Snob Essentials

Retail nightmare: The Forbidden Cupcake from Judith Leiber

jlcupcake.jpgI heard a very disturbing retail nightmare from our good friend, Florence the Shoe Goddess the other day. She ordered the Cupcake clutch (of SATC infamy) on a whim from Navin at the Judith Leiber flagship boutique on Madison. She was told it would not be delivered until late Feb and was asked to give her credit card number to hold the bag. She got her credit card bill this week and saw that she was charged for the full amount of the clutch of $4,689.84. She came to her senses and realized that a small cupcake should not cost four figures and called Navin to cancel the order and asked for a refund. He curtly and rudely informed her that all sales are final and she could not receive a refund. Uh, Navin? We looked it up in our dictionary and the definition of a “sale” is– Sale: (noun) transfer of property for money or credit. (jump for more nightmare!)

Since Florence never received the property, this was technically not a sale. It was a pre-order. Navin did not inform her at the time of order that she would be charged for the full amount nor that she could not cancel her order. So technically, this was a scam. We just want to warn you all about the shady tactics of Judith Leiber boutiques. He also gave her some shenanigan of this being a special and custom order– uh, we checked around and Neiman Marcus has dozens of them for sale so this is neither special nor custom. So our advice is: Stay away from Judith Leiber boutiques! Stay far far away!

In today’s retail climate, sales associates should learn sales etiquette. And since Navin has none, we thought we’d teach him a few.

1. The customer is always right, never be rude or curt when a customer is not satisfied. Cuss her out after you hang up the phone if need be but while speaking to a customer, be friendly and nice– you’ll have a client for life.

2. FULL DISCLOSURE. If you are going to charge a customer for the full amount of an item at time of order, please inform her of the fact and that it is non-refundable.

3. You are not better than your customers, you are standing behind the counter and she is in front of it for a reason. She is the one who is helping pay your damn paycheck so start smiling!

**(Customers should also treat SAs with respect and give them the dignity they deserve– how would you like to stand on your feet all day and wait on rude people?)

As for Florence, we suggested she fight for her refund and run straight to Hermes and get herself a fabulous Hermes Medor clutch at the same price. And by the way, if you were to “order” a crocodile birkin at Hermes, they do not charge you until it arrives and you are allowed to change your mind and refuse at time of delivery! You may end up on the black list but at least they won’t screw you. Another reason to shop at Hermes!

But if you love the JL kitschy bags, buy at Neiman Marcus, at least they won’t charge you until you’ve received it and if you change your mind– they will refund it, with a smile. $4,295 at Neiman Marcus.



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  1. Last I checked, all the Swarovski crystals on the clutch aren’t even worth $200. JL will never go down with the economy because the executives are laughing all the way to the bank. However, the far-reaching echoes of this blog might earn Navin a pink slip for being (pardon my language) a super b***h. Nice to see you folks did not gloss over this scam, and did not afford even the rude SA a pseudonym.

    Good job!

  2. Florence I hope you get your refund!! and RUN TO HERMES and get that gorgeous clutch! No way is a $20 looking cupcake going to outlast a gorgeous Hermes ANYTHING…:) I feel your pain though, I can’t believe that SA could act like that during THESE ECONOMIC TIMES!?!?!

  3. I love the number three suggestion! I get so irked when retail workers treat you like scum and act like they better just because they are having a bad day or whatever. We are paying their bills nicely said Tina! And what a nightmare I feel bad for this woman.

  4. This annoys me to no end. I hope she gets her money back and doesn’t spend another dime with them!

    I am 24 and if sales people don’t think I pay attention to the way I am treated in their stores or on the phone then they have another thing coming! I may not have the budget for the Hermes Medor right now, but if I have made room in my life for Kate Spade, Burberry and Marc Jacobs at 24, then how valuable of a customer will I be when I’m 34?

  5. Since she hasn’t taken delivery of the cupcake yet, I think the thing to do is call her credit card company & have them reverse the charge. They should be able to do it. Also report JL to the Better Business Bureau.

  6. Yes, she should cancel the charge with the credit card company (Am Ex is particularly good at dealing with retailers who pull things like this). And perhaps Navin has a manager who can be directed to this site? When they realize the bad press they are getting, they might stop with their insane policy.

  7. This is ridiculous, and while I agree with most of your suggestions, as a sales associate myself, there is an addendum to #3: we should never act like we’re better than customers, but neither should the customers act like they’re better than us. It’s a mutual agreement: I’m trying to make a sale, and you’re trying to get a great item you’ll love for years. All sales relationships I’ve had that are treated with mutual respect are always the most successful!

  8. I do hope JL returns your funds; it is not right to charge prior to delivery of the goods unless they are making one just for her. Even in the instance of it being a special order good, they should at most charge her half the amount. I didn’t realize the cupcake cost that much! What was a 4 year old doing with it, even for a movie that’s excessive!

  9. If she has not recieved the bag yet, she should call her credit card company to dispute the charge. If she used Amex they have a wonderful policy for situations like this so maybe she should give it a try.

  10. I just canceled a custom ordered outfit from my credit card, but they didn’t create the outfit in the 2 weeks the store promised. My Chase VISA argues a customer does not pay unless they have the merchandise in hand. Since I never picked up the outfit, they canceled the charge and went after the merchant for lack of delivery & services. Saved me $1600.00+++

    AMEX and Chase are the only merchants who value their customers, unlike Judith Lieber.


  11. Its scandalous. To think this retail nightmare actually happens in NYC where refund policy is in great favor to customers! I understand eco is bad and people need to strike out to get what they can, but this money-grabbing JL shop assistant definitely stepped out of the line. And again it reflects how messy the management team is in some established brands that are independent from the giant luxury groups..

  12. I agree. Amex and chase. I love them. especially my Amex. they are very good with handling disputes on charges.

    go team florence!

  13. I’m sorry but this Florence sounds like an idiot for ordering a four thousand dollar cupcake assuming she knew the retail price.

    JL bags are hideous and tacky, those crystals fall everywhere. My friend loves them but the crytals fall out constantly

  14. if she paid with her credit card, all she needs to do is call her credit card company and let them know the situation. They’ll reverse the charge. They’re generally pretty good about it especially if she didn’t receive the product.

  15. I dont think she was wise ordering this cupcake bag (carried by a little girl in SATC… ridiculous!) but what JL did absolutely wrong.

    I love how these boutique sales people sometimes think they own the world. Right, with their salary, they’ll rule the world. Even if youre working as cashier at Gucci, i dont see you any differently than a cashier at Target, an employee of a place I shop at. so drop your snooty attitude!

  16. ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT AND STORE POLICY. And hold the store to THEIR RULES. Who charges a client for an item not received? Something doesn’t sound right. I hope your friend gets her money back!

  17. Tanya, completely agree! Respect should be mutual. For the most part a customer does not set out to be rude to sales associates, shopping is fun for us! But rude SAs ruin it and we become grumpy in return.

  18. 4,000 dollar cupcake that looks like a juicy couture charm except bigger…maybe tell florence to be a little wiser in her buying choices, but glad it did get worked out… we all make shopping mistakes. comes with the territory.

  19. Same here. I’m 23 and routinely get ignored at fancy shops (I live in Chicago) unless I dress up for the occasion (by dress up I mean wear my nicest garb and fancy pair of Christian Louboutin’s). Usually I wear 7 For All Mankind jeans, cute MJ shoes, and a Calvin Klein Peacoat, which aren’t good enough for attention apparently. Most people of course don’t realize that I have a Neiman Marcus card, a Barney’s NY card, and several others. Whenever that happens to me, I always want to say something but I bite my tongue. One of these times I may just snap. I’ve also gotten stares at Tiffany, where one of these times I’m sure I’ll just say “Look at where I am versus where you are. You’re on the wrong side of the counter to be giving me those looks.”

  20. The SATC movie actually had it commissioned. It didn’t exist before the movie, and probably didn’t cost them over $4,000 either.

  21. To Serena (replying is breaking the page for me): The SATC movie had it commissioned. It didn’t exist before the movie and probably didn’t cost them $4,000+. It’s not even the same exact bag if you look at it.

    To Amy: I’m 23 and I am routinely ignored at nicer stores (I live in Chicago). I’ve made room in my life for several designers (including Mr.Christian Louboutin) and have several store cards including one at Neiman Marcus and one for Barney’s NY. Whenever I go look at non-contemporary wear at NM (Such as shoes), I’m generally ignored, despite wearing MJ shoes, 7 for All Mankind jeans, a nice top, Calvin Klein peacoat, and my Kate Spade purse. I’ve started dressing up for the occasion, but it really irritates me to be ignored when I can afford things.

  22. Yay! I hope that JL finds out what happened here and apologizes in a big way. I’m going to link this page and make sure lots of people know about it so they can avoid the same thing happening to them. Here’s hoping (like someone else said) that they get wind of the bad press they’re receiving and do something about it.

  23. Kit, if you are at Neiman’s in Chicago and wait great SAs ask for Henry in shoes and Heidi in couture (she can help you with couture/contemp/handbags/jewelry). They are the best and not at all snooty.

    JL deserves bad press!

  24. I agree with Tanya. I work as a Sales Supervisor part-time and respect goes both ways. Navin needs a lesson in customer service!

  25. Okay, two of the people were saying Florence was an idiot for ordering it, and for not being careful of what she ordered, but I’m look at her blog, and I can’t help but think she is an ESL person. And she liked the purse a lot, and I think all of us have different tastes, and so not everyone would all agree bag X would be worth ___ dollars.

    But from what you’re mentioning jackie, it seems like it’s better to find a person to re-make purses from this company so that it could be easily fixed, or avoid having the pieces fall off. I suppose with a person spending $1,000+ on a bag (and a clutch no less, which probably wouldn’t get much everyday use, but that that price maybe 1 or 2 high-end bags could be bought), they expect that a person has money to burn to care or maintain it.

  26. Very true. I will not shop on the collection floor at saks bc the sales associates act as though I am not worth their time. Only once has anyone attempted to establish a “relationship” with me. And she left. Some of us may not come in 4 times a year and drop $50k, but we do come in dozens of times a year and spend a thousand or two.

    I think the problem is some of these folks have enough “regulars” who buy tons that they don’t care about the walk in folks.

    So I have a salesperson in mens who is a doll, and I pick what I want, take it upstairs and pay him. If I need something, he tries to find it. I’d rather give my $ to someone who tries to do the job.

    That being said, haughty customers are the worst…the old I pay your check thing…please, this is a service oriented society, we all pay each other’s checks. I’m sure Navin had a car loan, which the car company securitizes through my bank, so do I work for him? My theory is, approach and be nice, and if they are nice in return, great, if not, move on to someone else. Your smile may pull them out of a bad day!

  27. No, bag snob, sales staff are not above their clients but NEITHER ARE THEY BENEATH THEM.

    Your rules for customer service were fine, except for your etiquette conclusion that the sales staff is on “that” side of the counter because they couldn’t get their —- together to be in front of the counter.

    Hello? We are in a recession, but perhaps you did not notice? Many, many educated and skilled people are currently stuck “behind the counter” and not because they are morons or should be worthy of your contempt. You really showed your true colors here.

    Yes he was a jerk, but why don’t you talk about just that and not that he has that awful job for reasons you may not understand?

  28. My personal opinion to this case, and the line I would take in court:

    Anyone who orders such an abomination at such a price can be declared temporarily insane and incapable of contracting – therefore the act of sale is null and void. đŸ˜‰

  29. hi herzco– I agree! People should treat others how they want to be treated.

    My issue is that sales people don’t realize there are in the ‘SERVICE’ industry– which is what I meant by the other side of the counter. Their job is to serve. And of course customers should treat them with respect as well. In general, people should treat each other with respect no matter their position.

    I just can’t stand sales people who look down their noses at customers because they think they are better than the people they are servicing.

    I was in Tiffany’s before Christmas; no make up, pilates clothes, hair in a messy ponytail and I needed a pen cartridge. No one recognized me, not even my SA (whom I’ve spent thousands and thousands with!) She looked right through me and got on the phone, right in front of me! Then she curtly told me to go to customer service. Mind you, this was a MONDAY morning and no one was in the store. the two SAs ignored me so I went to customer service. He, too, looked me up and down and told me he couldn’t help me. I tried to explain the pen I own and he interrupted me and said “you will have to bring that pen in, I can not dig through 20 styles of cartridges to find what you need”. Uh, WHAT? Then he said, “why don’t you go ask a sales associate to tell you the model number of your pen.” And HE proceeded to IGNORE ME as if I wasn’t there!

    By then I had been in the friggin store for 20 minutes and I WAS PISSED. So I asked the SA to pull out the model of pen I own and she put her hand on the phone (she was still talking to her friend!) and said “you will have to go to customer service”. WTF no one wanted to help me because I was buying a $5 cartridge plus I was dressed like a pauper.

    I left and immediately emailed the regional director and told her I would make sure the entire world knew how Tiffany’s at North Park Mall treated clients.

    Make a long story short, she apologized profusely (what else was she going to do?).

    anyway, Dallas readers– STAY AWAY FROM NORTH PARK TIFFANY’S! I was registered there, got all my wedding silver, crystal and china there but the one day I go incognito they treat me like crap?

    Now I’m pissed off again and might write an actual entry on my experience.

  30. Tina, I completely agree with everything you have said! I have been in track suits (san makeup) and ran into a store like Bergdorf and was IGNORED even though I was ready to spent $ for shoes and bags. On the other hand, I have been there when I was “cleaned up” (ie a Hermes bag with a nice dress) and have a zillion sales persons fawning over me. That is so annoying!

    One store that have consistently great customer service (no matter what you are wearing) is VERSACE. The first time I have ever step into Versace over 10 years ago, I was in a track suit/snow boots and I was not ignored. I bought my first Versace coat very day:)

    Everyone should treat people the way they wanted to be treated! People need to have basic manners!

    As for herzco’s comment re highly educated and skilled people behind the counters due to the recession, there is no shame for any of those people working behind the counters and they should not act as if the jobs are beneath them. I have known many people who have taken “manual jobs” despite their high education/skills for various reasons (new immigrants to the country etc) and they have taken pride in work. I have found that some sales associates in some of these stores, esp the high end ones, act as if they are doing a favor when they sell us something. When the economy was booming, some of those sales associates were esp arrogant, and seem to forget that they are “serving” the customers!

    My husband made a comment back when I was pursuing my first Hermes Birkin, he said “I don’t understand why these sales associates are so arrogant. At this price, they should be kissing your ass.” While I don’t need anyone to kiss my ass, his comment was valid. After his comment, I changed my attitude and all of sudden, it was raining Birkins.

    I also stick to the sales associates that is knowledgable and have manners and common courtesy!

  31. LOL

    My friend Melinda’s husband said the same after the first birkin purchase. He was like, “why did I profusely thank the SA for letting me spend money there?” hahaha

    Fortunately, our Dallas Hermes SAs are courteous and friendly to all. I love telling the story of the first time I walked in there 12 years ago. I was visiting Dallas from LA and in my “LA” clothes– faded Earl jeans, flip flops, but I had a nice Prada sweater. Anyway, the Director (Martha Fordyce who is still there) kindly showed me a green Kelly bag in the window. I told her it looked like my grandmother’s bag and considered purchasing it but when she told me the price I nearly gagged, I was in my 20’s and it was way out of my range! She sat me down and gave me a short lesson on Hermes bags and craftsmanship. I’ve been an addict ever since! And I’ll never forget how kind she was to me that day. Which is why I always send my friends to the HP Hermes boutique!!!

  32. Actually, a retail establishment can obtain a pre-auth for a pre order in question (to make sure funds are available), however I believe it is illegal (at least it is in CA) to actually bill customers before the item has shipped. So, if this was a pre-order, and a customer has changed their mind, there is no reason in the world why they would not be entitled to a refund. This was simply put, bad customer service. For shame. I would contact my credit card company and dispute.

  33. WOW, Tina, that story was insane, I would so write an official letter to them!!! The Hermes Boutique here doesnt even give me a second look when I enter their store!! OMG its like I’m invisible and not cuz they are busy helping other clients. THEY ARE RUDE AND SNOBBY!!!! seriously people get off your high horse!!!! it doesnt matter what I’m wearing, One does NOT have to be wearing head to toe desinger clothes to have money!!!! never judge a book by its cover!!!! I dont stick my foot in that Hermes store. actually just lost my Hermes connection…(sob)