Hi there, Although I've been reading for roughly the last month or so, I'm new to posting and registered because I recently experienced something that I need your help on. This is long, so please do not feel as if you have to read or answer if you dislike long posts. By the same token, if you are of the school of thought that Louis Vuitton never goofs on anything they make, I don't want to burst any bubbles so please don't feel obligated to read if you don't want to hear a sad story. Okay, so now that the disclaimers are out of the way here's how my sad story goes: Recently, my fiancé bought me a speedy 25 at a LV boutique that is about 60 miles round trip from his home. The first bag the SA just boxed up and sold him. He didn't look it over. He had heard so much about the quality, that I suppose he assumed he didn't have to. That evening he surprised me with the most expensive purchase he's ever made for me other than my engagement ring. Neither of us are related to Donald Trump or Bill Gates. In other words, this isn't a gift my fiancé bought with his spare change, but rather with a lot of love and hard work to make my LV-owning dream come true. As it turns out, I didn't have the heart to tell him until the next day that there was a problem with the speedy 25 he surprised me with. The moment I went to reach for the handles to lift my flattened speedy out of the box, I realized that the leather loops on one side where the handle attaches to the leather were really tight and on one handle in particular it was so tightly wound that the handles on that side would barely move. Well, that would be no big deal because it would loosen up as the bag breaks in — *except* that when I flipped the handle over so that it was laying across the zipper I saw that on the lower loop that circles the handle ring that the red leather edges were actually frayed, and not just a little bit either. It looked like a wad of red lint or fuzz, but it wouldn't rub off because it was as if somebody took sandpaper to the leather and roughed it up really bad due to the friction. I realized that if it looked this way brand new out of the box, it would only be a repair waiting to happen. I might be lucky to get the bag to last me one year before the leather that attached to the handle ring split right off. Fast forward two days. My my fiancé is in the area of the boutique for work (he travels for his work). On his way home he stops at the LV store and the SA who had helped him two days before sees the problem and apologizes for the issue. He picks up a replacement bag with no hassle, and this time he looks it over briefly. He brings it home and by some nightmarish bad luck the replacement bag has a black-brown mark that is about 1/4-inch long, which I again notice within the first five minutes. Sadly, it won't brush off. And it's clearly nothing "natural". Strike number one. When I pick up the bag to look more closely at the stain on the leather piping, I flip it upside down so I'm looking at the bottom corner on a diagonal. That's when I also see that on that same corner the canvas is not tucked under the leather piping like it is supposed to, but instead the leather just to the right of the stain is disappearing into a fold of canvas. I put my hand inside the bag to try to pop the corner out, and to my dismay I realize that the piping is actually sewn into the seam! I look at the other corners, and I see that the piping is nice and evenly exposed all the way around until it gets to that one corner where the leather just disappears into the canvas seam. I realize that instead of having the protection of the leather piping on the affected corner, that the canvas is going to scrape every time I set the bag down during normal use (and since it is not a shoulder bag, it will receive a lot of "setting down" in shopping carts and the like). At this time I also recall a family member with an ancient Sac Plat, and I realize that eventually I'll start to see the threads in the canvas rub bare where the canvas corner is exposed. The whole reason I wanted the speedy style to begin with is because they seem to have the best protection around the edges, and therefore seem to last the longest (judging from how many vintage speedy bags are still being sold on eBay and the like). Strike number two. So as you can see, we have had really bad luck, and that bad luck, which is no fault of our own, is creating a poor "first impression". You might think that the store staff would be extra eager to make the situation right under the circumstances, right? Well, although I haven't been doing any posting I HAVE done enough LV reading on the 'net over the past few months to have my doubts that the LV boutique staff would show compassion. Like you probably have, I've run across the stories on how the LV store employees can be unwilling, shall we say, to honor their return and exchange period if they up and decide they don't feel like it (or don't like your hair color, whatever is their reasoning). The LV customer service nightmares are not unique to the US, either. I've found them in the UK, and scattered across the world. And if there is one thing that is a pet peeve of mine, it is argumentative sales people. So I'm NOT looking forward to trying my luck at the same boutique knowing that resolving the situation would require a second exchange, which I suspect the staff will not be happy to accomodate. By now it is the weekend (yesterday), and I really should accompany my fiancé to the LV boutique but I'm angry and I know my fiancé will be much more patient. So I take the path of least resistance, and I imagine that by NOT going with him I am doing the store a favor since I might not be able to contain my frustration if I encounter an SA who wants to argue over whether or not the problems are worthy of an exchange. So I send my fiancé off believing that the third time would be the charm, all with my fiancé's assurance that he now knew what to look for so that this exchange would be our last. Result? My fiancé is told by a snooty sales associate and later by the "leather goods manager" that the bags are "handmade" and that they are unlikely to be in the "condition" we expect. As a result, they won't help him select an exchange, and they practically confiscate the bag even as they insist on returning my fiancé's purchase. Minutes later, my fiancé calls me on his cell phone while in the store and tells me of the rude SA who tried to tell him that the stain on the leather was a "natural characteristic". Her unprofessional tone is so outrageous that his jaw drops and he is basically speechless. When he regains his composure, he asks for a manager. The manager, in turn, speaks to me by phone and says that I need to be present to pick my bag from among the "hundreds" in stock. Excuse me, but I have to go through dozens of bags before I find one that is in good condition? The leather goods manager has zero confidence that anyone in the store will be able to help my fiancé select a non-defective replacement? Is that how little faith they have in their products — or their employees? Upon hearing how he is treated, I ask to speak to the manager. I tell the manager that I know the difference between what are natural leather characteristics and what are just stains, and that I know a proper stitch when I see one. I may be new to their product, but I am nevertheless aware that the purpose of the leather piping on a speedy is not merely decorative — it is to protect the canas corners from wearing thin. I also remind the manager that nobody, himself included, disputed the problems we had reported so far (other than the laughable employee fib about the stain being natural). I restated that it was my fiancé's gift to me, and that it was not our fault we were the victims of "bad luck". I said that requiring my fiancé to return home from a 60-mile trip empty handed was not appropriate given that we were still within our 14-day exchange period. But the leather goods manager didn't care to accomodate us. As a result, my fiancé left the store with the store manger's name and the number for the district manager (and a return receipt). QUESTION Has anything like this ever happened to anyone else while shopping at LV? If the tables were turned, would you accept a problem with your brand-new handbag on the basis that it is "handmade"? I know what some of you are going to say — that I should have been there the third time my fiancé returned to the store (yesterday). You are right. In one respect, I believe the leather goods manger made a good point about it being IDEAL if I were there to pick out the replacement in person. Just the same, is it a LV store employee's perrogative to dictate HOW a customer will be permitted to shop or to receive an exchange? Are employees hired and paid to basically throw up hoops for their customers to jump through rather than graciously honoring store return and exchange policy with no hassles? What's done is done, and now the question is on how to resolve it (or should we try at all)? Honestly, I do not know if making a trip down to the store will make things right, or will result in a mutually embarrassing scene with me crying, confronting sales staff who were involved in the problem, or some combination of both. What to do? Thanks for listening.