One of the interesting points made about fast fashion is the reduction in the quality of clothes. The market is highly competitive and profit margins are squeezed to the limit. Using cheaper fabric is an easy way a making a few more pennies. But why don’t consumers complain when their crappy teeshirt bags out after a few washes? Because most consumers it seems don’t even keep their clothes that long! The turnover of clothes is so fast in the developed countries that outfits are changed not just yearly but seasonally. Clothes don’t need to last because nobody keeps them anymore.
Well not me skippy!
I buy very few clothes and I expect them to last a reasonable amount of time. Most of my wardrobe is years old. You can check it out here.
Moreover this year I am trying to buy only 3.8 kg of new, (natural), fibres a year. See why here. It is essential my trousers last longer than a summer.
So I was very disappointed when my cargo pants started to disintegrate before my eyes.Here’s what happened.
Last year on the 14th May 2014 I bought a pair of Shore Women’s Cargo Trousers from Mountain Warehouse, Padstow. Lots of pockets, light-weight cotton, ideal for traveling I thought. And in the mean time would be good for van life.
Last year I wore them fairly often but not excessively. I mostly wear shorts in Summer and jeans in when it is cooler. As I have been in the U.K. jeans have been the norm.
And yet, less than 9 months old and the fabric on the thighs started fraying. It was not torn, just coming apart. So I patched them. But they continued to fall apart. It soon became apparent that patching wasn’t going to solve the issue.
Bear in mind that these clothes are “quality outdoor clothing and equipment at the lowest prices since 1997. From hiking clothing and camping equipment to ski wear and running gear we stock everything you need for your outdoor activities.”
These are not silk lounging pajamas but pants designed for rugged, outdoor wear. “Well”, (you might say), “buy cheap, buy twice” but at 49.99 they are not even cheap.
Perhaps then it is a case of extreme thigh rubbing? While you may think my thighs are generous and rather rubby, I have other pairs of trousers that remain unfrayed and undamaged even though it is the same thighs and the same amount of wear. That includes my Marks & Sparks corduroy trousers for half the price!
And please bear in mind, I travel a lot and have bought a lot of cotton cargo pants from a variety of shops. I have never had a pair wear out so quickly!
What They Say….
So I contacted Mountain warehouse and asked them what they thought about it. Not for a refund but an explanation.
It was Joachim Blum Customer Service Adviser who advised me…
All of our products come with a one year guarantee to protect against manufacturers fault. Providing fault is established, you should have no trouble obtaining an exchange or refund.
So I sent the requested photo of the damage and my bank statement to them. However Celia Faure, Peter Muncey and Matthew Dyer all had problems opening the jpeg of the receipt and asked me to resend it.
Which I did, several times. I also sent copies to myself, (which I could open) and finally, in desperation, copies from a different machine and server. That was a mistake. I now seem to have 2 complaints running concurrently.
On the 15th of April Deborah Martin advised me in reply to the original correspondance that
“Unfortunately, we cannot consider the damage a manufacturer’s fault. Being the product an year old, we consider the damage as result of wear and tear. If you need any further assistance do not hesitate to contact us.”
I am sorry but I needed some assistance understanding that sentence. Was she saying that the product is over a year old? So I queried and this is what came back
“We are sorry for the misunderstood we can see that the item is still within the guarantee however the damage is not considered manufacturing fault.”
So I asked what kind of fault they did consider it to be. Turns out it was my fault!
We would clarify the conflicting points as follows:
The one year guarantee on our products covers only manufacturers fault. From your correspondence and the information provided so far, we consider the damage to be as a result of wear and tear. This is a damage to the trousers as a result of usage and not a fault.
What kind of usage do you think might be responsible for such a result? The result being the fabric fraying in numerous places on the inner thigh? This is not a tear on the knee or a ripped pocket. And why does it only happen in to these trousers? I have not used them for anything other than normal activities.
I thought they would want to know that the fabric used to make trousers wears out in less than a year. And that this might reflect poorly on the image they portrayed on their website. Or even that some people might argue that this was a breach of contract.
The Sale of Goods Act 1979 states that goods must be:
- as described
- of satisfactory quality and
- fit for purpose
While it doesn’t say exactly how long goods should last, they should last for a reasonable time and in reasonable condition. If they don’t they probably weren’t, originally, of satisfactory quality.
Personally I don’t think that these trousers meet the above criteria.
But sadly I don’t believe they are interested in investigating the matter. At best, I feel, they thought me to be mistaken or even lying to get a refund; at worst they don’t care or are already are aware of the failings of the product.
While mistrust is more understandable and forgivable than mis-selling, both leave something of a bad taste. Especially as I never asked for a refund or replacement. It was Joachim Blum Customer Service Adviser that suggested this course of action.
I cannot pursue this matter any further as my time also has a value but I know a little about textiles. I can tell you that I am not mistaken. I am certainly not lying.
I genuinely believe this fabric is of poor quality and not fit for purpose. What they choose to do with the information is up to them.
In the mean time I am on the look out for some new travel pants! I will not be looking in Mountain Warehouse.
You can see the rest of our wardrobe posts here.