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I'm not sure if I fit into the mould of "typical woman". Typical woman would probably mean me having wardrobes and wardrobes of clothes and enjoy shopping for them. Well, I don't. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a miserable sod who dresses like a tramp(!) I just buy a few quality items and that's that. My particular hate, is buying stuff that I'll never wear again - stuff that's destined to hang in the back of the wardrobe for all eternity.
On that sort of line, earlier in the year (May) I was invited to my best friend's wedding (there's a film there somewhere!) Now as you can probably guess, I don't have a wardrobe stuffed full of wedding outfits! I was going to have to face up to the horrible truth that I would have to buy something dressy (and potentially destined for the depths of the wardrobe afterwards). My other half also pointed out that he was going to need a new shirt and trousers too. The thought of a trip into town shopping filled me with horror, so I decided to flick through a couple of catalogues (for "inspiration" if nothing else!.
I'd ordered a La Redoute catalogue a few weeks earlier. My friend had told me they sold duvet covers with little sheep on (bit sheep obsessed, me - don't ask) and I'd got the catalogue for this sole purpose. I hadn't ordered anything though and the catalogue had been languishing under my bed since then. The catalogue itself is quite a thick book, but perhaps not as thick as some catalogues I've encountered. This is because they mainly concentrate on clothes. There is a homewares section (bedlinen, curtains etc) but this isn't really that significant.
I have to admit, that on flicking through the catalogue I was quite impressed. There were a wide range of styles - casual wear/jeans/combats (just my style) and more dressy/workwear, as well as the usual underwear and shoes. The prices weren't excessive - kind of average I thought. Ok, so not everything was to my taste, but all the same I whittled it down to a couple of outfits and then eventually down to one. My boyfriend also decided to order a shirt and some trousers. It was all going well so far.
There were a few methods of ordering. I could either fill in and send off the form that I received with the catalogue (pre-pc, this is exactly what I would have done), phone through the order (I wasn't in a talkative mood!) or even fax my order form. It certainly seemed that they had all bases covered. La Redoute certainly aren't an internet only based company. They do have a few items on their website, but the site really seems to be there as a backup to the catalogue. However, since I seem to spend my entire life on line nowadays, I decided to go for the on line option. This, as it turns out may not have been the best plan!
In order to place my order, I logged onto the website (www.redoute.co.uk). I had to sign up for what they call "My Account" which basically involved filling in a few details and then receiving a confirmation email with a password. Sounds simple enough doesn't it. So I waited for the confirmation email. Nothing. Went downstairs to watch EastEnders. Nothing. In the end I gave up for that evening (annoyed!) and decided to wait until the next day. Nothing. In the end, I sent an email to the site and the FOLLOWING DAY received my confirmation email with my password.
Now this, dear reader, is where I was a little dumb (in retrospect). I should have heard the alarm bells ringing, I should have hopped on the bus, gone into town and forced myself to drag round the shops. Believe me, it would have been less hassle. But no, ever the optimist (and far too bloomin trusting by half) I submitted my order. I received an email back straight away this time, confirming what I had ordered. I should probably at this point mention that La Redoute do charge for delivery. This is a one off charge of £2.95 per order, which although an additional cost, seems fairly reasonable. As this was my first order however, delivery was free.
The parcel was delivered about three days later, which I thought seemed fairly speedy. I eagerly ripped open the parcel to get at the contents. Yes, there were all my items - a skirt and a matching top for me and a shirt and a pair of trousers for my boyfriend. I wasn't disappointed with the quality of my items - pleasantly surprised in fact. I rushed upstairs to try my new outfit on. Aaaargh! Had I put on weight?! The skirt was fine, but the top seemed to be ahem...under rather a lot of strain in the front area! It was so tight, I nearly ripped it getting it off. Now I am a size 16 "up top" and this top was a 12! I couldn't believe it - they'd sent the wrong size!! I was pretty annoyed, but figured there was a few weeks yet until the wedding, so there'd be time to get it sorted. I phoned them and they agreed to send another. They were polite, but unapologetic (the norm these days!). My boyfriend tried on his stuff later, but he was distinctly unimpressed. The trousers really did seem pretty poor quality - really thin, so we decided to send those back too. La Redoute operate a scheme where you phone your "local operative" who will come and collect your parcel. I arranged for the parcel to be picked up the next day, which it duly was.
Are you still awake...??! Anyway a whole week passed this time and eventually parcel number two turned up. Again, I eagerly (though not quite so eagerly as the first time) ripped it open to find.... THEY HAD SENT ME THE EXACT SAME SIZE AS LAST TIME!!! It might even have been the same top!! Now I am normally quite a chilled person, but I was pretty incredulous and annoyed by this. I phoned again and this time got through to someone who, quite frankly, couldn't have cared less about what had happened. I didn't expect miracles, but an apology might have been nice. I was told that they could send me the correct size but...get this.... there would be an eight week wait! Utterly useless for the wedding. Fuming, but calm, I explained this and also explained that I would send back the skirt also, as it was about as much use as a chocolate teapot without the matching top!
What a waste of time and effort! In the end of couse I ended up purchasing something much nicer in town. My boyfriend kept the shirt and I payed for this in one payment using the online payment option on the website. I must admit that this worked well (that's a first eh?!).
Now as far as I was concerned that was the end of my experiences with La Redoute. Er no. On a weekly basis they pestered me with junk mail, to the tune of "buy something from the catalogue and we'll send you this useless telephone you never knew you wanted" etc etc. I found this intensely irritating after my bad experience. The final insult came a few weeks later though. I had already had one statement, to say my account was clear but then I received a second one, saying that I OWED THEM 1p! Incredible isn't it? Again, I phoned the customer don'tcare line and was told that they would "waive the charges on the account". Oooh their generosity knows no bounds does it. I'm afraid this was where my ever stretching patience finally snapped. I told them that I would NEVER be purchasing anything from them again and that I wanted my name removed from their mailing list permanently. Thankfully, this is the one thing that they have got right.
My experience with La Redoute has completely put me off clothing catalogues of any description. Reading other opinions on here, most people seem to have had very few problems with them. As for myself, would I recommend them? It has to be a resounding NON!
Sorry to hear about your experience..I enjoyed your review, I like the style of writing you use. I had one very bad experience with La Redoute I swore I'd never use again. They were going to send me a bailiff when the fault was at their side!!!!
77alison77 14.01.2004 00:43
what a shame that you had such a bad experience - me, I use them now and again - and yes, delivery is mogodon slow - but I really love their trousers - and some of their twin sets. Hope you have more joy with other catalogues. p.s. Great witt!! Alison
sunnyfox 23.11.2003 22:52
Well, I'm glad I've never bothered with them! Mel xxx