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I bought a VW Anglomania dress from Net a Porter recently. I don’t normally shop there as it’s far too expensive for me and I usually wear jeans and a t shirt but VW dresses often fit curvy women like me and this dress was for a short holiday I am taking to see the offspring play with the Bromley Youth Concert Band in Sicily next month. We haven’t had a holiday or over a year and, well, I don’t really need to justify the purchase do I?

Of course, the dress was too long and the shoulders needed lifting to fit my short-waisted frame. So I decided I would try the Altered States tailoring shop in Bluewater. I took two other dresses that needed similar alterations.

I was pinned and fitted by a helpful lady but was taken aback when  I had to pay the whole price of the alterations upfront, after all, they have our clothes.

When I went back to collect the clothes, two of the dresses looked fine, but the new, expensive dress, still with its tags on, looked half of what it had been before. I was taken aback and commented on this to the lady assistant, who shrugged but, hey, I’m no expert so I just collected the things and left.

And then, last Thursday night, on OH birthday, I wore the dress. It looked wrong as I removed the tags to put it on. It had been shortened so much that it barely covered my bottom. I was embarrassed by this and enraged that my expensive new dress had been ruined so I sent this email to Altered States:

Dear Altered States, I brought a brand new Vivienne Westwood Anglomania Zeta dress into your Bluewater branch recently to have the shoulders lifted and to be shortened. It took some time and when I picked it up I did not try it on as I was in a hurry. I have worn the dress tonight and it appears that your tailors have shortened the back of the dress so that it is unwearably short, despite SPECIFIC instructions to shorten the front only. In fact, it is shorter at the back than the front and indecent when bending over. I still have your tag upon which Front Only is written and underlined. The dress cost £340 from Net A Porter (see http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/410925/Vivienne_Westwood_Anglomania/zeta-asymmetric-cotton-dress) and I have paid you a substantial amount of money because I thought I could trust you to alter it properly. I am extremely disappointed that your have let me down in this way. Please let me know what action you propose to remedy the situation. I can take the ruined dress back to your Bluewater store to show them there. I still have the alterations tag, as I said. Since the dress is now unwearable, and your tailors went against my, and your, specific instructions, I would expect you to replace the dress with a new Zeta dress and make sure the alternations on the replacement are done properly. Please let me know by return when you can do this. Net a Porter do next day delivery and I am size 44. Regards Gita Beecroft

 

Now, in the past, I have often received no reply to such emails, so I popped down to Bluewater yesterday to show them the dress. It went badly with the first assistant refusing to admit that a mistake had been made and blaming me. I admit it: I made a scene and showed the extent of the extreme shortness of the dress by exposing my knickers.

I pointed out, with the use of a contrasting mauve silk slip, the difference between the front and back lengths and also how much the dress would have to be shortened to fit my frame. The discrepancy was obvious but still no acknowledgment of error. To cut a long story short, they did refund the amount on my credit card. But then, this morning, have a look at what happened:

 

 

Dear gita.

My name is Stephen and I’m the owner of altered states I was told about this situation yesterday I authorised this refund on the basis of what I was told by the fitters at the time unfortunately they had given me incomplete information I was not told that you had worn it extensively on an occasion and I could also tell that from the condition of the dress the dress has a 2.5 inch hem and when I saw the dress yesterday evening the first thing I said was this dress could have been lengthen to its original length. When my fitter told you this you started to raise your voice to try and intimidate my staff how run my shop if I had been there at the time and I had seen the dress myself I would have not authorise the refund but would have repaired the dress to the way you required it originally. We are third generation tailors 70% of our customers bring clothes and home furnishing to repair damages or incorrect alterations by other tailors we are also human and can also make mistakes however we unlike other tailors can fix out mistakes. The only way we can move in from this and retain you as a customer is if you give me an opportunity to re-alter you original dress free of charge for you and your original alteration fee for that dress should also be refunded however you would need to return the money for the replacement dress. If you do not agree to this we can no longer retain you as a customer.

Regards.
Stephen khan.
Altered states ltd
Sent from my iPhone

 

I was enraged by this and it seems to be an attempt to cover their backs and a threat to cancel their refund, when they were obviously in the wrong. And the remark about leaving a 2.5 inch hem allowance is a lie. Why would you even do that? So I replied to correct Stephen Khan’s factual errors and defend myself:

 

Dear Stephen

I wore the dress once for two hours. As soon as I looked to put it on, I knew it had been done wrongly. In fact, when I collected it from your shop originally a few weeks ago, I remarked at how little of the original dress was left. It was originally very long for me, which is why I wanted the front altered.

I wore a contrasting colour slip underneath yesterday to prove that the back was now shorter than the front and that you had, indeed, cut into the back by mistake. As it had been altered, it was barely an inch over my bottom. Do not tell me that it was designed in this way especially for someone as small as me. As for correcting your mistake: the hem that you left was going to make no difference at all to the situation.

I am 5’1″ tall and all clothing routinely has to be shortened for me, as all clothes are designed for much taller people.

I was cross with your representative because he refused to acknowledge that there had been any mistake and blamed me, the customer. It was his lack of accepting that any mistake might have been made by your tailors, when it quite obviously had, and his insistence that I was wrong, that infuriated me. And then he told me to calm down, which is the last thing anyone says to anyone else. I’ll bet he didn’t tell you about that.

This dress was brand new and cost £340 from Net a Porter. You insist that customers leave their valuable clothes with you and pay in advance for alterations which, in this instance, were done wrongly. If you do not wish to retain me as a customer, with your shoddy way of dealing with people, I will be only too happy never to use you again. I only used you this time because my regular alterations lady was away. Your spiteful reply to my email has only strengthened my resolve.

Regards

Gita Beecroft

Sent from my iPhone

And then I received this:

Hi geta.
Very pleased to hear you will no longer be using our services again.

Regards.
Altered states.

Sent from my iPhone

 

How pathetic eh? Now at this point I should have ignored this but regular readers will know that’s not really how I roll:

 

You know what? You’re pathetic.

Might I politely suggest that you concentrate on getting your business right instead of taking pot shots at people? You are merely adding insult to injury. And you lied in your last email: the hem allowance was NOT 2.5 inches, it was 1cm. Because why on earth would anyone leave a hem allowance of 2.5 inches? You were not there. You did not see how short the back is compared to the front. You did not see how it exposed my underwear when I wore it.Your female assistant, who pinned the dress in the first place acknowledged your mistake so I would suggest that this is merely macho posturing from you. And you can’t even be bothered to get my name right.

Gita Beecroft

 

 

Anyway, the refund is not showing up on my credit card statement yet and I’m wondering whether the company can simply cancel their refund without my being there with my credit card. NatWest are unable to answer this for me. Apparently it is up to the retailer. In this case, a spiteful, lying retailer who will not admit to their mistake and prefers to blame their customer. It’s all experience, isn’t it?

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As a postscript, I ordered a replacement dress and the cash was credited back to my card account. I had the new dress altered by my lovely alterations lady and wore it in Sicily. Here’s a picture of me with it on. You can see that, even with the alterations, it’s longer than knee length.

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