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Who pays for bespoke if its wrong? - Page 3

post #31 of 52
As a practicing tailor I have experienced just about everything mentioned here. My policies which were first developed by my father are generally summed up as: the customer is always right, but I stand behind my work. On occasion errors are made and can be fixed and most clients are understanding. Sometimes entire garments have to be recut: if it was an error I made, then I eat the cost, if the customer changes their mind on features, modeling, etc that requires extra goods or recutting, they pay for it. Before I cut a garment though, I send a confirmation letter to the client specifically stating what kind of fabric, including swatch from goods, what features, styling, etc., along with their receipt for their 75% deposit I require. That said, not everyone is happy, so if the are not totally satisfied with their garment, I refund the money and I keep the garment (which prevents mummsers from just trying to get a garment for a discount) and I will ususally find someone who can wear it and give it to them. Beware of merchants that place the responsibilty of fit on the client.
post #32 of 52
simple if the tailor did somethink wrong, the tailor SHOULD pay, but if the customer think he getting a freebi becacse i useing hes web site He can jump . At NO POINT did Mr Alden say he was unhappy about hes garment , what he did say was he was very happy with the fitting untill I ask for £££££££££££££ work work that out Darren
post #33 of 52
A custom tailor does not really "eat the costs" if he pays for mistakes. Rather, he just passes this cost on to all customers in the form of higher prices for subsequent goods (and indeed previous goods as well). In a way, a tailor is simply allowing the customer to take out "insurance" on a good -- the higher price the tailor will charge for all of his goods is just like an insurance premium. If the tailor assesses his error rate properly, the higher prices the tailor charges will not pad his pockets, but will rather be paid out as insurance payments to customers who are dissatisfied with erroneous goods and thus don't pay. If you were going bespoke, wouldn't you be willing to pay an extra $100 for "insurance"? I would. The default should be, from an economic perspective, that the tailor pays for all mistakes, because the tailor can easily just increase the price of the good for taking on this burden. The customer could then "opt out" of the insurance program and decrease the price paid -- but he'd be at a double risk. First, he'd be at a risk of the tailor messing up, in which case the customer would then pay. Second, he'd be at the risk of the tailor taking less than adequate care, because the tailor would know that he would not be at financial risk in case of a mistake. Does this make sense? Can you tell that I am a law and economics believer?
post #34 of 52
Makes total sense. That's why I sometimes buy things at Nordstrom even though I know I can get them cheaper somewhere else- because I know their higher prices allow them to have that famous return policy.
post #35 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
A custom tailor does not really "eat the costs" if he pays for mistakes.  Rather, he just passes this cost on to all customers in the form of higher prices for subsequent goods (and indeed previous goods as well).  In a way, a tailor is simply allowing the customer to take out "insurance" on a good -- the higher price the tailor will charge for all of his goods is just like an insurance premium.  If the tailor assesses his error rate properly, the higher prices the tailor charges will not pad his pockets, but will rather be paid out as insurance payments to customers who are dissatisfied with erroneous goods and thus don't pay.   If you were going bespoke, wouldn't you be willing to pay an extra $100 for "insurance"?  I would.  The default should be, from an economic perspective, that the tailor pays for all mistakes, because the tailor can easily just increase the price of the good for taking on this burden.  The customer could then "opt out" of the insurance program and decrease the price paid -- but he'd be at a double risk.  First, he'd be at a risk of the tailor messing up, in which case the customer would then pay.  Second, he'd be at the risk of the tailor taking less than adequate care, because the tailor would know that he would not be at financial risk in case of a mistake. Does this make sense?  Can you tell that I am a law and economics believer?
Actually, I don't like this model at all. I think it only works for a big conglomerate with deep pockets or if its spread out on a large population. Even then, I still don't like this. This is the same reasoning why doctors must settle ridiculous lawsuits, which drives up everybody else's premiums. But, a bespoke tailor isn't a large corporation. In this case, many are just simple tradesman with not that much financial leeway. And, their customer base isn't really large enough to spread it unless they add even more money to the cost. I don't know how many suits they can make, but it would only work if there were more than 50 suits made each year to just recover the expected cost. And, we cannot just talk about the loss of money. We also need to consider all the workmanship and time that went into the garment, which cannot be recovered. This could be the tailor's 'consideration', and why it was a contract. Of course, I'm assuming a scenario where the garment was produced correctly, but for whatever reasons, the client is still unhappy. We must remember that tailors have been cheated before by their gentlemen clients before.
post #36 of 52
I disagree with JohnnyNorman. The optimal rule likely should default to placing liability on the customer. The hinge is whether most errors are subjective or objective. The latter includes technical defects and the former includes problems of communication, where the tailor makes a wearable garment, but not one that comports with the customer's ideal. Were most errors technical, then it would be easy to say that they are primarily the responsibility of the tailor. I think, however, that bespoke problems are mainly subjective ones. These can best be cured by creating an incentive for the customer to give more information to the tailor. Placing the risk of loss from error on them does just that -- it is an information forcing mechanism. Remember also that to the extent they behave strategically, tailors are much longer term repeat players than are all but the most well dressed customers. As such, tailors will have an incentive to perform at their best to protect their reputation. A bespoke customer, on the other hand, can switch tailors rather anonymously and so faces a less severe reputation problem if they fail to put in the required effort to end up with a satisfactory suit.
post #37 of 52
What johnnynorman writes about "insurance" may be true of the really big tailoring houses (though I doubt it) but it is definitely not true of the small or one-man operations.  These guys work with razor-thin margins.  Their whole business model, and raison d'etre, depends on being able to charge substantially lower prices than the big houses.  Also, they don't have anywhere near the same customer volume as the big houses.  Combine lower prices with smaller customer base, and you get a much smaller revenue stream in which they can "spread around" the cost of mistakes.  That is why, overall, they try harder to get things right.  If they don't, they feel the financial pain acutely.
post #38 of 52
Thread Starter 
Manton, Do you have any idea how many suits a small tradesman like Darren will make in a year? In Johhynorman's model, it seemed that the assumption was that any loss could be made up by just charging an extra $100 to every other suit. However, that only works if for a $5000 suit, there are 50 other suits made that year. Another problem with this is you're only assuming 1 lost suit every year.
post #39 of 52
Quote:
Manton, Do you have any idea how many suits a small tradesman like Darren will make in a year? In Johhynorman's model, it seemed that the assumption was that any loss could be made up by just charging an extra $100 to every other suit. However, that only works if for a $5000 suit, there are 50 other suits made that year. Another problem with this is you're only assuming 1 lost suit every year.
The cost of doing business (including pork) can pretty easily be estimated, I assume, given some experience.
post #40 of 52
Quote:
Do you have any idea how many suits a small tradesman like Darren will make in a year? In Johhynorman's model, it seemed that the assumption was that any loss could be made up by just charging an extra $100 to every other suit. However, that only works if for a $5000 suit, there are 50 other suits made that year. Another problem with this is you're only assuming 1 lost suit every year.
In terms of the number of garments, small and one-man operations probably make somewhere in the low three figures per year. Keep in mind, too, that the prices are nowhere near $5,000. Big houses like A&S and Pool charge nearly twice as much, and make thousands of garments per year.
post #41 of 52
One of the replies queried price with COM (customer's own material). I routinely provide my own cloth, the pricing is rather straightforward: the tailor charges a labor charge, and does without his (100%) markup on the cloth. That is, the labor cost should be the same for a seersucker suit or Super 150's. If the tailor doesn't want to do business, it is simply a matter of economics. He may need or want the cloth profit as part of doing business. My experience is the more capable tailors will accept COM. There actually is some archaic tradition of accepting COM which I am sure is no longer in the collective memories of the trade.
post #42 of 52
Thread Starter 
But, I would assume that the tailor would be able to get a better price for the cloth since he can buy it in bulk. So, its not like if you bring your own cloth, you're going to be saving money either.
post #43 of 52
Quote:
But, I would assume that the tailor would be able to get a better price for the cloth since he can buy it in bulk. So, its not like if you bring your own cloth, you're going to be saving money either.
Yes you are, or should be. As was said above, the tailor charges a mark-up on the cloth. Cloth merchants also charge a mark-up on the cloth they sell to the tailor. If you're lucky or know where to shop, you can buy cloth and avoid one or both of these mark-ups. But you also have to be lucky enough to know a tailor who does "cut, make and trim" using the customers own cloth. Not all of them do.
post #44 of 52
I wrote earlier that my father is a lawyer and had imparted a sense of the law to me, and I thought that if you were to take your tailor to court you would not have a chance. Well, I was wrong, or at least half-wrong. I spoke with my father, and though he agreed the court would as likely postpone a judgment to give the tailor time to fix his work, as return the client's money, my father said he actually witnessed a case in which a customer tried on a mangled jacket, the whole court laughed at the disaster, and he won the case. So you can succeed. But I think that in general, court is not a good place to be in terms of time. My father did say that that case might not be generalizable if the problems are more subtle and not laughable, ie wrinkles in the back, collar not resting properly around the neck, etc.
post #45 of 52
In follow up to "COM" (customer's own material) I am a strong advocate of this approach. For example, WW Chan, and all of HK is a wasteland for fine tweeds. Better to obtain them in UK. You really do need to be motivated, and know where to shop. A fabulous source, I am reluctant to reveal, is Textile King, in Soho. If you know cloth you will do well. Name brand end of bolt, remainders, fabulous commissioned cloths defaulted on by Sheiks with their names on the selvadge. Absolutely fabulous stuff if you know what you're doing. Inventory changes constantly with Textile King (ask if the King is in, you will be told he's off today). Highly recommended to serious shmata mavens only.
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