Back to M.A.C., or Maybe Not

I rarely do long posts, but I gotta do this one for my friend.

This past week, she submitted a formal complaint to M.A.C. regarding its recycling programme.

She brought six empty packaging back to the M.A.C. counter at Nordstrom's in exchange for a lipstick. The M.A.C. salesperson asked her what colour she'd like. My friend named a few possible colours, but the rep said she had no stock of anything of those. My friend finally named a reddish brown, and the rep put it in the bag for her.

My friend got home, and discovered the lipstick was not the colour she picked. It was something pink, a colour she cannot wear and would never ask for. She felt deceived.

This is M.A.C. says about its recycling programme on its website:

"Recycling with Back to M.A.C.
By returning six M·A·C primary packaging containers to a M·A·C counter or M·A·C Cosmetics Online, you receive a free M·A·C Lipstick of your choice as our thanks to you."

Of my choice? Apparently not.

This is how M.A.C. responded to the complaint:

"Thank you for taking the time to contact us and for your interest in M.A.C.

Our "Back to M.A.C." program was established to promote recycling by offering an incentive for consumers to help preserve the environment. Since its inception in 1985, our program has offered a free lipstick to anyone who returns six (6) M.A.C. primary packages to a M.A.C. location. This program has been enthusiastically embraced by the majority of consumers.

Of course, over the years a few consumers have asked us to offer them a different free product. We hope you can understand that the popularity of the program, coupled with the inventory/sales logistics involved with our retail partners, precludes our extending the program to individual product choice.

We will continue to offer a free lipstick, and if this is not appropriate for the recipient, we hope it will be passed on to someone who can enjoy it.
We trust the above addresses your concern. We hope that we have the opportunity to serve you in the near future.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns.

Kiola Toussaint-Brew

Response Representative
Global Consumer Communications"

My friend wrote back:

"Dear Ms. Toussaint-Brew,
I appreciate your effort, but your response did not address my complaint.

My complaint was that your sales person was conducting business in a deceptive way. If your company cannot afford to continue the program or think that the program is costing too much money, then terminate the program. I believe most people would rather be told that the program cannot continue than being cheated.

By pretending to let your customer choose a lip colour and then turn around and give the customer another one that she did not choose: this is dishonesty. The fact that you try to explain the act, that it is being condoned or even approved by your company shows that your company does not respect your customers; that your company thinks that keep half of a promise is OK. If your company cannot afford to continue the program or wants to change the conditions of program, then let your customers know.

I think it is irresponsible for your company to try to find a rationale for your salesperson's disceptive behavior. I think the public should know about this. I am going to blog this email exchange and let others decide whether cheating customers are OK."

Well, I'm sorry to say that M.A.C. has lost a very good customer. My friend has decided not to purchase anything from this brand anymore (and this is someone who normally buys a few things from them every month). It wasn't about this lipstick or that lipstick, but it doesn't feel good to be deceived.

What surprised me about all this was that M.A.C. could have at least say sorry. Instead, they actually supported the salesperson's action.

Now, I'm simply wondering if M.A.C. might be giving out expired products through the recycling programme, just to get rid of old stuff.

What is your experience with Back to M.A.C.?


Mrs.Zeus said...

Thats something I would be really upset with too. I never had any problems with back to M.A.C so far but then again I had built some sort of friendship with the salesperson.
I try to see her most of the time I purchase something.

And Yes, I totally understand your friend. I would do the same thing most especially after reading the respond to my complaint without even trying to apologize most esp. coming from a Response Representative
Global Consumer Communications of the company.

Ai said...

that is totally ew. they disrespect customers. i never try to Back to M.A.C program tho since i only have 1 MAC product but of course deceiving customers is totally a turned down.

hope they'll learn their lesson.

simply.steph said...

wow, that was a really evil thing to do, and clearly they didn't read your first email properly. I mean honestly I've never had trouble with the trade in program. perhaps it was with that specific person?

yumyumsushi said...

wow..that's not good. i hate sucky customer service!

i haven't backed to maced anything because i heard that they won't take things that you depot & the pan has to be intact so i lost all want to do so :/

angie519 said...

I would be pissed! I'd go back to that SA and confront her and tell her that she's deceiving clients (hopefully in front of other customers).

I've never had an experience like that with B2M. I did it for a gloss at a free-standing store. I was a bit annoyed when I found out I couldn't exchange the color for a B2M item. I recently got a LE slimshine which I love. My SA was really great... at Nordstrom. =T

I did! How was your Halloween? Hahha yeah Guerlain seems a bit overpriced. But I want to try the foundation and lip liner! Awww Halloween not the same in Milan? But you're in MILAN!! It's worth it!

Fabuless Beauty said...

Wow..I'm curious to how MAC will respond. Usually, Nordstrom has great customer service. I would also recommending a complaint to the MAC store manager there as well. I've redeemed by Back2Mac at an actual MAC store, they're usually more flexible.

Kimberly Tia said...

Oh Gosh -- I'm sorry to hear about your friends experience! But I'm glad she wrote and stood up for what she believed in.

I've done the MAC recycling program too for the free lippies, but "the viva glam lipsticks are off limits" said the MAC counter girl -- which irritated me, because yes -- "your choice" -- NOT.

they should allow us to choose shadows too!! grrrrrr

Glow Chaser said...

I would be upset too! I hate feeling deceived.

I like face to face discussions in such circumstances because I feel that it is too easy for a company to palm off a generated letter onto me.

Good for you for putting this up! I am all for consumer power!!

Look at me, I am all psyched up for a fight now....just let me at those MAC people!! Let me at 'em!

heartofpearl♥ said...

hi just found your blog, and am quite annoyed at how Mac responded to the complaint. I know big companies can't please absolutely everyone and it does come down to the sales person with this incident however the representative should've at least apologized!

fuzkittie said...

Weird~ could it be the SA just grabbed the wrong color? I gotta make sure to always check what they put in my bag before I head home from now on, haha.

Mrs.Zeus said...

My weekend was great!
We spent it a friends place and went shopping of course... lol
The only thing that sucks about it was getting sick, but hopefully it'll go away real soon.

How was yours?

Mrs.Zeus said...

Ohhh I love the new profile pic!

Emilita said...

Hey, I just came across your blog...I'm surprised and disappointed by your friend's situation. I'm someone who occasionally writes to companies when I've encountered something especially good or bad, and even with the past couple of bad ones I've generally gotten concerned responses that indicate the company wants to keep business and keep the customer happy. (Valid problems, like when I bought a pre-packed salad with an insect wing in it -- ew -- or face wash that the container was punctured.)

Mostly I've found that places send coupons and say 'oops, sorry about that.' These are brands that don't really need my loyalty either, like supermarket and drugstore ones. So that's what really surprises me about MAC kind of brushing it off. They seem to have much more intimate relationships with their consumers and are a more targeted brand. You'd think they'd want to keep people happy.

Maybe that was the response the corporate big-wigs mandate be sent. Did your friend go back to the store to point out the error? Or did she contact the store manager? Maybe that would get more done. Though I still wouldn't blame her for being quite annoyed.

Anonymous said...

The reason Viva Glam lipsticks are not avail. as B2M free lippies is because Viva Glam lipstick proceeds go to AIDS charities- how's that for looking a gift horse in the mouth! It sounds like the SA made a mistake. i B2M'ed a few times, and have had no problems. And the fact that it's only lipsticks is still awesome- what other big company does anything similar- free lippie for stuff you'd just throw away? Misha