Cartier Proves Why It Doesn’t Always Pay to Buy Luxury

How poor customer service ticked one customer off.


By Raquel Guarino

When someone chooses between two items—one significantly more expensive than the other—it often comes down to a matter of value. Customers will compromise on price when they see a major value difference that could save them from future headaches. One brand known for its high quality guarantee is Le Creuset: while its 3-ply stainless steel cookware boasts a high price tag, it also comes with a lifetime warranty.

Another company offering a lifetime warranty on its watches? Cartier. Or at least, they did offer a lifetime warranty. As Betsy Topilow learned, sometimes even luxury brands fail to meet their own standards.

Topilow, the owner of a Cartier clock with a lifetime warranty, considered her item a treasured heirloom. The warranty guaranteed a clock repair or replacement with no cost to the owner. When Topilow found out her clock broke, she brought it to her local Cartier shop.

That's when Cartier's customer service showed its true colors. An employee sent the clock out for repairs, but a few weeks later, the store called with bad news: Cartier no longer carried the parts necessary to repair it. The clerk offered a menial 20% off a new purchase, but Topilow wasn't satisfied; she wanted a repair.

She then went to a specialist who offered to fix the clock for $500. Topilow asked Cartier to pay since repairs were under warranty. They denied her request.

What followed was months of phone tag, unanswered emails, dead-ends, and even the assistance of a local newspaper. In the end, Cartier dropped the ball, leaving Topilow with a broken clock and spirit.

Cartier's play was the same song and dance we've seen from more mainstream, everyday brands. (In another post, we relayed data about how much Americans dislike customer service.) However, when a luxury brand underperforms for its customers, it makes customers question the value of your product. For a brand like Cartier, 500 dollars is a drop in the bucket; for Topilow, it would have meant the world.

 

Read Now: How Amazon Delivers Great Customer Service