Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Interesting Twist of Sephora Friends & Family

Many beauty bloggers publicized today's start of an online Sephora Friends & Family sale, with a 20% discount, running through November 2. I mentioned it earlier today in my Ultraflesh feature, and I tweeted it.

Mid-afternoon, I started reading about a scam involving the offer code and the site for obtaining it. I also heard that Sephora's Web site had "crashed." Because I had placed a large order this morning, I called Sephora Customer Service to find out the "real deal." Here it is.

This Friends & Family sale was not intended for V.I.B.'s, Beauty Insiders, or large categories of customers. It was intended to be a sale for "real" friends of Sephora employees, and somehow each employee was given codes or the link to distribute to a limited number of friends. I did not ask about the method they used for doing that; it was not a concern for me. I was interested in knowing if someone had stolen my e-mail address or credit card information, as was suggested on Twitter.

The lovely gal with whom I spoke gave me the scoop on the sale and what had been intended, and she assured me that my e-mail and credit card information were safe. She said my order would probably go through and be shipped, but cautioned that it was possible it would be cancelled. She also acknowledged that today's traffic had slowed the company's system, but not crashed it.

I wanted to share this information with you. Even with the mega-dollars I spend each year at Sephora, I don't always receive sale information in a timely manner, so it didn't seem unusual to me that I hadn't received a notice from Sephora about this particular sale.

If I were you, and I wanted that discount, I would trust that it's safe and try to place an order. Since it's a one-time-use code, I can't try again to test it and report whether the link and code still work. Sephora is aware that it was "leaked."

Hope this information helps clear up some of the confusion.

Logo courtesy of Sephora

20 comments:

Bunny Masseuse said...

I'll be interested to see how this plays out. After all, if Sephora "liked" someone's post on their Facebook wall about how the F&F helped them save tons of $$, isn't that kinda about face if they think it should not have been public at all? I mean you can't like your customers reporting they made out like bandits with great discounts and then turn around and deny them in the order processing. Not to say someone can't DO it, it just would probably be a PR nightmare they don't have the manpower to handle (much like the server hamsters today were having overload from demand, not as much demand on orders but browsing the site traffic). I heard my own rumors yesterday about who the F&F was available to from a VIB employee who answered their 1-888 line. Will have to wait and see how many of my orders went through in the end.

Charlestongirl said...

Bunny, I think all the orders went through. I also think Sephora knows their F&F for employee friends and family didn't go exactly as planned, but will honor the sales. It would be a debacle to deny them.

There is some blogger speculation that this was all "planned" - the regular fall F&F, but I'm not sure. I won't speculate about that. I believe they told me the truth when I called, and I suspect the link still works. :)

Ava said...

Wow, thanks. I didn't know enough to be concerned. Like you CG, I just thought that Sephora failed to send me a message re "F&F," as they have failed send similar notices before. Nor did I give much thought to the "crash" or, rather, the inability to access the site for 30 minutes. The Target debacle was much worse.

Charlestongirl said...

Ditto, Ava!

Target finally cancelled the last sweater from my order. I knew it wasn't coming, even though they had confirmed it. I returned the other two pieces, so they saved me the trouble.

Eileen said...

I imagine it would be quite the fiasco to try to distinguish between bonafide F&F purchases and those made by the rest of us who just followed a link to get a legit code. I think for those of us who got our orders in early, it's water under the bridge and there won't be any problems. For late comers, who knows, but I can't imagine Sephora wanting to deal with the wrath they'd incur (not to mention legal headaches) if they began canceling things smack dab in the middle of orders; honoring some, rejecting others. They know customers can easily take their holiday shopping dollars somewhere else, thus making it a lose-lose situation for Sephora.

Personally, I am thrilled to get any discounts or perks Sephora wants to give me and I regard them as gifts rather than entitlements. That we've been permitted to jump on their F&F bandwagon the past few years has been a boon for which we should all be thankful. Yes, Sephora has made a lot of money by opening their F&F sales up to all of us, but we have also saved a lot of money by participating in them. I think that makes us even. That said, Sephora really screwed up--big time! They obviously need to rethink their policies, strategies, and plans for implementation, but hopefully the situation will be quickly fixed to everyone's satisfaction.

AZ said...

Something I found to be really weird (if someone who read my post can help me clarify that'd be nice) is the fact that for the past couple of years, I've always gotten a card by snail mail for 20% off in store, and the timing of the card always worked out to be their FF sale.. so that's what I always assumed it is. Except that everytime I ask a Sephora employee they always ALWAYS say that they NEVER mail out 20% coupons and it has always been friends and family of employees who obtain cards from employees directly.. which just doesn't make sense. It's not like I printed out fake postcards myself.. so obviously Sephora is mailing them out.. I read on other blogs that even when people call up Sephora customer service about the whole shebang, they deny ever having postcards mailed out for FF sale.. what exactly does Sephora want? lol. All that ranting aside.. I'm still glad no matter what kind of deal they give out. I'm not unappreciative at all. It's just strange and confusing that every source seems to have a different opinion on this.

Charlestongirl said...

AZ, I receive postcards from Sephora on occasion, so I'd say you spoke with a pooly trained employee. Wouldn't be the first time! :)

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Eileen!

When I got going this morning, I read Sephora's Facebook page. There were a lot of questions about those pseudo-code e-mails they returned to those who entered their e-mail addresses. I guess no one noticed that the code also popped right up on the screen. Sephora consistently answered in each thread that they were working on technical issues. I guess they won't confirm or deny in writing that they didn't intend to have a big, general sale.

It sure caused a lot of commotion in the world of beauty addicts! It also confirmed that women are passionate about Sephora. If this debacle had been planned, I would dub it the strangest marketing strategy of all time.

Suselew said...

I got an email the day the sale started supposedly from Sephora with the same code that was generated when I went through the leaked link and typed in my email address. The odd part was that the email was sent in plain text and the code was hidden in all that HTML code. Did anyone else get that? I haven't heard that email mentioned by anyone else.

Charlestongirl said...

Suselaw,

My code was within the e-mail, embedded in all that HTML code (pages of it). When I searched for it, I found it.

Suselew said...

I can't figure out why I got the email since I'm only a VIB and that was not the intention of this F&F. And, I've never received that mess of an email from them before. It is obvious the planning and execution of this sale was poorly done.

Anonymous said...

I think perhaps they need to rename this sale and not call it a F&F because, at least from emails I've received from other retailers like Lord & Taylor, their F&F are open to everyone. They have your email, you are their friend! :) They could do a private employee sale and not stir the makeup madness pot. lol

Laura T. said...

I agree with the poster who said in the past she has received postcards with the F&F code from Sephora. I know last year I received one, and I believe that the year before I also got one - can't remember about years past that, but I assume I did! They have done this F&F sale for several years.

I definitely remember last year because the postcard also had the online code on it (the FF2010 one) and I used it both online and in the store.

I don't understand why suddenly this sale is so confusing and it is so difficult for Sephora to understand the problem.... It sounds almost like Sephora has some new "higher-ups" in the company that are making changes. Whatever the reason, it is extremely disingenuous of Sephora to suddenly take this attitude.

Nina said...

I realize this is only beauty products and not life or death but this whole Sephora thing has me furious! I have spent quite a bit of $ there over the years and have been a VIB since the program started. Every year I've received an email and snail mail card from them regarding the 20% "FF" . The situation this year is ridiculous! I'm now even more confused - are you saying that the code I managed to get for an online order is not valid? I went to the apparently "leaked" link and entered my email and it popped up. I haven't ordered yet because I'm so ticked off - what's the situation?

Charlestongirl said...

What's interesting to me how out of control F&F sales have become. When Saks started having theirs, they were truly for friends and family. Then suddenly they were for everyone. I guess they sold a lot. :)

Charlestongirl said...

Laura, Sephora does have at least one new executive, but I'd be reluctant to point at her for this strange event.

Charlestongirl said...

Nina, the code you got is valid. Use it! Use it soon before the items you want sell out. :)

Nina said...

Thank you so much for allowing everyone to vent! I understand that the original purpose of FF events at retail stores was to give employees a well-deserved treat for families and best customers, but I believe that technology has made keeping such a "secret" completely outdated and only engenders ill-will and resentment towards internet/retail outlets that continue to believe that they can offer clandestine deals.

Nina said...

Simply put the F&F sale is not the same from past sales. If you received an F&F email, there is a whole sign in process to get the code, and it's for online purchase only. If you want to purchase in store then you need the actual F&F card that an employee has given you. One time use only. Yeah it sucks. People, and whoever they can pass it on to, had it good when they could come in and use it multiple times throughout the duration of the sale. I thought it was a generous deal, compared to other department stores F&F sales. If it's a flagship Sephora, they’re making a lot of money. Smaller stores not so much. I'm not surprised this year they changed it up and made it more exclusive. Or tried to make it more exclusive. lol.

Nina said...

And as a VIB, you get your own separate sale. Both 20% or 15% right before Christmas. No worries. It clear that Sephora wanted only employee friends and family to take advantage of the sale this year. And email a few people the code. I do know the code was suppose to be a customized code given when you enter your email. It's curious how a code was broadcasted to the masses for use. Being a onetime purchase at that. That’s the only changes I've noticed. I'm not stressing it because there's more discounts to come before the holidays.