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The Bay Registry- A Review

Photo – The Impossible Plates – Royal Doulton Platinum Silk Ice Blue Accent Plates

The following is a review of my experience with the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Wedding Gift Registry services.  It was quite an experience.

Once upon a time, I got married.  Being Canadian, the choices for wedding gift registries are fairly limited.  Given what we wanted and our location, it wasn’t much of a contest and we went with the Hudson’s Bay Company wedding gift registry.  I have read about all sorts of lovely “sip and scan” events in big cities and in the United States.  Those were not even close to an option.  I phoned and was able to make an appointment with a consultant, who sat down with us and went through their little sales pitch and how-to.  I was expecting a bit of a sales pitch, which we got, but pushed off the repeated attempts to sell us televisions and other things we definitely didn’t need.  The following is a bit of a rant, but it accurately chronicles our experience and it does have a happy ending, eventually.

Then, we went to scan things.  The store was getting fairly tired looking, but I can live with that.  One of the biggest annoyances?  Virtually all of the glassware was entirely boxed up and we were left to fend for ourselves when it came to unboxing to look at over a dozen styles of stemware.  You want me to decide to purchase a $30 wine glass, based on its 2″ silhouette on a box?  Merchandising is important.  We probably spent 20 minutes unboxing glasses to look at them.  All in all, we probably sorted everything out in about an hour and a half, given our short list of things we were after.  We were forewarned that most china is special order and it would take a few weeks to arrive.  No problem.

It has since been updated, but the website was rather embarrassing to have family friends and relatives order through.  The absolute maximum price that items would ever retail at was the only one displayed.  For example, our place settings were listed at nearly $75 more each than they ever sold for during the several months we were registered.  Have you ever wanted to play gift-price roulette?  Well, the Bay was your place!  Online transactions were processed at this high price and then you would receive an email a few days later to let you know the actual cost to you.  This was in 2011.  C’mon.  You may have thought you purchased a $200 gift, but in reality it was only $110.  Suffice it to say that the website has now reentered the twenty first century, to the relief of all.

Fast forward to a week after the wedding, when we made the decision to place our entire order with the Bay, for simplicity sake.  It was not the cheapest retailer, but theoretically provided the most convenience and service, given that we registered there and were placing one rather large order.  Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case and we regret providing the Bay with several thousand dollars worth of business, as we had other choices at the time.  Several weeks later, parts of our order come in, but the accent plates are the wrong colour.  The sales associate spent a lot of effort convincing my spouse to bring them home, despite neither of us wanting that colour.  Given that we do not live in [City], it was difficult to make it back in order to return them.

Over the next several months, many phone calls to the Registry Department were left unanswered, or answered several days later.  Often, our inquiries were met with the statement that, “we will call you when things arrive.”  The same refrain was repeated to my spouse when my spouse happened to be in Calgary and was able to make it downtown.  More than once my spouse stopped by because our phone calls had not been returned.  Additionally, after convincing someone to check, it turned out that some of our things were in fact available yet we had never received a call, nor an email.

Specifically regarding the plates, months worth of inquiries did not yield any action on the part of the Bay to determine the cause of the delay nor to offer any estimates of timeline, until late 2012 (they were ordered in fall of 2011!).  We were not even informed until after the fact that the order had been canceled and resubmitted.  At several points over the 15 months we would have had the option to purchase these plates from an online dealer who lists their available stock on their website.  However, it now appears that these have been discontinued by most retailers.  In the meantime, the Bay had the benefit of holding onto approximately $500 of ours.

While my phone calls went unanswered, I started taking to the Bay’s main Customer Service website, hoping to at least elicit a response.  I also started tweeting them several times a day.  It turns out that was the key!  (After several days, of course).  Here are some communication gems, after I really stepped up my PITA customer game:

Anne wrote:

Hi,

I have repeatedly attempted to have an open line of communication with the Bay regarding my wedding registry.  Over a year has passed and I am still waiting for items that were purchased in September 2011.  Repeated phone calls to the department in question, plus emails through this contact page have been met with silence and ridiculous claims.  For example, that the shipping of goods that were ordered in Sept ’11 was delayed due to Hurricane Sandy.
I have been beyond appalled at the lack of service and lack of communication, as well as the lack of acknowledgement of the problem.

Can someone please attempt to rectify this situation?

- Anne

Dear Anne,

Thank you for shopping at The Bay. I have researched this and went to your registry page. It is telling me on there that your items are available for pickup at

Pick Up Store:
[address]
Please contact them to see if they have your items.

Thank you,
Jason
Hudson’s Bay Company

The Hurricane Sandy reference was from a voicemail I received saying the plates I ordered in 2011 were delayed due to the storm, which happened in late October 2012.  A year later.  So I both responded to that email and called the store.  Nope.  Nothing there.  That’s after calling several times and waiting around 3 days for a return phone call.
So, all of my tweeting and my response to that email above lead to the following:

Dear Anne,

I am truly sorry that you have been waiting for your plates far longer than is acceptable. We are doing everything within our power to get you your order.  As you know the original order was placed with the wrong item code ( champagne colour).  [The error was on the part of the Bay, not our error.]  The new order was placed November 23/11. That order was cancelled by China Central Stock because the pattern was discontinued.  Unfortunately we didn’t know it had been cancelled until I did a tracking request.

When you said that you really wanted the plates we tried unsuccessfully to find them at other stores in our system. China Central Stock informed us in August that they were once again available to be ordered so we put through the new order August 14/12.  The estimated arrival date for that order was “end of November”.    [I called every month or two, starting in spring 2012... none of this was communicated to me, not even when I left voicemails enquiring, until this email.  It is dated Dec 11, 2012.]

According to the tracking report that is still the only information we have.  When we contacted China Central Stock at the beginning of December it was suggested that the order was later than estimated because Hurricane Sandy had caused a lot of damage in the area so transportation etc was running behind schedule.

I have put in another update request at China Central Stock and will inform you if there’s any more news of your order.  I apologize for giving you the feeling that we are uncommunicative.  I will let you know of any new information we receive from China Central Stock.

We at the Gift Registry are extremely sorry that we can do nothing more than continue to check on the status of your order.

Regards,

Linda

The big win of this email?  There are more people CC’d on it.  I response to all, mostly with what I have written further up.  I receive a response saying my concerns will have to be passed on to management who can comment further.  Then I received this, yay!

Dear Anne

First I apologize for all of the difficulties and unsatisfactory service you have received.  I just found out about this and I am very disappointed in how the situation was handled.  My top priority is to deliver great customer service to all of our customers and clearly we fell short. Our awareness to all of the issues will enable us to fix the problems going forward.  We are currently looking for your plates and I will let you know the status in the next few days. Again my apologies for the lack of service and all the inconvenience this has caused.  I appreciate your business and I want you to be satisfied.

Regards

Jennifer Arrowsmith

General Manager

On December 23, I received an email from Ms. Arrowsmith, saying that they had placed an order for the plates directly with a Royal Doulton store in Ontario and that given the time of year, it may take several weeks.  On January 10th, I received the following:

Hi Anne

Finally I have all 12 of your plates.  Where would you like us to send them?

Jennifer

This was great, as we live in a small town several hours from the store, so it is truly a pain to have to pick things up.  They couriered the plates to us a few days later, which all arrived intact.  So we did manage to end up with a dozen of the now-discontinued plates, sent directly to us, however all we had received in the 15 months were two emails apologizing.  I emailed back stating that we had approximately $550 tied up for that length of time and would like a gift card as compensation.  Within the day I received an email back from Ms. Arrowsmith saying that a $50 gift card was in the mail.  Finally, something for all of my efforts to get some customer service and a response to my enquiries!!!

In my email, I had offered up William-Ashley’s handling of a back ordered serving tray as a contrast to the customer service we received from the Bay.  If you are in Ontario, I highly recommend their registry services.  I do not, however, recommend going there in cycling clothes, that doesn’t get you the best customer service, even if you’re wanting to add several hundred dollars worth of stemware to your registry at the time.

 

That, my friends, is my saga and my review of the Hudson’s Bay Wedding Gift Registry.  I think it is an anomaly, however I wanted to put it out there.  I am finally satisfied, but it definitely took awhile.

About the Author

Anne spends a lot of time writing about gifts for adults, for all occasions. She comes up with creative ways to add personality to registry gifts and to give gifts when your budget is tight.

Anne – who has written posts on Unique Gifter.


Actual Diamond Photos from JamesAllen

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