Dear Fat Face

How not to do customer service

In January I bought a pair of FatFace Chinos and I wore them for probably a couple of days each week until, in September, they  suddenly developed a huge tear in a seam. I took them with me to a local store and tried on their current range, finding a very similar pair which I was planning to buy. I enquired with the manager about refunding or replacing this obviously very faulty product, but was told flatly that all their clothes are only guaranteed for 6 months and there was nothing she could do to help me.

Are quality cotton chino trousers, with an RRP of £45, designed to last 6 months? Does anyone buy trousers with that lifespan in mind?

The manager wouldn’t give an inch, but did say I could take my complaint up with head office customer services. She also commented that as I’d bought the trousers in the sale, she was surprised I expected to be able to return them. Did I buy them faulty? No, FatFace ended up with excess stock and needed to clear it off their shelves. The trousers were bought with the expectation obligation of the full quality and service of a full price purchase. I paid the price they were charging for that, at that time.

Needless to say that although I was in dire need of a couple of pairs of work trousers and I’d found suitably fitting ones, after such an experience I’d rather stand barelegged than ever buy anything else from her store. All she had to do was refund me £25 and right there and then I would’ve bought at least one and probably two pairs of £45 trousers and gone home happy. But no. And people call me stubborn…

Onto head office customer services.

I wrote a concise email to the address listed on their website in which I described the fault, with photographs, and my desired outcome; refund, replacement or repair. I also attached my purchase receipt.

Four days later I received a template email telling me to either take the trousers in store to have them checked or use the attached postage label to send them to head office. Well it’ll have to be the latter, I thought.

Off they went, email and purchase receipt included.

To my complete surprise, a couple of weeks later I received an email telling me I would be refunded the purchase price, and duly enough it’s been credited to my bank account. But by this time I feel like it’s the absolute least they could do! And from my previous interactions with customer services, I’ve no intention of spending that in their store.

The outcome of this is that I’ll still never shop at FatFace again, and they’re down £25. Unhappy and unsatisfied all round.

How not to do customer service.

The side note to this is that in 2015 the government updated the law on shopping with the Consumer Rights Act. The previous Sale of Goods Act only stated that goods should last “a reasonable length of time”, but the new law codifies this as 6 months. Legally,  the manager of the local store was to some extent correct to refuse my application as it was outside six months. However, the Consumer Rights Act does note that goods should be of “satisfactory quality” – asking you to consider “what a reasonable person would consider satisfactory for the goods in question”

To this end, I’d be interested to know your expectations when buying clothes, or indeed anything. Is 6 months really an appropriate blanket timeframe? If a clothing store explicitly stated that they’d guarantee theirs for longer, would that influence your purchasing decision? For me, I’d expect trousers to last 18 months to two years. I’d feel a bit cheeky asking for anything after that long.

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