By Kim Jae-heun
|LVMH Korea President Cho Hyun-ouk|
An increasing number of consumers are criticizing French fashion brand Christian Dior over a controversial sales policy. The company has informed customers that they must now pay more for items they had already ordered but have yet to receive, following the brand's recent price increases, Tuesday.
Shoppers who are waiting to receive their pre-ordered merchandise have been directed to cancel their previous payments and reorder at the newly increased prices.
Dior is one of the luxury fashion brands owned by LVMH along with Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Celine and Givenchy.
Customers say that they were not told of the price hikes or anything about the refund policy before they made their purchases. But Dior said it is merely following the headquarters' decision and customers have to either pay more or cancel their orders.
"I really don't like the way Dior is treating its Korean customers. I don't understand why I have to pay more after the price hike, so I asked for a refund," one of the customers told a local media outlet.
Fueling customer dissatisfaction, Dior decided to offer refunds not in cash but in company credit, which buyers can only use to purchase other products at its boutiques. Some are even left without the option to pay extra for their purchases, and can only receive credit points as their pre-paid products are no longer sold in Korea.
It is not common for a fashion firm to enforce a new price policy without notifying customers of the policy prior to taking orders.
Chanel, another high-end French luxury brand, has been informing its customers that they will have to pay extra if the company raise prices while the order is being processed.
Customers on various online fashion communities are considering filing a lawsuit against Dior or even boycotting the brand.
"Dior thinks Korean customers are sitting ducks. We should report this case to the Korea Consumer Agency," one internet user said.
A legal expert also said Dior's policy could violate local law.
"Normally, customers receive their products upon purchase. However, in case of some luxury brands, they tend to settle payments first and order items that are out of stock at the stores. This can be seen as one type of pre-contract between a brand and its customers," lawyer Baek Gwang-hyeon of Barun Law said. "In the case of Dior, it is forcing a change to a closed deal with customers for inappropriate reasons. It can be seen as breach of contract."
When contacted by The Korea Times, Christian Dior's Korean branch refused to give any comment related to the issue and only said it is following orders from its headquarters.