Horrific experience with Celine - this is blowing my mind.

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  1. I'm sharing this story here in hopes of getting some advice and/or at least some comfort. I am learning an incredibly painful lesson here, and maybe offering these details will save someone else the trouble.

    In the Fall of 2018, I'd decided to purchase a Celine Classic Box bag. Although I have a modest collection of luxury handbags, this would be my first Celine bag. My early luxury purchases were all made in person, at boutiques, and allowed me to develop relationships with local SAs at both Chanel and LV. It would have been my preference to purchase this bag in store as well, but the SA at the local Celine boutique said they had no Classic Box bags and couldn't procure one for me. Since Celine.com began to sell handbags online, I added my email to the waitlist there so I could be notified if/when one of the colors I was interested in would be in stock.

    Fast forward a few weeks - it is now November 2018 - and I receive an email that two colors of the Medium size Classic are now available online: 1) the Camel in box leather and 2) the Tan in natural calfskin. Having no experience with Celine leathers, and because the colors look somewhat similar online, I wasn't sure which I preferred. I'd exchanged some emails with their customer service, who were kind enough to provide some additional information on each leather. On the natural leather, the customer service representative wrote: "Natural Calfskin will be smoother to its touch. The natural leather handbags are made a handful at a time due to the uniqueness of the leather and its exquisite, refined nature. It has a very genuine vegetal look and some aspects of the skin remain visible. This leather is very sensitive to scratches and it is not recommended for intensive use."

    I'd decided to order the natural leather bag in Tan and take a look in person. When I order high-end items that require a signature, I typically ship them to my workplace, so that the mailroom can sign for it and I don't have to worry. On the afternoon of December 3rd, the bag arrived at my office and I went to retrieve it from the mailroom. The box was in good shape, and everything seemed beautifully packaged, but when I took the bag out of the dustbag, I noticed a number of marks on the top flap. I truly didn't know what to make of them: were these scratches? or was this what the CS rep was referring to when she said "some aspects of the skin remain visible"? My first instinct was to take a couple of photos so I could ask someone, and so I took out my phone and snapped away. As you can see (photos below), the bag isn't even fully unwrapped yet. These photos are time- and location-stamped, which clearly shows that they were taken immediately upon delivery.

    That evening, at home, as I looked at the condition of the bag again, I decided that I wasn't able to accept these marks, whatever they were, and would be returning the bag. I didn't even bother unwrapping the whole thing. Instead, I read through the return instructions, affixed the return label to the outside of the box, and at my first opportunity walked over to UPS to drop it off.

    Several days passed, then a week, then two. It occurred to me that I wasn't seeing a refund, and nervously went online to track my return to see if it had been delivered. It had, and was signed for on the 11th of December. I made a note to wait a few more days and reach out to their customer service if I had no update, but before I could, I received an email:

    "With regards to your order XXXXXXXXX, we regret to inform you we are unable to process your refund. We regret to inform your Medium Classic bag in natural calfskin did not pass our quality inspection because the bag handle is warped."

    I was shocked and dumbfounded. What are they talking about? I barely handled that bag, and didn't even bother unwrapping it fully. Also, the Celine Classic Box bag has no handle! It has an adjustable strap, which remained coiled inside a small dustbag placed inside the bag the whole time it was in my possession - how could it have been warped?? I immediately called them to clarify - this must be some kind of a mistake - but the rep I spoke to had no additional details and unceremoniously informed me that I needed to provide them a return address so they could ship the bag back to me. I insisted that a mistake must have been made, as I didn't handle the strap. She promised to inquire further and indicated that someone would call me back the next day. However, the next day came and went and I heard nothing, so I called again.

    Imagine, if you can, how difficult it might be to contain your frustration and anxiety over being refused a nearly $5,000 refund. Add to this the fact that you are not being provided any photos or even sufficient explanation of what damage is being observed, and that every person you manage to get on the phone, while polite, remains utterly unable to offer any helpful information. I was physically shaking every time I was on the phone with them, that's how upset I was, and I am shaking now as I write this. I explained that I had photos, I explained that I was confused by the description of the damage since the bag has no handle. I kept hearing promises that they would inquire further with the compliance department (or whatever it's called) but days and weeks would pass and I still had no resolution. I was finally asked to provide a written description of my account of events and to forward my photos, which I did. I hoped a resolution would finally follow.

    Today, January 4th, I received a call. I was informed that a mistake was made, and that my bag didn't fail inspection due to a warped handle, as initially stated in their email - that was someone else's bag, not mine. Instead, my bag failed inspection because of the scratches on the flap. The manager in charge of the case reviewed my photos but evidently decided that this wasn't adequate and I am still responsible for this damage. They claim to have evidence that the scratches weren't there prior to shipment. Isn't it possible, I asked, that the string of the dust bag, which was packed tightly against the flap inside the box, could have rubbed against it during transit and caused some of these marks? Yes, I was told, it's possible. Given that I have photos which I've taken immediately upon its arrival, isn't it more likely that the damage occurred in shipment? Yes, the customer service rep said, that's likely, but she said she was unable to convince her manager that this isn't my fault, and they insist on holding me responsible.

    I feel confident in saying that I have never been treated more poorly as a customer than I have been by Celine. I was asked to spend hours of my time calling customer service, documenting my case and forwarding photos, but received absolutely no evidence or justification in return, just a curt attribution of blame. As of this writing, I've decided to handle this issue through my bank, and file a claim against them to seek my refund. I am appalled that a luxury brand could take this approach and deeply saddened that my love affair with Celine will end before it's begun, but I find this completely unacceptable. As I look at these photos again, I'm fairly certain that the way it was packaged, with the dust bag closed and the tied string placed over the bag, then tightly pressed against it by the lid of the small, white Celine box, caused these marks. They're not deep scratches, and they're right over the area where the string would have been.

    If Celine isn't able to extend some measure of a benefit of the doubt to its customers and treat us with respect, it should stop selling their products online and go back to stocking the boutiques, where this whole nightmare could have been entirely avoided. Assuming that this damage did occur during shipment, I am completely at a loss as to what I could have done differently to insure myself against this outcome. What evidence would they have accepted? Should I have filmed the entire unboxing?

    Has anyone had a similar experience with any luxury retailers? What's your take on this?

    Attached Files:

  2. I don't think the string did this, too soft...looks like fingernail scratches. It may have been a return, especially if it's limited. I'd be pissed/heartbroken, too. Keep us posted...................
  3. My goodness what a horrible story. Those are definitely scratches. Agree with the above post, it’s probably not from the string, unless it had a knot at the end where the ends are kind of sharp? I hope your bank processes the chargeback for you.

    Hmm. I was thinking of buying another Celine bag but maybe not. Thank you for sharing your story. I’d be furious too! I really hope you get your money back.
    mtg116 likes this.
  4. What a horrible story! I hope you get your money back.
    Can you take this up the chain? Email the CEO, etc?
    Good luck and keep us posted.
  5. Wow that’s truly awful. I had one box bag in grain leather and sold it— it didn’t fit much and the strap was uncomfortable. Hearing your story makes me less likely to buy a Celine bag in the future.
  6. Wow - I am so sorry this happened to you and truly appalled at how you’re being treated.

    The Celine classic box was next on my hit list but I’m just not sure I can support a brand that treats it’s customers with such little regard.

    I hope you get the right outcome xx
  7. I've always heard Celine has terrible CS. I'm so sorry this happened. I can't imagine how stressed you must feel.
    Don't give up!
  8. Not from string- It appears to be a returned, used item. I have had this problem with other items (not luxury). One bag was shipped to me with a pen and gum wrapper in it from Bluefly! Anyway, I will not deal with a company that treats customers this way. No Celine for me! See my recent post on LV SA issue. Customer service is huge to me.
  9. With that many scratches on the bag, I wouldn't be happy with it either. I don't think it is caused by shipment, I think either someone has mishandled it in the warehouse or someone has worn it and not been careful with it. Was there any covering over the bag?

    I hope you get your money back in the end!
  10. I really appreciate everyone who's chimed in so far.

    I have been told on the phone that they have evidence of the bag's condition prior to shipment. However, at no point has any of this evidence been shared with me. I find it ironic that I was asked to supply photos I took, but I'm expected to trust the word of someone, sans visual evidence, and believe that they made no mistake on their end. Doubly so since, until today, I was continuously told that I had damaged the "handle", which turned out to be someone else's bag, so clearly, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that there could be a mixup.

    As far as the bag's covering: it seemed well packaged when it arrived - it was inside a dust bag, and you can see the cover at the bottom of my photos in the original post. There was also a sleeve over the entire bag, which I slid off without removing the tape that held it together, and then slid back on.

    As I'm reading everyone's responses I'm 1) comforted by your expressions of support and 2) coming to the conclusion that it's perhaps less likely, after all, that this happened in shipment. However, since the photos above accurately represent the condition of the bag when it was delivered to me, I'm left with futile guesses as to what happened to cause that damage. I'll also likely never get to the bottom of it, because Celine have not been the least bit forthcoming and are refusing to accept the possibility that I'm not responsible.

    I think brands are within their right to place certain expectations on the condition of returned items, however, they themselves should be expected to rise to the standard of integrity which they expect of their customers. Sadly, Celine is falling far, far short of this here.
  11. So sorry to hear that this happened to you and I hope you get a satisfactory resolution. Sending hugs.
  12. This is horrible. I've never heard of a company doing this. You did nothing wrong. I hope you get your refund from your credit card company.
  13. That’s so awful! I was definitely interested in the tan calfskin box, but when I asked the SA at Selfridges, he told me this color had been discontinued due to quality issues with the leather. Namely that it scratched very easily. I don’t think it’s accurate that the tan was discontinued, but I did notice that the color made a reappearance after Hedi Slimane introduced his new collection and made bags available for sale online.

    Natural calfskin unfortunately scratches very easily, but it is easy to buff out.

    I hope that you can come to a reasonable solution with Celine.
  14. Wow you’ve gone to a lot of trouble to get your refund.

    I have many natural leather bags (barenia by Hermès) and Céline uses a comparable leather on some of their bags. The scratches pictured are, as previous posters noted, fingernail scratches. If you/anyone were to carry the bag it would get many more such scratches, and therefore this leather is undesirable for many. For those of us who do like it regardless, the type of scratches on yours do even out as the bag gains its patina - and this in turn is a plus for those of us who do like the leather. Meantime, the CS at Céline should own up to the fact that your bag had been on display or previously handled as the cause. If your refund is still refused, and I hope it won’t be, insist they exchange it for a different leather. They make embossed leathers too (equivalent to Hermès epsom) which you may like due to the fact that their appearance doesn’t change over time and they are virtually impervious to scratches. Best of luck to you!
  15. Any chance to claim chargeback with your credit card company (item not as described) - you've mentioned the bank so was it a transfer?
    Had a similar ish situation a few years ago- bought at Farfetch Jimmy Choo bag and whilst it arrived ok, a day later it was scratched all over (I used it really gently). I escalated to Farfetch and despite the initial refusal to refund, I eventually got it claiming all sort of EU/UK regulations around consumer goods.