This month I was given a new challenge. A client had come to me asking for urgent help and to be honest I’m amazed how long it’s taken for someone to come to me with a help request of this kind.
In her bid to secure a cheap wedding dress this particular customer had bought a made to measure dress from a company called Merledress based in China. You can see where this is going can’t you?
Not only was the dress not the one on the website, it was too long and at least 6 inches too small and the fabrics drastically inferior to the ones in the pictures. Our bride to be had two solutions. The first was to diet frantically which she did. The second was to call in the help of an expert (me) and then complain to the company for a refund.
Firstly, companies like these lift photographs from legitimate couture wedding dress websites and copy them – badly. Apparently it’s illegal but it’s happening all the time and stopping them isn’t easy. So the dress on the website was about as far away as you could get from the one that arrived at the door. But if you pay £100 for a wedding dress, what do you expect?
The purchasers complaint met with an £18 refund and a suggestion to find someone who could ‘make it fit right’. That’ll be me then. And apparently this is a standard response, if you get one at all.
The ironic part of this is that despite the £18 refund after adding up the cost of the dress (£103), the import costs of £30 which Merle neglected to inform the buyer would need to be paid as it entered the UK, together with my costs to try and ‘make it fit right’, this dress is probably going to end up costing far nearer £200. If I had paid £200 for this dress I would have been furious and I am unfathomably shocked that the pre-sale price was something like $760.
The problem is that Merle are in Hong Kong, we are not. And there’s not really anything you can do about it.
I’ve sleuthed the company and it looks like customer satisfaction is pretty hit and miss. People have different expectations and I guess it’s the luck of the draw as to what you get although there are strong suggestions that most of the positive reviews are written by the company themselves.
The general consensus is of course that you get what you pay for. If you pay cheap, you get cheap. And that’s all there is to it.
Despite this, there is no way I could have made this dress for less than £200. In the UK our basic costs are more expensive. Companies like Merle are using the cheapest, nastiest fabrics around but they pay pennies for them per metre. Cheap fabric like this is going to cost you £5 upwards per metre in the UK because we rely on imports, not sold at source of manufacture.
Labour costs are higher and generally there is no way you would get a dress even of this shoddy manufacture for £200. Double it, and I might be able to help you. But that’s what happens when you pay for skill, training and ability. If customers continue to pay knock down prices for clothing they will continue to get poor quality and dissatisfaction. I wish people would understand this.