Customers aren’t just for Christmas!

Marc Jacobs

It was about this time last year when I embraced the “hint” that was given to me by Dee and I found myself in the handbag section of Brown Thomas looking for a leather hand bag, which was stylish but small and tidy.

In the end I settled for a classy navy blue Marc Jacobs bag … that’s a good brand, isn’t it? The price suggested it was a good brand and surely she would be happy with it. Down through the years I’ve bought a few handbags in BT for Dee ..strangely (I know what you are thinking..) I actually like shopping for handbags! I love the leathers and the colours and the different designs and for the most part you can’t go wrong with a bag as a present…I think?

As usual I scored and on Christmas morning Dee was happy with her gift.

Marc Jacobs was born in New York City on April 9, 1963. After graduating from the High School of Art and Design in 1981 he entered Parson’s School of Design. As a design student at Parson’s, Jacobs was the recipient of some of the schools highest honours including Design Student of the Year. In 1984 he met Robert Duffy who is still his business partner today. These two have been really successful at building this huge brand, which as all of us knows doesn’t happen by accident

At the end of this summer (just 7 months on) the leather edges of the bag started to turn white – the piping on the seams of the bag were not leather but some type of narrow plastic and the covering was wearing away – this didn’t seem very Marc Jacobs so we returned it to the store assured that there would be no issue with a repair or a replacement.

After two months the bag was returned repaired. Dee was upset as it smelt musty so it must have been sitting in a damp repair shop for quite a while and the inner lining that had to be opened up to complete the repair was still torn.

She put up with this, de-fumigated the bag with perfume but within a few weeks you could see that the repair was not going to work as the seams were once again stripping away – back to Brown Thomas!

Brown Thomas

Our interaction with the manager of the store this week was interesting. She studied the handbag carefully. “Do you have a receipt?” It was clear from the repair paperwork that BT had already handled the previous repair. “The manufacturer has a 6 month repair policy, so we can’t really guarantee anything” hmmm.. “we never know how people will wear their handbags” ..in other words if you are the type of person who mistreats a bag then we can’t be responsible. Taking one look at Dee you would know this is a bag that would be looked after carefully.

We politely reminded her that we trust Brown Thomas and the expensive brands they are selling and that there is no way we should accept this level of wear and tear after just a few months. Surely a brand such as Marc Jacobs care about their quality? The manager elaborated “They don’t care! You can give out all you want, kick up a fuss but it won’t make any difference. They are so big and so popular they just don’t care

That is just incredible – we did suggest that maybe Brown Thomas should stop stocking such a brand if that is what their attitude is towards the quality of their products and the customers who put faith in them. Glancing around the store you could see how much space was dedicated to this very popular brand – The Marc Jacobs brand is big business.

We did leave the handbag with the manager and she assured us that she would do everything in her power to get this brand to behave themselves and deal with the issue. I’m pessimistic and my prediction is that this will end up with Dee being handed back a worn out bag, which will never see the light of day.

When you are that popular and selling that much product is it easy to forget about the customer?

When a brand is so powerful do you do everything you can to stock them in your store even if they don’t really care about customers?

When Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy met 30 years ago and started on their journey I am sure they were passionate about style, quality and their customers? Have they lost control of their brand?

When Hugh Brown and James Thomas started their store in 1848 I am sure the customer come before any of the brands they were stocking?

Maybe something might have changed since then ..

Customer’s aren’t just for Christmas and brands don’t necessarily last forever!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

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One Response to “Customers aren’t just for Christmas!”

  1. Fergal Bell Says:

    Very interesting post, Greg. Luxury goods represent a big expense for most of us and we partly buy big brands for the assurance of quality. Once that starts slipping it’s fairly likely we’ll start migrating towards the competition.

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