EDIT: I posted the link to this on Modcloth’s facebook page. It remained there for about an hour, received a few comments, and was just deleted by someone on Modcloth’s staff. What are they trying to hide?
EDIT: Laurel left a comment at about 6:00 PM EST saying she added the link to Modcloth’s Facebook page again, because she appreciated the dialog it was creating. Modcloth removed it AGAIN, making it the THIRD time they removed a comment mentioning this post from their Facebook page. I am also still waiting for a response. This posted at 10:50 AM EST, and as I type this, it’s 7:30 PM. That’s almost EIGHT hours later… Timely response? Not so much…
EDIT: If you scroll down, you can read the message I sent to Modcloth’s PR people, hoping to get a response.
EDIT: Modcloth has responded! Thankfully, it appears as if they weren’t aware of these items being sold at Forever 21 for such drastically different prices (yay!). Scroll down to see their response (copied from the comments section).
Apparently it is normal to repackage goods and resell them at astronomical markups. I never knew about this practice until late last night when I discovered this necklace for sale on Modcloth:
It’s selling on their site for $37.99. The only problem?
Forever 21 sold this necklace (in three colors) a year ago. I own it in black.
Their price? $9.80.
That’s almost four times LESS the cost to purchase it through Modcloth.
My point? Who’s screwing who? Is Modcloth purchasing these necklaces at rock-bottom prices, only to resell them for 4x what they cost to purchase? Or is Modcloth’s supplier ripping them off?
Oh, and just so you don’t think I’m crazy, here are three more examples (with photos) comparing Modcloth and Forever 21′s merchandise:
Like I said earlier, this isn’t a practice I was aware of until now (or, I at least didn’t want to admit that it happens). But, apparently it’s a common practice. Through a little research yesterday (by prompting from Hillary), I found a cosmetics company that allegedly does this all the time. They’ve even go so far as to threaten legal action if bloggers don’t remove negative reviews or posts containing their brand name! (This is why I’m not posting it here.)
I want to be clear: I’m not calling out places that sell the same merchandise for similar, but different prices. That seems to be very common. I can usually find the same items on Modcloth, Lulus, Tulle, Urban Originals and Go Jane for varying prices, but they’re not usually $20 or $30 cheaper. They’re usually within $5-10 different (in most cases).
I’m calling out the supplier or store that snatches these items up at rock bottom prices and resells them for crazy amounts. There are sellers on Etsy that do this all the time. Go through the archives of Regretsy. April does a great job at pointing them out.
So here are my questions to Modcloth and Forever 21: where are you getting your merchandise? Who is supplying you with these pieces? Are you aware that you’re each selling the same items for dramatically different prices? What are you going to do about it?
And my question to you readers: how does it make YOU feel?
Personally, I’m pissed. I work hard for my money and I don’t like getting ripped off, or seeing others get ripped off.
(PS: Polyvore is a great resource for clipping and saving items that were in stores long ago. That’s where I got my pricing info.)
PPS: This post isn’t meant to be a “hey Modcloth, you suck!” post. It’s meant to point out a trend I noticed between two different stores and ask the questions of “why, how and what?” I’m still waiting for a response from Modcloth and Forever 21, and will post them if I receive them.
I sent the following message to Modcloth’s PR people:
I wanted to give Modcloth a chance to respond to something that’s brewing right now on my blog and on twitter. I wrote a post this morning (http://missvinylahoy.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/whos-screwing-who/) using Modcloth and Forever 21 as examples, showing how businesses can get the same items from suppliers and whether it’s the supplier or the store, are charging crazy mark-ups for them. It was, in no way, meant to be anti Modcloth. I posted it, tweet it and put it on Modcloth’s Facebook page.
That is where things took a dramatic turn.
It was on the page, with no comments, for about an hour. Then, as about six comments come in the span a few minutes, someone from the Modcloth staff chose to delete the entire thread and a subsequent comment left on the Facebook page about the post from someone else.
The link posted on the Modcloth page was not meant to create any controversy, but was a way to make sure someone at Modcloth saw it. I was hoping to get a response from someone, hopefully explaining that you were unaware of your suppliers selling the same merchandise to these fast-fashion stores.
(I am aware the Modcloth doesn’t produce their own clothing, but purchases it through smaller designers. I am also aware that Modcloth usually isn’t the only venue selling these brands).
I’m sure you’ve seen the numerous mentions of @modcloth on Twitter, yet I’ve have no one attempt to respond to this issue.
This has changed from a potential supplier issue to one of censorship. None of the comments on the Facebook post were rude, inflammatory, sexually explicit or using harsh language. The majority of them were in support of Modcloth, and telling me that my argument was a poor one. I was able to respond to these people, letting them know that the post wasn’t anti-Modcloth, you and Forever 21 were just the venues I chose to use as an example. I could’ve easily used Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters or any of the other stores out there, but because I had examples of Modcloth and Forever 21 items, I chose to use those.
I apologize for any inconvenience this caused your employees, but I am surprised it took over five hours to get a response.
If you’d like to respond, I’d be happy to post it.
Sorry it’s taken us some time to respond; we’ve been investigating the items you raised, and it’s our busiest time of the year. Thank you for your post and for giving us the chance to weigh in on this topic! We’re sorry we removed your post on our Facebook wall; it violated our comments policy, which does not allow posts that link to competitors’ sites… We realize, however, that there are grey areas and we don’t want to discourage healthy conversation in our communities, and we certainly aren’t trying to hide anything. We’re excited for the chance to join the conversation here.
First, it’s important everyone know that we never repackage goods! We’re strictly a retailer, and we source our items from designers all over the country and the world. We can’t know whether other retailers will carry similar or the same items. In fact, trade shows are often months ahead of when we receive our inventory, and it’s not possible for us to know whether items we’ve bought will turn up on other retailers’ sites until we actually see them online. It is never our intention to “steal a style.”
Additionally, we don’t have the buying power of larger retailers, as we make much smaller orders. In those cases where we are offering the same items as other retailers, we may not be able to negotiate the best price with the designer due to our order size. And, sadly, we’ll never have visibility into what suppliers are charging others.
Here’s what we’ve learned on the items you raised. We spoke to the necklace designer who confirmed that the item is unique and she has never sold it to Forever 21; and so they’re likely similar, but of very different construction. We couldn’t reach the designer of the Show in Seattle Dress (red, grey, and black plaid), and so we have taken the item off the site until we can confirm its origin; if it’s the same item, we will return it to the designer or donate it. We cannot confirm if the last two items are the same items, but they are not in stock and we don’t intend to restock them.
Eight years ago, we started out as a small company that was operated by a college student out of her dorm room. We’re happy to be where we are today, and we’re even happier to be growing so quickly! Now, we’re launching between 25 and 50 new products every day! Even if we knew of all the items being simultaneously carried by other retailers, it’s nearly impossible for us to cross check all of our designs and prices against them. We try to offer the best shopping experience through our fast shipping, generous returns policy, beautiful images and descriptions, and great customer service, and sometimes that means we can’t offer the lowest prices. We strive to, though, and can use your help!
So, what can you do as shoppers? If you like the items we offer and you want to continue shopping with us, let us know when you see ModCloth items carried on a competitor’s site at another price by emailing us at email@example.com. This will help us be more informed and work more closely with our designers in offering the best prices and the most unique items.
The best way to grow is through criticism and feedback, and we are listening. Thank you so much for your thoughts – we really do appreciate them!