Hermès is facing a lawsuit regarding allegations that it discriminates in the sales of Birkin bags, only offering them to customers deemed worthy.

Hermès is facing a lawsuit regarding allegations that it discriminates in the sales of Birkin bags, only offering them to customers deemed worthy.

Hermès faces allegations of linking the sale of its renowned Birkin bags to the purchase of other Hermès items in a class action lawsuit that was filed in California.

According to the legal action taken on March 19th, two customers allege that they were obligated to buy additional items like footwear, scarves, belts, or jewelry from an Hermès store before being allowed to buy a Birkin bag.

The legal action stated that Hermès employees only present Birkin handbags to customers who have a proven track record of buying from the French brand. The claim stated that once shoppers are considered eligible to purchase a Birkin, they will be taken to a private room in the store, away from the display and online availability.

According to their legal representatives, Birkin handbags are not typically available for purchase at Hermès retail stores. It is common for these stores to not even have any Birkin handbags in stock, and if they do, they are limited to one, two, or at most three. Additionally, even if a store does have Birkin handbags, they are not openly displayed for the general public to see. In reality, the majority of customers will never be shown a Birkin handbag at a Hermès retail store.

The legal claim argued that Hermès’ policy of requiring customers to buy other expensive items along with a Birkin bag goes against US laws against antitrust. The high-end store has also faced accusations of using a strategy to take advantage of its market dominance and drive up the cost of Birkin bags.

Lawyers referenced the alleged plan as being motivated by the sales associates’ commission system at the company. The lawsuit alleges that Hermès retail workers do not receive any commission for the purchase of Birkin bags, but instead earn a three percent commission on clothing or accessory purchases.

The court document states that Hermès employees are not given any commission for selling the company’s most valuable and desired products. However, they are directed to use Birkin handbags to push customers into buying other products, which is a tactic used to establish a buying history that is necessary for being offered a Birkin handbag. This allows Hermès to use its employees to enforce an unlawful tying agreement.

Tina Cavalleri, a plaintiff in the case, stated that she was pressured to spend a large sum of money at Hermès in order to gain the opportunity to purchase a Birkin bag. In 2022, when she attempted to buy the luxury bag, she claims she was informed that only long-term patrons of the company are eligible for a Birkin bag.

Last year, Mark Glinoga attempted to buy a Birkin bag multiple times, but was informed each time that he needed to purchase additional items and accessories.

The individuals bringing the case are requesting a monetary sum that has not been specified and a legal mandate to stop Hermès’ supposedly unfair business tactics.

For years, those who adore fashion have been lamenting the challenges of acquiring an Hermès Birkin bag. The prices can range from $10,000 to over $50,000, and at auctions, rare pieces have sold for prices upwards of $300,000. In the past, Hermès denied accusations of pressuring customers to buy certain products, as reported by the Business of Fashion in the previous year. The company stated, “Hermès strictly prohibits tying the sale of certain products to the purchase of others.”

The Independent has reached out to Hermès for a response.

Source: independent.co.uk