Williams-Sonoma's Registry Policies Are Top Secret, Unless You Can Use The Internet

One would think that a luxury kitchen goods retailer like Williams-Sonoma would be absurdly friendly to couples preparing to set up a gift registry before their wedding. How difficult is it to discover the store’s policies for registry completion discounts, returns without a receipt, and other relevant things? Dan writes that at his local Williams-Sonoma, customers aren’t permitted access to that information until they sign up for their registry. Even though it’s on the store’s website. Huh?

Thought this might be of interest to individuals planning on setting up a gift registry at Williams-Sonoma.

A few days ago, my fiance, Alice, was in our local upscale kitchen retailer Williams-Sonoma, looking for information on their wedding registries so we might register for a few nice kitchen items there. The greeter told her that the checkout person or any other member of staff would be able to provide her with the information she was asking about. When she reached checkout with the one item she was purchasing (a gift for a friend), she also asked about the wedding registries. After a long who’s-on-first style conversation, the cashier finally understood that the item being purchased was not on a registry, she didn’t want to add it to a registry, and she doesn’t have a registry yet. She just wanted a brochure or flyer with the information on registry policies.

For those of you who don’t know, gift registries vary a lot between companies. Some stores provide a completion discount of as much as 20% off so that the bride and groom can purchase the remainder of the items on their registry after they’ve received all those that were given as gifts. Some stores provide substantial gifts to the bride and groom based on how much they register for. Return policies differ. Some registries are available online, others are not, etc. Alice wanted to know what all those policies were, so she could make an informed decision. Many stores have that information available on a brochure at the register.

The checkout person at Williams-Sonoma stated they could only give out “the gift bag” when she actually registered. Alice again reiterated that she only wanted information about the policies – she didn’t want a gift bag. The checkout person said she’d go talk to the manager and see if they could make an exception. When the cashier crossed the room and talked to the manager, my fiance watched the manager roll his eyes and go grab a gift bag. The cashier handed her the gift bag, and rudely stated they were making “an exception” for her. Alice asked if the information she asked for was included in the gift bag. The cashier responded that she didn’t know, since she’s never read it. As we later figured out, the last page of one of the catalogs in the gift bag includes the polices were were wondering about. The information appears to be available online as well.

After hearing how she was treated, I used Williams-Sonoma’s online complaint form to inform them of the situation. It was challenging to do in only 1000 characters, but I managed to express the key points that my fiance was trying to get information on gift registries and that the cashier and manager were both extremely rude about it.

Williams-Sonoma is supposed to be an upscale retailer, but the staff at this particular location were not professional or particularly helpful. The response I got from Williams-Sonoma was a vague apology that didn’t mention our situation and a copy of their return policy. Needless to say, we will not be returning there.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Pottery Barn, her next stop that day, handed her a brochure immediately without confusion or rudeness. Guess which store we will be having a registry with?

That’s a little ironic. Why? Williams-Sonoma owns Pottery Barn.