Today I purchased several articles at a GAP store in Kentucky. I found the pair of shorts I needed very quickly with the assistance of a helpful sales team, and the shorts were 40% off clearance (hooray!)
I returned home very pleased and visited the online store to stock up on a few other items.
This is where things became very sketchy.
The website banner announced items would be 35% off until 5pm today. Having worked as a sales associate at Express*, I know most coupons of that sort don’t work on clearance items. So when I added new sale items to the cart and the website applied the discount to clearance items, I was thrilled!
I reasoned I could order the items I just purchased in store through the website and receive the extra 35% discount. I plugged in the SKU for the pair of maddie shorts — determined to get the exact same pair I bought earlier that day— and found the redline 1.4x as expensive online.
In Store: Redline was $24.99 — with the 40% off promo, $14.99.
Online: Redline was $34.99 — with the 35% off promo, $22.47.
If I had bought the shorts online and not seen the promo code, or ordered them when they were not on a flash deal, I would have paid $34.99 for a $14.99 pair of shorts.
What’s more, the “same shorts” were sized differently. In store, I bought a 29. Online, I would have bought an 8.
My frustration: Gap’s marketing online says “FINAL SALE — UP TO 75% OFF — Online and in Store.” The same giant banners hang in their store. But nothing about the pieces — price or style — is the same online and in store. As a customer, it takes at least a half-hour of research to find out the best price from this company.
Should you order online with a promo code? Or purchase in store without one? The “smart move” varies with every single item. And the company has the presumption to promote online sales when - after the online price inflation - they are barely cheaper than the redline in store.
When I called the customer service team, they would not honor their redline store price online (let alone their promotion).**
A customer should walk into a store and know they are getting the best deal on the clothing they purchase. Not have to open several tabs on their phone to figure out how not to get oversold by a company.
And yes, I know companies sometimes run deals online where items are cheaper. Barnes and Noble does this all the time. But B&N’s marketing does not tell you things are constant online and in store. If there is an online deal, B&N will list ONLINE ONLY in the item description.
So GAP, what gives?
*For the record, EXPRESS has excellent standards when it comes to giving customers the best price possible. For example, if another store runs a “test” (a promotion unique to that store), and a customer tells EXPRESS that they saw the different price, EXPRESS will honor the deal of the other EXPRESS store.
**At EXPRESS, if you order an item online (at the store) and they have a promotion in the store, the associate will call EXPRESS online and get the same deal for you.
Once you work retail for a company with great customer service and cross-store consistency, online and in store, dodgy stuff makes you feel very undervalued and unappreciated as a customer.