Maybe it’s because I work in retail, but every now and then I’ll hear a retail hell story that really sticks with me. Stores get shoplifted from, robbed, and occasionally employees steal from you. Customers get irate, but you have to kill them with kindness even if they aren’t right. Recently I heard a whopper that’s so juicy and far flung, it sounds like it’s straight from a daytime soap opera.
Stores that sell luxury goods often have a pretty flexible return policy. After all, if you are dropping the type of money on a handbag that most people use as a down payment for a car, you’d better damn well get some good customer service.
Dallas resident and longtime Neiman Marcus shopper Patricia Walker is suing the high end department store after they wouldn’t let her return $1.4 million worth of merchandise, all purchased for her by her husband. That alone boggles the mind. Why would anyone purchase and return that much merchandise? Walker was in a bad car accident, so her husband showered her with gifts for the three years she was bedridden and recovering. How sweet of him, right?
The kicker is straight out of a Danielle Steel novel — all of the purchases were being made through Walker’s personal shopper at the store, Favi Lo, with whom Walker’s husband was having an affair. Lo made an estimated $100,000 commission and naturally, Ms. Walker is less than grateful for the gifts after learning about the circumstances in which they were received.
Neiman Marcus is refusing to let her return the items, refraining from citing reasons to the press. Meanwhile, Lo is still employed and Walker’s lawyer, Mike Ticer, claims that Neiman Marcus is accountable because the store “directly profited from Lo’s conduct and deceit”. All of the expensive furs, pajama sets, and fine crystal are collecting dust in storage, waiting for the court’s decision. So much for having a 100% customer satisfaction return policy, right? But should Neiman Marcus take back the merch and fork over the refund over a cheating spouse? Or are they doing the right thing by standing their ground? It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts. Next time you make a big purchase, better double check the return policy to see if there’s a jilted lover clause.
Christy Lorio, a native New Orleanian, writes on fashion at slowsouthernstyle.com and is also a freelance writer whose work has been featured online and in print magazines both locally and nationally.