Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Unsatisfied with Luxury Brand Merchandise?

When we are unsatisfied with merchandise we take it back in the case of face to face transactions, or we send it back if it was an online purchase. The big department stores and independently owned boutiques have become better at returns and faulted merchandise whereas online shopping is the most precarious insofar as questionable quality and more difficult contact, more so when an item has to be returned.

Most often when returning an item of clothing or shoes, there are factors that the company has to consider that lead to determining whether it is their problem or perhaps yours. It is your problem when you buy a luxury item online from an "unregistered source" or receive it as a gift and don't have a "gift receipt".

I am still amazed at the number of intelligent men and women who order a "luxury" name online at a "discounted price" and are disappointed when a fake is delivered. First off, the only way anyone can be guaranteed that they have purchased the "real deal" is to purchase luxury brands in the retail storefront, registered boutiques, high end department stores or at second best, in a designated outlet store. Online, anything other than the official website is a precarious undertaking. Louis Vuitton has an official website; any other website attempting to sell the product needs to be researched because "fly by night" websites can propose to sell Louis Vuitton but in fact, how can you be sure? In fact it is illegal to sell and to buy "fake" luxury brand products in Canada. And Louis Vuitton (or any other luxury designer) designates specific vendors so I would question the source when you find something online, especially if it is "bargain basement pricing".

I read about a person who claimed to have received a "luxury brand" (in this case, Tory Burch) product as a gift but the gift was defective. When she tried to get "service" from the official website she encountered all kinds of problems. She was asked for a receipt and of course did not have one. Here's your first clue - luxury brand stores will always give a "gift receipt" so that the receiver has a reference point. No "gift receipt", you have to question where the giver of the gift bought the article. I once was given a Gucci bag as a gift. Of course, I know what these bags are worth and I asked as diplomatically as possible where the person bought the purse. I was told and I knew immediately that it was "fake". I accepted the gift with appreciation but I am still surprised that people believe that they can buy "Gucci" or any other luxury name in an Asian country at a quarter of the price and believe that they are buying the "real thing". Now if I had a problem with the purse and tried to take it back or complain to the "official" luxury brand company, I can only imagine what they might say to me.

As far as luxury brands go, irrespective of how they were purchased or how we came to acquire them, we expect exemplary service while we are in the process of purchasing and particularly if something goes wrong. There are customers who take their issues online and I have read of many who are disappointed and frustrated with the customer service of luxury brands.

We expect more simply because of the price. If I pay €5. or $5. for a pair of shoes and they fall apart after the second or third wear, I shrug my shoulders and lament that I got what I paid for. Finished. They go in the garbage. However when I pay $600. for a pair of shoes, two years later, after limited wear and tear and something goes wrong, I still hold the company accountable. On the continuum there are hundreds of price points and hundreds of conditions that determine how we react to a product. I have a problem with a Jimmy Choo pair of shoes I own. Granted they are two years old but I still believe the heel should not have disintegrated to the point it did. I'll make a request about where and how I can get the heel fixed and propose that they fix it.  Problem is, I took it to a shoemaker and it was fixed by someone who was non-sanctioned and it is worse than before. I suppose, the worst that can happen is that they say "no". For me, the problem is: 2 years and $600.00 (Cdn) later, along with someone else trying to fix it, I don't have a beige pair of heels to wear.

I need a game plan. I bought them at Holt Renfrew in Calgary and so I may have to wait till I am there again which won't be until the end of November, beginning of December. Now if Holts won't give me any satisfaction, after all it is 2 years and they were attended to by an "unauthorized" shoemaker, I will have to research the Jimmy Choo company via the internet. If I find someone to actually share my story with, I need to tell the customer service agent exactly what I want and expect from the company. Very often we call or email customer service with our problem and expect them to give us a solution when we usually have an idea of what we want from them. I now believe if we have an issue we should start at what we want because "this" happened and not "this" happened so you tell me what the company will do. If you expect a new pair of boots because the zipper broke after the first try, say so. In fact, I don't believe the customer service agent really cares what happened at all, I now believe they are thinking - "you are calling because you want something resolved . . . what do you want?"

That being said, the agent must work within the parameters of the company's policies. And that usually means a sales receipt. The habit of keeping sales receipts is a good one.

We, as customers, need our "disappointments" and "annoyances" to be resolved. My most recent issue with being unsatisfied and with the relative customer service is with Renault, which of course has nothing to do with clothing. But I shall share my story anyway. My husband and I have had two phone conversations with Renault customer service for our leased vehicle in France, and the first was respectful, polite and very helpful. When my husband called the Renault customer service center the second time he was told that perhaps it is his problem and not the car's. Yikes! I was listening to my husband's side of the conversation and he was mild mannered albeit a tad frustrated as the conversation progressed. The customer service agent hung up on him! Now that is the epitome of poor customer service and I must work very hard at not letting that experience override the first we had with Renault. The second customer service agent should have simply said to my husband, "when the problem recurs I can only suggest that you take it to a Renault dealership and Renault will look after any of the expenses incurred." That is essentially what we wanted to hear. Perhaps we should have started with what we want from Renault instead of telling him our negative experiences with the vehicle. It is not over . . .

In conclusion, when dealing with customer service, tell them what you want and be prepared to fulfill their requirements. 

Good luck, for that is what you need, in addition to the receipt, when you are unsatisfied with a product.


  1. It amazes my too when I read or hear about the great deal someone got on a designer item. The first thing I ask is, where did you get it? Without ever seeing the item the answer to that question I can often determine if it is real or a fake. A department store or boutique it's real. Ebay is where most of the fakes are sold but there are originals too. That's where it becomes buyer beware. Intelligent people fall for this all the time as you said. They think they got a designer item at half price but where they really have is a cheaply made knock-off and over paid for it

    If it seems to good to be true it's likely a fake. Buyer beware.

    1. It does come down to why a person buys a luxury brand in the first place. It has to be for the quality, the service and the longstanding tradition. To buy it to impress others is not good enough reason. That's where the fakes come in. So the fake is bought to create the illusion. There's a topic for another post . . .


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