going braless

The Truth About Working At Victoria’s Secret

Last summer I worked at the east coast’s largest Victoria’s Secret store in terms of sales volume.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected. Here are some of my thoughts after working there and interesting pieces of info I picked up on, that I wanted to share:

  1. 1. There is minimal training.

    Training consists of a few short videos, spread out over weeks after weeks of working, and minimal shadowing.  I watched a fellow cashier ring up a few employees for roughly ten minutes and then was sent out onto the sales floor without knowing anything about the merchandise.  I made it work, but a lot of my coworkers had no idea what they were doing.

  2. 2. The company hands out tons of free merchandise to its employees.

    This is what I missed most after I left my job there to come back to school.  Every single month, they give out employee gratis, which can be 1-5 items per month.  They were usually new collections too, so that the employees could have personal experience with the collection to easily sell it to the customer.  Additionally, they offered employee-only discounts and specials, which was awesome.

  3. 3. They conduct wasteful practices.

    Unless the item is completely “perfect” to go back onto the sales floor (a subjective measure), returned items are placed into a special bin where they are logged into the system and then destroyed.  This may seem like a good idea, as the company doesn’t want imperfect merchandise being sold to customers, however, requiring that the returned merchandise be destroyed is a bit extreme and environmentally wasteful.  They could be donating the “damaged” merchandise, as many of the styles deemed unfit by my coworkers seemed perfectly sellable to me. If they are afraid of people returning the previously returned items, then change the policy if people begin to abuse it.

  4. 4. The Semi-Annual Sale is hell.

    I bonded with my coworkers in the misery that is the semi-annual sale.  Sometimes we would stay till 3 a.m. just putting things away in their right places during the days of the sale.  It’s also funny to ring up customers during the sale because you realize some people buy things they don’t need for no reason other than it being on sale. Lol.  I once rang up a lady who bought a pair of slippers with two left feet just because they were cheap. Lady, you have one left foot and one right foot. What do you need two left slippers for?

  5. 5. You can make a difference in helping a woman feel sexy.

    Victoria’s Secret stresses customer service and satisfaction.  The job is actually rewarding when you can help a woman find something she feels sexy in.  Many women unknowingly wear the wrong bra size, or feel ridiculously unsexy in lingerie, which can be frustrating and turn many of them away from buying bras and lingerie altogether.  When you can listen to the customer and help her find something she loves based on her preferences, size, and body shape, you do feel like you’re making a difference in someone’s life, even in such a small way. 

  6. 6. The range of sizes that Victoria’s Secret sells is kind of laughable.

    There’s no worse feeling than a woman asking for a bra fitting, and then for the fitting to return a size larger than the Victoria’s Secret range.  When this used to happen, I would measure the customer at least once again to buy myself some time to think about what to say next without hurting her feelings.  “I’m sorry, I measured you at a (insert size above 38DD). We don’t carry that size right now.” And then her asking “Oh. Can I find it online?” “No, sorry.” Lost customer.  When I talked to my superiors about this problem, they told me to tell her that her size was a 38DD (the largest they sell), regardless of what her actual size was. This was hard for me to do because 1) You’re lying to the customer for a potential short-term gain and 2) You’re wasting her time because the bra won’t fit right anyway and she either won’t buy it, or will buy it and then come back to the store a few months later, upset, because it doesn’t fit her right.  I saw women on the verge of tears because the Victoria’s Secret bras didn’t fit them right despite previously being told that the bras were their size.  

  7. 7. There's a LOT of drama.

    Coworkers insulting each other left and right, fighting on the sales floor, jealousy, and all the like.  I once had a manager pull me aside to talk about why my numbers were so high that day (the other employees were angry about it and thought it was unfair that I was doing better than them).  It was outright ridiculous.

  8. 8. Working at Victoria’s Secret makes you realize how strange some people are.

    Sometimes they throw a tantrum when they’re told they can’t use a coupon that expired two years ago; sometimes they want you to look at what size their bra tag says, right in the middle of the store; sometimes they try to return panties with questionable stains; sometimes they decide to bang in the fitting rooms.  You really see it all.