There is an interesting thread on the PuristsPro A. Lange & Sohne subforum right now.
In a nutshell this guy has more than a few 6 (yes, six) figure Langes which he purchased from various ADs (but not the boutique).
He goes to the official boutique in his country to purchase an OEM strap, which he then decides he does not like after a week. He goes back in, and asks for a swap and is outright refused. No checking, no discussion, just refused. He feels slightly indignant, given all the Lange ad copy about being purchasers being part of a family, and because he is a good customer, albeit one which the boutique may not know about. However the boutique should know about him, given they invite him to Lange events... after all, if inviting someone out for a $400 dinner is somehow considered a good investment in future sales, why not a $400 strap? And especially as these Lange events are usually small - limited to 30-50 customers.
It raises some interesting questions about what salesmanship is, and how it does (or does not) keep pace with ad copy. We're entering a period where the Swiss watch industry - mostly under the aegis of luxury conglomerates - is growing at unprecedented speed, where monobrand boutiques are mushrooming everywhere, a situation where even the dead (Perrelet, etc) brands are coming back to life, and where previously dead brands (Breguet, AL&S) are now definitely alive and kicking. Has the aftersales service kept pace?
My take? My initial reaction was "you entitled SOB", but on deeper reflection I now think a smart boutique manager would have swapped the strap, no questions asked. What is a $400 strap to a multimillion $ customer? You burn $10,000 holding a private event for good customers, and you want to quibble over a $400 strap? Even if I purchase an iPad from Circuit City, I can walk into an Apple Store anywhere in the world and be assisted, or have exchanges done with no question - shouldn't AL&S go one step further?
I am a small timer but I think a recent CS experience I had was an example of a good one - my Rouge (last Rouge anecdote, promise) was not purchased in Singapore (where I first saw it in the flesh) because its Singapore MSRP is $3000 (yes, three thousand) above MSRP elsewhere (Asians love their red, apparently). Nor could it be purchased where I live (Australia) as we don't have a JLC boutique. The Australia ADs were worse than useless when it came to trying to source a Rouge, with one telling me emphatically the model didn't exist.
So I had to get it shipped in from overseas. I contacted an AD in Switzerland who has links to the JLC boutique there. He had a Rouge that was loaned (!) to a good customer who decided he didn't want it after a couple of weeks. So it had a month or so out of its 2 year warranty. It was offered at a good discount too (remember this is a boutique only model, so no discount is normal), so I went for it. It arrived and was - as stated - basically NIB.
But the guarantee card had non-matching serial numbers!
This was bad. Remember I had just purchased a near new but essentially still second hand boutique-only watch from an AD, so in a sense I was SOL when it comes to things like this. The AD contacted JLC Switzerland, and not only did they replace the wrong warranty card, they sent it to me Express at their expense, contacted me personally to apologise, and then took pains to follow up with me to check that everything was alright. It may not be much, but it left me feeling good about the company. I may just have been a lowly small timer purchasing a simple Reverso, but I felt I mattered as much as a Spherotourbillon sporting big timer. That goodwill is, IMO, priceless.
Edited by apropos - 5/1/13 at 1:33am