If there’s one thing this writer has learned over the years, it’s to never tell a woman to get breast reduction surgery. It’s rude, insulting, and can quite possibly get you kneed in the groin, slapped, pushed into a train, cut out of the will, and so on. But apparently the salesperson at Penningtons—sort of a Canadian Lane Bryant—didn’t get that memo. “North of 49” writes:
I’m a woman of “ample girth” but still have a figure. At 226lbs, I have a 38J cup. We’re getting married on leap day and I have had issues with bra shopping before. So I went to “Penningtons,” an above average store that should have had bras in my size. They didn’t.
Here’s part of the email she sent to Penningtons’ corporate offices:
I’m a bride to be and will be married on the 29th of this month. I am searching for a bra to wear with my dress and entered your store. First off, there was only one woman out on the floor, the other two were hiding in the back. I had to go to the woman at the cash registers and ask for help in order to get any.
The next part really hurt. Although she wanted to sell me a bra, she realized that at 38J, your store doesn’t have any in my size or even near my size. In the ensuing conversation, she told me that I should have a reduction.
I have been on a waiting list since my now 5 and a half year old son was 10 months old. I was told that I would have to wait half a year or more after my children finally stop nursing before I could have a reduction. My youngest is 16 months and won’t be giving up nursing anytime soon. This is entirely besides the point anyway, what she said was offensive and insulting to say the least.
To tell a customer to “get a reduction” when not only is day in question less than a month away, 20 days in fact, but to even suggest it is absurd and insulting. It has left me in tears and I will never walk through your store doors again no matter how good the sale seems.
It is hard enough to go bra hunting without being humiliated once again because the sizer thinks they know better. Or worse, to suggest that my body is inconvenient to them so I should change it surgically for their convenience.
Thanks a lot, Penningtons. Don’t expect me to shop there anytime soon. And I will let all my friends know about how I was told to get a reduction.
We think the response from Penningtons was a step in the right direction, but it did little to make the customer feel better about what happened:
We appreciate your comments as they are important to us.
Okay, not that part. That part sounds fake. But it gets slightly better:
As you know, we pride ourselves in our customer service; therefore, we are very disappointed to hear that you had an unsatisfactory shopping experience in one of our stores.
The Director of Sales & Operations along with the District Sales Manager of this particular region needs to be advised in order to coach the employee in question to ensure that the service level meets our high standards.
Please provide us the store that this happened.
We hope to see you again in our stores.
I know this is not the reason you sent the email, but I would like to congratulate you on your upcoming wedding. I hope you have a beautiful day!
The customer points out that she had to sign up to their website to reach customer service, so they should have her personal info and know that there’s only one Penningtons in her area. However, we were able to find their contact info on their website without registering so we’re not sure their CSRs have access to personal account data.
So to “North of 49,” we suggest you continue to communicate with the CSR who originally responded to you, and make it clear that you don’t think this salesperson should be making such suggestions to customers. Their email seems halfway between a stock response and a sincere attempt to solve the problem, so do what you can to tip the scales in favor of “sincere attempt.”
The best thing you can do with this situation is work with Penningtons to make sure they properly train their staff to avoid future incidents like yours; the worst is to come across as someone who can’t be pleased, because then they might disregard the very real problem you encountered.