Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Video Over J.Crew's Prices in Canada

"Thanks!" to Moose (in this post) who let us know that the video from Global Toronto over this topic is up for viewing (click here to watch from original site).
News Hour - Retail markups?
By Sean O'Shea
August 22, 2011

J.Crew is a high-profile fashion chain that has had a big Canadian following for years -- but the cross-border price hike has many saying "no thanks".
Also, another "thanks!" to Sudu, who is speaking up on the issue of being double charged for online purchases. She handled herself with such grace while being interviewed. She also mentioned (in this post) the following news:
I just had a very encouraging experience. I went to Yorkdale after work this evening to return my purchases. In the midst of the transaction the store manager came over because he recognized me from the Globe article and we had a very good, quite lengthy conversation. I explained that the issue was not the in-store pricing so much as the online pricing. The problem isn’t that we’re paying more than U.S. customers, it’s that we’re paying more than ourselves one week ago, before there was a store here.

I was very impressed by him and what he said, which included that they really are taking this seriously and are working on some kind of solution. Although he couldn’t be specific about what it might be,
he was such a good ambassador for the company that I came away feeling very positive. He absolutely understood that people are passionate about JCrew and I was very clear that I wanted to shop there and would be happy to do so again – just as soon as this issue is resolved. Until then, though, I couldn’t keep my purchases when I know there are people who don’t have the option of shopping in person who are really being hit by this increase.

One thing he said in passing that I think is important for everyone to know is that they have been looking into this issue since Friday
. As in, well before the Globe & Mail article appeared. Which means that everyone who is calling and emailing is being heard and having an impact. And I’m obviously not the first person to have made a return on the same grounds, which has also been noticed.

The Global TV News story has aired and I think it was mostly good, although the portion at the end where the reporter relayed the JCrew response just repeated their line without really dissecting it. On the whole, though, I think the message came across. I was pleased that they included some of the positive things I said.

Hopefully there will be a resolution sooner rather than later. In the meantime, don’t stop making your opinions known!
First, I love that the store manager was so nice and willing to hear a fellow JCA's concerns. Second, I am also encouraged to hear that J.Crew is listening to their customers and working on a better solution. That is one of the reasons I love them so!

What are your thoughts on the video? Do you agree or disagree with any points made by Jenna Lyons? Do you think J.Crew will re-address the double charging of online orders in Canada?

P.S. How amazing does that new Toronto store look during the first half of that video!?! The wall of colorful sweaters behind Jenna Lyons looks so pretty! I also kept pausing the video to check out the mannequins outfits. ;)


  1. I apologize in advance for posting this twice, but I wanted to make sure it was seen and I don't know how much people are following previous threads at this point. This is what I posted:

    The Toronto Sun has just tweeted looking for people to talk about their JCrew experiences. One or all of the Canadian JCAs should respond to this and keep the story going (they could have easily found me, so they obviously want something fresh at this point).

    Also note that the reporter has thrown in a reference to VS - if we don't mobilize on this the story could morph into something else, so we need to get on this quickly!

    Here's the tweet:

    #JCrew CDN prices getting a lot of buzz. R u paying more at US stores, like VS, now that they r in Canada? Email stefania.moretti@canoe.ca

    And thank you, Alexis, for saying I handled myself with grace - that was a lovely compliment. :)

  2. Thanks, Sudu. I've sent them an email!

  3. The reality is that it was only a matter of time before J Crew created a international monopoly. And believe me, this is only a testing ground for their new prices...if US prices go up, then you can look to the Canadians who had to pay more, so you can only blame yourselves if you advocate for this behavior.

    So if things keep going this way in Canada, people excepting these outrageous prices, J Crew can just make up some excuse next time saying "It's just the cost of doing business...[insert excuse] in North America" Wait until the cotton prices soar!

    Well i'm kind of over this issue anyway...it is a very simple solution - do not purchase from their website or any of their merchandise!

    I realize that this is not a favorable solution BUT think of it this way - more money in your wallet, less crap in your closet. Consumerism is such an endless machine and should we really let a greedy business tell us "The new MUST HAVE!" especially when the new must haves cost over at least $300.

    Wear last seasons coat while you're paying off loans, donating to charity or working less to spend time with those you love...

  4. I just did a telephone interview with someone at the Toronto Sun. Good work ladies and gents on keeping the pressure going.

  5. Thanks for the posting, hopefully it'll have the effect we all want and correct the out of line price increase.

    The one bit that surprises me is if only womens' clothing is being sold in a store here why did the mens' line jack up the prices too?

  6. Sudu: Thanks for sharing- it is good to know that other media outlets will be covering this topic as well. It really is gaining momentum! Also, you did a *fantastic* job with your interview. You handled yourself with class! (And you looked great too!)

    Laura: Thank you for speaking up about this issue with the Toronto Sun. :)

    Jenny: I think you are right in that J.Crew tests the waters to see what customers are willing to pay. I remember for awhile they raised the prices on several staples like simple ballet flats. Once customers started purchasing less, they brought down the prices.

    JCrew Guy In Canada: Great point! It really seems illogical if they are trying to keep men's prices in line with the Toronto store- a store that does not even offer men's items.

    Random aside: I want to add that I really do love J.Crew and want to see them succeed. I advocate for removing the double charge for online purchases, because (1) it is the fair thing to do and (2) I believe they will be even more successful by doing so. Let's hope J.Crew makes the right choice moving forward. :)

  7. Not an aside at all, a completely valid point. I think we all love J.Crew and want them to succeed - especially if they succeed with us fashionably wearing them.

    I hope they follow the Anthropologie model, where the prices in Canadian stores are the base online price plus cost to ship to Canada. I think that's completely fair. But the increase price plus shipping and duty is just too much for me - I've been priced out and hope they take my concerns seriously!

  8. Great video. Sudu, thanks for putting your name & face out there on behalf of JCAs! :)

  9. Laura: Great point about Anthro! If Anthropologie is able to successful move into the Canadian retail market without excessive double charges, then so can J.Crew.

    Frankly, I would be priced out of J.Crew now if I lived in Canada. I love J.Crew, but definitely not enough to pay those new Canadian prices.

    And the U.K. site- they don't even have a sale section anymore. I don't even understand the rationale behind that move.

  10. Don't get me wrong! I love J crew too...and i appreciate everyone who is drawing attention to this cause!

    I'm just not that hopeful that they will change...i wish i was!! I feel like they will risk losing their current customers and thereby cut the cost with the new people willing to pay and their new store.

    And maybe they think making things more expensive online will help sales at their new store. They have probably done the research and seen that most of the core spending happens in Ontario and places like Vancouver can just cross the border or something (I fully disclose that i am by no means a business person).

    Thanks to everyone for the crew-lade!

    PS - J crew guy you make a great point!

  11. Jenny, you may be right - they may think that. However, I live in a "border crossing" area, very near Vancouver, and I personally will not be bothered to cross the border - I will order online from another retailer that makes lovely clothes and acts like it wants my business, unless and until JCrew stops this ridiculous price-gouging. If they do, I will be as enthusiastic about coming back to them as I am about leaving them now.

  12. Sudu - you did an amazing job! And you looked great!!

  13. Way to go Sudu- you've really become a public voice for the JCAs!

    It still feels like they're not actually listening to the content of our complaints. I found it so frustrating to receive that form response from 'Jenna' the other day, as if no one actually read the details and examples I was offering.

    I wish the media would stop confusing the issue by framing it as an example of overall pricing being higher in Canada- for once that's not what we're complaining about!

    I also wonder if the additional amount that gets added at final checkout is really the fee being charged by UPS, since they used to broker the taxes and duties as part of the package. What isn't working is that we're paying the duties in the cost of the item already. And this should be covered by the shipping fee.

  14. Sudu, you look so poised and collected! Well done!

  15. Sudu, you were great! In fact, I was quite disappointed by Jenna and very impressed by you. The way Jenna speaks and her expressions were completely not what I expected from her photos. Whereas you were very poised and concise with your points! Kudos to you Sudu! :)

  16. I very rarely post but am an avid reader and consumer of all things crew.

    I have yet to step foot into their Yokrdale store despite living in Toronto and being a frequent shopper there. I am, indeed, boycotting Jcrew until this issue is resolved which is a shame because I was truly looking forward to a nice Fall haul.

    Thank you all, for organizing and bringing media attention to this issue.

  17. I think I am one with J Crew now. I actually found the form letter from Jenna to be pretty insulting to our collective intelligence. Does J Crew really think we are going to swallow the line that the online prices need to be consistent with the store? They aren't in the US and the store in Toronto is actually cheaper than buying online on the Canadian site with the price of duties added to the price. I guess I'm also bothered that I actually sent them a letter outlining my points and they obviously didn't read it r think it was worthy of responding to.

    I guess J Crew would rather have new customers in Toronto instead of keeping this loyal customer of 18 plus years.

  18. Sudu, I'll add my compliments as well. You were so articulate and graceful as the "voice" of this community.

    Jenna, in contrast, was vapid uncharacteristically ditzy. Makes me think she was uncomfortable about the Canada situation even before it escalated in the media. A little GUILT?

  19. After watching the video, I still don't think the rest of the world gets why we are so upset... By the way - Sudo, you represented us all well! I don't like the higher Canadian prices - but I'm used to them, one because I was paying the US price plus duties/taxes before anyway, and two because Canadian prices are usually higher than American once a retailer moves across the border... What I don't get and why I am so up in arms is why we have to pay the higher Canadian price, plus duties and taxes - isn't that the whole point of having a higher Canadian price... I my mind, you either charge the US price plus duties/taxes or charge a higher Canadian price - not both!!!

  20. I'm glad they are paying attention to this matter and hopefully they resolve it in favor of Canadian and UK shoppers.

  21. From what I can tell this story was also shown on Canada AM, Global Winnipeg, and on Global Ontario News Hour and Evening News.

  22. ...so that was yesterday.

    Today this story was on,

    CTV Lloydminster
    CBC News Vancouver
    CHEK Vancouver Island
    CBC Calgary
    CBC Edmonton
    CTV Thunder Bay
    CBC Toronto
    CBC Ottawa
    CBC Halifax
    Global Edmonton
    Global Calgary

    ...and sometimes more than once.

  23. Sudu, great interview! I think it's safe to say you have become the unofficial spokesperson for Canadian JCAS, because now it looks like this story is hitting news across the country, not just in Toronto.

    I agree, the Global reporter seemed to have missed the point that J. Crew is charging duties on top of the already increased price. I am sure we (the Canadians) were already expecting a slightly higher price than the US prices, because we've seen it before with other U.S. retailers like with Gap's Canadian website. However, J. Crew is the only retailer I know of that is charging duty on top of the increased price.

  24. Thanks Sudu for representing us so gracefully. If you talked to the same manager I worked with, he is great - and a member (or at least reader) of our forum.

    I too worry Jcrew might ignore the issue. They may be taking the stance, like Jenny thinks, that they are not worried about losing their loyal customers (us! I have been shopping J Crew for 10+ years). They probably figure they will more than make up for it by the number of new customers they will gain in the new stores once they are all open. And those people, not familiar with the site, will supposedly be none the wiser.

    What they fail to account for is that Canadian shoppers are fairly saavy and will no doubt question why they have to pay 20% more for an item they are out of stock of in the store just because they are ordering it online. Come on J Crew, get real. I hope you guys aren't really that obtuse.

    If, as several people have pointed out, J Crew is he only retailer pulling this stunt, you'd think they would smarten up and do the right thing - drop the extra duty charge online so that the only difference between purchasing in store and online is shipping.

    Glad to see so many people commenting and sending letters - keep it up!

  25. WOW, that's an impressive list of media outlets that have picked up this story- great job JCAs! Honestly, did they really think we'd just shut up and put up with it? I bet they never saw this type of publicity coming!

  26. Great job, sudu! Thanks, Alexis, for posting this.

  27. Did you all know that there is an article/interview with Jenna in the September edition of Chatelaine magazine? In it she talks about loyalty, either to a brand or a person. HA! I see more letter writing in my future...

  28. And here JC runs into the double edge sword that is the Canadian market...it's smaller so they may think they can feed us the line about "cost of doing business in Canada vs US" bs... but also means that the news outlets share stories a lot quicker. Thank @sudu for representing us so gracefully! For those of you who tweet, keep tweeting!

    And didn't I read somewhere that imports from China is taxed 35% duty when entering the US while Canada charges 18% duty? There've been numerous business studies done that have debunked the myth of higher cost of doing business in Canada.

  29. Excellent job, sudu! Thanks for posting the video Alexis. :)

  30. Sudu - many thanks! I am late adding my voice as I was away yesterday, but I think this is really great!

  31. Story again in the Toronto Star Business section today, this time focusing more on shopping parity and duty-free shopping but brings up J. Crew.


  32. I too am a lurker here who rarely sends email complaints, but I sent my email explaining my objection at the dual pricing and how as a loyal Canadian shopper I will not buy until the issue is resolved.

    Just one more voice in the crowd - hope it helps!

  33. New article in the Toronto Sun. J-Crew's Canadian Price War Spreads to Europe:


  34. Laura, thanks for sharing that article. It was the first article I read that clearly outlined the issue.


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