In Praise of Esther Williams Swimwear

You see this swimsuit, folks? This is my New Favourite Swimsuit. And I almost didn’t get it. Allow me to explain…

You see, the swimsuit in question is by a company called Esther Williams. (Yes, named after THAT Esther Williams.) They make these gorgeous, retro-inspired swimsuits, and I’ve been coveting one for a long, long time. Specifically an emerald green one. Because if I can’t be wearing a 50s-style green dress, I want to be wearing a 50s-style green swimsuit.

But the swimsuits aren’t cheap, and although the brand is stocked by a handful of UK retailers, I had my heart set on an emerald green one, which was only in stock at the time on the company’s own, US-based website, meaning that international shipping and import duties would make an already Not Cheap swimsuit a Very Not Cheap swimsuit.  I, however, was going to be in America myself at the very time I’d be needing the suit, and so it was that I hatched a cunning plan. I would wait until I reached San Francisco (where I wouldn’t be doing any swimming, and therefore wouldn’t be needing any retro swimwear) and once I was there I would order my suit, and I would have it sent to the house we were renting in LA, planning the purchase carefully so that the swimsuit would arrive at roughly the same time I did.

But things didn’t go according to plan. Because I’m an idiot, basically.

You see, these suits are made to order, and go through a meticulous quality control process, which means that it generally takes around 6 weeks from you placing the order to you actually receiving your swimsuit: a fact which is mentioned on the company’s website.

I realised this fact approximately five seconds after placing my order.

Whoops.

Realising that the swimsuit would, therefore, not arrive at the house until long after I was back home in freezing old Scotland, I did a bit of whining, and then I emailed the company, apologised, and asked them to cancel the order.

But they didn’t.

No, the next day I got an email from the lovely Marq at Esther Williams, who offered to have the suit sent to me in the UK, at no extra cost.

Now, even if that had been the end of the saga, I’d have considered it the best customer service I’d ever had, because this company was basically offering to absorb the cost of the international shipping, just because of MY stupid mistake. Which was pretty damn nice of them, I thought.

Of course, the problem with that was that swimsuits aren’t much use to me in the UK, and it seemed like a lot of money for something I wouldn’t get to wear until God knows when, so I apologised again and said that as much as I’d love to prance around my hometown in an emerald green swimsuit, people look at me funny as it is, so I’d better resist. And then I hung my head in shame, because honestly, they were being so nice, and I felt like a total heel for messing them around like that.

Anyway, I figured that would be the end of my Esther Williams swimsuit plan, but I had figured without Marq, who, it turned out, wanted me to have that swimsuit almost as much as I wanted it myself. So he called the company’s manufacturer, managed to track down a suit in the right size and colour, and had it overnighted to the company’s HQ, so he could send it on to me.

SERIOUSLY, IS THAT NOT AMAZING SERVICE?

(Um, these photos kind of give away the ending of this story, don’t they? I should really have thought this through more…)

Well, I was all a-tremble at the thought of the imminent arrival of my new swimsuit. Every day we would come home from wherever we’d been, and I’d rush to check the mailbox.

It didn’t arrive.

Like, AT ALL.

I was devastated.

So, I emailed Marq and asked if it had been sent yet. “Er, yes,” replied Marq. “In fact, according to the tracking, it was delivered last week…”

Ah.

I typed the tracking number Marq had given me into the USPS website, and sure enough, according to them, they’d delivered the suit to me the previous week.

Except they hadn’t. I’d checked the mailbox faithfully, and nothing had arrived. So I double-checked to make sure the address they said they’d delivered to was correct, then I went out and searched the perimeter of the property, to see if the mailman had simply thrown the package over the fence. (That had happened the previous week, with another package, which landed under the sprinkler and got a good soaking. Mailmen: they hate me.) Nothing.

Now, the house we were staying in was at the top of a hill, so we didn’t really get people just passing by. There were only two houses nearby, and they both happened to be empty at the time. The house was also surrounded by a high wall and gate, so no one could get into it without being buzzed in. The mailbox was on our side of the fence: people could put packages into it from the roadside, but you could only get them out from our side. All of these factors made it highly unlikely that the package had been stolen – and for that to have happened, USPS would’ve had to have left it outside the property, which would’ve been an odd decision given that there was a mailbox RIGHT THERE for them.  So, basically, the only way USPS could possibly have delivered this package without us knowing about it was if they’d thrown it over the wall, which they hadn’t. My extensive search of the grounds proved this, and I also may have drafted in reinforcements to allow me to extend the search. I’m sure my dad really enjoyed those five hours spent searching the undergrowth for a swimsuit, too.

The upshot was that if USPS had delivered the package, I had never received it. At this realisation, a cold chill went down my spine. You all know about the lack of luck I have with mail. I’d assumed those issues were restricted only to Royal Fail, here in the UK. Now it seemed my luck had followed me to America: and had claimed my prechus swimsuit into the bargain.

Well, we called USPS. “Meh, we’ll look into it,” they said, in a tone which clearly told me that they would do no such thing.

So Terry and I jumped into the car and drove down to the local post office, which was where the package had last been tracked to. We stood in line for 30 minutes, before being granted an audience with The Grumpiest Man Who Ever Did Live. “Reeeallly?” he said, sarcastically, after hearing our sorry story. Then he rolled his eyes dramatically (“Hey!” I wanted to say. “Enough with the drama, old dude. I’LL be bringing the drama here, thanks very much.” But I didn’t, because I think he would’ve killed me with his eyes.) and went to get the manager.

The manager came shuffling out apologetically, refusing to look us in the eye.

“Yeeeaaaah,” he said nervously. “See, there’s not much point in me asking the delivery driver what happened to your package. Because he’ll just say he delivered it?”

There was a short silence as we all digested this piece of information.

“Soooo,” said the manager. “I dunno, really. Maybe just ask the company for your money back? And, like, hope they say yes? Otherwise you’re basically screwed?”

OK, he didn’t say that last bit. But it was what he meant.

I was really upset by all of this. I didn’t think it was fair for Esther Williams to have to bear the cost of the lost swimsuit, but at the same time, I didn’t really know what else to do other than to contact them again and tell them what USPS had said. So I emailed Marq, hoping that perhaps the ground would open up and swallow me before he got to read his mail.

THIS time would surely be the end of the matter, I thought, as I guiltily pressed “send” on my email. But I had seriously underestimated the lengths that Esther Williams Swimwear were prepared to go to to help out a Scottish girl in need of a retro swimsuit. You see, Ether Williams are based in California. Marq, as it turned out, was going to be at a bar not far from where we were staying, that very night. And that blessed man had managed to track down another swimsuit in my size. I could collect it from him at the bar, he suggested, and cut out USPS altogether?

That’s how I came to find myself collecting a mysterious package from a strange man in Canoga Park late one summer night. And that, my friends, is how the world was saved.

Oh no, wait, it isn’t: it’s how I came to have a green, retro style swimsuit. Ah well, same thing.

In conclusion: Esther Williams Swimwear = best customer service EVER.

Marq = MY HERO.

USPS = Don’t even get me started.

(As an addendum to this story, Marq tells me that the original suit was returned to them a couple of weeks later. My guess is that there’s a mailman somewhere in California who just really liked the colour green…)


27 Comments

  • Rock Hyrax says:

    I’m very impressed with Marq! Nice swimsuit too… :-)

  • Caroline says:

    How much do I want that swim suit?? Looks fantastic. And now I’m even more inclined to hand over my hard-earned pennies to Esther Williams too! :D

    • Amber says:

      At the risk of sounding like I’m being sponsored by them (which I promise I’m not!) I honestly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them, Caroline: I’m always a bit wary about ordering things from abroad, but now I know how good their service is I would expect there will be more retro swimsuits in my future. I have my eye on the gold version of this one now :)

  • Haha….that is such a brilliant story. Esther Williams and Marq have restored my faith in humanity!

    • Amber says:

      Mine too! I figured I had to write about them, because I’m normally writing whiny posts about bad customer service, so it was so nice to find a company that genuinely seemed to care.

      As for USPS, on the other hand… ;)

  • Louisa says:

    I have 2 of those exact swimsuit – one in red and a polka dot one – both bought in the UK…..

    • Amber says:

      Yes, the brand is sold in a few places in the UK. Unfortunately I couldn’t find this colour in my size anywhere, so I decided just to buy while I was in the States.

  • Sandy says:

    Blimey! I sdmire your stamina and the lengths you will go to for just the right swimsuit!

    Off to seek out Esther Williams cossies now…..altho I have no need for one because it’s camping in Cornwall this year, I’m badgering people for a Spanish villa next year tho!!!

  • Marq is an absolute saint! That’s the best customer service I’ve ever heard of!

  • Call me M says:

    I loved this post! And of course your swimsuit! You look amazing in it.
    That must be the best customer service ever!! And you’re so lucky to finally have it. Marq do sounds like a hero. hehe
    Thank you sooo much for commenting on my blog! I love your style and I was so excited when I saw your comment. Thank you for visiting my blog! :)

  • bonita says:

    ~ * ♥ * ~

    Wow, the Esther Williams team sound amazing & Marq =’s hero! It’s so great that you got your swimsuit Amber, and what a tale to tell too! :D

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

  • What a wonderful story! That is quite seriousl the sexiest swimsuit that I have ever laid eyes on. Plus OMG Amber, what a knockout figure you have. Seriously hen, I’d be doing some serious pin up photography if I were you…

    • Amber says:

      Ah, you’re too kind! I think you need boobs for that, though – I can easily be mistaken for a teenage boy if I’m not careful!

  • Hayley says:

    I’ve got their classic sheath suit in the red and white polka dot – my absolute favorite swimsuit! I wasn’t sure, but I had heard so many good things about how they’re flattering for every body type, so I took the plunge last year. I wouldn’t mind having one in every color now (though I’ll probably just settle for another one in navy).

  • Pamela says:

    This story is crazy! The swimsuit looks amazing on you so I’d say it was totally worth all the drama! I love the green :)

  • Terry says:

    Marq was indeed a total star!

  • The suit suits, doll! You were made for retro. Love the Viv shoes with it too! Was thinking of grabbing some for my bathing suit look as well!

  • Nikki G says:

    Wow! That swimsuit is stunning. Plus, you can’t beat customer service like that. USPS doesn’t give a rat’s rear about losing packages, though. I learned that the hard way. At least this story has a happy ending. :-)

  • Tracey says:

    Stories like this just restore my faith in the retail world. Plus, it was totally worth the effort because the swimsuit is gorgeous!

  • MsVeve says:

    WOW, that sounds like the nicest guy ever! (And best customer service!!) I am quite shocked cause ppl usually don’t care about other ppl’s problems etc. Really glad it all worked out.

  • Panthera says:

    Amazing costumer service! I’ve never heard of anyone going that far to help someone!
    And you look amazing in it, so it was absolutely worth it (probably also for Esther Williams and Marq who get some free publicity from this ^^)
    You look so pretty! I’ll be sad when the vacation pics are over :(

  • maz aka MallyMon says:

    Oh! I have only just read this post in its entirety. How wonderful! After having a big laugh, I realise that I really want one of those swimsuits now. (It looks fabulous on you, btw!) I would like Burgundy. Or polka dot … or puffy daisy. Or all three. What wonderful service – that really needs publicising far and wide. I have spent many happy hours watching Esther in those swimming films of hers. Apparently she’s going to be 90 this year and is a great example of how swimming can extend one’s life. I’m going to get back into it asap. In an EW suit, naturally. :)

  • Kate says:

    Wow – amazing story, and amazing swimsuit! I browsed the site a bit, and LOVE the button one. So pretty!

    That’s seriously one of the best customer service stories I’ve ever heard (erm…not so much on USPS’s part, though. Did I ever mention the time they decided to send a very expensive skein of yarn to Texas – TWICE – before getting ’round to giving it to me? ::sigh::

  • E. says:

    I was looking for reviews of Esther Williams’ suits and Google brought me here. Wow! You look like Gene Tierney in that last photo.

  • Selina says:

    Oooh I almost want to marry Marq now, with that wonderful story. What a lovely man. So glad you got it in the end because it’s fabulous

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