On the 25th July, Lingerie Insight reported a response from Marks & Spencer to our open letter (Oh Marks and Spencer, where did it go so wrong?), so we asked all our members if anyone would like to go on a mystery shop for us to see if their claims were true!
35 ladies, across 30 stores, were able to get an appointment in the week and they fed back their results to the team. To ensure that M&S had a fair chance we asked the ladies to go to their appointment wearing a bra they had before Boob or Bust, to be polite and open to all the bras they were presented and the only specific question we asked them to raise if it was appropriate was “why are you adding inches to the band”.
In their response, Marks and Spencer state “We have not used the ‘plus 4” method’ for quite some time and the current method for bra fit has been developed in-house by our team of experts and has been in place for over five years” – we were happy to be proved wrong, but unfortunately ALL the ladies who went on a mystery shop had inches added to their underbust. 32 out of the 35 women had 4 or more inches added to their underbust, with 3 going up 4 band sizes (adding 8″ to their BoB band size)!
15 of the 35 had the traditional “plus 4” (2 band sizes up from their BoB size) added – this being 4″ if an even measurement and 5″ for odd. Some of these asked their fitter why they were doing this – the most common response was “because that is what we do”! If M&S have a new fitting technique in place, it looks like they forgot to tell their fitters for the past 5 years. Our ladies were even trying to help the fitters by telling them the bands were pulling up at the back and weren’t giving any support – surely they should be listening to the person they are fitting!
If the band problems weren’t enough, we did some quick sister size conversions on the starting size provided by the M&S fitter against the mystery shopper’s BoB size converted to their band size (e.g. 32J becomes a 38GG) – out of the 35 visits, fitters hit a sister size twice on their starting size, but as there is no FF that goes to 1! This was still only 1 at the end of the fittings!
On average, compared to the sister size, the fitters were 5 cup sizes too small to start with and this only dropped to an average of 4 cup sizes too small after adjustments. Even if you are using a larger band method, there needs some significant improvement in training – whatever you say, ladies are being squeezed into cups that are way too small!
Marks & Spencer also responded to our claim that they don’t stock enough styles of bras – “We offer 113 different bra sizes from a AA cup through to a J, and many of our ranges come in 44 different sizes.” That’s great M&S, but still no FF….. and where are all the double cups?
A lot of the fitters hands were obviously tied by the range that was available in store. At least one of the fitters in Silverburn, Glasgow, was honest with the lady and said that she wouldn’t be able to help fit her because they don’t stock a 38J in store (she actually needs a 34M), and she would be better off trying Bravissimo. We appreciate M&S can’t stock bras for everyone, but if they honestly measured and didn’t try and cram women into bras that are too small it would vastly help improve their reputation.
So I think in conclusion, we can’t see any evidence that you aren’t using the plus 4″ method, but more importantly your fitters aren’t listening to ladies input and putting them in cups that are way too small! We have all the dates and times of the fittings should you wish to verify the data M&S. We would love to talk to you further about this – just contact us!