The $4.88 million dollar payout that Michael Kors has settled on has shined some much needed light on outlet store practices these days. The class action lawsuit revealed how the retailer used a deceptive pricing technique to fool shoppers into believing that they were getting a bargain by inflating the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP), and then adding an “our price” sticker to the tag in order to sell the merchandise at a seemingly lower price. This is considered deceptive as the brand manufactures products especially for the outlet stores, so there is no retail price for some of these items. The class action lawsuit applies to Kors Outlet merchandise that was sold from 2010 to July 2014 and the settlement is now waiting for the court’s approval.
Back in the day, merchandise for all outlet stores came from the retail stores’ unsold products and last season’s clothing lines in order to make room for the new arrivals but that is not the case today. As reported on CBS This Morning news, Consumer Reports began investigating outlet shopping trends 15 years ago. Senior Projects Editor Tod Marks reports that the trend of designers making merchandise specifically for outlet stores is the common day practice. These outlet products are not designed or manufactured with the same material, quality and details as the retail products but they still carry the designer brand name. Coach is one of the brands that has a line of merchandise made specifically for the outlet stores and a different more upscale line designed for the retail stores. To make sure you’re getting a great deal on good merchandise take a close look at the quality of the products and know that you’re getting exactly what you pay for.
A few things to look for when shopping for handbags at outlet stores:
- Double stitching vs single stitching inside and outside the bag
- Zippers vs magnetic clasp
- Logo style and placement (i.e. MK vs Michael Kors logo)
Now these are still designer brand products but they are made to be more cost effective and are not as durable or sturdy. You can also try adding the PriceGrabber or RedLaser apps to your smart phone and compare the cost right in the store as you shop. Remember Love is in the Details.