Skip to content

Gasp – truth or hoax?

September 29, 2011

Update: Gasp have confirmed that the email is bona fide. And The Age, The Melbourne Weekly and possibly Today Tonight have picked up the story. The Facebook page has been taken down, noone’s emails have been returned to my knowledge.

Update: 11:48am, 30 September 11: GASP promotes online store on their re-instated Facebook page.


This email started circulating today, I can’t tell if it’s truth or hoax.

Either way, as someone passionate about Australian retail, this pisses me off.

GASP have apparently confirmed that this ” is authentic GASP policy”.

I’ve emailed GASP, but no response so far.


As it landed in my inbox…

From: Keara O’Neil [email address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, 28 September 2011 4:10 PM
To: Elly Parker JBS
Subject: FW: customer complaint-Chapel St store
Importance: High

Dear friends, family and colleagues,


For your enjoyment I have decided to forward an email from a lovely employee at GASP Clothing, one who funnily enough chose to remain nameless.  In quoting the company I have been advised to do them a favour and “not waste their retail staff’s time, as there are plenty of other shops that would appease to my taste”.  To quote the gutless employee, I am what they consider to be a “broad customer”, if you too fit into this category then I suggest you also “side step” their store, as they have so bluntly asked.

Replying to the below email would be pointless, therefore I ask instead that you forward this email onto friends, family and colleagues, and by all means feel free to post on facebook or twitter, after all we would be doing GASP a favour by forwarding the below response on.

As my boss Alex has kindly reminded me, the internet is a very powerful tool and one in which a customer like myself would be silly not to utilise.

As shocking as it is, this email is real!! Happy Reading.



From: GASP Online Enquiries [email address removed]

Sent: Wednesday, 28 September 2011 11:58 AM
To: Keara O’Neil
Subject: customer complaint-Chapel St store
Importance: High

Dear Keara O’Neil,

Having now had the privilege of having both version of events, I am now in a position to respond to your complaint.

From the very outset, one thing that you should be mindful of is; Our product offerings are very, very carefully selected, so to ensure that we do not appeal to a broad customer base. This is something which is always at the forefront of our minds when undertaking buying duties. The reason for this is to ensure that we only carry products which appeal to a very fashion forward consumer. This by default means that the customer whom is acclimatised to buying from “clothing for the masses” type retailers, is almost frightened by our range, sometimes we have found that this type of customer, almost finds our dresses funny, and on occasion noted comments such as ‘it looks like a dead flamingo’. When we receive comments like this, we like to give ourselves and our buyers, a big pat on the back, because we know we are doing our job right, and modus operandi is being upheld.

Our range is worn by A list celebrities to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry to name only a few. Now, as one might appreciate, the style counsel for these types of celebrities are not ones to pick “run of the mill” type clothing, and they do so on the basis to ensure that the styles are cutting edge, and only worn by a select few. Similarly these items are priced such that they remain inaccessible to the undesirable.

Insofar as our employee goes; Similar to our product offerings, our employees are selected with a similar approach. Chris whom served you is a qualified stylist whom has a sixth sense for fashion, and Chris’s only problem is that he is too good at what he does, and as I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented, generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store.

Whilst I concede that you work for chain retailer, unfortunately that does not make us like for like. It is probably fair to assume, a lot of what I have said in this email, either doesn’t make sense to you, or you totally disagree with it all, which is what I would expect (unless of course I have you totally wrong –which I doubt). Let me guess, you would never, ever hire Chris in the course of your duty, would you? This is the very reason, why your comment “from one retailer to another” is so disproportionate, it’s almost as though we are in a totally different industries. Chris is a retail superstar, who possess unparalleled  ability, and I am sorry you feel upset by him, but he knew you were not going to buy anything before you even left your house.

So if you would like to do us any favours, please do not waste our retail staff’s time, because as you have already seen, they will not tolerate it. I am sure there are plenty of shops that appease your taste, so I respectfully ask that you side step our store during future window shopping expeditions.

Thank you for your enquiry.


GASP Online Customer Care

[contact details removed]

From: Keara O’Neil [email address removed]
Sent: Monday, 26 September 2011 3:14 PM
To: [email address removed]
Subject: customer complaint-Chapel St store

Hi Chad,

I had the privilege of shopping at your brand new Chapel St store on Saturday 24th September with my three bridesmaids in tow.  On the hunt for bridesmaids dresses and a hens dress for myself we walked into the store and were automatically pounced on by a male staff member, I understand that this is protocol for many retail outlets and ours is no different. The staff member was initially funny and extremely helpful with sizes etc.  I chose a bright pink dress to try on but was unable to do the zip up so asked for the size up, when I eventually got the correct size and came out of the change room I was unable to discuss the likes or dislikes of the dress with my bridesmaids as the sales assistant kept saying “you should just get it”, when I told him I would think about it, he pulled me aside and whispered “Is it the price your worried about”. By now I was extremely frustrated, and again told him I’d think about it, I walked back into the change room and closed the door behind me, only to have it pushed open with the sales assistant half standing in my change room, again whispering “I think you should just get it”, when I gave him attitude and said rudely, “I already told you I would think about it”, he then replied, “With your figure I really think you should buy it”.  I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that, but considering the attitude used to deliver such a statement I can only imagine that it was an immature dig in relation to my healthy size 12 frame.  I got changed in a hurry and walked right out of the change rooms and out of the store, I could hear the sales assistant yelling out to me, but I just ignored him and continued to leave, assuming my bridesmaids would follow.  After waiting down the road for my bridesmaids to come out of the store I was told by one of them that the sales assistant yelled out “Have fun finding something at Supre”, when one of them approached him in regards to his comments, he replied “I knew you girls were a joke the minute you walked in”.  When my bridesmaids walked out of the store another two customers walked out with them, they too could not believe the immaturity of the sales assistant.

I have worked in retail for 12 years and have come across an array of customer complaints over the years, none of which come even close to what I encountered on Saturday at your store, I wish I was exaggerating but unfortunately for your company this person actually exists and is working in one of your stores.  I am pretty laid back and was quite happy just leaving your store, it was my bridesmaids who felt the need to say something to him………I dread to think how many customers he has not only offended but how many customers have left your store due to the pressure placed on getting the sale, and then to be harassed when that sale hasn’t taken place.

Ring me, don’t ring, not fussed………I’m just one retailer notifying another of an extremely inappropriate sales assistant.

Keara O’Neill

[contact details removed]

44 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2011 1:54 pm

    This is great…I always knew there was something special about this store.

    • September 29, 2011 2:17 pm

      It’s very real and no hoax….I am disgusted to think they treated my daughter in such as manner.

      • LouPardi permalink*
        September 29, 2011 2:30 pm

        Thanks for coming by Joy – sorry to hear about Keara’s experience. x

  2. Jodie permalink
    September 29, 2011 2:10 pm

    I would guess that ‘Chris’ wrote this reply himself

  3. Jodie permalink
    September 29, 2011 2:13 pm

    Chris: Supposed Superhero Stylist. Customer Service EPICFAILer. Uber Wanker.

  4. September 29, 2011 2:16 pm

    Mmmmm. There is plenty of evidence about that fashion industry types are precious, stupid, self-important and absurdly bad writers!

    • LouPardi permalink*
      September 29, 2011 2:28 pm

      Hey Brian, privilege to have you visit. Appreciate your consistent tone, but for the record, no need to tar everyone with the same brush. x

  5. tash permalink
    September 29, 2011 2:17 pm

    It’s true. I could you give you a dozen similar experiences at that store – just that no one took the time to complain and clearly for good reason.

  6. September 29, 2011 2:17 pm

    if this guy is a super start stylist why is working in Retail? wouldn’t he be pulling his own looks for his fashion forward clients?

  7. Laura permalink
    September 29, 2011 2:37 pm

    This just reeks of ‘mountain out of molehill’.

    The complaint was quite valid and straightforward. A simple two line “sorry for your experience, here have a $50 voucher on us” email would have turned this from a PR nightmare into a group of very happy bridesmaids + hen…

    • September 29, 2011 3:00 pm

      I recently wrote to a retailer after receiving exceptionally bad service several times in a row. Here is the response I got from the General Manager at 9.03am the next morning.

      “Morning Jodie,

      Firstly, that’s really disappointing to hear. We’ve always prided ourselves on our customer service and obviously somewhere along the line we’ve slipped up badly.

      Can you possibly describe the staff who you had issues with as I would really like to sort this out.

      In all reality all I can really do is apologise for my staff’s behaviour. We do expect more from them and I’ll be following this up to ensure, hopefully, it doesn’t happen again.

      If you’re willing to email me your address I would like to send you a $50 voucher as an apology with the hope you’ll give us one more go. I’d love the opportunity to fix this issue, have you come back in 3-4 weeks and give me some feedback on whether we have improved.”

      THAT’S how you reply to a customer complaint!

      • September 30, 2011 12:45 pm


        My husband and I received gasp-worthy (in both senses) service at Tiffany & Co whilst shopping for wedding rings. I complained, and received a crystal vase full of flowers and a hand-written apology from the GM just days later.

        Again – that’s how you make bad stuff good.

  8. Mabo permalink
    September 29, 2011 2:55 pm

    $20 bucks says “Mr. Anonymous” is “Chris”

  9. September 29, 2011 2:55 pm

    You know I am beginning to think this is a hoax……

    • LouPardi permalink*
      September 29, 2011 4:22 pm

      I thought that at the start too. But can’t imagine what they’ve got to pull up from this?

  10. September 29, 2011 2:55 pm

    This some footage I’ve secured of the actual event and am happy to share with you Lou.

  11. Elaine permalink
    September 29, 2011 4:00 pm

    concerned that Keara’s personal details are shown here?!

    • LouPardi permalink*
      September 29, 2011 4:10 pm

      Keara sent the email with her details requesting people pass it on. I considered this and didn’t want to tamper with the original correspondence.

    • LouPardi permalink*
      September 29, 2011 4:12 pm

      Keara – drop me a line if you’d like them removed.

      • Arnah permalink
        September 29, 2011 10:53 pm

        LouPardi – I’d think considering this has gone viral, the media have removed it from their articles, and your post comes up on the first page of google you should probably make an executive decision to edit the post…. 🙂

      • LouPardi permalink*
        September 30, 2011 8:53 am

        Now removed.

  12. Holly permalink
    September 29, 2011 4:08 pm

    100% truth, and i know that the staff get pay rises when they receive a complaint!

  13. Matt permalink
    September 29, 2011 4:23 pm

    While I do not agree with the sales assistant, I do see what the retail giant as a whole are doing (the person who wrote the email).

    It’s a marketing exercise, that response. Right now they are being talked in the news for this very email, saying to people that they are an exclusive brand who don’t tolerate normal people.

    Thus, if you own clothes from their retailer, you are “not normal.” You’re apart of the fashion elite.

    You’re all going to disagree with me on this, but this email was a brilliant and smart marketing move from the retailer.

    You guys just got schooled.

    • LouPardi permalink*
      September 29, 2011 4:24 pm

      Hey Matt – Thanks for coming by. Agree that’s a possibility – that’s why it’s titled ‘truth or hoax’… xL

    • September 29, 2011 6:57 pm

      Matt, I think you’re giving them way too much credit. If that’s the angle they were going for, they would have at least given the task to someone who can, you know….write. Viral campaigns are generally well-planned and executed.
      That email response from Gasp is a poorly-written, ignorant slab of waffle. Hardly the stuff of niche market, elitist dreams.

    • September 30, 2011 4:57 pm

      Yeah right, Matt, as in Matthew Chidgey who wrote that stupid snarky email praising Chrissy Boy to the sky and telling Keara to take a hike…

  14. September 29, 2011 4:28 pm

    Not a hoax at all, I know a few people who know the sales assistant. I honestly don’t know why people even bother at this store. The only reason why I have gone in was to borrow a vacuum for my store and basically got a wall of bitchiness, if they treated me like that no wonder why they treat their customers the same way. The store is full of overpriced tackiness.

  15. Scarlet permalink
    September 29, 2011 4:31 pm

    I love the fact that Kim Kardashian is their lead A-lister!? Mmmm, very classy…..

  16. Samantha T permalink
    September 29, 2011 6:32 pm

    Hmmmm coincidence or not – that the Manager is named Matt and that Matt above is praising their PR tactics? LOL

  17. September 29, 2011 6:37 pm

    Definitely the worst store… which translates well up into its operational structure – ie the operations manger just on aca.

  18. Nat permalink
    September 29, 2011 7:32 pm

    I am with Matt – Great reply from the shop to get their brand name out there – I have never herd of them, but after seeing the dresses on the news it is somewhere I would think to go if I was looking for a formal or bridesmaid dress. Its the customers fault if she is not strong enough to stand up to the assistant and put him in his place and keep looking round if she wants no one forced her to leave. I actually feel sorry for the shop assistant, I bet he does have 100’s of people in everyday that are just there to play dress ups and make a mess. Id get sick of it and be sh*tty too.

    • John Richards permalink
      September 30, 2011 9:12 am

      Nat, you don’t seriously think anyone who has never heard of Gasp before will now think they’re an option based on this? They’re going to think “we need dresses, where is that terrible place with the appalling service who hassle you and can’t write basic English? Let’s go there!”?

      I know people who think this is a marketing stunt but I can’t see it because the coverage and response is so overwhelmingly negative. Perhaps if the complaint email hadn’t been so friendly and reasonable, and if the Gasp response hadn’t been totally crazy it might have worked that way. But Gasp have just come across as a place to avoid at all costs.

      • LouPardi permalink*
        September 30, 2011 9:15 am

        Couldn’t agree more. Cannot fathom a response which could positively harness this exposure.

    • September 30, 2011 10:27 am

      Nat, that’s the nature of retail! I’ve worked in retail management for most of the last 20 years. Sure, plenty of people who cross the store threshold are a pain in the arse but you know what, they’re also potential customers. Without customers, there would be no need for retail staff. Retail professionals leave their ego at the door and do their best to assist customers or turn a “just looking” person into a buyer.
      In all my years of retail, I’ve had to pull people up less than a dozen times…..and none of them ever lodged a complaint because I did it professionally (even though I was steaming inside and wished they would spontaneously combust).
      Retail staff are not servants, the customer is not always right but taking it personally when someone criticises the goods you sell is pathetic. Years ago I worked for The Body Shop and we were told that when someone returns an item or questions price etc, to just give them information but never to tell them they were wrong……to never get defensive about the products because they were not ours to defend.
      I’ve assisted some real arsehole customers in my time, I’ve had displays that took hours to assemble destroyed in seconds by thoughtless people who don’t buy a thing. THAT’S PART OF RETAIL. You suck it up and get on with that day.

      • LouPardi permalink*
        September 30, 2011 7:02 pm

        Need more like you Jodie! It’s a tough gig.

  19. September 29, 2011 7:49 pm

    Hey Lou. Apart from the email reply being hastily and badly written, this problem which occurs all the time could be easily and simply dealt with. Why? I found this out the hard way. First apologise. Second never ever justify yourself or make excuses. Third fix it. Got the test and the lesson afterwards but I learnt…

  20. blackwatertown permalink
    September 30, 2011 9:53 am

    Great retail disastertale and series of comments.

  21. September 30, 2011 5:12 pm

    Here’s my 2 cents, Keara it was horrible the way you were treated.

  22. November 2, 2011 3:40 pm

    that true, not hoax…
    nice to meet you.
    your name same with me…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: