Sunday, April 8, 2012

Novelle Bridal Experience

I'm spending a quiet Sunday morning with my puppy, eating breakfast and watching Say Yes to the Dress. It brought back all these wonderful and not so wonderful emotions about my own wedding dress. Remember when I put in my wedding dress order back in January? I fell in love with the very first dress that I put on. It was a Priscilla of Boston Vineyard collection dress full of beautiful lace with absolutely zero glitz or sparkle, exactly what I was looking for. It made me feel so beautiful the moment my consultant zipped it up that it brought tears to eyes. I committed the cardinal sin of trying on a dress that was out of my budget, but after working out a great deal with Novelle Bridal, I took the $2500 plunge. Deposit was put down and the dress was ordered 8 1/2 months before my wedding. 

Fast forward to August. I get a message from the store owner, asking me to call her. When I called back, the owner wasn't going to be back till the following Monday and I was going to be in Mexico for that entire week. I end up getting in touch with her after my Mexico trip in mid-August. She tells me that there is an issue with my dress order and that Priscilla of Boston was on a trunk show when my order was put in so my order was somehow missed. She reassured me that they put a rush on the order and it would arrive by September 5th. She also gave me the # for the Priscilla of Boston rep in case I wanted to call and check up on things. So I call the rep the next day and try to get more information as to how the dress order was missed and the girl was no help. She said the original girl that was dealing with my file is no longer with them so she doesn't have any information to provide to me. I asked if there would be compensation and she said no because I am Novelle's customer and Novelle is their customer so any compensation would be through Novelle. She also confirmed that the dress wasn't going to actually arrive on September 5, but rather it was going to be shipped out of their warehouse in the States on the 5th. I requested to get the name and # of the rep's supervisor and she said she would get back to me. 

A few hours later, I get a message from the rep. She tells me that the supervisor and Novelle worked out a deal and that I should call Novelle to discuss it. So I call Novelle and the owner tells me that she feels really bad this situation happened and it shouldn't happen to any bride so she's offering me $100 store credit towards accessories. She tells me this is out of their own pocket. Novelle knew I had my eye on one of their $300 lace veils, but they must've been insane to think that I was willing to drop another cent in their store. I tell the owner again and again I'm nervous about the dress coming in so late and that I've lost all faith in them especially when she couldn't even get the ship date correct. She reassured me that she received a confirmation email about the Sept 5 date but another phone call later, she re-confirms that it is indeed the ship date and not the arrival date that she was reassuring me about. The deal from the rep ended up being another minor credit on the dress. I don't remember exactly what it was anymore, but it was along the lines of another $100. 

It's a Friday and after a long phone call with the owner, yet again, we come up with several solutions. 
1. I wait and hope the dress comes in on time and Novelle will cover all costs of my alterations. 
2. I buy the sample dress for $2000 so I have time to find an independent seamstress to alter it for me. 
3. I cancel my order. 
I ended the call with the understanding that I would get the weekend to think about my options. That evening, however, I get a call from the owner's husband. He starts off the conversation with saying how he heard that I was very upset and if I had any other questions for him. I told him that I just wanted to take the weekend to think through my options to which he responded, "What options do you think you have?" I tell him and he quickly corrects me saying that cancelling the order is not an option. The phone call went downhill from there. He informs me that my only options right now are to wait until the dress gets here or walk away from my deposit. I'm absolutely livid at this point and I will always remember the hot angry tears as I slam the phone down and cry out to Jamie my tears of frustration. 

Meanwhile, I'm telling everyone at work about my situation and my coworker tells me she also bought her dress from Novelle. She ended up purchasing a lace dress from them and although her dress was just over $1000, alterations were $700. She had it taken in and straps added. The seamstress told her that the straps were simple to add and it would be done quickly. After not hearing from them, she calls Novelle and they tell her the alterations aren't complete yet. Something that should have taken a couple hours is now taking over a week. She ends up getting her dress Friday afternoon right before she needs to leave town for her destination wedding. I brought this up to Novelle as another reason my confidence in their store has dwindled. Their response, "She never told us she was leaving town on Friday." ... 

On the following Monday, Jamie decides to go into Novelle to get everything in writing because their promises mean nothing now. He calls me from the store and tells me the owner is telling him the store is guaranteeing the dress to arrive no later than September 16th. If it doesn't arrive by then, I get a full refund of my deposit. The $200 credit will not be available if I choose to get the alterations covered. The owner also quoted Jamie a higher price for the sample dress than what was told to me before. I'm again very frustrated that Novelle is changing their word again especially when a part of that credit was apparently offered by Priscilla of Boston. My friend and I drive down to Novelle to meet Jamie. He tells me that the owner's husband is coming as well. He also tells me that he had yelled at the owner for the dress being late, in front of all the customers. 

When the owner's husband arrives, we all sit down to try and discuss the situation. It started off with Jamie and her husband arguing about whether the dress was late or not. The owner refused to admit the dress was late. "Late by what definition? I consider the dress late if it doesn't arrive in time for your wedding." Novelle originally told me the dress should arrive by mid-July. Now they're saying it should arrive by Sept 16 for my wedding date of October 1. The conversation quickly escalates to yelling and both men are so visibly upset that both their hands are shaking. I think because they were both upset, I actually managed to stay calm. I told them why we were upset and they kept asking what I wanted. My friend finally stepped in and said what I want is my deposit back, that I don't want the dress anymore because it no longer has good memories associated with it and it doesn't mean the same to me anymore. The husband's response, "I'm not a psychologist so I really don't know what to tell you to make you like the dress again." ... What. The. Eff.

I gave my closing argument. I told them that what I want is peace of mind. I want to get a refund of my deposit and I don't care what I get married in anymore. All I want is a dress, physically in my hands so that I can get started on my alterations. I reasoned with them that once the dress does come in, they can still sell the dress as a sample dress for a price that is almost identical to the price they were going to sell it to me for. (They had given me a 15% discount because of the Priscilla of Boston sale.) The loss to them would be very little, if any. I also asked them to disregard the business aspect for a moment and just think about me as a stressed out bride. They listened and told me they would think about the options and get back to me the next day. 

The next day, I get a call from Novelle asking me to go in. The owner tells me that they have decided to give me a full refund of my $1500. I'm ecstatic and relieved. After I leave the store, I call Urban Bride Delivered, which I've contacted prior, and ask her if I can swing by to try on some dresses. I end up finding a lace dress  that has sparkle and beading. Not my first love, but like I said before, I just need a dress at this point. For $500, I jumped and bought the consigned dress. 
The Priscilla of Boston Vineyard dress ($2675) and the Alfred Angelo consignment dress ($500)
 After $500 of alterations, the dress was brought down by over 4 dress sizes and all the crinoline layers were removed. I still loved my dress and at the end of the day, everything worked out.

What I learnt from this experience: Bridal stores get a confirmation fax/email once the order is submitted and they do not generally follow up or check in on your dress till close to the estimated ship date. I never did see the confirmation that Novelle claims they got. I'll never know if a confirmation was ever generated if Priscilla of Boston is saying an order was never placed. For all the brides out there, be diligent in checking up on your dress status. I was busy with my friend's wedding and just never got around to calling Novelle when mid-July came and went. I figured they would call me and when they did, instead of hearing that my dress was in, I heard that my dress wasn't even ordered. I definitely do not want this to happen to anyone else. 

A week later, I hear on the news that Priscilla of Boston is announcing that they are closing all their US stores to focus more on David's Bridal. They were going to fill all the orders that have been placed, but will not be taking any new dress orders. Wow. 


Bride-to-be said...

I just want to begin that I enjoy reading your blog, Sandy. I am a bride-to-be and stumbled across your blog a while back and I have been following your blog when you were engaged to now. I can't imagine what you went through with your engagement ring mishap and this awful experience at Novelle. I don't understand why the owner's husband got involved with the situation, it seems really unprofessional! I think you should rate them with BBB. I'm happy that it worked out in the end for you!

Sandy Khau said...

Bride-to-be: Thanks for following my blog. It's very humbling. To be fair, the husband got involved because I think he's also part owner? He is at the store often. In the end, it was a win win. I spent way less on a dress, I had a dress(!) and they didn't get a cent from me. If it didn't work out, I likely would've tried really hard to get my story heard.