Worst Shopping Experience Ever

As if shopping for a swimsuit is not painful enough.... I am here today to report on the Worst. Shopping. Experience. Ever. . . Courtesy of Lane Bryant, of course!

Last summer I found out about the swimsuit site called Swimsuits For All because of the Gabi-Fresh collaboration that they did. In case you don't read the whole post, I want to state from the beginning, my terrible shopping experience has nothing to do with Swimsuits For All and everything to do with Sonsi and Lane Bryant.

I've been wanting a new swimsuit for a really long time because the one I have now doesn't cover as much as I want now that I'm 40 and things aren't looking quite so fresh as they were 10 years ago. I live in Seattle; it doesn't get that hot here, and we don't have a ton of opportunities to swim, so I didn't want to spend a lot on a swimsuit. There actually are a lot of plus size so-called "modest" swimsuits out there, but a lot of them are produced by religious fundamentalists, are a little too modest for my tastes, and because they are specialty items, they're quite a bit more expensive than I wanted to pay.

One "modest swimwear" brand that I was thinking about was Hydro Chic, which is run by some Orthodox Jewish women, but the religious part of it is not so much in-your-face and they're not super duper expensive. I still might buy one of their swim skirts someday, but overall their stuff was still a little higher than I wanted to pay, and covered a little too much. Also, there are so many two-piece suits out there, and even though they cover a lot, I am not interested in having a top that could float up while I am in the water! 

So I was excited in early August when I saw Swimsuits For All had something called an "aquatard." It's like a regular sleeveless swimsuit on the top with straps, whereas a lot of the "modest" swimsuits have sleeves and cover a little too much for me. I don't love showing off my arms, but if I'm swimming, I don't want my arms to be constricted by sleeves. I also don't want to get a big old farmers tan if I do manage to swim outside. I just wanted something a little more on the bottom and I wasn't sure about wearing a skirt in case it would bunch up or get in the way. So when I saw this "aquatard," which is basically a swimsuit with bike shorts on the bottom, I got really excited. 

There are two ways to order from Swimsuits For All  and apparently I chose the wrong way. The right way is to just order directly from their site. However, they're also sold on Sonsi.com, which is Lane Bryant's mega site where they sell a bunch of different plus size brands. The advantage to shopping there is that you can use your Lane Bryant card, and you can pick things up for free shipping in the Lane Bryant store.

However .... my local Lane Bryant store (Seattle-Northgate) is probably the absolute worst retail store in the history of malls. Their customer service sucks. Their employees are the worst. One time I was shopping in there and I literally saw one of their employees picking her nose... while she was cashiering and a customer was standing right in front of her. Usually when I order things from Sonsi and have them delivered to the store, I watch the tracking because they always take a few days to call me, if they ever do. So this time, I saw the item had been delivered, waited a few days and then went in to get it, but they acted like they had never heard of the package. This is not the first time that's happened, actually. Last time I had something delivered there, same thing: no record of it, no clue. I had to talk the employee into actually going into the back and looking, and there it was.

Well, this time was even worse! They couldn't find it, and then told me they also couldn't find their mailbox key. They were supposed to get a new one the next day, and they took my number. So I waited to hear from them, but did not, and eventually filed a customer service ticket with Sonsi. Eventually I heard back from them something like "thanks for your feedback," they were going to tell the Lane Bryant district manager, and asked for my address (which they already have, BTW) so they could "send me something." No response about my swimsuit, though. I wrote them back and asked about the swimsuit again, and they wrote back saying they would send me a coupon. I wrote back a third time asking about the swimsuit, no response. At the point of Sonsi's second email, a whole week had gone by since I stopped in the store, and almost two weeks since the item had allegedly been delivered, so I called Lane Bryant's credit card support line and told them I didn't want to pay for it. They apologized and promptly took it off of my account. I said "Oh, OK, if they ever do call me, I will tell them to send it back." They said "No, that's fine, you can keep it. We're separate from Sonsi and your refund is not coming from Sonsi."

Um... OK? Well, I didn't expect to ever get my swimsuit. I didn't believe the store's story about losing their mailbox key. How can you run a business for weeks without being able to check your mail? At least see if the mail carrier will give it to you. The carrier has to have a key to put the stuff in there... right? So I was just like, OK, and hung up the phone, figuring I would order the swimsuit again from Swimsuits For All directly.

So, when the store finally called me, 29 days after I had placed the order, and said they had my package, I went in and got it, and now I have a free swimsuit. And a couple days after that, I heard back from Sonsi customer service, asking me if I had ever received my swimsuit. I didn't feel like descending into that circle of hell again, though, so I just ignored the email. And today I got my coupon in the mail for my "feedback." 25% off. ?? I mean.... they have better discount codes than that on a regular basis.

By the way, the swimsuit is awesome, and I highly recommend Swimsuits for All. In the middle of all this, I emailed them just to let them know what was happening, and did not ask for anything, just wanted them to know what terrible customer service both Sonsi and Lane Bryant had. They wrote me back almost right away thanking me for the information and apologizing for my bad experience. And here is the "aquatard." 

 I won't model it for you since I don't want to break the internet with the photos. But it fits great, covers great, and I am excited to have it. Next time I will order it directly though Swimsuits For All. In fact, I don't plan to ever shop at Lane Bryant again. Lane Bryant needs to realize there is a new world of plus-size fashion out there and they need to step up their game in both the quality of their products and their customer service. Plus size fashion is not a captive market any more! 


  1. Anonymous8:03 PM

    I've never had a problem there with customer service but I do have a problem with their own clothing line and quality. For the price they charge, I would expect my clothes not to fall apart after one day with light wear, that's before it's even washed.