Archive for the ‘Luxury’ Category

Service of Live and Learn: Did You Know Unsold Luxury Fashions & Accessories are Destroyed at Season’s End?

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Burberry Scarf. Photo: uk.burberry.com

I knew that mutilated US currency is destroyed but I didn’t know that at the end of a season unsold luxury goods are as well. Matthew Dalton explained the practice in a recent Wall Street Journal article and reported that one internationally known brand—Burberry–is bucking the custom.

“Destroying unsold inventory is a widely used but rarely discussed technique that luxury companies perform to maintain the scarcity of their goods and the exclusivity of their brands. In Italy and many other countries, they can also claim a tax credit for destroying the inventory.”

Stefano Ricci suit. Photo: Stefanoricci.com

Dalton also wrote that one Italian menswear brand, Stefano Ricci, fills dozens of boxes–it sells its fashions in Italy, China and the U.S.–with cashmere suits, silk ties and cotton shirts and ships them off to be burned. “The companies hired to incinerate the clothing film the destruction so that brands can prove to the Italian tax authorities that their inventory has truly gone up in smoke.” The owner would like to give some of the clothing to charity “but the tax credit ties the company’s hands.”

He also reported that the Swiss conglomerate that owns Cartier bought back unsold watches worth “hundreds of millions of euros in recent years…. which were piling up at retailers because of a drop in demand from Chinese consumers. The company pried off the jewels and melted them down, but is reusing the materials.”

As I noted above, Burberry Group won’t be following suit, bowing to pressure by environmental groups “who say it is wasteful.” [Now that we know I doubt these groups are the only ones to share this point of view!] “The amount of stock Burberry destroys had risen sharply in recent years, from £5.5 million in fiscal year 2013 to £28.6 million in the last fiscal year.” And Dalton added that the brand’s younger target market is particularly concerned about the environment. It will no longer sell fur. Elizabeth Paton who covered the story for the New York Times wrote that the company is researching sustainable materials with a group at the Royal College of Art in London.

Gucci Fall 2017 menswear collection. Photo: gq.com

High end holdouts don’t want to see their goods deeply discounted as “luxury goods command higher prices because they are inherently more valuable.” Gucci reuses cloth and leather and claims that it destroys a “relatively small” part. In addition, “it unloads unsold clothes through discounts for friends and family and through outlet stores.”

Decades ago I bought a traditional Burberry raincoat that I still wear every fall and spring. The quality of the material is unequalled—the cuff and coat edges have never frayed; the lining is solid. It cost a king’s ransom but given its longevity was fairly priced. I can’t attest to the quality of luxury goods today nor do I know how many people who buy them would dream of wearing them this long even if they lasted. I’ve always been too practical. When I’ve bought eccentric bits of clothing I’ve paid as little as possible. Even if I could afford them, the unconventional looks customers expect from some luxury fashion designers will date themselves too quickly for my taste.

Did you know that high end manufacturers destroyed their goods? I understand the reasoning behind the convention to preserve the value of fashions and accessories, but the practice doesn’t seem fitting today, do you think? Dalton doesn’t say what Burberry will do with its leftovers. How might companies protect their exclusivity and extravagant prices yet skip the step of annihilating their products–or should they continue the process?

Ballon Bleu de Cartier Photo: cartier.com

 

Service of a Crack in the Surface of E-Commerce

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Photo: physics.aps.org

A Wall Street Journal article about traditional retailing and E-commerce made clear that those who see the latter annihilating traditional retail shouldn’t order the funeral flowers just yet. Some retailers of both luxury and discount goods are spending big bucks on their brick and mortar stores. In a second article the same day the Journal reported that WalMart has started to refuse to ship heavy items–because of the cost– by claiming they are out of stock. This approach may be temporary and therefore, potentially less significant in the long run.

What’s In Store?

Photo: pinterest.com

Target was also a focus of John D. Stoll’s Wall Street Journal article, “Tiffany’s $250 Million Bet on a 78-Year-Old Store.” He wrote “It turns out that all over the ravaged retailing sector, companies are rethinking the mantra that the future is digital, and pouring money into actual brick-and-mortar stores.” Target plans to spend $7 billion. It doesn’t break down the superstore’s expenditures though “a spokeswoman said stores are an ‘incredibly important linchpin.’”

Why this confidence in physical stores? Stoll wrote: “Because the bulk of America’s retail is still done the old-fashioned way. Target has consistently increased online sales, but ecommerce represents less than 6% of its revenues. Online sales are closer to 7% at Home Depot but under 4% at Walmart.” Tiffany’s stores produce 90 percent of its revenue.

Photo: logos.wikia.com

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ annual Consumer Insights survey showed weekly purchases from stores has risen from 36 percent four years ago to 40 percent in 2015 and 44 percent this year. Stoll wrote: “Retailers are smart to better integrate the physical shopping experience with people’s online habits, but now is not the time to give up on making stores better.” On a recent Wednesday, he reported, Tiffany’s new café in its NYC flagship had 1,000 on a waiting list for 40 seats.

Cupboard is Bare

So what about Walmart’s shipping policy? People need the products involved such as household cleaners, nonperishable groceries, pet food and cosmetics so they will buy them somewhere.

I marvel at how CVS often covers the cost of shipping heavy items with no minimum purchase required, in conjunction with a sale many times, and wonder how long the windfall will last.

Photo: walmartcareers.com

Sarah Nassauer in her Wall Street Journal article wrote that the Walmart “has begun telling online shoppers that some products in its warehouses are ‘out of stock’ after the retailer changed its e-commerce systems to avoid orders deemed too expensive to ship.” Some suppliers were surprised. To address the policy they’ll “stock their products at more Walmart warehouses around the country to keep sales steady, according to an executive at a large food company.

“The shift is part of a test, Walmart said, to see if it can deliver more products via ground shipping, a cheaper option than air shipping, in two days or less.” Spokesman Ravi Jariwala “said shoppers shouldn’t notice a big increase in out-of-stock items because walmart.com will suggest similar products from nearby warehouses.”

Do you think retailers like Tiffany’s and Target are throwing away their money in this retail climate by upgrading their traditional stores? Is there an aura about some stores—like Tiffany’s—that compels shoppers to visit? Will retailers figure out cheaper ways of shipping heavy goods or will customers increasingly pick up in stores their online orders deemed too heavy/expensive to ship? Walmart says it’s a test but if profitable, don’t you think the “shortages will be permanent, potentially impacting online sales? When you buy online, do you stick to your shopping list more than you do when you’re in a store?

Photo: flickr.com

Service of The Sky’s the Limit

Monday, January 7th, 2013

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Last week NYC School Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke with morning talk show host John Gambling, WOR Radio, about the looming public school bus strike. The city pays almost $7,000 a year to transport each of 150,000 children by yellow bus compared to approximately $3,000 in LA, which claims the next highest public school transportation cost.

yellowscoolbusNews4 New York in “NYC Preps for Possible School Bus Driver Strike” reported: “The city has not used significant competitive bidding for new yellow bus contracts since 1979, according to [Mayor] Bloomberg and Walcott.”

Regarding another example of excess, I saved The Wall Street Journal‘s “Mansion” section from early December because the headline “Resort Living Comes to Campus” caught my eye. In light of the struggles of so many students to pay for college and the debts they incur, I marveled at Dawn Wotapka’s headline.

bubblebathWotapka wrote: “Welcome to University House, a $65 million private college dormitory that just opened near the University of Central Florida. Built by Inland American Communities Group, University House is one of the latest upscale communities sprouting up in college towns-including East Lansing, Mich., Tempe, Ariz., College Station, Texas, and others. Developers say that colleges provide a steady stream of new customers every year, and that students-and their parents-are willing to pay for luxury amenities.”

These include custom furniture, walk-in closets, private bedrooms and bathrooms and shared kitchens with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. A one-bedroom solo costs nearly $1,000/month.

Wotapka addresses the financial risks for the developers of the luxury dorms as more and more enter the field and the economy continues to drone but I’m more interested in the concept and the fact that it worked for even 10 minutes in this or any other economy.

Who sends children to college to live in luxury’s lap? I’m sure that the University of Central Florida is a fine school but wouldn’t whoever pays the bill be better off covering the tuition in an even better school than forking over money for fancy living accommodations? Is learning no longer the point or is it more important for precious offspring to take a bubble bath for as long as they want [which was what one student raved about her apartment setup].

Nothing’s too good for our children but for less than $7,000/year per student [imagine the money to be made for a family of four kids and/or several neighbors], I bet the New York City school system could find a taxi service or retired neighbor willing to drive children back and forth to school and put the money where it belongs–better teachers. Further, I’m ashamed at the success, even if only fleeting, of the luxury dorms. Your thoughts?

 lapofluxury

Service of Conflict of Interest

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

splash

Some who practice public relations give it a bad name. Because it’s one of those industries that lots of people don’t “get,” it can have a harder time than others justifying itself. And then there are the high profile sleazes. They exist in every industry from medicine and hedge fund management, banking to politics.

How do I handle the splash from PR people who don’t conduct themselves ethically and land in the spotlight? I avoid any hint of conflict of interest as do my associates and millions of doctors, hedge fund managers, bankers and politicians.

fur-coatYears ago, an acquaintance asked me to help promote his friend’s business. His friend was a furrier in New York’s garment district. I interviewed the owner, he showed me how the coats were made, and we addressed his challenges. His comment to our mutual contact after our meeting was surprise: “She didn’t ask to try on a coat or for a discount.”

So this is why my nose is out of joint when a reputable news source known for business reporting offers to sell me its top stock picks. It smacks of conflict of interest. I don’t mind when it offers me discounts on wine. It’s not known for wine reviews. Used to be that reporters at a news source such as this returned holiday gifts and would not accept even a cup of coffee from topstockpicksa business or PR person. This place isn’t alone.

The New York Times  reported last month that magazines are selling fashion picks in online stores and one through its website. Eric Wilson notes that GQ sells its selections through Park & Bond; Esquire sends readers to Cladmen.com and the Vogue website is the place to buy select items from this season’s runways. Wilson quotes the website: “Vogue may receive a commission on some sales made through this service.”

Wilson notes the potential friction between these venues and stores like Saks, Neiman’s and Barneys. The impact of editorial conflict of interest is worse.

How many times have I told a client adding beige to a lackluster, generic product line or planning an open house where nothing will be different that day from any other: “No reporter, editor or blogger will consider sharing this with their readers. To get out this information you’ll need to buy an ad.” With a change in editorial policy, how this might change, and not for the better for readers.

PR people tout the value of third party endorsement when a reporter or magazine features a product or service. It’s the ultimate sales tool. Do you think that smudging of roles for magazines and newspapers, where they sell some of their picks as well as feature them, will affect their credibility and validity with readers? Might it eventually accelerate their demise, the ultimate irony as one of their arguments is that they are trying to stay afloat through such sales?

 magazine-product-spread

Service of Luxury Purchases

Monday, August 8th, 2011

rodeo-drive

The lead to Stephanie Clifford’s article “Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves,” in The New York Times last week was: “Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin ‘Bianca’ platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in the United States than it had in any July in five years.”

mercedes-benzShe continued, “Even with the economy in a funk and many Americans pulling back on spending, the rich are again buying designer clothing, luxury cars and about anything that catches their fancy. Luxury goods stores, which fared much worse than other retailers in the recession, are more than recovering – they are zooming. Many high-end businesses are even able to mark up, rather than discount, items to attract customers who equate quality with price.”

Radio talk show host Michael Smerconish thought that this was great news because it meant jobs for the sales associates and showroom managers, manufacturers, shippers, inventory stock people, and it all translated into tax revenues.

Not all of his staff or listeners agreed with him but I do. Clifford, quoting Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics, also noted that the top 20 percent of income earners generate almost 60 percent of spending. I say, “What does it matter what these folks spend their money on? Is it anyone’s business?”

grand-central1On the other hand, I was on a train with a fellow passenger who rang my chimes. She dragged me and anyone else around her on the crowded Friday night train-no place to move–into her private life. She’d just bought a house in a tony Connecticut town and had a loud and detailed conversation on her cell phone with her insurance broker. We learned she’d paid cash for the place, had four college degrees, how old she was, and that she had just sold another home in NYC. Next, she called a contractor about her remodeling plans, dotting her conversation with her deal with the seller.

In between calls all of us heard about her upcoming travel plans when she kept up her incessant banter with her weekend guest. I am happy to report that when I got off the train I took a look at this woman. She would have been greatly improved had she used some of her money to fix herself up with some of the luxurious goods noted in the Times article.

I’m not quite sure why reading that people are paying lots of money for cars and clothing doesn’t bother me and yet this woman did. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t forced to read Clifford’s article but I had to hear about her. Further, I don’t equate looking great or being comfortable in a car with spending a boatload of money. An officemate has three new stunning summer dresses that make her look like a $million. She said she paid $30 for each at Lord & Taylor.

How do you feel about people who spend excessive amounts of money on stuff? Does what’s happening in the economy make a difference to your answer? Would the train lady have annoyed you? Do you know people like this?

 wallet-with-money

Service of Paper that Calls to You

Monday, April 25th, 2011

business-card 

A friend, writer/editor Jim Roper and I share a passion for fine quality stationery-all sorts of paper goods.  His notes and gift bags of handmade paper feel as exquisite as they look. He gave me a box of Florentine cards a few years ago. I have sent most to special people but still have a few as I have a hard time parting with them.

Jim suggested I read Lesley M. Blume’s Wall Street Journal article, “Leaving the Right Impression.” It was about the trend for people to design and use calling cards-that’s what Blume says they are, well, called these days. My husband has always referred to business cards this way but these personal cards are different in that along with a name, they provide only one bit of contact information such as a phone number.

distinguish-yourselfBlume noted that the reasons for these cards on thick, wonderful paper ranged from distinguishing oneself in a job search to “the ongoing ‘heritage’ movement-a nostalgia-tinged societal turn toward objects that last, smolder with individuality and are well-made-which has made its zeitgeisty way into the world of stationery.” She continued, “And a personalized card acts as a quiet rebuttal to the white noise jabber-jawing of Twitter and Facebook.”

I get her first reason. Distinguishing yourself in positive ways is always smart. But I wonder why people [apart from mothers and loved ones] are going to keep these beautiful cards and if they do, where. I input contact information to my smartphone as soon as I can and have no room or place to store such things whether beautiful or merely practical.

More important: toomuchworkWill the cards require the recipient to work to find you? What if a prospective employer doesn’t want to speak with you and all that’s on the calling card is your phone number? In frustration, he/she may toss the card and move to the person whose email address is easier to find.

We increasingly need to know and share everything NOW. We Google, we link, we dash off a line at midnight on a handheld phone’s keyboard. I don’t think calling cards will buck this trend. The recipient may carry the card around for ages as a bookmark [if he/she hasn’t moved to a Kindle]. My bet is that in the end, they will have no clue who gave it to them.

I’m all for encouraging face-to-face contact in favor of hiding behind a keyboard. I can’t get over being asked to jot condolence messages on websites, for example. But calling cards aren’t the answer to social networking and texting run amok.

How do you distinguish yourself? Do you think calling cards are an effective way?

distinguish-2

Service of Long Lasting Brands

Monday, April 11th, 2011

brands

There are branding specialists galore who help people create and maintain brands, their own, a product’s, a company or corporation’s. Yes, people are considered brands today to be packaged like a good or decorative element.

I’m forever fascinated by the longevity of so many who made a mark that continues to achieve buzz and attention even though the venerated person is either no longer in the public eye and most frequently is long dead or out of the public eye well before the word brand was in fashion.

brigettebardotThe April 7 issue of FurnitureSeen that appeared in my emailbox last week featured a Hepburn Modular Sofa which, the copy noted, could have been inspired by either Katherine or Audrey–and Bardot, a “curvaceous seating collection” for which the Spanish designer Jamie Hayon had the French 1950s/1960s movie siren Brigitte Bardot in mind.

Estée Lauder died in April 2004 and yet she still makes headlines for her namesake company that now sells 28 brands. In The New York Times article, “What Would Estée Do?” Natasha Singer quotes longtime employee and global brand president Jane Hertsmark Hudis: “I think a lot of us ask ourselves, ‘What would Leonard do? I also ask myself: ‘What would Estée Lauder do? Am I upholding her values and her vision?'” Leonard A. Lauder is chairman emeritus and Estée’s oldest son.

The End Note of Culture & Leisure Magazine‘s issue No. 44 features a smiling Coco Chanel and a quote, “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” The issue of this smart, fashionable, visionary publication was devoted to southern debutantes and editor/founder Natalie Rushing chooses to remember Chanel.

doris-dayDoes anyone think often of Doris Day these days? Will Friedwald interviewd the top grossing actress of all time recently for The Wall Street Journal‘s Leisure & Arts section in “Sunny Day Keeps on Shining.” Friedwald spoke with Doris on the phone-she doesn’t like being called Ms. Day-who said that when she moved to Carmel, California 30 years ago “I put all my records and everything away. I didn’t think anybody cared if they heard me or not.” And yet she continues to get fan letters and is perplexed that “after so many years out of the spotlight, her recordings and films continue to be cherished by generation after generation.” Friedwald adds that Sony Music will release a retrospective box set later in the year.

What do you think makes a brand long lasting? Does it help if the inspiration is dipped in the rosy glow of selective memory and is no longer in the harsh eye of public scrutiny that seems to enjoy watching people fall? Did these stars of business, fashion and film represent a kind of quality we miss or try to achieve today? Do you consider yourself a brand?

public-eye

Service of Little Luxuries

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

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It’s easy to criticize how others spend–or you may feel waste–money. We all have our little luxuries and they aren’t the same. Chances are, what’s important to you is considered frivolous to someone else and vice versa.

sunglassesAn acquaintance bought a pair of non-prescription designer sunglasses at what was for her a bargain price of $150. They normally cost $400, she said. Hiding behind those shades must make her feel like a million bucks. As long as I don’t squint when I’m in the sun and they look OK, what makes me happy is to pay $25 or less for sunglasses. I love beautiful clothes and accessories, though I’ve never been fashion label-addicted or impressed. It’s the overall effect I’m after at the best price I can find. Neither of us is right or wrong.

A bag of truffled [sic] popcorn @ $8.99 for three ounces and a $206 olive-wood handled picnic knife were featured in a Town & Country column, “Life’s a Picnic,” in the June issue. They got me thinking of my little luxuries. My current favorites: Verbena-scented soap, greeting cards on fine paper, creamy lipstick, getting my hair done when I don’t need it cut, buying a perfect gift and dinner party favors.

I also observe others’ essential non-essentials. Some are not so small.

refrig**A frugal friend who lived in a series of rental apartments couldn’t move in without a new refrigerator and top-of-the-line washing machine. In every other way, she was totally unspoiled and a penny-pincher by necessity. Hot water, disinfectant applied with a new sponge on the appliances that came with the apartments was not an option for her.

**Another pal watched every dime spent on herself and spent almost none. Fresh flowers were her only extravagance if you don’t count the wonderful, creative gifts she gave friends.

**I know people who still smoke. A pack runs upwards of $7 in New York City and I bet they can’t buy just one.

**Brought up to read the right side of the menu [where the prices are listed] before ordering food at a restaurant, I discovered my mom wasn’t as careful when traveling.

**Some eat dinner nightly with a bottle of wine. If you know where to buy wine these days, it can cost less than soda, milk, juice, or bottled tea or water. Compared to water from a tap, all of these drinks are luxuries.

manicure**Manicures, pedicures, massages and other spa amenities may not be my style but are very much in style and beloved.

What are your small–or not so small–luxuries? Have these changed recently? Are you judgmental about friends’ picks? Any in particular?

winebottle1

Service of Follow-Ups

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Have you ever watched a movie and had to leave early–so you don’t know the ending? I like to know what happens. So here are some follow-ups to four previous posts.

Postal “Service”

Mervyn Kaufman wrote about his excruciating US post office experience in “Service of Ho Hum,” December 8, 2009. The who cares attitude he described struck us in other ways this Christmas, the first year that the postal service lost two packages-one we sent and one destined for us, mailed from the Midwest.

All we have from our lost package is the address and return address ripped from the book mailer packaging and sent us, with a printed form letter postmarked Atlanta, noting that the package had fallen apart and sorry, but the contents [wrapped gifts] were lost. The package, mailed from upstate New York, was slated for New Hampshire.

In addition, a letter with a check in it that we mailed to Brooklyn in mid-December has yet to arrive or be returned, and we hear from a friend who lives in the Midwest that she hasn’t received a bill from a credit card company for the past two months. All this happens as USPS business continues to drop off while staffing doesn’t. 

Fur Flying

We left Catherine C’s story in “Service at the High End,” November 23rd, up in the air. Did the furrier find and return her lost coat? No. This is what she reported:

 

“I got a check from my insurance company, which will duke it out with the furrier.  I had to ask the furrier to give me a refund for the storage, cleaning, and relining of my coat (shouldn’t have had to ask), and I never got any kind of written apology.  I still believe the latter knows what happened to my coat.  

“I’ve learned some things that make me question their quality and make me thankful I’m no longer dealing with that firm. I’m glad I didn’t take their offer of a more expensive coat if I paid the difference in value between the new one and my coat. 

“I am in the process of having a new coat made at a furrier that was recommended by the style editor of my client, Departures magazine.  It happens to be a close friend’s furrier, too.  And I’ve triangulated and heard only good things.  This furrier stores on premises, which is good.  It’s taken me a little while to get my head around the whole idea of making a coat because there’s an element of faith involved in what it’s going to look like.  It’s starting to come together.  Wish I had it now!” [Catherine wrote this on a frigid day.]

Ring Up a Great Deal

On a cheerier note, I visited the same T-Mobile phone store that was the subject of the January 28, 2009 post, “Good Service is In the Air, Isn’t It?” Last year, I bought a cell phone with charger, earphones and 1,000 hours of service for $130–$10.83/month for 12. The purpose of the visit last week was to renew the account, which I did for $10-there were 700 phone hours left to use. This brings the monthly cost of the phone and service to $5.83-for what I hope will be 24. The charming and efficient young woman helping me had me in and out of the store in minutes.

Cup of Joe from Sam

And Sam in his coffee cart– “Coffee Service with More than a Smile,” December 15, 2009–is as welcoming as ever. His music transitioned this month from seasonal Christmas to energetic music with a Middle Eastern twist. He’s added a variety of cold cereal to his breakfast offerings and his prices remain reasonable–75 cents for a cup of coffee.

We missed him when he left a substitute coffee person to tend his cart on the southeast corner of 44th Street and Third Avenue so he could visit his family in Egypt. The substitute had no interest in any of us–didn’t bother to remember if we took sugar, skim or regular milk and could be sour and rude. He also left each day hours before Sam does.

Do us a big service: Share some follow-ups either from one of our post topics or your life.

 

Service at the High End

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

A stunning friend of my mother’s was ignored when she visited Christian Dior in Paris. It was the 1970s when the economy was also in a sling. The weather was beastly so she was wearing a raincoat and headscarf to protect her hair. She thought that may have been why nobody paid her any heed. After a few moments of feeling invisible, she turned and walked out of one of the most prestigious couture houses in the world at the time and told us that as the door closed behind her, she took comfort thinking, “How do they know that I’m not a millionaire-when actually, I am.” [What a billionaire is today is what it was to be a millionaire then.]

There are some luxury brands, such as Tiffany, that have traditionally bent over backwards to make everyone feel welcome regardless of their budget or the size of their billfold and to make customers feel like millionaires or billionaires, whether or not they are.

Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Obviously not always, even in today’s economy. My nephew told us about how he was poorly treated at a Mercedes dealer and a friend and follower of this blog, Catherine C., had a similar experience at a BMW dealer. She and her husband went to a different dealer to buy their car.

Catherine C. also generously shared details of another recent experience with a luxury brand that’s worth sharing because it illustrates a crucial disconnect when the level of service isn’t equal to the product. She writes:

“My mink coat came from a prominent NYC furrier. My husband bought it directly from that company 12 years ago because of an introduction from a business associate. The older generation was still around then.  Over the years, the younger generation has gradually taken over. 

“In the beginning, I had no problems. But in recent years, there has been a steady stream. 

** “One year my coat and headband ended up somewhere on Long Island [I live in New Jersey]. That was the year they insisted that their records showed that I had two coats.  Obviously, the owner of the other coat got hers and mine. 

** “Another year I had to fight to get my bag and hanger back. 

**  “In yet another year I ordered and paid to have the fur at the coat’s hemline replaced but it didn’t really look as if it had been done–it can be hard to tell for sure.  The next year they called to say it needed to be done!  I questioned why, when they supposedly did it the year before and billed me for it. Lo, there was no bill for anything that year at all – not even storage. 

** “This year, I ordered the lining replaced.  I called around November 9 to say I wanted the coat delivered. I was told it would be picked up from the storage facility in NJ on Monday, November 16 and delivered to me a few days later. When it hadn’t been delivered by November 19, I called to find out why. I had been pinned to the house waiting for the delivery for two days and was getting tired of it.  I was told they’d track it and get right back to me. 

“After 45 minutes without a call back, I knew there was a problem. So I called again and learned that the relining was not done when the coat went into storage in the spring. The work hadn’t been entered into the system until late so the work had been done about a month ago. They gave me a song and dance about the coat first having to go to the showroom in NY and then be delivered to me in NJ and they didn’t know why that hadn’t happened. I pointed out to the owner, the next gen guy I’m dealing with, that I have had my share of problems with them in recent years.  He told me ‘these glitches do happen.’  Really? So many times to the same customer? 

“I can certainly guess what really happened. Maybe the relining had been done and maybe it didn’t get done until I called. Either way, they realized they hadn’t billed for it and they weren’t about to release the coat until they did. So a bill went out after I first called to schedule a delivery and they hadn’t received the check by the day the coat was due to be released.  Rather than tell me that, they conveniently had a ‘glitch.’

“While we are braced to expect this treatment from a phone, cable, or appliance repair service, this company falls into the luxury sector.  That means the customer expects superior quality, service, value, craftsmanship, as well as uniqueness. And the company needs to deliver against a higher set of standards.  When it doesn’t, the brand is tarnished. 

“At this point, as much as I love my coat (which is of superior quality, outstanding craftsmanship, excellent value, and unique), I hate the service and would not recommend this furrier to a friend.”

We asked and Catherine C added, “I feel entirely the same way about my BMW and the dealership where I get it serviced.  The sales experience was great.  I love the car, but I hate the service department and would not recommend the dealership.

“If the coat didn’t get repaired and/or sent out on schedule, I should have been notified. They did acknowledge that, but it didn’t happen. They’re quick to call to try to sell me services though. If it was a matter of the bill (which I hadn’t yet received) not being paid, they should have told me that.

“I see two things going on here:  The generational decline in standards and the failure to live up to the promise of a luxury brand.

“One does have to wonder:  Is good service a generational thing?”

And I must add: How is it that with all the help we get from computers and other technological advancements we can’t conduct business as well today as we did before they existed?

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