Ulta sucks so much! Where do I even begin? Well, I'll start out with their lousy customer service. My Ulta opened in October of 2011. I have been there around 20 times, mostly with my sister, who for some reason loves the place. Last week was the first time I went that I actually got acknowledged by anyone and asked if I needed any help. I remember the first time I went when it first open I bought an Anthony Logistics product, which had a free gift with any purchase. When I got up there, they didn't mention so I asked about it. They said they were all out, surprising, considering that the store was almost empty and it had only been open for a few days. No apology or anything. It just annoys me that the people at Ulta act so snobby (They sell drugstore/Walmart brands for gods sake!), no matter how you dress, and know nothing about most of the products. The people who work at Sephora are always nice, and ask you if you need help. If you ask them about a product they will help you, and, chances are, they can find someone that has used the product you are asking about, and can refer you to what works better, etc.
Secondly, Ulta's coupons suck. Occasionally, they will have 20% off coupons that you think you can use on the brands that are actually good, but you can only use them on their crappy drugstore brands. Most coupons say something like this: "excludes prestige cosmetics, including philosophy, benefit," etc. They will send you some coupons that say "excludes Lancome, Benefit Brow Bar services, and other exclusions may apply". By changing it and not making it clear, my sister goes up to the counter and tries to purchase Lorac products, and the coupon doesn't work. Don't say "read the fine print" because we did and it wasn't clear, and this has happened to many people as well. Sephora has 20% off anything, including fragrances every October and 15% off in March/April, and they actually have more than 3 good brands, like Nars, Bobbi Brown, Origins, etc.
Next, Ulta tries to scam you with the magazines. They told my sister that she will receive a free magazine of both Allure and Glamour. A few weeks later, she was charged for both of them. It's a good thing she wanted them in the first place or else she would be calling. I still think it is very sleazy and unprofessional to be giving out their customer's information left and right, especially without their knowledge. It's not like they tell you that you will be charged if you don't cancel.
I get that it's tough for them with the competition from department stores, Walmart, Sephora, etc. but if they want to compete with Sephora then they need to have better customer service and better prices than Sephora since their brands and selection of good brands isn't as good as Sephora's. They aren't even trying, at least it seems.
For some reason, my sister still shops here, but she doesn't like it as much as she used to. But then again, she likes to hide in the corner and doesn't like everyone bothering here, that and the fact that we don't have a Sephora is what keeps her going back to Ulta I suppose. I will not shop there since I can purchase anything I need and more from the counters at Dillard's and Belk, or Nordstrom (or Nordstrom.com) and Neiman Marcus when I am near one.