Ever since we were young teenagers, Sephora has been a part of our basic existence. It’s where we would go when we had enough cash, just to get lost in cosmetic bliss for a few hours. But, it was also the place where we discovered that we needed to be making bucket-loads more money if we want to fully satisfy our product cravings. It’s notoriously easy to head into Sephora, just to get some more foundation or perfume, and suddenly do a double-take when we run up a $500 bill at the register. It’s just way too easy to get lost in the beauty wonderland that is Sephora.
But, lately, the beauty chain has been under fire for their lack of honesty with their customers - in more ways than one. Not only have customers had it up to *here* with the beauty chain's antics, but even former employees have stepped forward in order to help uncover some unfortunate things that seem to go on right under the noses of their customers. We suppose you can only upset an employee so much before they decide they’ve had enough, and are willing to out you all over the internet.
Here are 20 reasons why the uber famous Sephora managed to lose our trust.
One of the main things that have come out about Sephora within the recent years tends to revolve around the beauty product testers at their stores.
Apparently, the employees never really switch them out unless it’s extremely necessary and they don’t even usually go to great lengths to even “clean” their most used testers.
Especially when it comes the mascara on their shelves. Everyone knows that bacteria breeds and that it’s extremely unhealthy to have multiple people try on eye makeup. This is how some people get eyesores. It’s always best to avoid using the testers if possible.
Speaking of which, former employees even discussed the most unhygienic things they’ve witnessed customers do to their testers. One woman came in and claimed that one of the testers gave her rash after using one in the store. On another occasion, one former employee claims that she saw a customer pluck their eyebrows with display tweezers. The employee disregarded the pulled hairs all over aisle floors. If you’ve ever worked at Sephora, it was only a matter of time before you witnessed a customer do some pretty unspeakable things to testers and to products. But when you read about it in black and white, man is it gross.
In the past, the good aspects about Sephora used to outweigh the bad, though over the years, the complaints have been rising and everyone is now asking certain questions.
There are times when new products would arrive, and the bottles would be half-empty (like perfume or lip gloss or even shampoo) and the employees were still supposed to put it out for customers to purchase.
If that’s not truly deceptive, I really don’t know what is. And it’s the not the employee’s decision to do this, it’s the managers’ decisions, which usually come from even higher up the food chain.
Ah yes, one of the latest scandals that revolve around Sephora.
A little while ago, it was revealed that Sunday Riley, a famous brand of skin care products, actually would encourage employees to open up fake accounts and give positive Sunday Riley reviews.
This brought almost everything that Sephora did into question in regard to their employees. It’s often showed that online product reviews are extremely important to buying customers (we assume that Sunday Riley had this sweet info) AND to beauty bloggers who test and review the products ahead of time for their businesses. How will we ever trust Sephora again...
We all knew someone growing up within our group of friends that tended to brag about how they would get away with getting a “five-finger discount” at some department stores. But these days, some culprits have actually gotten more creative when it comes to not paying for products from Sephora… and a tad bit grosser. One employee said that she “once saw a woman break off tester lipsticks, put them in a tissue, and walk out of the store.”
An employee said that she once watched a woman actually bite the lipsticks off and “spit them into a pill container.”
What the heck? And then Sephora leaves those used-up testers on the shelves for the rest of us to touch...
This was a biggy. When you usually walk into a Sephora, you see a bunch of different “cast members” stalking the floor and speaking with customers who appear to be interested in different beauty products. Well, usually, when it comes to any other department store, the employees are trained in multiple beauty products so they can offer a customer a wider array of choices. However, when it comes to Sephora, former employees have said that they’re only really schooled in ONE specific beauty product while only touching base on the others. So if you’re more directed toward, say Bare Essentials over Too Faced, you know why.
Sephora is known for their pretty loosey-goosey return policy, and yes, most employees have seen it all when it comes to the return policy. Usually, you can return a product used and will receive an entire refund (really, who actually makes a profit off of that?) One employee said that she once had to deal with a customer who returned an expensive face cream that she had purchased, but it was clear that the customer had actually scooped the cream out from its original container, put it in a different container, and then “filled the original container with mayonnaise and returned it for a full refund.” WHO DOES THAT? And when Sephora used to be known for putting their returned products back on the shelves... we're shaking our heads.
Along with the Sephora lingo, you have your costumes that go along with it. There’s a reason why Sephora employees tend to act like they’re working a production rather than behind the counter at a beauty department store. Turns out, if you’re employed by Sephora, you need to wear a certain amount of makeup – their makeup especially.
“We had a minimum amount that we had to wear every day and we got written up if we didn’t wear it,” one former employee said on Reddit.
“In the beginning it was fun, but when I started working the opening shift I really started to hate having to put that much makeup on at 6 in the morning.” Come on, Sephora, be better!
As with any department store who work off commission, the pressure to be a dang good salesperson is pretty heavy, especially around the holidays. The thing is, some employees are there just to make a decent buck, not be involved in a massive production that puts pressure on their workers to sell, sell, SELL. The odd thing with Sephora is that – THEY DON’T WORK OFF COMMISSION, so you’d assume the pressure is off, right? Nope. They base “rewards” with their employees off of online customer reviews and hourly sale goals.
You just know that even though there’s no commission, it’s still a competition between the sales reps at the store – especially around the holidays.
How are we supposed to trust the employees if we know they're just trying to get us to write good reviews about them?
We get it, free perks always appear to be too much of a good thing. We usually get them wherever we tend to shop, if by having a “club” card or something along those lines. When it comes to Sephora, we usually get points that we can redeem for free goodies. But, the bad thing about those is that they tend to expire at some pretty inconvenient times. The thing with that is, you really need to read the fine print.
The company wants you to REGULARLY be using your points so you keep coming back for more, so they really aren’t attending to the needs of real shoppers.
If you go onto the Sephora website, you’ll see that there are a lot of customer complaints when it comes to Sephora’s version of Amazon Prime (where they can upgrade and get free shipping for Sephora items).
This includes people not receiving samples, getting the wrong Limited Edition box (which Sephora did try to fix unsuccessfully) and being charged twice for their monthly boxes.
Not only that but a lot of the time, their online chat wasn’t available either, which caused flustered customers to have to call in and complain. While this Sephora option is still fairly young, it has a lot of bugs to fix.
It’s easy to see why some former employees tend to throw Sephora under the bus, especially if you look at some of the employee reviews on numerous sites like Indeed and Glassdoor. Not only do some of them have to go through some pretty hefty training, they don’t get paid as much as they should. While Sephora will actually put you through a “beauty college” of sorts for their makeup artists and stylists, it’s honestly not worth the busy shifts and constantly complaining customers. Even in some of the busy stores (like in NYC or Los Angeles), the management tends to be poor according to some Indeed reviews, and that’s never a good thing.
In every work environment, people will get testy over their managers or bosses. It happens all the time. Heck, there wouldn’t even be comedy if this never happened (heck, there wouldn’t be The Office if this never happened!). While if you look at Indeed.com or Glassdoor.com, you’ll notice that while a majority of the reviews tend to be high, there are a great deal of very low ones. “The management has never had any kind of structure, respect, or any sense of being thankful to their employees,” one review said. “I worked my way to management… and the last 6-8 months were the worst ever!”
Working in retail around the holidays can be both be extremely rewarding and extremely stressful, especially the closer it gets to the holidays (or if you’re one of the unlucky ones that decide to work in a mall the day after Thanksgiving – yikes!), but if you happen to work at Sephora, you know that the holidays are extra stressful.
Staff are pressured to make tons of sales, and work long hours on the busiest days of the year.
Holiday deals tend to go up and that seems to bring all the bargain shoppers out of their hiding place – especially if they want to act on some fleeting holiday deals. This isn’t necessarily untrustworthy, but it certainly is a nightmare for not only the employees but the customers as well.
When it comes to Sephora, you tend to take the good with the bad when it comes to customer service. Sometimes, you get someone who actually loves their job and will get you what you’re asking for (like a refund or such), but more often than not, you’ll get someone who is not having a very good day. Given, their job is EXTREMELY difficult since they have to deal with people who are angry about a product they ordered that has some sort of defect. Given, over the years, Sephora has perfected their customer service experience with a “futuristic” omnichannel that helps with the experience, but that doesn’t always suit every sort of customer, especially those who prefer the old fashion method.
Sephora employees say that you've got to work your way up the Sephora ranks, and have to start out as a cashier.
Then, you can slowly work your way up to one of the makeup artists you see working on the floor (the ones who always aide customers with their makeup.) But what does it really mean to be “certified” in that department? Well, according to former Sephora makeup artists, it’s worth it… at first. “I worked at a high volume store for 6 years,” one former artist states. “The experience was great for an artist at first because you get to work with all ages, race(s), and skin tones. I’d say you only need 2 years max to get the experience you need. The coordinators are highly annoying because they do not help out and Sephora can be very overwhelming and stressful. You do ALL the work.”
Those who work there are not referred to as “employees” exactly, but rather “cast members” which doesn’t really have a nice ring to it if you’ve ever worked as an actor. Sephora tends to treat their entire franchise like it’s one big production – and which, at times, it truly is – but to be called a “cast member” instead of an employee or, perhaps, a “beauty consultant” or “product consultant?” More often than not, productions tend to go wrong and aren’t always run so smoothly. It’s just odd, but apparently fitting to the lingo Sephora uses (which is touched upon later).
If you haven’t heard any horror stories surrounding used products that are returned from famous department stores, you haven’t really been paying much attention. A couple years back, you were able to return any product to Sephora – no question asked. Now, they aren’t as chill about it thanks to employees saying that (some) stores would restock the returned product. This was actually a big thing a little while ago and the backlash was so vivid that they had to reevaluate their return policy on some of their beauty products. And that’s okay with those of us who enjoy keeping good hygiene.
Free samples here! Free samples there! Sephora is known for the free sample products they give out whenever you purchase a certain amount of products or spend a certain amount of cash at their stores. Heck, you can even receive a free sample of a beauty product without having to buy anything first! While that sounds like a good deal, there are some hoops you have to jump through in order to get a certain amount of samples. This is always one of the perks with Sephora, but a lot of times if you find a way to get more than one sample, especially online, the wrong ones will be sent to you, and that can be a major drag.
Let’s face it, despite all it’s strange problems and odd habits when it comes to their employees and even when it comes to their makeup testers (I’m still thinking about the ick factor there a little), we will never really stop shopping there. Given, there are a few of the inconveniences that don’t overshadow the incredible place the department store really is. More often than not, we walk out of there with a smile on our face and have had better experiences more so than bad ones, and while those bad ones shouldn’t be overlooked in any sort of capacity, they won’t make us stop loving our favorite department store.