September 13, 2018 13:24
Louis Vuitton is accused of stiffing customers in Korea with a nugatory deadline for exchanging or returning faulty products.
The exchange period for Louis Vuitton products here is 30 days for bags, shoes and other accessories and 14 days for clothing, but now the luxury brand has decided to slash it all to 14 days from Oct. 1.
Asked why Vuitton would only say that the decision is due to "conditions of the Korean market."
But in China, France, Japan and the U.S., the exchange period is 30 days across the board. A staffer at the luxury brand said, "We are not shortening the exchange period to 14 days around the world, but Gucci, Chanel and Burberry are also doing it in Korea."
Luxury brands are routinely accused of overcharging in Korea to exploit locals' addiction to status symbols whatever the cost.
The refund period in Korea is also shorter than elsewhere in the world at just seven days, compared to 14 to 30 days overseas. Only in China is the refund period seven days as well. Rare exceptions can be made.
Notifying customers of the revised term, Louis Vuitton stated that they can refuse to comply with it explicitly before it takes effect, but that does not seem to be the case. One 32-year-old customer said, "I called its service center to say that I do not agree to the new deadline, but I was only told that wouldn't change anything." A brand staffer said headquarters in France determines the rules.
Vuitton is not making any efforts to publicize the change, putting no notices about it up in its stores. "We are sending text messages or e-mails to customers to inform them of the change as we are required to do by law," a staffer said. "And it will be printed on the back of the receipt from October."
Vuitton has also hiked the prices of products sold in department stores and duty free shops here three times over the last nine months, including a five percent increase on popular items in November last year.
According to a report last year by French bank BNP Paribas, Vuitton's product prices in Korea stood at 1.14 if average prices sold overseas is set at one, the second highest after China. In France prices were 46 percent cheaper.
Vuitton also refuses to reveal how much money it makes in Korea. The last record was W497.3 billion in sales and W57.4 billion in operating profit in 2011. But then Vuitton switched to a limited liability company in 2012, which exempts it from external auditing requirements.
New regulations that will take effect in November 2019 require limited liability companies to be audited and publish their earnings as well.
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