I used to be an avid fan of Ulta. Until one day I stopped by the York PA location...
I was looking for Ojon oil. A SA at another Ulta had recommended it for her 100% beautiful Hispanic/Puerto Rican ringlets. So I decided to head to York and ask the manager where to find. She was small talking and I told her about the SA who had GREAT results. This manager wrinkled her semi middle aged face as if I said something so beneath her and that she was disgusted.
Maybe she dislikes or knows the SA but I think something more sinister was the root cause.
I do not want the manager of a store I spend over 2 grand at a year to be a nasty racist. Or smug.
I am white but I have noticed Ulta does NOT cater to other ethnicities. I will not support this behavior. Sephora was the FIRST to carry ethnic products before some of them are now "mainstream".
Ulta's overall attitude is turning into a Wal-Mart of beauty. Trashy. I cut back ALOT simply because this encounter stuck with me so much I refuse to shop at Ulta.
Oh-reading the reviews by MUA'ers are so funny, I just had to add my own! I thought it was just my own Ulta that was bad. When it first opened, the service was good (of course), the ladies were helpful, not too pushy, and samples were offered to customers. They even had SA's that knew the product lines. That was years ago it seems. How times have changed.
It seems we all have horror stories and I'll tell you my own. I wanted a haircut one day. I went in around dinnertime and was told they "don't take walk-ins". Ok. This was about 6 p.m. mind you, early enough in the day, since they don't close till 9 p.m., so the SA suggested I make an appointment. No one was sitting in a chair, there wasn't anyone waiting, and no one else had their hair done while I was in the store. I said I'd check my calendar and call back. When I called back from home, I was told they don't take anyone after 7 p.m., even though they don't close until 9 p.m. "well, because we don't. We have other things we have to do in the salon." I asked what about people that work during the day? They said "those people would have to take time off to come in because we're that good and people do come in early anyway". Oh really? I never did get my hair done at an Ulta. I guess my hair wasn't good enough for their scissors.
Next story. It was my birthday and Benefit advertises a free brow wax for your birthday at Ulta. Just come in on your birthday. So I did. Guess what? No Benefit SA available. So another SA tells me to come back another day and tell them that the Benefit girl wasn't there that day. So a few days later I come back again (I live 20 miles away, mind you), and again, the Benefit SA went home early (at 7 p.m.). So I inquire, so when exactly is this brow thing available for the working class? Am I supposed to run here right after work? The girl says "Well, IDK, she's never here at night." By the time I was able to reach the Benefit SA, I was told too much time had passed after my birthday and the offer wasn't available, but I could pay for one if I wanted. I never did get it done.
Next story. I was shopping foundations. No testers. I'm looking at PTR's foundations and would like to match a color. I'm standing there looking for a SA. Finally, one comes around and I ask if I can get a match. She walks away and comes back with fragrance paper swatch. She sticks it in one bottle and then hands it to me and walks away. There's my match. Like it or leave it, I guess. On a piece of paper, no less. Here's your color. I felt like it had been torn out of a magazine.
I had made a purchase of close to 200 dollars and asked for some samples to be put in the bag. The cashier told me they didn't have any. After I just dumped 200 bucks and they don't have one sample? The manager overheard the cashier and runs over and tells her she's wrong, they most certainly do. She tells me to wait, she will make a special sample package for me after the cashier just treated me so rudely. And she goes into the drawers behind the register where there are piles of samples. Obviously samples that they don't give out to the customers.
In all the time I've been shopping there, there has only been one nice SA who knew the products, gave out samples (knowing customers that tried and liked would come back and purchase), and was genuinely friendly. Lately, anyone that works there is rushed and isn't interested in helping anyone out. Perhaps Ulta needs to re-think their sales model.
Last story: I was looking around the store (always on my own, they no longer have any help) when I finally found an SA to inquire about a product in a particular line. I asked questions about a moisturizer in Philosophy. She really didn't have any answers for me, was hemming and hawing and looking every way but at me. Finally, she said, "Well, you could buy it and that would tell you your answers." Yep, it would. I could also drive across the street to Sephora where they could tell me about the product, sample it on me, give me a sample to go home with it if I so desired, too.
Ulta still sends me coupons sometimes and if I'm so inclined I'll go there just to find something cheap enough that I might need to use that coupon on. Otherwise, I won't go out of my way to step foot in that store anymore. It's just not a friendly feeling anymore. And it's becoming more of a Bargain Basement atmosphere, too.
Waited for ages to get one in my part of the world after listening to so many talk about it on You Tube. Now I have easier access to it than to Sephora and at first I found myself going there often - using their coupons and gathering up "points" to use for other purchases. I do like the fact that they have these consumer perks and I also like the variety of products & prices of products they carry.
However, I have found over time that I am going back to Sephora more - for several reasons. First, I admit to loving some of the high end make up brands that Sephora sells (Laura Mercier, Dior & Nars) and I like how one can experiment with the products and easily get samples. Secondly, I find the Sephora SA's more informed, generally which is helpful. Finally, I get frustrated at the "prestige" vs other brands way in which the coupons apply. All that said, I still frequent Ulta regularly and find that they carry some brands (Nyx) that no one else does.
Bottom line is that it's not all that I thought it to be but I just love make up and so I enjoy the store!
I ordered from Ulta for years but in this day and age when companies are vying for your patronage I simply cannot imagine any place offering customer service as bad as Ulta so I will not continue to order from them. Actually, it's not just bad...it's nonexistent. You can find the products they offer here at the same price or less at many other sites on the net so there's no reason to put up with bad customer service. Even their points program is a joke compared to what you can get from other companies. Do yourself a favor, buy elsewhere. WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE ON THE NET.
I love my nearest Ulta -- never had any bad experiences with SAs or the overall store. The SAs never badger me or try to sell a product (which is almost always the case with Sephora); because of this reason alone I will continue shopping there. I absolutely DETEST when a sales associate won't leave me alone. I'm usually the type that knows what I want when I go in there or I just want to browse to check out all the new products or plan future purchases. If I need help I'll ask for it! Anyway, my particular store is always clean and well-organized. Prices could be better (high-end stuff is on par with Sephora, but drugstore tends to be slightly higher than, say, Walmart or CVS. However, they always have some sort of BOGO or deal, so that works out if you wanna stock up your favorites from a particular brand. I also love that they carry brands like NYX, which aren't readily available. All in all, a wonderful store -- truly a girl's playground!
The nearest Ulta from me is 20 minutes away. I go there maybe twice a year JUST to LOOK around. The store is clean except the clearance aisle which I don't touch, god knows how many people touch or tested them, ick. Where do they hire these people from??? The first time I went, I was looking for OPI Nail Envy. Not the nail strengthener or the top coat. The first SA I asked was clueless on where the OPI line is. She and I walked all over the store trying to find it. Then she took a personal phone call from her boyfriend and left me standing in the middle of the Essie line. Well, I have to say, I found it on my own by turning around and seeing the whole line of OPI nail polishes. There was the Nail Envy! But it was priced higher than I liked, and I can find it cheaper somewhere else. There was another SA who was drifting around doing nothing and there was a nametag on her chest "Smashbox", who proceeded to lead me to her line to "make me over", and I politely refused to her. She kept insisting. I kept saying no. Back and forth. Geez, leave me alone! She walked away in a huff. I went back to the front of the store to test out the fragrances and there were no testers! I asked another SA who was also doing nothing if she could open a bottle so I can test it. She said "No, we don't do that here" Huh? How am I supposed to buy anything there if I can't test it? The nearest Sephora to me is the one in JCPenney, in which they have limited stock and not all the new fragrances.. The free-standing retail Sephora is 2 hours away. Ulta was nearer, but if they continued to act like this to customers, they are doing a really good job of it! Sorry, Ulta, I will LOOK around but I will be buying online from Sephora. And I don't know how they can get away with the high prices on the drugstore line! And there's a Target next door to them!
I love Ulta. The stores I go to are always clean and organized. I don't ask for help when I shop but whenever I check out the girls are always cheerful and friendly. It is true that the drugstore brands (Revlon, Loreal, ect) are waaaay overpriced, sometimes costing $2-$5 more than anywhere else. However, they also have brands that are a bit difficult to find (NYX, China Glaze) and often have buy one get one, or some other sales promotion going on. I have gotten some great deals here as a result of sales combined with a coupon. I can shop without getting hounded by employees and I've never had any trouble finding anything. One other downside is their coupons are a bit confusing, and sometimes exclude things you'd think would be included in the promotion.
There are two Ultas where I live; one gets a five-star and one gets ONE star. Guess which one is closest to my house? Yes, the one that is the most hideous. I go out of my way (and almost 20 miles) to go to the GOOD Ulta store. It's staffed by very young but very NICE gals who let me shop, don't ride my a$$, and are nothing but great every time I go in.
I have had an ongoing issue with the manager of the closer store. She is short, and has thin hair plastered to her skull in blonde, black, and pink tones. I only give this description in case she frequents the MUA boards and might perhaps recognize herself here. I can only pray.
Whenever I go into the "bad Ulta", this manager treats me like a shoplifter with a communicable disease. My first experience with her, I had to return an online order and she treated it as a return with no receipt and tried to force me to take store credit; um, no thanks. Open your eyes and read the papers in front of you! Halfway through our transaction she took a personal phone call and left another employee to 'finish it up'. That poor girl messed the entire transaction up and I had to wait for Hello Kitty Hair to drop her personal phone call. Several times I have been fruitlessly searching for something, and had to find someone to help---and there was HKH, putting on makeup directly from the high-end makeup testers! Dipping the brushes back into the testers, putting on her face, back in the testers: I was so grossed out. She did not even wash the brushes when she put them back on the end of the counter! She looked up to see me watching her and got a really snotty, snobby tone in her voice when she asked me if I was finding everything (as she kind of looked me up and down as she always does).
I once went in to see if I could find some curl styling cream, praying that she not be the one to accost---er, help--me. Sure enough she ignored me while I cruised the cheap side of the store (Cover Girl, Revlon) but as soon as I hit the Pureology section, she was on me like flies on poop. As she walked toward me hurriedly to ask me if I needed help (eyeing my hands and purse as she did so) I told her what I was searching for, knowing she would be clueless since her hair is so thin and straight. Mine is thick and curly and dry and looked a mess that day due to some crazy wind, I hoped that the state of it would show someone what I needed. Miss Kitty started leading me all over the hair care area, showing me stuff that would work on HER hair. I told her several times, I need some curly hair styling cream--she wasn't listening. So I found the Deva Curl area and she cooed, "Oh they have great shampoo!" But I'm looking for a styling cream. "Oh they have great hair gel!" But---I need a styling cream. As I found the bottle of cream MYSELF, she chirped, "Oh that's great styling cream!" YOU THINK??? Then---she said--"I have thick curly hair myself, that's great stuff!" I told her, I will get this and hope that it works. She said--brace yourself---"Well it can't look any worse!"
Really? I can see your SCALP, your hair is so thin and fine!! Maybe she is trying to 'relate' but I almost fell over when she said this to me. It took all I had not to react.
She also offered to carry the cream to the front for me--when has anyone at Ulta tried to 'babysit' what you picked up so that you don't shoplift it? This isn't the jewelry counter at Wal-mart! I'm probably old enough to be this twit's mother and she acts like I'm some kind of felon. (I have redeemed SEVERAL 1000 point rewards, obviously spending quite a bit of money in there)
Maybe all the times I've filled out surveys and specifically mentioned this woman's behavior, she's figured out that I tattle on her and she's annoyed? She never has a name badge on so I don't know what her name is, and I truly don't want to ask her because her entire demeanor is such that it seems like her lip is curling as she talks to me. I am not a confrontational person but I finally hit my saturation point with her and started talking to her like Mrs. Thurston Howell III when she approaches me. (Then I find someone else to help me if I need it) If she seems to be hovering while I browse, I no longer pay any attention to her. If she's watching me, she's not talking on the phone or putting on makeup from the testers and contaminating them.
This review is for the Ulta.com website. Truly one of the worst websites I've ever ordered from. Twice, they have screwed up my order and they were just languishing somewhere in Illinois. I talked to customer service several times and they assured me that I would receive them the next day. Well, I didn't so I filed a dispute with PayPal and I finally got my money back. I placed a couple more orders there and everything seemed ok. I placed an order on January 4th and have still not received it. I got the UPS tracking number and it said it would be here on Friday, January, 11th. Friday came and passed and nothing. I checked the UPS website again and it said that it had been transferred to my local post office for delivery. It is now Thursday, January 17th and nothing. Why the heck couldn't UPS just deliver it directly??? I checked the USPS tracking and it said it hasn't been updated since last Friday. So my package is lost somewhere in the Houston postal system. I really don't know why Ulta sets up their shipping this way. It is very very frustrating.
Love the stores, hate the website.
The Love for the Stores:
You can test out products before buying. The range is comparable to Sephora plus has drugstore brands which is a big plus. Rewards system is neat: I've redeemed enough to get three $100 shopping trips on their tab. They do offer frequent coupons, though be warned that many of the coupons will not work on the "prestige" brands, i.e., the really good stuff. At least Sephora offers specials on most of their products.
The best thing is the returns policy: they will accept opened cosmetics for refund/exchange, so I can shop without fear of being stuck with the wrong color/shade/product.
The Hate for the Website:
It takes FOREVER to get an order from the Ulta website delivered. I don't understand it: other online companies I've ordered from also use UPS for their standard shipping, and their deliveries get here fairly promptly. It's now going on almost two weeks, and I still don't see my order. It's as though Ulta sends stuff by the slowest possible shipping category.