Woolworths / poor quality of women's clothing and underwear

United States Review updated:

After many years of keeping quiet as a consumer I have finally decided to take action when things go wrong. I have tried to complain politely to the respective branches, but that is a whole story on its own. First I would like to say that your staffs attitude varies from branch to branch.

I travel for work with my hubby as this is all we can get, so I get to see many towns/countries, and branches of Woolworths. I have met some very polite and helpful staff and then there are the rotten apples. I think the worst attitude I’ve had from a Woolworths branch was in Eastgate in 2009. I was trying on shoes and I needed a pair of boots. I have a ‘high arch’ as does my husband and I was trying to get a staff member to help me.

When I had to explain that I needed a few sizes of the same shoe, she first rolled her eyes before assisting me. When that style could not accomodate my foot, I asked if she could recommend another wider style. She threw the boxes to the floor, had a chat to a mate, before taking 27 minutes to come back with another boot in one size, the shop wasn’t busy, it was Tuesday morning just after opening time, in March.

I asked politely if I could try two other sizes to see which were more comfortable. She then told me the boot fits and I said yes, but maybe a bigger size would feel more comfortable as my foot is wider than most. She stood there for a few seconds then wandered off, I assumed to help me. She never came back. I walked around the shop and found another assistant who told me it wasn’t her department.

I went to a cashier and asked if she could help but she told me to just look for someone on the floor. I approached the cosmetic counter and found two ladies chatting away. I waited ten minutes before they acknowledged me, then one slowly walked me through the shop to find help. She told me she would send someone to the shoe area, I must go and wait there.

An hour passed and nobody showed up. I eventually noticed the first assistant who had helped me. I approached her, trying to control my temper, and asked if she could kindly help me now with some different size boots in three styles. She said to me ‘I thought you were finished’. She then turned to seek the boots. 42 minutes later she came back with one box and said they out of stock. I asked to speak to the manager and got told ‘the manager not here today’. I asked to speak to the assistant manager. She asked why.

I said I have a complaint that she’s not helping me well enough. She then said it’s not her fault I have fat feet. My husband removed me from the shop before I killed her. I went to another shop to purchase boots. They were more than willing to help me, and gain my money, so I bought two pairs instead of one and a good pair of sports shoes.

In 2005 I purchased from the Pavillion, Westville branch, a full set of clothes from Woolworths for a new job, grateful I had one after being unemployed so long. I went to a final interview and was wearing a black pencil type skirt and a short sleeve embroidered shirt. As I got up to shake my new boss’s hand, I bent over to pick up my hand bag only to hear a funny noise.

Realising that my skirt had just given up, up the back seam I asked to be shown to the ladies room. Luckily his female assistant was with him, and she took over and he left. The seam up the back of the skirt had given way – all the way to the waiste band – it was brand new, the first time I had worn it – and no, it wasn’t too small for me. The assistant offered her help via me lending her scarf to tie around my waiste and then said, ‘you should have invested in woolworths’. I said ‘I did, and am I sorry!’.

The shirt I wore that day came undone by the third use. First the hems on the sleeve then the embroidery unravelled. I lost a button the first day I wore it. This is quite common with Woolworths clothes now.

A month later, I was wearing a pair of black high heel shoes, also purchased from Woolworths, Gateway. I climbed a staircase at my new job only to almost break my neck as the left hand heel broke clean off the shoe! It was only the second time I had worn the shoes. I took them back and got a credit, purchased a more ‘sensible heel’ shoe.

These shoes started to seperate and landed up in a divorce as the inside padding came unstuck and the souls left home. In relation, I bought a 3/4 heel black pair of shoes from Main Street, Port Elizabeth branch in 1992 – I wore these shoes at least once, every week and they lasted me 9 years!!! Now that’s quality!! Also about your shoes, you used to give 1/2 sizes, like size 3and1/2, now I either have to chose a 3 or 4 or 5, pending the bad cut of the shoe. What happened to the 1/2′s.

Later in 2005, I tried on a dress in the shop, and made a note to the assistant in the department that the cut is wrong. She looked at me as if I was a mad. So I put the dress on came back to her, and showed her I couldn’t lift my arms as it seemed the seam that stitched the sleeve to the dress was sewn on to long or deep. She went on to tell me that was the style? I wasn’t the only one that complained.

In 2006 I purchased vests and undies for my father from a the Vryheid branch. I followed the instructions as per washing and keeping them good, but to my disappointment, the vests ‘stretched’ beyond shape within a month. I regret to say that the undies are not stocked anymore. They have a wide band of elastic at the waiste, with a cross over feature at the front, which is like a flap, enabling a man to whip it out instead of pushing the undies down.

These undies I was told, were ‘obviously not popular and now are not stocked’. How true this is?

In 2008 I purchased bras for myself from Greenstone, Johannesburg branch. My size bra has not changed since I was married and as they have a ‘no return’ policy on underwear, I took an old bra with to make sure it was the same type, brand and size – although the price had increased. I asked for assistance too. When I got home and tried them on, I found that the bras seeemed very tight and small cupped.

On measuring them against the old ones, the material was less in the cup, and the sides were narrower. Before you say, yes but that’s old it’s stretched, in my ‘hospital bag’, I pulled out a Woolworths bra, same everything, still in it’s packaging with receipt, and found that indeed, upon measuring up, the new bras have “shrunk”.

In 2011, scared to purchase bras again from Woolworths but determined that the quality must have been checked, I purchased again. The bras are still not the right size. To prove it, I bought 3 different size bras and took them home to compare them. If anyone of your staff can show me the difference in size – I will eat them!!!

In 2012 I purchased new undies from the Phalaborwa branch. Again, I took a sample with and again I was disappointed. Only this time I’ve kept the receipts and underwear. The panties I bought started to come apart after the first wash. Now, I have never had domestic help, no one else washes my clothes, especially my underwear and I follow the instructions. By the second wash, the seams at the elastic edge had all but given away.

I bought eight (5) packs, allowing me to change underwear enough times even in bad weather when washing can’t dry. The panties I bought in January this year, I’m sad to say lie in a heap in a box in my cupboard with their receipt. I used them three times.

Comparing these new panties with some from a purchase in 2006 is so funny I cry. The lack of quality can be seen a mile off. Thankfully I keep a ‘hospital bag’ for emergencies, and keep ‘proof’ of the decline of Woolworths merchandise.
My husband is furious as we are just starting to come right financially and he refers to Woolworths as disposable clothing.

He told me if I buy anything at Woolworths again, he will divorce me, unless you have given me a refund or gift card. I have to agree with him – what a waste of hard earned good money!!!

I’m happy to report that I buy good fitting bras at Pep stores and they have lasted, kept their shape and not ‘shrunk’. I buy my panties at various outlets, I’m still testing the quality of different stores.

There are many more items of clothing I have bought over the years, but I must be honest, these of the ones that stick out the most. I will also admit that the quality started to decline around 2005 across your branches, and one could easily see and compare this when they found old and new items on the same shelf.

I feel sorry for those that have climbed up in their lives from poverty to a sustainable income only to be let down by the quality of woolworths. I know a lady who comes from such a background. Her main ambition in life was to shop at Woolworths when she made it to a decent income. She is also 37 years old, and she has just got her degree, after many years working and earning her way up and now is able to afford to shop at ‘quality shops’.

She purchased some nightware and a winter coat, a week later she phoned me to tell me the lining in the coat had come undone, as had the sleeve stitching, two buttons had fallen off. She had bought it for her mother, as a thank you gift, who had worked three jobs, 16 hour days, 7 days a week, to keep her in school so she could go on to a better life. Sadly, her mother passed away and never really got to wear a good quality coat in winter.

I don’t mind paying the price as long as the quality keeps up. Everyone who knows me knows, I only buy All Gold Tomato Sauce (all gold all gold tastes so good!!!) and Mrs Balls Chutney. As poor as I’ve been at times, these are things I don’t compromise. And I can’t complain, their quality has never disappointed me.

Woolworths, you can keep putting your prices up, but your customers are getting wise and angry and are going to keep leaving. – But don’t worry, there is a sucker born everyday that will support your name; I’m just not one of them.

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  • Bl
      28th of May, 2012

    When I started reading I was thinking "its a bit strange that she's kept a detailed list of complaints since 2009." Then I kept reading and realized that the list went back to 2005!

    I think my favorite part was the one where she was upset with the sales person over the cut of the dress. What did she expect the woman to do? whip out her sewing kit and scissors?

    +2 Votes

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