat and wait, which we did, for about 20 minutes, as the lady who had received us proceeded to pass people who arrived after us to the head of the line.
Finally, when there were no other people waiting, she told us to go to the desk in front of us, where a young girl by the name of Nazia asked what we needed.
We informed her that we wanted to install the Harrods app and she told us that we could do it ourselves, whereupon we explained that it was not working, either on my daughter’s British phone or my Mexican phone.
She kept insisting that we should do it ourselves until finally she agreed to help … well, help is a relative term in this case.
Nazia asked for our information and then stared blankly at the computer screen in front of her for about 10 minutes, only to inform us that, apparently, the app was not working correctly.
She assured us that she could resolve the issue and continued to ask us for more information.
Meanwhile, the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) seated next to her — who, and this is no exaggeration, was dressed in a white undershirt and pants that revealed far to much of his lower anatomy (hardly the attire you expect from a store of the caliber of Harrods) — kept asking her to resolve his cases since he apparently was not very familiar with the job.
After a full hour and a half, the man next to Nazia received his fourth customer and after, hearing what they needed, turned to her and said, “Oh, you are going to have to take care of this one.”
At this point, my patience was exhausted and I informed him, rather sharply, that Nazia was attending to us and he would have to wait until our case was resolved before she could help him.
Nazia by this time had developed some degree of compassion for my daughter and me, so she smiled at him and went back to trying to activate our account.
After another half hour, she finally informed us that the account had been uploaded, but that it was not activated and we could not know the number of our account because … wait for it … the app was not working properly.
She did, however, promise to try to activate it later in the day and contact us via email.
I have yet to receive that email.
In all honesty, I enjoyed my shopping experience in Harrods (although my Amex card would beg to differ), but I have to say that I was shocked at the lack of care and decorum in the store’s so-called Customer Service department.
You would think that Harrods would be more concerned about the brand’s global image and how its customers are treated.
I am planning on waiting one more day for Nazia’s email before calling Harrods’ public relations department, and if I do have to call them, I can’t help but wonder which of Harrods’ faces I shall see then.