I will start by saying i am biased because I work at ULTA.
I find it horrible that so many people have had such bad experiences at their local store and it tarnishes the reputation of other stores that are clean,well stocked,and have friendly staff. I completely understand some of the complaints from the customer point of view as i was a customer for years before being an employee. However some people really should sit back and look at the situation from a retail employee point of view. The first situation is the "following around" thing, I know it is annoying and in some rare occasions it might even be embarrassing if they are extremely obvious ( in which case it is normal to be mad , i would be) however the reason is shoplifting, we as employees have been told to keep and eye out for certain things prestige cosmetics and fragrances are our biggest losses, we may not think you are stealing but we must watch everyone in those areas. I know from personal experience it may also be that you are one of the few people in the store and I am just bored so I tend to check on you more. Another big complaint seems to be coupons. Look people, coupons are a gift not a right, quit complaining about some coupons. Read the fine print, on ALL coupons not just the ones from ULTA. I know it sucks that they cannot be used on prestige 99% of the time but if your patient and your that picky about them wait till those 2-3 times a year when you get the one that is good on pretty much the whole store. Coupons are great dont get me wrong but it kills me how people have begun to think they are entitled to them. That is something I have believed in long before I began working for the company. Next is the "snotty/rude/b!tchy" employees, you get good service and you get bad service everywhere I thankfully have the pleasure of working with a great group of ladies, there are some that are not always pleasant but everyone has bad days(not that that should excuse them from being polite to a customer).
I wish more stores had friendlier employees like mine because that seems to be the major complaint , i have witnessed this myself, but I have had the same problem at Sephora and pretty much any retail store for that matter some people are very helpful and friendly others are not.
I could go on for days about the multiple complaints that people have made but might see differently if they knew how things worked and what we can and cannot do as employees but I think my biggest message to people is dont boycott the whole company because you had a bad experience with one employee there are plenty of us that are friendly and willing to help.
(I gave neutral scores since i am biased)
I just got an Ulta here ( I live North of Boston) and I was so happy when it opened. I go to Ulta just to buy NYX products. In the first few weeks of opening, Ulta was always well stocked and constantly introducing new NYX products. Maybe it is because NYX is so popular, or it is out of laziness, but NYX is rarely fully stocked and some products have been missing for weeks now, but are still advertised. That is my major complaint about Ulta, I can't say too much about the SA's because I usually know what I am looking for and don't need their help. Ulta has great deals, buy 2 get 1 free runs pretty much all the time here.
I am agreeing with the love/hate. I live in the south, where generally everyone is super friendly....unless you work at Ulta! Lol! Granted, not ALL of the assosciates are rude---but I'd say about 2 out of 5 are...and if you're running a business, you want ZERO out of five to be rude! Some associates will walk up and say "can I help you find anything?" and others will look you dead square in the eye and not offer any type of assistance whatsoever. The prices on drugstore brands are a little on the high side, I only buy drugstore from there if I DESPERATELY need it and I have been to all 4 walmarts in my area to make sure they're all out, too. Lol For instance, my CG foundation is about 7.50 at Walmart, and it's 8.99 at Ulta. Not much, but when youre a broke college student, it is! :) Anyway, I will leave my review w/a small story about Ulta. One of the managers at ours is Cruella de Vill herself!! Once, she was checking me out (after she hadn't greeted me or anything, just grabbed my stuff and started ringing!!), and someone came over the intercom and said "Tamara come to the salon for ewfiowjmwiof2" (I didnt catch the end part..I didn't need to since my name wasn't Tamara!) Tamara said to me, "what'd she say?!" I said "She said you needed to go to the salon" and then she said "well that helps me a LOT. what else did she say?" I said "I didnt catch the end of it." She then proceeded to say "Jesus Christ." IDK if she meant for me to hear it or not, but whatever. I went on my way. Then, on ANOTHER trip, I got that same Tamara (boy she was a peach!) checking me out at about 8:50 or so (our Ulta closes at 9) and two girls walked in and instead of saying "Welcome to Ulta!" which is what they usually say, Tamara said "we're closed. SORRY!" at TEN TILL NINE! I thought it was VERY rude and professional. If they're closed, LOCK THE DOORS! haha, anyway, I will get off of my soap box now. I have definitely had more negative experiences than positive, yet I still go back because they're always the first stores to have new products!
The Ulta Store in my town is a HORRIBLE!! This is probably too long, but I'm so peved at Ulta. Sephora is 100 miles away :(
I gave my sis a $25.00 gift certificate for her birthday and we went together to spend her cert & I was going to do a NYX haul.
Right before Xmas 2010 the store moved from their original place to a strip mall across the street. The new store is 1/2 the size of their original store and the stock of products reflects this.
In their old place, the makeup was lined up/placed according to brand. All the Ulta products in one place, Cover Girl, Revlon, and so on, so you could easily find all the products in one line. Now it's laid out on the "type of product" Foundation/Lips/Cheeks. What a mess and I hate it. Can't find anything easily. You spend all your time between isles, running back n forth.
Like I said, I wanted to do a haul on NYX, (lippes/eyeshadow) but they only had a 1/3 of a shelf of NYX and many of the shades were sold out or not re-stocked. I'm not bothering to look in the drawers under the stands, if the SA's are too lazy to check the shelf and restock from the drawers, why should I look there? I would never have to do that at Walgreens, CVS, or Walmart!!
Hello Ulta, you're suppose to be a makeup store, not a drugstore or a Big Lots!! Stock your products or don't advertise you have them!!
Now, on to the high end make up on the other side of the store: Another mess!! I know people swatch samples, but it looked like the samples and the areas around the samples haven't been cleaned or at least wiped up in months. Everthing looked gross and nasty, I wouldn't swipe any of the samples at all!! The Urban Decay display was the worst.
Really, it looked like kids were playing the makeup all day and wasn't cleaned up. (We went at 1PM-so it wasn't like we were there 5 minutes before closing). It grossed me out so much that even if I wanted to buy, I wouldn't because I couldn't get pass the unsanitary conditions. I didn't see any swabs or tissues, I assume everyone was using their fingers and it looked like it. At some point, samples should be swaped out for new ones when they get looking gross.
At the check out: SA asked if we found everything. My sis: No, you don't have my color in Cover Girl foundation. SA: I get someone to help you.
So the other SA went back to the Cover Girl, looked on the shelf, dug in the drawer, and announced that they don't EVER stock that shade of foundation (Soft Honey, which my sis and I have bought a Walgreens, CVS, & Walmart forever).
That was the final straw! As a makeup store, you don't stock a color that has been always stocked at a drugstore??
My sis only spent $5 out of her $25, they didn't have other stuff she wanted either. I felt really bad, here I give her $25 to spend on makeup at Ulta and it was a complete waste of time. I really should of gave her $25 to CVS, at least there she could of bought what she wanted/needed and spent all of it.
If I give anymore certificates for makeup it will be Sephora. If I need to go to a "makeup store" it will be Sephora. I so wish a Sephora was closer than 100 miles away. In my town, Sephora would put Ulta out of business in 1 month!! I will never recommed Ulta to anyone. What a dump!!!
Wow. After reading all of the comments about the Ulta experience in general, I really had to chime in. I want to preface this by saying that this is only MY opinion based on my needs and preferences--I know that there are a lot of you out there that love this store and have no problem giving them your business. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.
I live in Central NJ and live about 25 miles away from the nearest Sephora, so I rarely get an opportunity to shop there. When I found out an Ulta was opening up in the Princeton area I was thrilled as my impression at the time was that Ulta was basically a clone of the Sephora shopping experience. I quickly learned that it wasn't after experiencing the following:
1. I've never had a problem with a SA being rude, but boy are they persistent. During one store visit they interrupted me three times in 15 minutes, and it got to the point where I had to keep out of the common areas of the store to be left alone. Ironically enough, when I wandered into the "prestige" skin care section, a sales rep from one of the skin care lines was there doing some kind of product promotion. When she looked up and saw me (let's just say I wasn't looking too photogenic that day) I could see in her eyes that apparently I wasn't the right "demographic" for the product and and I was ignored. So much for wanting to "help" me.
2. Speaking of "prestige," when I made my first couple of purchases at Ulta I requested samples and they were given to me. The next time I asked for a sample I was told that I was only entitled to them if I purchased a "prestige" brand. That's a little freakin' ridiculous. Sephora has always given me samples regardless of the brand I've purchased, and I can name examples of other stores as well. Ulta needs to get off their high horse with their whole "prestige" attitude when it comes to makeup assistance, coupons, samples, etc. because frankly, I can probably get the same "prestige" product at a much better price at an online retailer, eBay, or a brick-and-mortar store. Get a clue, Ulta: asking for samples is not a big deal, I'm not saying I should just walk in off the street and ask for them without buying something, but if you had given me a sample that day, perhaps I would have come in and bought the product during a later visit. Gee, isn't that what samples are for, to generate more purchases? And then perhaps more customers will interested in purchasing more of those "prestige" brands that you have such an attitude about. Everyone wins! (Pardon my snark.)
3. Here's another clue, Ulta: when you mark an item as "clearance" and throw it into a bin with a whole bunch of other stuff that may be cracked, smeared, or leaky, it truly needs to be a "clearance" level price. Please walk the few steps over to Walmart or Target to learn what a realistic idea of a "clearance" price means, because yours isn't it.
4. Speaking of the above, plus CVS, Walgreens, RiteAid, etc., as many of you have already mentioned, if you wear drugstore makeup you'll pay much less at those types of stores, and the discount stores have great sales and coupons also. Some drugstores even have no-questions-asked return policies on makeup now, even if you've tested it. Same goes for the bath/body/personal care products--Burt's Bees, Bodycology, Watkins, Badger, etc., all can be found cheaper elsewhere.
5. I had a brow wax at the Ulta salon that had me bent back over a shampoo sink, then after the wax was removed, there was just a little tweezing here and there, no shaping or trimming. Thankfully I had a half-off coupon for this because this service normally costs a whopping $20. Granted, the stylist did a great job and was extremely professional, but in my neck of the woods $20 gets you a brow wax done in a private room on a TABLE, with tweezing and shaping. I certainly wasn't expecting a day spa experience, but if I want to be bent over a shampoo sink to get waxed I can go to a nail salon and pay $8.
I can see why someone would want to shop here if they truly enjoy the convenience of having so many varied brands and price points of beauty items in one store, or if they have an "I-want-this-NOW!" item (like Urban Decay's Naked) that they don't want to wait to order online. (No disrespect meant--I've been there! :) ) Otherwise, I just can't fathom any reason to shop there. Let's face it, we all the know the markup on beauty products and I would rather spend money with a company that values my business and gives me a pleasant, uncomplicated shopping experience. In my opinion, Ulta doesn't provide it, which is why I take my business elsewhere.
EDIT: I recently went back to Ulta (a coupon lured me in) and I'm pleased to say that the overalll vibe of my local store has improved. I had a much more pleasant shopping experience and I was even able to find a few goodies in the clearance bin! I still prefer Sephora but I'm glad that Ulta & I are on better terms now :)
I shop at Ulta about once a month when I have a coupon and need some basics, like my cleanser or makeup wedges. I can understand why some people dislike the restrictions on the coupons, but I rarely buy from the "prestige" side of the store anyway, so it's really not too big of a deal to me.
As far as the SAs, I have had a mixed bag of experiences in this regard. I have come across some very nice ones, as well as some very rude ones. When I went in to purchase the PTR Unwrinkle Peel Pads, the SA at the register gave me 20% off of them without my even asking, even though I had no coupon with me and that item would have normally been restricted. That was a wonderful surprise! Although, at that same store, I had a really bad experience with another SA who basically insulted my face in what I can only assume was an attempt to push skincare products. So, much like life, some people are nice and some are not.
I like the way the stores are set up, the variety of products offered, and I also have always found Ulta to be clean and well-kept. I have returned items there with no issue whatsoever. Overall, I like the store and will continue to shop there.
I like Ulta but I understand some of the hate. I definitely feel like the salespeople are way too pushy - I had someone ask me 3 times in 10 minutes if I needed help with anything, and they always try to sell me random stuff every time I go in there. I know they have to get business for the store, and it's probably some corporate bs that gets pushed on them, but it's annoying.
That being said, I love the concept of the store: you can buy drugstore products, high-end makeup, perfume, hair products, etc. all in one place. I do think their prices on d/s stuff are a little steep but they send coupons and have sales frequently enough that I don't feel like I'm breaking the bank. I only really go there if I have a coupon, or if I want something that I know I can't get anywhere else close to where I live (it's the only place I've found NYX products in my area, for example). Their sales on the Ulta store brand are particularly good, and they have some nice exclusive sets once in a while that are good deals. I've never tried the salon, but the lady at the Benefit brow bar seemed knowledgeable so I'd consider going there for a brow wax.
Overall, I like the store but don't go there very often, only when I'm looking for something in particular. When I do go the experience is just okay.
I don't love Ulta. The assistants are usually unpleasant, or at least disinterested, then nail polish area is a mess, and they are often out of what I want. I don't buy any prestige cosmetics there unless it's an after Christmas blow out or something, because I can't use a coupon. I prefer to shop at Sephora for my prestige cosmetics, I find the assistants more helpful and a greater selection. However, I go to Ulta for all my hair care products becuase they often have buy 2 get 1 free sales, and I can use my coupons on that.
I too didn't like I was asked for all sorts of personal info at my last visit and I just told them, "No." Especially if you pay in cash, they can't make you give your phone number!
i have to throw in my two cents here too - i have a love/hate relationship with them also. i wonder sometimes why they offer coupons because they're always so restricted that it borders on ridiculous. and i'm not really diggin the recent changes they've made to their rewards program either. i got a haircut certificate this last time around - that was it - no other choices like you used to get. i don't want my haircut there, thanks, i usually see a lot of empty chairs in my local one so um, nothanks., pass. filled my bad haircut quota already. LOL And stock also is an issue for me too - i go looking for something in particular but you got it - i'm usually S.O.L. BUT i have to say they do carry a pretty complete line of ds stuff that is ALWAYS out of stock at my local drug stores, so i usually get lucky there. i will definitely keep going., but they need to get their $h!# together.
I was just at the BURBANK, CA Ulta yesterday, needed to buy several things but they were out of stock on almost everything I needed.The SA that rang me up was actually nice,(I think she is new) that is not usually the case when I go there. Most of the girls that ring me up are very rude. A simple Hello, or goodbye have a nice day goes a long way. If I say Hi, or Thankyou, I never get a reply. And I HATE having to return something because although they accept the returns ( I have done 2 returns in the past year) the SA makes me feel uncomfortable, and looks very annoyed. I just bought the Japonesque brush cleaner and it is terrible. I dread having to go back in there. I usually go there out of conveniance.