Racial Insensitivity: Alive and Well at Saks Fifth Avenue

So as the name of my website indicates, I eat, rest, and repeat. Many of my viewers don’t know me personally, and don’t know much of what I do outside of the “eat” realm, but I embrace my creative side whenever I can. Writing for one (this blog obviously), I played classical piano for many years and even played competitively, I love to dance, paint, etc.

You may be wondering what this has to do with the title of this post….don’t worry, I’ll get to my point soon.

I won’t reveal what I do for work, but let’s just say that it doesn’t fulfill my creativity the way I would like. To fill that void, I express myself through my wardrobe. I love fashion and you might say I have an affinity for purses and shoes.

If you follow me on Instagram, in the last week you would have seen the following pictures.

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When I spend my hard earned money, I expect respect from the people assisting me, whether it’s in a retail store or restaurant.

I don’t care if it’s the dollar store or Hermes, you treat people with respect. A janitor could become a CEO one day, a broke college student bussing tables at a diner could become president. You never know.
I was a loyal shopper of Saks Fifth Avenue for their variety, customer service, and quality. As you can tell in the photos above, I was a huge advocate for them, as they housed my favorite brands.

That loyalty ended today.

I want to share this experience with the Internet. Here’s my story:

I bought a Chanel wallet on chain in May of 2014 at my local Saks store, used maybe a dozen times in the last year and a half. Mint condition.

Today I took it out of the box and noticed a rip in the ribbon of the chain strap so I took it into the store to have it sent out for repair. There were no other clients in the store, and it took 40 minutes from start to finish.

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The associate helping me couldn’t find my information and kept asking if my purchase was under a different name. After telling him several times that it wouldn’t be under any other name, he then proceeded to ask me a racially insensitive question, “would it be under something like Zhu Zhang?”. I was appalled. He had my drivers license right in front of him.

My husband was right next to me, and his eyes widened as the sales associate questioned me.

I could understand asking if I had taken a different name due to marriage or divorce, but my name has not changed since the day I was born in Ohio nearly twenty seven years ago.

I am an American citizen, born and raised in the United States, and my BIRTH name is Jessica. Is that so hard to believe? So finally, after over half an hour of my time being wasted (from 10:40am-11:25 am), the forms were filled out and I was given a receipt to sign. I asked if there would be any potential charges and how much it would be. He then casually told me it may cost $125. Why wouldn’t you tell someone that BEFORE giving them something to sign? I know I wasn’t charged for it up front, but if there was a potential for a charge, you should probably disclose that before you finish the process. #justsaying

I had never had such a ridiculous transaction at Saks until now and I am very disappointed.

I referenced the amount of time because if it were busy, the slowness may have been excusable. Time is money, and it seems both time and money were wasted in this case. As a client who has spent thousands of dollars, I should have been able to just drop off my bag and get on with my day in a matter of minutes.
I kept my composure at the store as I didn’t think he was trying to be malicious. He was actually quite nice, but that certainly does not make up for the ignorance that came out of his mouth.

I’m not one to get offended easily, because who has time for stress wrinkles, am I right?

I realize that this is one instance, in one store, with a specific employee, at a particular time and doesn’t speak to Saks’ culture.

I realize that posting this does not change anything that happened. I could have posted this employee’s name and a photo of his card on here as well, but I didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doing this because I have a sense of entitlement or privilege. It’s the fact that this store has such a huge influence in the luxury goods market. If I have a bad experience at Target, I can easily go to another Target to buy the same item. When I have a bad experience at Saks because they’re the only place in the state of Michigan carrying the particular purse I want, this is the result.

I just wanted to rant and blog out my feelings.

That’s it.

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