Monday, February 15, 2010

Luxury fail

Australian jeweller Sarina Suriano and her stonemason husband Noel Keating recently returned from a two and half year stint in London. In early December they also welcomed their first child, Stella. On December 17th, Keating went to Double Bay luxury shoe emporium Cosmopolitan Shoes to purchase a special Christmas gift for his wife: a beige pearlised patent leather YSL wallet from the Y-Mail collection. Keating reports that he was initially disappointed that the wallet was not packaged in a YSL box, as seen elsewhere (although it’s unclear if this was from YSL-owned stores). Instead, the $1,100 wallet was wrapped in what he describes as a “scruffy” YSL dust bag. On Christmas Eve, Suriano opened her gift. After her initial elation, she was disappointed to turn the wallet over and discover a small split in the leather on its back – something that Keating evidently had not spotted. After phoning Cosmopolitan Shoes to ask for a replacement, the duo returned the wallet to the store on December 30th and a replacement wallet was duly handed over. They accepted it and left the store. According to the Suriano-Keatings, the wallet remained untouched in its dust bag in their bedroom over the following three days. If only it had stayed there.

On January 3rd, over the course of a day’s shopping trip with a friend, Suriano says that she noticed the fabric banding around the zip of the wallet starting to fray. She opened the wallet to take a closer look and reports she spotted one jagged corner of the credit card holster immediately adjacent to the frayed banding, which, she surmised, had contributed to the fraying.

Exacerbating the problem: the credit card holster was, says Suriano, quite tight, making it difficult to remove cards, with cards becoming hooked in the banding as Suriano removed them. Later that day, Suriano reports that she also noticed a dark mark had appeared on the back of the wallet, which, she insists, had remained in her handbag all day. Attempts to clean the mark proved unsuccessful as it appeared to be ingrained in the leather.

All of these alleged faults have been documented in this series of photographs above and below, supplied by Suriano and Keating.

On January 7th, Suriano and Keating contacted the store again to ask for a full refund. They were told that someone would call them back. They report that noone did call them back. So on January 9th, they turned up at the store to ask for a full refund.

There was a dramatic contrast in the reception they received this time around. On this occasion, reports the duo, they were accused of scuffing and overfilling the wallet and then bringing it back for a refund.

The situation deteriorated. Over the course of the exchange, says Suriano, it was suggested that the matter might be referred to YSL parent Gucci Group, with Suriano noting that she believed Gucci Group would definitely want to know if something was not right with their product.

Suriano and Keating claim that at this point, Cosmopolitan Shoes director Rose Ghosn screamed at them in front of other customers and various staff members, calling them “pedantic, insecure, paranoid customers that pick a tiny fault in everything”, adding to Keating, “Obviously you couldn’t afford the wallet and now you want a refund.”

Undeterred, Suriano and Keating contacted YSL Paris, a representative from which instructed them (in correspondence sighted by frockwriter) that Cosmopolitan Shoes should have followed the company’s “Quality process”, with a view to initiating a “Quality examination procedure”. The rep told Suriano and Keating that he would contact Cosmopolitan Shoes.

According to YSL correspondence, the company contacted Cosmopolitan Shoes on January 18th instructing the company to provide a full refund. Over the course of the following week, YSL states that it sent “daily reminders”.

According to Suriano and Keating, Cosmopolitan Shoes failed to contact them to inform them that a refund was due. Their numerous efforts to reach Cosmopolitan Shoes director Rose Ghosn by phone were unfruitful, with messages left unanswered and on several occasions, they claim, staff hanging up on them.

On February 4th, Suriano reports, she finally did manage get through. Suriano says that there was a heated exchange with Ghosn, during the course of which - by all accounts - various unpleasanteries were exchanged on both sides. Still no offer to refund the wallet however, say Suriano and Keating, with Suriano adding that she was told the store “never gives refunds”.

On February 7th, frockwriter spoke with Rose Ghosn to get her side of the story. Ghosn said that she gave Suriano and Keating the benefit of the doubt on the first occasion and was happy to exchange the wallet.

However she declined to exchange the second wallet because, she believes, Suriano damaged the wallet herself. Ghosn suggested the most likely scenario for the scuff mark is that Suriano accidentally ran her pram over it.

“She ripped two wallets, absolutely, due to change of mind” said Ghosn. “Because she knew there was no other way to get a refund in this country. But a damaged item does”.

At one point Ghosn passed the phone to a colleague by the name of Dawn, who referred to the Suriano-Keatings as “problem customers”.

According to Ghosn the entire January 7th incident was captured on her security cameras - with the February 4th phone conversation also recorded (Suriano confirms that this was disclosed to her during the phone conversation). Ghosn added that she and her staff have been "harrassed" by Suriano and Keating.

The question that begs to be asked: why not simply give them the refund? These were, after all, YSL's instructions. The phone call was cut short by Ghosn so sadly, we did not get that far. The problems, say Suriano and Keating, initially came down to a YSL quality issue, not a reflection on Cosmopolitan Shoes.

As for the manufacturing origin of the wallet, Suriano says that there is an illegible stamp directly underneath a “YSL” stamp on one part of the wallet. Frockwriter checked a similar wallet from the same YSL collection at David Jones and found the similarly illegible small stamp under a “YSL” stamp in one part, with a “made in france” stamped in lower case letters in another (rather difficult to locate) area. Suriano reports she has so far been unable to locate the latter in her wallet.

A well-placed luxury industry source tells frockwriter that quality issues can arise within the manufacturing process at major luxury brands. The source added that a “bad batch” could be to blame.

Suriano and Keating insist that they did not damage the wallets and that Cosmopolitan Shoes has still made no offer to reimburse the wallet,

Suriano and Keating hope to have the matter resolved at the NSW Consumer Trader & Tenancy Tribunal.

Ghosn, meanwhile, told frockwriter that she is considering releasing her CCTV footage on Facebook.

All photos: supplied by Sarina Suriano and Noel Keating.


Anonymous said...

I understand that the product failed to satisfy quality and it would seem YSL handled the situation professionally and treated the customer well while, unfortunately Cosmopolitan Shoes failed to do so. I won't be shopping at Cosmopolitan Shoes which is a shame really - i believe in supporting small business within Australia but when the service is downright disappointing they should take a minute to realise luxury items are now available to be shipped worldwide they are no longer a monopoly - a pair of gorgeous sergio rossi boots are only a couple of clicks away

Julie said...

Actually a refund must be given even if she did change her mind (which isn't the case here).

Under Australian consumer laws, all customers have a right to obtain a refund. Cosmopolitan Shoes fail here. Terrible customer service.

And quality control from YSL was obviously the issue. But they acted correctly advising CS to provide a refund.

Not good PR for CS. Would have been easier to bite their tongue, hand over a refund and make YSL look like the bad guy. Unfortunately YSL look like the good guy despite a poor quality item being sold under their name.

The issue of the YSL box confuses me though. At first, I thought it smelt like a fake. Now, THAT would be horrifying.

Interesting post. Will think twice before I support CS though. Shame

Style On Track said...

Gosh this is a tricky one, I can see where both parties are coming from, it would be interesting to see the cctv footage

Anonymous said...

Cosmopolitan shoes have never been applauded for amazing customer service. Stopped shopping there years ago when I was humiliated in front of customers for returning my $1600 shoes as the inner leather sole lining had come loose. Yes, luxury shoes and bags are now only a click away and for a lot less.

Slap on the wrist for Cosmoplitan shoes....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the support ladies and gents...

If a customer returning a wallet they paid $1100.00 for is a problem customer then so be it...

The fact remains that the wallet was used on two I had just given birth to a baby, so never left the house. The shopping trip was a day out with a friend when I noticed marks on the leather...obviously the patent leather had rubbed up against something in my bag and the marks could NOT be cleaned off. This is NOT misuse but actually using the product, namely, the wallet for its intended purpose and Nivea cream as advised by the Cosmo ladies was unsuccessful in cleaning off the marks.

And I also don't expect an $1100 wallet to give me RSI in the wrist whenever I try to pull out my credit card out of it's holster...

As a designer, and as a colelctor of designer shoes and accessories, I treat ALL purchases like jewels and with respect. The wallet was def NOT overstuffed and my bags are always pristine on the inside.

Never before have I encountered such disrespect by a retailer, being humiliated in front of customers by their shouts and screams...and after purchasing wallet at the indulgent price of $1100.00 - 30% more expensive than David Jones and Cultstatus in Perth...

I'd like to add that YSL, upon examining our images authorised a refund but Cosompolitan shoes refuse to honour the refund, despite YSL also authorising to reimburse Cosmopolitan shoes...

At Sarina Suriano, we stand by our products and services and offer a full refund or credit, whichever the customer prefers in the event of a product failing. It is the only way to keep customers loyal and to instill customer confidence in our products.

Warmest Wishes,

Anonymous said...

It's a humiliating experience that Sarina has had to ensure and sometimes I am flabbergasted by the general store basics and attitudes local stores have. And it's terribly amazing that whilst I shop mostly online abroad, the level of service without a face to face contact unbelievably surpasses that store Sarina shopped at. This appears from my view a quality fault and the store's own business for not checking it's own merchanise. A serious flaw. I would also say that a $1100 wallet with quality problems such as this is not even worth paying this exuberant amount!

Anonymous said...

Cosmo Shoes are known for their awful snobby service. walk in there and 'look' like you can't afford anything and watch them not care to even speak a word to you. i am not surprised by the way you were treated at all. it's just bad customer service by cosmo. they should get off their high horse and follow ysl's instructions. i'm sorry this has happened to you.

A Colourful Guy Drowning said...

The best way to deal with snotty Sale Assistants is to take the complaint higher up the management chain, which is exactly what the Sarina's did. Also, outing them on the Internet is fun too! LOL! ;)

I had problems with some little snot at Lacoste-Auckland and did both. (I hope it cost them their job. Seriously!) Man! Did that feel good! ;)

Belle said...

I won't shop at Cosmopolitan shoes after this. The level of unprofessionalism is just ridiculous. Fancy suggesting a customer ran over a wallet with their pram? There can't possibly be any evidence of that, and regardless of whether this crazy manager believes that to be true or not, the customers should have been treated with courtesy and respect. Releasing the CCTV footage is just going to make this manager look even worse, regardless of what it contains, and now anyone who shops there knows that they do not do so in a private and discrete place.

It's good to see that CS appears to have messed with the wrong people and that the matter is being escalated to the appropriate authorities. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Last year I bought a black patent YSL envelope clutch from the same line at the YSL St Honore boutique. I've done all sorts of stuff to it, stuffed it with everything I could, squeezed an iphone in the card holder compartment, take it out to nightclubs where alcohol gets onto it and still it's in the mint condition that I bought it in. I doubt that the use of the wallet was the main cause of the damage. In addition to this I once had a broken zip on an LV bag which was over 5 years old and is used almost on a weekly basis and LV were happy to fix it with no questions asked. Definitely on the customers side on this one. You pay so much for an item, it should be in perfect condition.

@dnee said...

Hey Julie, Australian consumers are not entitled to a refund for 'change of mind'.
Check the trade practices act. a refund is only a legal requirement when the goods are faulty, not as described, and not fit for the intended purpose.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how CS's PR team handles this epic disaster..

news travels fast on the interwebz, bad news travels even faster.

Anonymous said...


Kirsty said...

I had a similar experience with a boutique in Rose Bay about five years ago.

I had purchased a pair of designer jeans that after a few weeks had a tear. I returned them and was given a replacement pair, no problem.

Approximately six weeks later while I was out during the day the jean ripped from just below the waist down to the leg.

I realised where the rip had developed the denim had become really thin.

I returned them to the store and the manager refused to give me a refund.

I said I would report them to Fair Trading.

The store said they would have to send them back to the designer for them to evaluate.

Fair trading really were no help at all they didn't come to any kind of resolution.

After many frustrating conversations with the manager of the store, fair trading and being accused of all sorts of mistreatment I contacted the designer's company.

They said they had never received the jean from the store and they admitted that there had been a problem with several hundred pairs and instructed the store to give me a full refund.

The store admitted they had thrown the jean out.

The manager of the store did give me a full refund but only after shouting and accusing me of being a difficult customer and other accusations in front of other customers.

To this day I tell all my friends and family not to shop there.

I hope your issue gets resolved soon. I certainly won't be shopping at CS ever again.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that Cosmo shoes are still in business. They are all so rude....... ( why the attitude biatches ).... I don't and won't let my sister or friends buy shoes from them....I havent for a while as a normal shopper expects to be treated with a little bit of respect, not looked down at ! Rose take that Nasty bejewlled shoe out of your Arse, Sarina keep in contact with YSL paris. An International brand does need a stupid store in Australia to tarnish their BRAND, Not a good look at all.

Anonymous said...

I haven't shopped at Cosmopolitan Shoes since 2002 when I found their appalling service objectionable; just plain bad, rude service. So much easier buying online from net-a-porter, Jimmy Choo or cultstatus. I am not surprised at this account in the slightest. True to form.

Anonymous said...

It all sounds so petty, but I've got to admit, I'd love to see the CCTV footage purely for the entertainment!

DARIAN ZAM said...

Whilst I will not condone bad customer service and poor quality, I still find it a little hard to feel sorry for anyone that spends $1,100 on a wallet in this economic climate.

Anonymous said...

Every time I walk into Cosmo Shoes I get major attitude from the staff. They are all rude, pompous snobs who treat customers like vermin. They judge customers on what they're wearing and their shoes and bags which is so ridiculous in this day and age. My husband and I could buy and sell their shop 10 times but you'll usually see me in a singlet, jeans and flats. I can never bring myself to buy anything in that store as I feel they always make me feel like I'm an inconvenience shopping there and am wasting their time. They are RETAIL STAFF, what the hell do they have to be snobby about?! Very pleased to hear YSL is so professional and understands their customers. It's not hard to do right by your customers and treat them with respect. If Cosmo didn't have customers they'd be out of business. I will certainly let everyone I know know about this and make sure none of them shop there anymore. Good luck Sarina, I hope they get off their high horse and refund you for the shoddy product they sold you which, from the above, could even be a fake!

Anonymous said...

what a hilarious little inner Eastern suburbs mini drama this 'wallet-gate' is ... favorite comment so far "I could buy and sell their shop ten times!" ... if that's the case baby - get yourself a plane ticket to Haiti in your jeans and T-shirt and go do something helpful. Patti even posting this tripe almost screams 'batshit crazy' ... my gahd ..this is SUCH trivia ... if these pedantic freaks actually approached any real media outlet about their $1100 wallet - they would be laughed back into the depths of their Eastern Suburb deluded existence. *rolls eyes*... I mean this blog is pretentious and boring nothing at the best of times but this post takes the friggin cake (better make sure the icing is perfect darling or shall terrorise those cake makers!!!) FML! @ Darian Zam ... agreed.

DARIAN ZAM said...

"I care about people when they look at my wallet and it may not meet their standards...but do I care about people otherwise? Not really..."

such is the status quo of society, it is why we'll never really be "civilized".

DARIAN ZAM said...

I quite agree with you. Anonymous - try doing something useful with your life, like maybe think about other people instead of how many luxury goods you can buy. We all like nice things, but some people will never have nice ANYTHING. Hey, you could start here by donating some of your shoe money. Just a thought. Now yuo try it. Thinking that is.

nel said...

@ Darin Zam & Anonymous

I don't think the fact that Mr Keating bought his wife a luxury item for Christmas makes him any less of a humanitarian.

Attacking someone like you both are for purchasing a luxury item is both boring and petty and I doubt that either of you know the couple personally. Who is to say that they don’t donate to charity as is? Even if you do, it is still their right to spend their money where they see fit.

We can all bitch about the luxury goods market til the sun goes down, but the fact here is that they, along with the many other CS customers who have commented on this page, feel that they were treated unfairly.

I hope that this teaches more disgruntled customers to contact parent companies like Mr Keating and Ms Suriano did. Perhaps when Gucci Group pull out of Cosmo Shoes, the owners will learn to uphold the standard expected in the luxury industry.

DARIAN ZAM said...

Probably wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

Dear frockwriter,

I'd like to thank you for publishing this article and for the support we have had from your readers regarding our horrific experience with Cosmopolitan shoes.

Yesterday March 29th, we attended the tribunal at the CTTT in Sydney with all of our supporting documents and evidence and won our case against Cosmopolitan shoes. The verdict..that the goods were NOT of merchantable quality.

Cosmopolitan Shoes were issued an order to Pay $1100.00 within 2 weeks on or before April 12th.

Our responisibilty was to simply return the wallet to the store which we did directly after the verdict was passed.

When the wallet was returned, the staff had no idea what the order was for...Oh BTW...forgot to add that NO ONE from Cosmopolitan shoes turned up to the Tribunal. Goes to show just how much they care about their image and their treatment of customers. They were horrifed when my husband pulled out the wallet and the court order. He politely said that if the money was NOT refunded within 2 weeks, the sheriff would be calling by to collect it personally.

They seemed to have NO idea of the court order despite our continued daily calls to them since Mid january in an attempt to resolve the matter.

Thanks again for your support,

DARIAN ZAM said...

So Sarina, while we have your attention...there's a couple of us here who are interested to know

1/ How do you justify a $1,100 expenditure on a wallet?

2/ What HAVE you done for charity lately?

Just interested.

Anonymous said...

hi darian,

Thanks for your interest and good point...

The wallet was a gift as you know, and the price is justified on the grounds that I take great care of my personal effects and an item of this nature would last me several years, divide this by the number of uses and you have a great investment...

I could buy a more inexpensive wallet and replace it every few months or so for the next 2-5 years...would disposing items so frequently be a better choice for the environment?

In regards to charity, the heart foundation, starlight, kids with cancer, emergency services and diabetes australia all receive our family's annual support.

Hope the above answer your questions.

Warmest wishes Darian Zam,
Sarina Suriano

DARIAN ZAM said...

Thanks for the answer Sarina. You seem alright and I'm glad the situation was resolved for you.

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