Boutique of Leathers Does Not Stand Behind Its Product
On the 16th of June I went into Boutique of Leathers downtown in the mall in Saskatoon to search for a good motorcycle jacket. I found one and was quite willing to pay the $300 plus taxes for it. I'd been shopping for some time and knew this was a reasonable price. The Jacket seemed well built. I had one from this company already, a fashion jacket in a finer leather, and so did my husband. They had a sale wherein I could purchase a second item for half price. I wasn't happy with my current purse, it being a bit small, and anyway another decent purse in the wardrobe is not a bad thing. I looked over their stock, finally settling on one that was not discounted already because it looked very strong. It had thick heavy grommets in a large leather double flap on top, with a strong thick nylon reinforced strap and heavy clips to hold it. Frankly it looked a bit over built but what I wanted was a sturdy purse I could move into for a few years. I like to get familiar with my stuff.
I got the purse for $50 at half price and left with a bill of less than $400. I immediately moved my things into the new purse. I quite liked it.
Three days of running errands in the afternoon and otherwise leaving the purse sitting somewhere nearby and I noticed that the grommets were pulling loose from the leather. I discovered the leather to be quite thin and soft without any proper reinforcing to the grommets, which were fastened in place with two small screws. I attempted to repair by centering the leather and refastening the grommets but by the time I got home from the Mall one side was bursting out again.
Now I know I carry a few things in my purse, it's why I wanted a properly built leather purse and why I picked one with what appeared to be very solid construction. I carry my PDA, swiss army knife and leatherman as well as the usual wallet, keys, pen and oddments. There's no makeup, just a chapstick and a cloth handkerchief. I'd say the contents weigh around a dozen pounds.
I marched myself down to the shop the very next day. The salesclerk had been quite nice to deal with, very friendly and interactive, and I expected to simply show her the problem and get to choose an alternate purse, transfer my things, and be on my way.
Instead there were 3 strange women in there having a deep gossip session. When they saw me walk in wearing my shorts and halter top and sandals they got looks of veiled distaste on their faces. I was neither dressed fashionably, richly, nor was I thin or coiffed. I hadn't brought my reciept and there was no way this crew was going to do anything for me. I was told clearly that I needed to bring my reciept.
Next day, June 25th, I located my reciept, transferred my things into an old purse, and dressed a bit better with my hair combed out and some jewellery on. I wanted to visually make the point that I wasn't a broke bum. Unfortunately I guess it was too late.
Same woman there, who it turns out is the regional manager and the saskatoon stores are "her" stores, and she wasn't going to accept the idea that I should have an exchange.
Now please understand I never asked for a refund, only an exchange of equal or lesser value.
She observed the damaged grommets, one of which was still holding from my repair, informed me that head office would decide, she had to send the item away on an alteration ticket! Alteration! Repair??? It's defective design!
I let her send it away. I was furious and untrusting and insisted that she write on the ticket that I wanted a replacement, she was very reluctant to do more than write my name and the date on the item.
Today, July 9th, I was phoned, this time it was the nice saleswoman. I told her the troubles, she said she'd exchange it. As I was getting ready to go, she called back to tell me she couldn't, her manager (the rude woman) wouldn't allow it. I asked her to tell me how to speak to that woman, not realizing I'd already run up against her, and headed down to the store to pick up my disgusting problem. The company had repaired the purse pretty much how I'd repaired it, but tightening the screws much tighter. Likely they'll cut into the leather in a few days.
After complaining loudly about companies that don't stand behind their products, I headed to the other store to confront Ms. Regional Manager Lady. I told her the store manager had been rude, explained my impression, not realizing it was her (damn faceblindess) then insisted that she do better. She told me she'd personally been involved, seen the problem, done all she could, and that it was up to the alterations department in Toronto to call the shots.
This woman refused to give me any names, saying only that I would have to look at their website www.boutiqueofleathers.com for information.
I left, defeated still, furious, queasy, tired, and wept in my car. It's so hard to continue to be disrespected. I never have gotten used to it, for all it's happened so much in my life.
I would expect this nonsense from a street vendor but a national chain of quality leather goods owes better. They don't even have any notice in the store or on the reciept to warn you that they reserve the right to determine whether it's defective or they think you abused the item.
They kept insisting that I'd used it, so it wasn't eligable for exchange. I said to her "if you bought a bicycle and pedalled it out the door and down the block.."
"But we aren't talking about bikes here, this isn't a bicycle."
"No it isn't but it relates and you just listen to my example. Imagine if you rode that bike just one block and it collapsed under you. Would you expect the bike shop to refuse to replace it because you'd ridden it? I used this purse maybe eight hours in total of carrying time and you want to tell me it's wear and tear?"
Well now I have to track down head office and face yet more stomach twisting stress because I simply have to stick up for myself, right? Meantime I've put some weight in the purse and hung it on the back of my door so it can get some "use" without me having to truck around a defective purse with my precious things at risk in it.
Updates to come. Before you shop at this chain, please get something in writing about what they'll do for you in the event the merchandise proves defective, or go elsewhere. The customer service experience I'm having is terrible.
When all of this began I was innocent and trusting. I'd never been treated like this before else I'd have photographed the damage. I have taken some pictures of the repaired purse, looking just fine, including a closeup of one grommet showing the incipient flaw that will in short order result in another failure of the fastener. You can see how robust this accessory looks. Who would expect it to be built weak from thin leather?
I realize it looks fine now, but it looked fine when I bought it and the repair did not include reinforcing of any kind, nor replacement of any material. They simply recentered the leather hole under the grommet and tightened the screws more tightly. The repair cannot hold long-term. A proper repair would have included some reinforcing material under the lining, even cardboard, or more effectively, some flexible plastic. I could probably do this myself, but I shouldn't have to repair a brand new item and this is more about the principle, as usual. When you buy a product from a national chain store you expect them to stand behind it. What if this had been a flawed jacket or boots?
Anyone out there have some solid advice where a consumer can turn to get satisfaction when a Canadian company fails to satisfy?