Cooking In Stilettos...
Friday, January 9, 2009 The Break-Up: Sur La Table - It's Over.

I rarely, RARELY, ever speak ill of what I regard as my cooking Mecca - that being Sur La Table. However, after what I went through last night, Sur La Table and I are breaking up.

I've disclosed before that when I get their catalogs, I pore over it like it’s the latest issue of Vogue. I bought my Global knives there. I first fell in love with (and later took home) my Caribbean Le Creuset pieces via Sur La Table. Sur La Table has been my "online go to spots" for research here for Cooking in Stilettos. Not to mention, the price difference between here and Williams Sonoma is astronomical. Sadly, the nearest Sur La Table is 3 hours away. They haven't built one in Orlando yet (and, last I heard, it will be QUITE some time). And, when I travel, I always research where Sur La Table is and if I have time to go, often leaving room in the suitcase to store the goodies I find. The Sur La Table in New Jersey knows me well.

I placed a substantial order on their site yesterday, namely being the Lotus Sanitizing System that I've talked about here before, a marble pastry board that I needed this weekend, a donut cutter that Diana @ The Chic Life recommended some great deals on baking sheets and the apron I've been lusting after. I would have added more but I thought "eeeh - I still have the remainder of the gift card that I need to use at WS. I'll perhaps use it on the Breville Cordless Blender I've been eyeing."

The key factor to this drama is that I needed the pastry board for this weekend. See, the Marble Pastry board at Williams Sonoma is $129.00. I was hesitant to buy it but figured I had to. You can't find a good marble pastry board here in OTown at a decent price. At Sur La Table it was on sale for $32. That's a HUGE difference. So, knowing that, I figured I'd upgrade to overnight shipping and have it sent to the 9to5. It was an extra $25 but I felt it was worth it with what I would have spent at Williams Sonoma. I couldn't ship it to my house because we're having problems at our apartment complex with deliveries - namely UPS leaves the stuff on the truck, marks it delivered and we don't get it until 2 - 3 days after. We've complained and UPS gives everyone the same excuse, "We're sorry - it got mixed up with the Disney packages". I'd rather not have ANYTHING shipped there if I can avoid it.

My gut instinct, however, kept bugging me last night and I called Sur La Table to check on the status of the order. I normally would get a tracking number by evening. Williams Sonoma does it. Barnes & Noble does it. Other retailers do it. It was now around 8 and I had received nada, nil, nothing.

By chance, I encountered Charmaine in the call center. All started off okay until she told me "Well, it should be shipped tomorrow.” Wait a minute - overnight means OVERNIGHT! Then she tells me that their overnight is, technically, two days. Well considering that my shipping is about $50, we need to rectify that mess quickly - as in cancel. She told me she couldn't do ANYTHING and that I'd have to do it at 8:00 but there was the chance that the order could be filled and shipped by that time. To make the situation every worse, I found that the woman was rude, condescending and just pissed me the hell off.

Yes, I flipped into cable cop mode whereby I told her to let me speak and then I'll let her speak. Do. Not. Interrupt. Me. She goes 'Well you interrupted me!' Wait another flippin' minute - I paused, recounted the conversation in my head, could not not recall one interruption, refused to put up with her attitude and shut. her. down. The next thing she heard was “Charmaine, I want to speak to your Supervisor - NOW".

Her supervisor, Theresa, and I had a "Come to Jesus" talk. It was more than the shipping confusion (a normal definition of overnight vs. their definition) or the need for this pastry board. The reason for the "The Break Up" is and forever will be the crappy customer service exhibited by Charmaine. Theresa assured me that she would address Charmaine's issues immediately and that she would do what she could to cancel my order. However, to be safe, I should call Customer Service in the morning. She did everything she could on her end to try to help the situation which, thanks to Charmaine, escalated well beyond what should have been done. She was beyond pleasant - DID NOT INTERRUPT ME and understood that I seriously was seeing red. While I can get cranky, this was worse than when I shut someone's cable off and they called me the "C" word. (They were stealing cable - where does that make me the bad guy for doing my job, right?)

This morning, I had a quick break from the daily duties where I could give Sur La Table a quick call to make sure the order was cancelled. I wanted that money refunded stat. I resigned myself to the fact that instead of using that Williams Sonoma gift card for a portion of the Breville blender or the Emile Henry Pie Plate or other goodies I wanted, I HAD to spend it on that pastry board and then take a hit for an additional $100.

Well, Sur La Table's rep, Jessica, answered the phone and I told her to cancel the order. She told me I'd receive it on Monday and I told her "No. Just cancel the order." She talked to her supervisor and again asked what she should do. Again, I had to tell her to CANCEL IT! She told me that if it had been placed at 1:00 EST it would have been sent but I placed it around 3:00 EST. OK - where does it say that on the website? It doesn't. While I admit that I am blond, I do tend to notice these things and, if I had seen it, I wouldn't have placed the order. Plain and simple and Sur La Table and I would have been fine. The continued lack of following a clear and explicit command was astounding. What part of CANCEL THE ORDER does Sur La Table not get? No part of explanation by a CSR on their part can override Charmaine's actions. That's the main issue.

Long story short, due to Charmaine's actions, I just can't support Sur La Table anymore. So, it's my decision that until further notice, I'm not going to recommend them, feature their products here on Cooking in Stilettos, give them any link love on either of my sites and their catalogs will go unopened. The two new Sur La Table cookbooks I was planning to buy will not be purchased. I will buy only from other online retailers i.e. Fantes,, Chefs, Jacobs Kitchen, Dean & Deluca, etc. I will purchase that Lotus System through Chefs. I will send customers locally to Le Gourmet Chef, the Premier Outlets, Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma. What was Sur La Table's loss is now other culinary retailers' gain.

Sur La Table not only lost a substantial sale, but a long time fan and customer. Quite simply, I am heartbroken because they truly were my favorite store.

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Posted by Lys :: 12:27 PM :: 7 comments

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