Monday, 25 January 2016

10 Reasons Why Sephora Australia Has Been a Total Let Down

I've been sitting on this post since starting TNL, dithering about whether or not I should publish it; but today I say fuck it, let's rock the boat & start a conversation!

Ah Sephora. The cult beauty chain that we Aussies were sooooooooooo excited to see on our shores, only to feel disappointed, disillusioned and, quite frankly, rather pissed off about since it opened its first store in Sydney in late 2014. Now that they've finally pulled their finger out & launched an online store in recent months, taking over what was once Luxola (don’t know why they had to do that, seems a bit dodgy; but I’ll let it slide), they’ve disappointed us all over again.
So today, because I feel like having a bit of a rant and because I get a sense of schadenfreude at watching all the fails unfold, I present you with 10 reasons why the Australian arm of this global beauty giant has been in big doo doo with us Aussie beauty lovers:

  1. The pricing of product. Before Sephora opened up here, we were told that pricing would match that of their US stores, or at least be cheaper than usual (bear in mind that this was before the Aussie dollar took a spectacular nose dive); which naturally made us all very excited because in case you’re reading this from overseas, us Aussies pay through the nose for cosmetics (and practically everything else) compared to our US sisters – I’m talking at least 2-3 times more, possibly even higher. What we got from Sephora AU instead were some products with prices that were/are close to that of the US, but others like BECCA’s Beach Tint had/have a 30% mark-up on their US price. Hell, even their own in-house products weren't/aren't immune from the large mark-up, with their Natural Volume Mascara costing 60% (yes, 60%!) more than the US price (not too sure if it's still that highly priced though). You can read more about that here and here.
  2. Lack of stock on certain brands & not re-stocking quickly enough. I swear every time I’ve walked into the Pitt St Mall store in Sydney the Anastasia Beverly Hills stand is missing at least 80% or more of product. I went there just after my birthday last September to get colour matched for the Brow Wiz (thankfully they had the tester), but when I walked back in over a month later they hadn’t re-stocked and every time I’ve walked in since that stand is still largely empty. What gives? In the meantime I went & bought it from the Macquarie store, but even then there were only 4 left in Medium Brown (my shade of choice) at the time of purchase (about a week or two after they opened last September). That said, the Macquarie store seems to be a bit better stocked than the city store IMO because the ABH shelves looked fuller again when I went there last time (which would've been in October or November last year). That said in future I’ll buy my Brow Wiz online & pay for the shipping. EDIT 15/4/16: Both of Sephora's Sydney stores are at present pretty well-stocked with ABH product, including the Brow Wiz's.
  3. Stocking brands that we can buy from any of our major department stores - I’m talking specifically about OPI nail polish and Glasshouse candles. Why buy them from Sephora when you can get them from either Myer or David Jones for the same price or cheaper? Especially when Sephora AU's website charges $12 more for Glasshouse candles as opposed to David Jones due to export/import costs to/from Singapore (where Luxola's based and I suspect Sephora AU's site is based).
  4. Not stocking all/certain products & brands. I’m well aware that Mecca has exclusivity rights to certain brands that Sephora usually stock like Urban Decay etc, but it would be nice for Sephora AU to stock more products from the brands that they’re allowed to stock. Hell, even some limited edition stuff would be nice too, especially if we got it at the same time as the US (which will never happen, but we can dream can't we?). Also, whilst I’m happy that we’ve got the LAVANILA rollerball fragrances in our stores, I want to know if and when they’ll ever stock the body butters, which (if you read my review) I love and are stocked in some of the US stores. Same goes for the BITE Beauty Lush Lip Wipes, which I’m dying to try. I did ask someone about the latter product at Macquarie one time, but she gave me a rather vague answer. EDIT 8/6/16: Sephora Australia are FINALLY stocking LAVANILA body butters and deodorants. Just saw them yesterday at the Macquarie store. About fucking time Sephora Aus!
  5. Taking forever to not only launch an Australian website, but launch a rewards program & when they finally did, from what I've read it isn’t anywhere near as good as the US rewards program, with smaller discounts & the like.
  6. Speaking of the clusterfuck that is their website, people on their Facebook page have previously been up in arms about said website not giving discounts for what I will call “the good stuff”, i.e. products from higher end brands like Tarte or Becca for example (see the end of this page). I personally don’t use anything from either of those brands, but I know others do so that's why I'm mentioning it. Apparently the US site doesn’t have such restrictions when it comes to discounting, which makes me wonder why we’re being gipped yet again. *sigh*
  7. Being incredibly shady with their online discounts/gift cards & the terms & conditions of them. See this Facebook post re: their Black Friday sale from last November + these sub-Reddit topics for more info & a truckload of disgruntled customers.
  8. I've also heard about quite a number of people receiving broken items (e.g. compacted products like highlighters or pressed powders) from the Aussie website due to poor/little protective packaging from Sephora's end. I get that stuff like this does happen from time to time & that no company is immune from it (especially when relying on couriers), but when multiple people are making similar complaints (including one Aussie beauty vlogger), you might want to review either your packaging protocols or your choice of courier.
  9. Bad customer service. This might just be an Aussie thing since we don’t tend to do customer service very well, but from what I’ve read people have been complaining about staff members not knowing their stuff, not being courteous, not attending to customers when needed, an overall lack of communication, generic responses to feedback & questions online....the list goes on. I can’t say I’ve ever had any problems with staff when I’ve walked into either of the Sydney stores, but I felt it was worth a mention.
  10. The lack of transparency surrounding release dates of products/brands. Being vague and/or secretive does not instil a sense of confidence in your customers (see the end of point 4).
Then there’s the other fails that I haven’t mentioned, like the US website promising us flat rate shipping briefly before quickly pulling that idea away; the unnecessary drama that happened with the US site once the Aussie site was set up (i.e. us Aussies were blocked from even browsing the former whilst being re-directed to the latter – thankfully Sephora Aus did something right by re-instating our US site browsing privileges) and let’s not even get into the whole parcel forwarding hoo-ha...

Now despite saying all of this, I'm gonna be a hypocrite & say that I’m not entirely anti-Sephora. In fact, I rather enjoyed having access to them when I travelled to the US & Canada nearly 18 months ago - I spent a fair bit in their various stores and would do so again if I went back there (although I don't recall getting any samples though, boooo) - and I don't mind browsing their Sydney stores if I happen to be near one. I know there are people who are stoked to be able to get their hands on brands/products that were previously inaccessible in Australia (I don't blame them for their excitement); but until the Australian arm gets its act together & stops treating us like a bunch of mugs, I also know that there are people who would be more than happy to part with their dough elsewhere…and that includes myself.

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Have you been disappointed with Sephora’s foray into the Australian market, or are you happy with the way they’ve conducted themselves?


  1. I feel like it was an anti-climax, so many negative stories, so many people having issues, especially with wrong/broken products being sent.
    I've shopped so much at Sephora (US) in the last 2 years as we've been to the states three times, it's kind of disappointing that my VIB status isn't acknowledged here.

    1. I agree re: it being an anti-climax. I know I was excited when I first visited the Sydney store, only to walk out feeling a bit like a deflated balloon. It is disappointing that they won't recognise people's VIB statuses here, but I guess it's all part of their plan to get you into the Aussie rewards program. Still sucks though.

  2. I've only been to the Singapore Sephora which was great, but I have heard of all these horror stories. I deliberately haven't shopped online with them, but will be travelling to Sydney in March, so that will be my first time in an Aussie Sephora. Great post, I'm always happy to learn this stuff and I'm glad when people speak up about it. :)

    1. I hope I haven't left you feeling worried in advance Di! I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself.


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