New York, New York

Just a quick note to say that starting tomorrow I will be away in fabulous NYC baby!!! I won't be back until around March 9th.

Bad Karma For Bedo

In September, I blogged about the perks of good customer service and lenient refund/exchange policies to retailers after having a great customer experience at Old Navy when I exchanged a pair of jeans. (Click here for the original post.) Yesterday I experienced the exact opposite when I went to Bedo with my friend Lucas. Somone had tipped him off about a great end-of-season sale at the Bedo location on Granville and Robson, so we made that our first stop.

After about twenty minutes of browsing and deliberation, Lucas settled on a basic striped button-down shirt he'd found in a pile of shirts under a big sign that said $34.90. He was pretty ambivalent about the shirt itself (it was a boring basic), but he figured $35 was a pretty good price for a basic shirt and decided to go for it. The sales girl at the cash register rang it through and the price came to $67. Surprised, Lucas checked the price tag, and then said he didn't want the shirt anymore and wanted a refund. The assistant manager, who was behind the counter with the sales girl, said that he couldn't get a refund and could only exchange the shirt "because it's store policy not to give refunds." Lucas and I then spent a very frustrating half hour talking to the assistant manager, who refused to give him his money back.

This was how the conversation went...

Lucas's arguments:
  • He'd just bought the shirt and hadn't even left the store yet. It wasn't like he'd walked out and then came back to the store and demanded a refund.

  • They didn't say anything about "no refunds" when they were ringing it through.
    The shirt hadn't been worn or anything. If they put it back on the hanger and back out on the floor, they could easily resell it.

  • The way they'd merchandised the shirt was misleading and he wasn't aware it cost that much.

  • He refused to sign his credit card slip if they didn't refund his money and asked to speak to the store manager.

The assistant manager's arguments:
  • It's store policy not to give refunds. She'd lose her job for doing it and her supervisor the store manager would as well.

  • The policy was on a piece of paper taped near the cash register and there for all customers to see.

  • The store manager was off-duty and could not be contacted to give her permission to do a refund.

  • If Lucas refused to sign the credit card slip, he'd be charged for the shirt anyway because she can send it to the head office.

My arguments in support of Lucas:
  • Bedo is supposed to be a reputable national chain and it's ridiculous that they don't do refunds. If they were a small independent retailer it'd be understandable, but come on...I've worked in retail, and not for a big chain but for an independent retailer, and even there the refund/exchange policy was quite liberal.

  • This was an example of poor customer service, and surely the manager and assistant manager could exercise discretion in Lucas's particular situation.

In the end, Lucas refused to sign the slip and insisted that the assistant manager call the manager, which she did after a huffy "You're making this quite hard for me." The manager obviously said yes, because after five minutes (during which the assistant manager looked like she was ready to explode over the phone), the manager was talking the assistant manager through how to reverse the transaction and refund the money back onto Lucas's card. All the while, the assistant manager kept saying over the phone, "I've never done this before." Lucas got his money back and said a very civil yet curt "Thank you" after the assistant manager gave him his receipt with a very sulky expression.

Looking back I can only conclude that this assistant manager was way out of line and behaved like an absolute cow. Perhaps she refused Lucas a refund so adamantly because she didn't know how to do a refund transaction on the credit card terminal but didn't want to admit it. In that case, I think Bedo did a crappy job of training its employees. After having worked retail for over four years, I think any retail employee worth his/her salt should know how to ring different types of transactions through. Any way you look at it, this was a terrible customer service experience. She threatened to charge Lucas for a purchase he didn't want to make?!? Ridiculous.
I advise readers of this blog to stay away from the Bedo location on Granville and Robson unless you want to get burned. Even if you're getting something from Bedo, go to the Metro or Coquitlam Centre locations. I know that it's going to be a long time before I shop there again.

Daiso Loot

Last weekend I made my semi-annual trip to Daiso to stock up on some essentials. For those of you who don't know what Daiso is, it's a notable Japanese 100 yen store chain which opened its first North American location in Richmond, BC - roughly a one hour drive from where I'm situated in Vancouver. After conversion rates, everything in Daiso is $2 Canadian. The range of Daiso products is amazing and covers housewares, health and beauty products, toys, stationery, and so on. It's kind of like a two-storey dollar store except that everything in Daiso is kitschier, in cuter packaging, and is much better quality than what you'd find in an average dollar store.

For me, two of the most interesting sections of Daiso to explore are the beauty and clothing care sections. The selection is bewildering and there's so much to look at! Some of it seems like junk but some of it is fantastic, and at $2 a pop the price is certainly right. Here are some of my favourite things to look for if you ever have a chance to go to Daiso.

Beauty loot

Eyeshadow palettes. If you like experimenting with eyeshadow but hate paying high prices for little compacts that only have a couple colours in each, you can easily stock up on as many colours as you'd like at Daiso. The nice part about this is that if a colour doesn't work out for whatever reason you can always toss it without feeling like you wasted a ton of money. I spent a long time examining the different single/duo/triple/quad colour combo compacts in the eyeshadow section before I settled on two compacts with three shades each: one compact had charcoal, silver, and winter white, while the other one had two shades of green and a white shadow. The colours were pretty and wearable by themselves or blended with each other.

Blotting papers. Blotting papers can work miracles for a shiny T-zone, but the only ones I've managed to find in drugstores are the Johnson's Clean and Clear ones which have powder on them and come in packs of 50 for about $7 a pack. Not only are they kind of overpriced, I'm not too keen on the powder because overuse can clog pores and cause blemishes. Daiso has 250-packs of blotting papers that don't have powder. Fold a couple and stash them in a clutch, and you're all set for an evening out.

Brushes, applicators, and eyelash curlers. Sure you can find this sort of stuff in normal dollar stores and drug stores, but you won't be able to find the same selection and quality for that price.

Travel toiletry bottles. Ditto.

Makeup cases. Zip cases and plastic caddies galore.

Clothing care loot

Clothes hangers.
Daiso has quite a selection of clothes hangers, including a ton with clips on them for trousers and skirts. The best find, however, has to be the wooden hangers with sculpted shoulders - perfect for hanging up heavy winter coats.

Shoe and leather cleaners. The best leather cleaner for shoes that I've ever found is a small blue tube of cream cleaner from Daiso. That stuff took the blue stains from my dark denim jeans out of my beige Nine West slides and left the leather looking like new. On my recent sojourn to Daiso, I discovered that they also have leather cleaners available in handy disposable wipes. Each wipe detaches into two halves to make for easy shoe cleaning. How brilliant is that?

Lint brushes. I've had my Daiso lint brush for a couple years now, and it's by far the best lint brush I've ever found for my clothes.

AE Small Triple Tote Bag

For most university and college students, February and March usually herald the much-needed reading break or spring break vacation, a week to unwind and let off some steam, or a chance to go someplace hot, sunny, and exciting. Whether you're partying in Puerto Vallarta or dancing up a storm in the Dominican Republic, you don't want to be burdened by too much luggage. Any clothes and accessories you bring along should do double-duty and be stylish and versatile.

This is why I'm so in love with the small triple tote bag from American Eagle Outfitters ($34.50) right now. This handy bag does quadruple duty as a day bag big enough for your sunglasses, water bottle, sunscreen, and guidebook when you're sightseeing; a beach tote when you're tanning by the ocean or poolside; a handbag for dinner and a stroll along the boardwalk; and a wristlet for your money, phone, hotel key, and lip gloss when you go out clubbing and partying at night. Don't let the fact that this is a distinctly casual look deter you: most of the time people tend to dress a little more casual and summery in hot getaway locales anyway, making this canvas and twill tote perfect for all occasions.


Quoted: Francesca Lia Block

This quote comes from one of my favourite short stories of all time, "Safe Love" by Francesca Lia Block, and I dedicate it to whoever spent this Valentine's Day reveling in their singleton status and having a good time like I did.

When he is gone I think that I may cry. But I don't. There is the strangest feeling of calm. I know Eloise will be home in the morning with vegan blueberry muffins and a cantaloupe. She will say, "Sabrina, your love must not depend on sad-eyed boys. You can be in love with sunflower dresses and vegan lasagna and Rice Krispies Treats and rain and skateboarding and Martha Graham and angel fountains. Then the sad-eyed boys will come. Eventually their fear will fade and they will come."

Eloise is in love with Botticelli, but she is also in love with everything. Her mother left her and her father and now he lives alone. Smoking and smoking, writing stories about what happened to him in the concentration camps. He weeps every night, Eloise tells me. But his daughter was born laughing with her hands open, outstretched to the world. Eloise just falls in love with everything again and again.

LIFE IS THE BIG ROMANCE, it says on Eloise Opiate's mirror.

Quoted: Me!

Me: *whoosh*
Me: did you hear that?
Friend: nope
Me: that's the sound of my respect for those two fleeing the building

-Me on MSN, recounting to another friend the story of two guy friends who decided to randomly block me on MSN and see how long it'd be before I said something or got mad.

My First Sample Sale

As much as I love to shop, I am ashamed to say that I've never been to a sample sale until now. Circumstances always have a way of preventing me somehow. Those pesky work deadlines have to be met and usually they fall somewhere in the afternoon, making it hard to go to the sample sales that begin around 4pm. And if you're not at the sale right when it starts, what are your chances of getting the best stuff before it's all been picked over?!

The first time I had a chance to go, my friend mizzj over at Being High Maintenance, Not Bitchy invited me to the Tension Clothing sample sale, which I sadly missed because I had an important deadline on the Friday that it started. I was left reading her account of how much fun she had and what cool stuff she found, stewing in my own envy. Therefore when another friend told me about the Narcissist Clothing sample sale taking place on Friday February 8th, I was determined to go, deadlines be damned. Narcissist is a local designer known for its dresses and feminine separates, and all of their clothing is manufactured in Canada. I honestly wasn't that impressed with the offerings on their website; to me the designs seemed a bit plain and not unlike the umpteen different matte jersey dresses and separates I can find elsewhere. But I trusted my style-savvy friend who told me she "lurves" their dresses.

Well, the afternoon of the sale itself, somehow our communication wires got crossed and my friend thought I was going to this other sample sale in Vancouver's trendy South Main district that she'd told me about. Then she decided she was too burnt out and broke to go to either one, and I ended up going to the Narcissist sample sale by myself. I was one of the first in the door and all business as I browsed the two racks in the small studio space. One part of the room was partitioned off with a white canvas curtain as the communal changing area. With three dresses, a sweater, and a skirt draped over my arm, I headed behind the curtain.

I remember the half-competitive, half-sisterly atmosphere at the Army and Navy shoe sale as women helped their friends find shoes in their sizes and eyed the shoes in other women's baskets at the same time. The Sisterhood of the Sample Sale Communal Fitting Room is exactly that but magnified. I tried on a gray wraparound sweater with a white skirt. The white skirt was a maybe and I put it aside; the sweater didn't quite look right on me and I decided not to go for it.

The white skirt and the gray sweater:

I pulled those off and put on a silver sequined chiffon sheath with a ruched chiffon empire waist. One girl who was trying on an irridescent teal dress saw my silver dress on me and said, "I saw that out there too. Do they have that in another size?" I said I didn't know. Moments later she returned with the dress I had on, saying, "I saw how good it looked on you and decided to try it on." In the end neither of us got it; the waist felt very binding on that dress and the sequins scratched our arms and faces as we pulled it off.

The teal dress the girl tried on:

Next I tried on a lacy irridescent brown dress. The women standing on either side of me cooed over how good it looked, and the one on my left (who was roughly my size) left the changing room to find one to try on. (Much to my catty satisfaction, the one she found was one size smaller than mine and too tight for her so she didn't buy it.) I definitely felt like a million when I saw my reflection. I felt even better when one of the saleswomen came behind the curtain and crowed loud enough for everyone there to hear, "That dress is perfect on you! The colour, the fit, everything, and with those pearls you're's like it was made for you."

The dress that turned out to be a clear winner:

Beaming, I took it off and pulled on a very Blair Waldorf, very preppy nautical-inspired light blue cotton sundress with navy trim. (The woman on my left saw the dress on the hanger and asked if she could have it if it didn't work out for me.) Unfortunately, I didn't have as much luck with this dress; the zipper wouldn't even do up! I pulled it off and passed it on. She tried it on and the zipper did zip for her, but she felt so constricted in it she decided to pass on the dress as well.

In the end I went with the white skirt (originally $99, marked down to $19) and the lacy brown dress (originally $155, marked down to $75). My total came to just a little over $100 after taxes. Given that I'm trying to cut down on my expenditures and save up money to go to New York and do a bit of traveling later this year, I suppose it's a good thing I didn't find too much to my liking at the Narcissist sample sale, but what I did find was well-made, unique, and really really cute on me!

So, let me conclude this post with two pics of me looking awesome in my first ever sample sale finds:


Happy Chinese New Year!

What are the chances that my lucky red envelopes this year will come in a lucky red envelope clutch?

Kensington lady bag (clutch), Banana Republic, $98

Translated: Juanes

Many of us have had relationships that sour because they change from something that was wonderful to something that reduces us to tears. Sometimes we have to watch friends go through this heartbreaking process as well, as I have had too much occasion to do these past few weeks. At some point, we have to say that the situation is unacceptable and move on.

I think that my favourite song of the moment, "Clase de Amor" by Juanes, says it all. The speaker in the song has had his heart broken by a certain woman one too many times and refuses to accept the type of love she offers him. It's certainly an anthem for those of us who can't tolerate a broken relationship any longer and want to set themselves free! This is my rough translation of Juanes's lyrics, and I'm dedicating it to anyone who's hung up and feels frustrated by a less-than-ideal love life. You can listen to the song here.

Clase de Amor ("Sort of Love")

Now you know nobody loves you like I do
That nobody has given you his heart like I did mine
Now I can't tolerate this much longer
I believe that I'll be better off alone, better than with bad company
This was not what you and I agreed to do yesterday

I know that after the torment comes the calm
But I don't see calmness in you, nor how to have it with all this drama
It's impossible for me to keep quiet now
It's impossible if you ignore me, and then you cry because I distance myself
This was not what you and I agreed to do yesterday

If this is the sort of love that you offer me
You're mistaken, I can't accept it
If this is how you love me better then I distance myself
Find me if you want to when you're cured
See how you broke down the motor and I exploit my heart
I see that you have no more remedies to offer me.

If someday you cure yourself, if someday I forgive
It's possible that we can go back and mend everything
For now no, for now no, for now no, for now no...
I'm sorry
This was not what you and I agreed to do yesterday

If this is the sort of love that you offer me
You're mistaken, I can't accept it
If this is how you love me better then I distance myself
Find me if you want to when you're cured
See how you broke down the motor and I exploit my heart
I see that you have no more remedies to offer me.

The Meta Purse

In my first year of university, I was introduced to the idea of meta fiction, a piece of fiction that knows it's fiction and attempts to deconstruct its own form and literary devices by pointing out its constructed nature within the narration. Well, today as I was browsing through the Lulu Guinness website, I found a meta purse: a purse that knows it's a purse and attempts to deconstruct its own pursey nature and compartmentalization by mocking how women have to overcomparmentalize their purses to the point of inanity.

Tallulah handbag from Lulu Guinness, 795 pounds

It's a lovely purse and I do love the compartments, but at that price I think I'll just have to settle for a purse that's a little less ironic.
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