Personal Shoppers – Help or Hinderance?

So on Wednesday, I had the day off, and spent it meeting up with Jess and Michaela. I was on the hunt for an outfit for the Frizzy Aussie Angels party (which I must blog about!)

I didn’t really know what I wanted to wear, but I knew that I wanted something reasonably casual – I wore a little black dress when we went to Mahiki with Aussie last year but I felt really over dressed!

So after a dire trip around Cabot Circus, which only served to make me more and more depressed over the lack of things that I might look good in, I remembered that House of Fraser have a personal shopper service.

At House of Fraser we want our customers to have a fabulous shopping experience. In addition to the hundreds of designer and high street brands, we offer a complimentary personal shopping service to help you find outfits for special occasions, the latest fashion pieces for the current season or even something casual for the weekend. Get the latest look and keep up-to-date with this season’s fashion trends.

Well, OK, fair enough. Free service, where someone finds what suits you and will flatter you, which you might not be able to do yourself. I know what is comfy, but not always what is flattering.


What a disappointment. We went over to see if she had any space available, but she was too busy at the time with someone else, so we went back 10 mins later and she was free. She asked a few questions about what sort of thing I was looking for, and I said perhaps something like some jeans and a blouse, which I could then wear with my favourite shoes (that I never get to wear). She asked if I was OK with wearing dresses, so I said yes, and she asked what sort of budget I was looking at spending.

Now, this is the part that really annoyed us. I said £80, which would have been pushing it anyway, and she looked a bit put out by this. “Well, I can use some of the cheaper brands” Lady, this is House of Fraser, not Harvey Nicks! Without being rude to the other girls, we were all dressed pretty casually, jeans, t-shirts, that sort of thing. We’re not old ladies with millions of pounds to spend on a wardrobe, just wanting an outfit for a night out.

We went back at the appointment time, and she had to be reminded again about what I was looking for. She went out and came back very quickly, with a few dresses and leggings – seemingly all from the new Gossip Girl range at Miss Selfridge. I ended up picking the “dress” (I’m 5’8″, theres no way this will ever be worn as a dress!) below, with some stirrup (ski pants!) leggings

Fair enough, Miss Selfridge isn’t usually a shop I go into, but come on, there was Oasis, Warehouse, Mango – and those are just the brands directly around Miss Selfridge! It just felt rather lazy for the personal shopper to bring me only things from one small range in one small shop.

I’m happy enough with my purchases, as they are still quite me, but I was really disappointed with the service. Come on HoF – remember that theres lots of girls like me who need a gentle shove into something different every now and then, and who want to spend money in your shop!

More stores like Topshop are now offering a “style advisor” service. Have you ever used a personal shopper service?

Update: I’ve had a response from the womenswear manager which I’ve pasted here to give their side of the story.

Thank you for your email detailing your visit to our Bristol store. At House of Fraser we pride ourselves on the quality of our products and the level of service that we provide and I was sorry to hear that on this occasion we failed to live up to the high standards that we set ourselves.

Our personal shopping service is designed to assist in finding that perfect outfit regardless of occasion or budget. It is not a service designed only for ‘old ladies with millions of pounds in their wardrobe’ and I apologise if our personal shopper gave you this impression.

However, it is important that our personal shopper manages expectations right from the start. Whilst you quite rightly point out our pricing structure is much more accessible than Harvey Nicholls it would be difficult for her to find you an outfit complete with shoes and handbags for under £80-difficult but not impossible. The reason you were steered towards a dress rather than jeans and a blouse may be due to the occasion you described to her or more likely is due to the budget constraints- (a one piece being cheaper than 2 separates).

It is also not unusual for her to select outfits from just one brand that she may think is suitable rather than overwhelm the customer with too much choice. Most customers using our service are doing so to have somebody narrow down the choices for them and pick only product that they feel is suited to them.

I am pleased to hear that you were happy with the purchase you made in the end although am obviously concerned that upon leaving our store you were dissatisfied with the service overall and felt so strongly about it you felt the need to blog about your experience. In order to try to rectify this I would like to invite you and 2 of your friends into store for an appointment with our personal shopper which also includes a complimentary manicure and make-up consultation. I am hoping that we can change the way you perceive our service. This does to have to be taken up straight away, I am happy for you to contact me when you are shopping for your next event/special occasion.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your feedback and your custom at House of Fraser and I do hope that your experience does not deter you from shopping with us again in the near future.


    • Hayley says

      Normally I’d be the same, but wasn’t having a good shopping day! Also I was really nervous about the Aussie party (why, I don’t know, everyone was lovely!) and wanted to fit in :)

  1. Sarah says

    This is a really interesting post and perspective! I would always be put off personal shopping because I figure that I can’t afford it, I am a person who cringes at spending more than £35 on a single item!

    But like you say, HoF are missing a trick. I would expect £80 to cover a dress, shoes and maybe even a handbag from high street stores. They’re cutting out a whole segment of the market! Ridiculous.

    (And as for your other post, well. Talk about not being able to take constructive criticism!!)

  2. Christina says

    Being a loyal customer to house of Fraser for over 10 years now i believe 80 pounds will only cover 1 decent full price dress based on the occasion mention certainly not with a bag and shoes! Otherwise Primark will be more appropriate if u are looking for a whole outfit on an 80 pounds budget let be honest…


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