Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What's the ooh la la about Rue La La?

The ever-enthusiastic bargain shopper and writer, Nancy Brenner, pens another insightful piece for GSNYC:

What's the ooh la la about Rue La La ( and all these other "invite only" sample sales that seem to crop up daily?'s porter private beta launched last week. After what seemed like an interminable wait, the merch from Rue La La arrived and it was a perfect fit - the petite cardigan was just the right size and the color was as posted. The skirt fit fine as well - I admit going online and sorting, selecting and buying in 7 minutes was very fast - even by my seasoned sample sale standards, but I would try again if I knew the brand very well (in this case Beth Bowley), what size suited me in that brand and factored in the cost of delivery (and ensuing risk of return rate).

How to shop the sites? Here are my quick tips: try to sign on a few minutes before hand - sizes disappear quickly and how was shocked that the sold out banner appears within minutes; you can easily be tempted to buy too much too fast (I set a mental dollar budget before I went online), so think about what might be complimentary to your existing wardrobe before you sign on or what you truly want to add, pre-spot check the web to make sure the merchandise is current and of course - that the price is right - in checking out a few of these types of sales (but no other purchases), the prices and selection are much better at the "real" "brick and mortar" sample sales where you can often can get that one of a kind piece for a true sample price. The online sales all have limited selections. FYI, the merchandise came with an easy to return pre-printed UPS label for $9.95 for a credit - not a return. There are no returns at sample sales, but not a pressing need to make such split second decisions. Online there is no time to sort through "your pile," or change your mind while waiting to pay at checkout. On the other hand, no long lines to pay, no broken registers to contend with, no mad dash to the garment district or Chelsea Market or some narrow little street lower down, two subway lines away, no women to fend off from trying to rip off your clothes while you're foraging for a try-on mirror, no checking of all your belongings except for you wallet and your cell, no men wandering around claiming to "shop for their girlfriends" while staring at women in various stages of undress (hey - it's time to start banning those guys) and best, but not least, no roving cell phone paparazzi snapping pics of you pre-dawn, makeupless on a long line in the rain as if you were the next Paris Hilton landing up on the latest fashion sample sale blog for all your frenemies, exs and co-workers to see.

So try out, (where a "bargain" is a $995 Chloe cropped sequined jacket reduced from $3,600 and already believe-it-or-not sold out), or others. But think before you click - will the dress make you look like Gaby in Desperate Housewives, or will you look just plain desperate.

Who knows, this year may be the last big year of sample sales as retailers retract, designers disappear and sample sales, both brick and mortar and online, just may go the way of the IT bag.


Dave said...

Good tips! I do almost all of my clothes shopping online, and think it is infinitely better than going to any store. Once you know your size and have seen what you like, it is so much easier! Although I am more of JC Penney guy, a good site to check out for high end watches and jewelry is

Anonymous said...

I love RueLaLa and have snapped up some great deals from Tracey Reese, Cole Hann and Shoshanna, among others. Ideeli is ok, but 50% off Chloe and Gucci is still unaffordable to me.


Anonymous said...

Rue La La has been a true customer service nightmare.

I placed the order on 5/8 for 2 watches for my twin sisters' birthday. After waiting about 4 days and not seeing any progress on my order, I decided to cancel it because the watches wouldn't be here on time.
I emailed them and asked them to cancel my order. I was told that they would try to cancel it and that I'd be contacted within 24 hours.
After waiting over 24 hours I sent them another email. This time I was told that I'd be contacted within 3-5 days.
On 5/14, I received an email stating that my order was en route, but as I went to the UPS website to track the package, I realized that the sender had asked for the package to be sent back to them.
I emailed them to make sure that they would issue a refund to my card. I was told that it took them 7-10 business days to process the refund.
On 5/22, I got an email about a credit applied to my card for $399.00. My order total was 807.95, which included 2 watches @ $399.00 + shipping. I contacted them again on 5/25 to ask why the credit was only for one of the watches. They said that there was a processing time of 7-10 days for each item. I was also told that my case had been forwarded to the returns department and they'd contact me within 3-5 business days.
I then decided to call and talked to a supervisor. Like every other time I speak with someone at Rue La La, he said that it was somebody else's responsibility and not his or his department. He said that this was now in the hands of the vendor.
There is no accountability. I didn't hear anything like "I'll take ownership of this and make sure that it's resolved" or "I will follow up with the returns departments and I will call you back". I didn't even get an apology! All I got was "It's not up to us", "We've already contacted them and it's all we can do."
I still haven't received the refund for the other watch or even an email with an update. I think I'll have to dispute the charge with my card company.
Please be warned!!

Anonymous said...

I have also experienced terrible service from Ruelala. I bought a watch from them, received email confirmation of the order, a charge on my card etc. A few days later they said they would not sell the watch - no explanation. It was not a declined charge on my card. Their customer service people were just as bad as the previous poster pointed out. They do not seem to care about the customer in my experience.

Anonymous said...

I've had several extremely negative experiences with Rue La La. For two months, I've waited for them to credit my account in exchange for the watch that I've tried to return. Instead, they sent the watch back!?!?! for no reason and gave all sorts of excuses for why I couldn't get my money back immediately. Luckily, I kept all receipts as well as UPS information so they could not successfully deny the legitimacy of my return. Ruelala seems to be dishonest and untrustworthy.

I was also never credited for a small item that never arrived and unfortunately I have a few other similar stories with them. Be careful and meticulous when dealing with