Thanks to the makeup savvy readers who sent this my way... This week, cosmetics megachain Sephora held a big sale for the top-tier customers of its loyalty program. Unfortunately, many reported that they were locked out of their accounts due to technical difficulties. But some Asian customers claim they were blocked from making purchases. Because they are Asian. Wait, what?
Big Sephora Sale Marred by Tech Issues, Accusations of Racism
The sale was only open to Sephora's "VIB" and "VIB Rouge" customers, who received 20% off and access to certain exclusive items. But according to this Reddit thread, the majority of people who reported getting blocked from making purchases were people with Asian names and/or Asian-origin email addresses.
But numerous customers on Sephora's Facebook page and on a reddit thread allege that they've been locked out of their VIB accounts because they have Asian last names and/or international email addresses. Customers say that after finding themselves unable to purchase products on the Sephora website, they called Sephora's customer service line, where they were told they had been permanently blocked from using their accounts for trying to buy products (according to their terms of service, Sephora has the right to do this without providing cause). The current consensus among many shoppers is that in order to prevent reselling of makeup overseas at a lower cost (which is a serious issue for retailers), the company is blocking customers from purchasing during this sale. Specifically, customers allege that this is happening most often to Asian customers.
What gives, Sephora? Is it really just your overloaded website, or is there an anti-Asian customer conspiracy going on here? How do they account for the folks who called the customer service line, only to be informed that their account had been blocked for violating Sephora's "terms of service," without any further explanation?
Other callers say that customer service representatives have just flat-out hung up on them.
Perhaps somebody in Sephora's head office was really freaked out by this photo of two Asian women buying a truckload of makeup during a recent in-store sale? Technical issues aside, it looks they now have a serious customer service (and growing public relations) issue. All I know is, you get in the way of some people and their cosmetics, you are going to have mad problems.
More here: Many Sephora customers with Asian names/registered under Asian domains are locked out of their accounts