Retailers be warned: poor customer service does not go unnoticed by shoppers! Today’s consumers are more informed, have more choices and are more vocal when it comes to experiencing service dissatisfaction with a retailer. As more big box and department stores focus on developing other areas of their business (from rebranding to expanding), customer service becomes an afterthought and suffers. From the unknowledgeable staff to long checkout lines, we’ve compiled our list of the top retailers with the worst customer service.

Hudson’s Bay

We love Hudson’s Bay for their eye-catching window displays and iconic HBC blankets. However, when it comes to in-store service, Hudson’s Bay is far less than impressive. Hudson’s Bay is synonymous with unclear in-store pricing (think items that indicate ‘on sale’ but are really excluded,) and sales associates that aren’t empowered to make a pricing correction on the spot. Outside of the beauty department, you’ll be hard pressed to find a sales associate on the floor available to assist you with a size or direct you to a product. We’ve also encountered issues with attempting to pay for an item at another department’s checkout and being turned away because the POS systems won’t process the sale – aren’t we in the same store?

Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire’s greatest flaw when it comes to customer service is that not all stores operate equally. Canadian Tire locations are each independently owned and operated; this means that inventory, pricing, policies and service levels can greatly vary by store. We noticed a significant difference in the pricing structures and return policies at several Canadian Tire locations (with Toronto stores being more flexible than GTA stores). Furthermore, Canadian Tire fails when it comes to overall store layout and flow– being packed to the brim with too much merchandise and providing sales associates that can’t locate an item on the spot.


We absolutely love Zara for their fast fashion and affordable knockoffs of luxury accessories. However, shopping in-store at a Zara location isn’t nearly as desirable as the merchandise. In the past, we’ve experienced unfriendly sales associates, messy stores and damaged clothing on the sales floor. Customer service in this European retailer is nearly non-existent: you don’t receive a greeting upon entering, sales associates look frustrated sorting piles of clothing on tables and fitting room lines are larger than life. Our recommendation is to utilize Zara’s online shopping service – they appear to have all of the kinks worked out for an enjoyable customer service experience.


This list would not be complete without a mention of Wal-Mart. This big box leader delivers on pricing but falls more than short on quality customer service. From rude and unknowledgeable sales associates to limited checkout lines, be prepared to have your customer service expectations unsatisfied. The worst part about Wal-Mart is that this retailer does not seem to care about disappointing shoppers. Since Target’s Canadian exit, Wal-Mart has monopolized the discount department store category and has provided the worst customer services levels in retail.

Do you agree with our picks for retailers with the worst customer service?

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Featured image via @s4sisterstyle
  • Heather Redfern

    In Zara’s defence, their protocol is to not interrupt shoppers unless shoppers engage staff and ask for assistance. But their lineups are often long, and staff do seem disengaged.

    Hudson’s Bay is utterly horrific and I agree with the rest here.

  • Adora Tsang

    Canadian Tire for sure. Never had a good experience. Makes me mad that they have so many exclusive brands!

    Tim Hortons. They are rude 90% of the time. Can’t make a proper cup of coffee. I do like their ice cap and donuts are acceptable, which makes me wish they would consider selling with manless vending machines.

    Bay is hit and miss. Some people are really nice, others are aggressively unhelpful. My biggest problem with Bay is how messy the store is. They are expensive but it feels like Walmart.

    Walmart is actually very good. The workers are always helpful. Customer base is questionable, that’s why they have to be defensive. If you are reasonable, they are great.

  • I can agree with you on Hudson’s Bay – they usually only hire p/t or auxiliary staff & have only 1 sales clerk on duty per department. This has been going on for years on the Customer service with HBC.
    They are interested in getting you to sign up for a credit card.

  • Daria

    Zara is THE WORST. The employees are the dredges of the earth.

  • RealityCheck

    I believe forever 21 should be added to this list. Employees never make eye contact on the floor, are not generally helpful when asked a question, not to mention the horror that it their fitting rooms. Also, what is with not all the cashes and fitting rooms being functional in store (even on the busiest of shopping days)

  • ThePetiteBrunette

    What about Holt Renfrew- never have I been approached or asked if I needed assistance. Instead I play an intense game of eye contact daring them to break the silence first.

  • cypora

    I always have excellent service at Hudson’s Bay! If you get to know the sales clerks as people, that always helps. Too bad they took out the White Room where they had the designers clothing in order to make Saks more impressive! Hudson’s Bay was turning into a great store before they opened Saks. Bad move!

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