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Consumer Alert

If manufacturer won’t help, go back to retailer

Q. I brought a Michael Kors jacket from Marshalls and within a month of wear it started falling apart at the seams. I contacted Michael Kors customer service and was asked to send an e-mail with pictures of the jacket and other detailed information. They responded by explaining they would not honor a warranty on a jacket sold at a discounter. Any and all help you might offer would be greatly appreciated.

SUSAN ALLEN, WAKEFIELD

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A. It is pretty clear that Michael Kors doesn’t see customers who bought products at Marshalls in the same light as those who pay full retail. Their explanation to you makes that plain: “Michael Kors does not offer a guarantee or repair service on merchandise purchased from an off-priced or unauthorized retailer such as Marshalls.”

While the manufacturer was decidedly unsympathetic (and did not respond to requests for comment), a consumer’s best friend is often the retailer. A good retailer practices good customer service. And in this case, TJX (owner of Marshalls) did the right thing.

“We would be happy to assist this customer in returning the item she purchased in our store.” TJX spokeswoman Doreen Thompson said.

She said the company has a policy not to discuss its vendors, so she could not address why the manufacturer wouldn’t stand by its product. But with the return arranged, at least this case is happily closed.

On a side note, last week’s frustrating tale of dealing with Best Buy also got a better ending. The consumer reports that the retailer offered her a $510 store credit, which she happily accepted.

Since quite a few people have written to me about similar issues, remember to work all the angles before throwing up your hands. That involves talking to the retailer and manufacturer while pursuing an escalating approach of asking for higher level bosses until you find someone to fix your problem. If that doesn’t work, file complaints with the Better Business Bureau and state attorney general. And, if all else fails, toss me a note to see if that can break the logjam.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers for two decades. He also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at Consumer News@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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