Lululemon: If You Can't Beat Your Customers, Ban Your Customers

from the interesting-strategy dept

Clothing maker Lululemon appears to be schizophrenic. I know, weird, right? But that's the only conclusion I can come to for a company that started off by mocking Olympic trademarks, then dipped into the realm of suing other designers over patents on designs for yoga pants (side note: when will this yoga fad thing be over?). In one moment it's "Trademark? Lulz!" and the next they're bludgeoning poor Calvin Klein with a freaking yoga pants patent. But it might be time to do a wellness visit on the company, since it appears to have completely lost its damn fooled minds.

See, Lululemon hates when people resell their clothing more than ants hate sociopathic children with a new Sherlock Holmes play set. Previously this manifested itself with a sternly worded FAQ on their website and very strange stocking techniques that amount to a not-making-much-of-our-shit strategy. That appears to have changed, however, since recently reports of customers attempting to sell clothing on eBay being harassed by Lululemon employees and banned from buying more products on the website have come flooding in.

Several customers told Business Insider they had been confronted by company representatives after attempting to sell items on eBay, and even more are complaining on the brand's Facebook page. Many said they have been blocked from buying items from the company's website. The policy is frustrating to customers because of Lululemon's stringent return policy, which only allows returns of unworn merchandise within 14 days of purchase, even if the item was a gift.
Let's be clear here: Lululemon policies make it nearly impossible to return clothing, regardless of the reason for the return, even it was a gift. Anyone looking to unload these items, new or used, on the secondary market is facing confrontation with the Lululemon Gestapo and then being blocked from purchasing more stuff from their website. Should it not strike you immediately, this is insane. In many cases, the items being sold are no longer produced or in stock by Lululemon. They aren't even attempting to compete with these sellers. On top of that, many of these sellers are, of course, loyal Lululemon customers. This isn't taking your ball and going home, it's taking your ball and then lighting the other kids on fire. Which, I'm told, isn't a nice thing to do.
Both Kristin and her husband were loyal customers who have "closets bursting with Lululemon," she said. She decided to sell the item on eBay because it didn't fit and she had missed the return window. Kristin says she was unable to persuade Lululemon to unblock her IP address from the online store, and felt the company treated her "like a criminal."

"They said we are welcome to shop in their stores, and in that case, I should have donated the item," she said. "But part of the appeal of purchasing Lululemon products is that it does hold resale value."
Not anymore, Kristin. Lululemon appears to be telling you quite clearly that what you thought was appealing about their clothing doesn't actually exist. Pretty nice of them, actually. Now you're free to spend your money on apparel by companies that don't have an eight-year-old's understanding of the right of resale and how to treat customers.
Eric Lewis, founder of the blog LuluMen, said he was also chastised by the retailer for trying to sell a pair of pants he bought at a recent warehouse sale in Canada. After the college student posted the pants online, he said a Lululemon representative phoned him to say his actions were against policy and he would be banned from its website if he continued selling items on eBay.

"Why is Lululemon targeting a student who is selling some used items on their own eBay account?" Lewis asked. He estimates he's spent $10,000 on the brand's clothing in the past five years, but has sold fewer than 10 items on eBay.
Who can say, Lewis? But I'd highly recommend running an experiment designed to see if any other clothing companies are as insane as these folks. It's an easy experiment that mostly just involves buying from anyone other than Lululemon and seeing who manages to treat you like a human being.

Now, perhaps you're thinking that there must be some rational explanation for this. I mean, Lululemon wouldn't do something so obviously harmful to their own business without a competent reason, right?
A company spokeswoman told Business Insider that the policy is for the good of customers, and is meant to protect them from buying counterfeit products. "Bottom line, if it doesn’t come from us, we can’t educate, we don’t know the history of the garment, and we can’t guarantee its’ authenticity," the spokeswoman, Alecia Pulman, said in an email.
Ah, yes, scary counterfeit products that nobody is actually fooled by are the reason this is good for your customers. Unless their names are Kristen or Lewis, you mean? Or anyone else who dares to sell something they bought legitimately on the secondary market? Wait, who is this helping, exactly? Because I can promise you this won't help Lululemon's brand image.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 12:51am

    Another case of a company engaging in clearly suicidal behavior? What, is it an epidemic?

    Clothes are much, much, much easier to find other brands than some markets with artificial monopolies. Pokemon clothing should remember that. (Seriously.. Lululemon?)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Ole Juul (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 2:11am

    They're helpful people

    I feel pretty safe since I don't buy anything from Lululemon. However, it makes me feel extra secure to know that they are protecting me from buying counterfeits as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 2:13am

    Yoga fad?

    It'll probably be over when yoga pants stop making people's asses look incredible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:37am

    perhaps a big 'FUCK YOU' is what Lululemon needs!

    the crazy thing as well is that they seem to have the opinion, just like the entertainments industries, that you cant do what you want with your own, purchased items! i wonder why that is?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:51am

    Hey, Lululemon...

    Can you say "exhaustion principle"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Ed (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:51am

    Donate all those Lululemon clothes to homeless derelicts, along with the Abercrombie & Fitch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 4:15am

    Wow! This company is really courting public favor: first they make yoga pants that are basically see-through, now dinging loyal customers who over-bought their lines and want to bless other potential customers with the extras. You go, Lululemon!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 4:39am

    Next headline:
    Lululemon sends secret police to arrest granny at garage sale, film at eleven.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Gabriel J. Michael (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:03am

    These yoga pants are licensed, not sold.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:09am

    Re: Hey, Lululemon...

    They're not using copyright to harass their (hopefully) ex-customers, they're using a company 'policy' to do so, since apparently buying something from them automatically obliterates your resell rights on clothes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:39am

    This is why we don't need laws, corporations are supposed to have more rights then people, if they say don't sell resell something that came from us, then you should face jail time for doing so (even if you had no knowledge of this policy). If they want to sell you food contaminated with deadly bacteria then that is their right, and since they have more rights then you if you die from it then they will blame poltergeists and since they cannot be wrong they will have the right to bribe the media and jury members to rule in their favour.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:43am

    Re:

    you missed them pissing off their target demographic, and treating women who aren't "good" enough to wear their brand like shit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    color me so very shocked.
    We allow so many corporations special rights to keep control over items they "sell" you, why should a clothing retailer be left out?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:52am

    Re:

    I presume they think they're creative, so they see their "work" as property, and therefore desire to exert control over it forever, or something. Just like regular artists, and just as dumb as some of the ones I've come across.

    Entitled, much?

    Fashion has less "protection" than other forms of creativity, and this is a good thing. I don't understand why anyone would buy from those people. They sound awful!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 6:20am

    "we canít educate"

    ??

    ???

    And blocking by ip address? So anybody in the culprit's household or college dorm is banned too? How crazy are they? They're CLOTHES not precious relics. This is April 1st isn't it! OMG I've missed Feb and Mar and arrived in April.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 6:28am

    lulu "lemon" it's in the name folks, why the big surprise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 6:34am

    Re: Re: Hey, Lululemon...

    The exhaustion principle/first sale doctrine doesn't apply only to copyrights, but also to patents and trademarks, and it's being interfered with by Lululemon's unfair policy. I believe there's also interference with the second-hand market under European law since they have a UK website.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 6:37am

    why give a shit about brand clothes to begin with? they are made in the same sweatshops as unbranded stuff after all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Lauriel (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 6:38am

    Re: Re:

    You can resell your Yoga pants in life+70.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    when IP bullshit is involved every day is April 1st...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Jesse, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 7:18am

    Thanks

    I agree 100% with you... Lululemon is digging his own grave though, customers are not stupid and the brand image has already been destroyed.

    Thank you for the article; I think you wrote out loud what many of us had in mind. It's good to see some people still think straight.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    ike, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 7:21am

    How does lululemon id sellers?

    How does lululemon identify sellers in order to block them?

    Does eBay help? Does it send emails bugged with ping-back images?

    Does it ban base on email addresses or IP address? The latter could affect "innocent" people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 7:50am

    Re: companies hate customers

    (parasitizing -sorta- on your post)

    in a related incident: got nailed by a driver making a left turn RIGHT FUCKING INTO ME, then that spun me around with another vehicle hitting me...
    not a good way to start the day...
    pretty truck is not so pretty now, only about 8 grand and two weeks and it will be pretty again...

    (ironically, car dealership had sent a mailer the week before offering full sticker price for my two-year old truck... yes, they are that popular they can sell 2-3 year old trucks for MORE than new ones... they take advantage of the young and stupid good ole boys who have no/bad credit and can't get in a new truck, and charge them 3-5 thou more for a used one... as long as they get a monthly payment they can afford, they go for it...)

    meanwhile, dealing with insurance company is annoying: agent was GREAT, company is a POS: got a message on my phone to call them (won't mention their name, but they run 10 billion commercials an hour) about them needing some info on the other drivers in the accident, blah blah blah...
    okay, thought I had reported everything i knew in the accident report, but i better get back to them ASAP...
    so i called the number listed, and it took me to a robo-ad for some discount card they were flogging...
    IMMEDIATELY, i am pissed off: i'm calling because you left a message (AND an email) that there was accident info you needed, and it turns out it was ALL ABOUT getting me to buy this stupid discount card, and had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ACCIDENT...
    NOT ONLY does it ask me if i want this super deal, and i press 2, 'No', thinking that would be the end of it, and i would be connected to a claims clerk...
    no, connects me to ANOTHER robo-ad that SURELY i want to reconsider this generous offer and give me another chance to say 'yes', i say 'no', and it IMMEDIATELY says, well this line is only for people who accept this offer, and hangs up on me ! ! !
    POS company, there was NO 'info' they needed, it was PURELY a marketing fishing expedition...

    at first, okay, this was some kind of scam, someone had the public record and was fishing for a mark... but look it up, and NO, it IS the stupid fucking insurance company running the scam... 'cause, you know, when i've been traumatized by being hit by two vehicles and am worried about getting my vehicle repaired, etc, i REALLY want to be scammed by my insurance company to buy some stupid discount card instead of getting good service on my claim...
    fuckers...
    now, for the cherry on top...
    go to the website and send an email to bitch about how shitty it was for them to try and scam me like that, and i get a robo-response that -you guessed it- said 'thanks for your email regarding your accident claim, but we still need more info, please call...'
    yes, it was the scam number they had shuffled me off to previously which was the source of my complaint...
    *sigh*
    AND we are going to change our insurance company now, because they were such a-holes about that stuff...

    since so many are de facto monopolies or colluding oligarchies, they GET AWAY WITH IT...
    fuckers, i hate them all...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 8:17am

    IP Addresses are not tied to people

    This company is going to shoot themselves in the foot. Someone is going to figure out how to buy something from the library, and then sell it on ebay, and get the library banned from the site. And, they will buy something at home, and then sell it on ebay, only to get the DHCP block banned.

    Yay for forward thinking companies!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 8:49am

    Surprised anyone still buys from them anyway...

    The Founder or CEO of the company came out recently and said he chose the name LuLuLemon because "Asian people have a hard time making the sound for L, and it's funny to watch them try."

    I can't believe people are still buying from them after that, maybe this will be enough to get people to boycott and send their scumbag decision maker out of business. I love yoga, did yoga teacher training even, but that company stands for the exact opposite of what yoga is all about, and anyone who owns their clothes should take them into the street, set fire to them, and put a video on YouTube about it. make the tag something like "#IsThisBetterThanResaleLuLuLemon?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 9:23am

    Re: Yoga fad?

    Since the yoga "fad" has been going on for 20-30 years, I suspect that we'll be able to look at shapely asses for the indefinite future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 10:02am

    How exactly does blocking someone from buying your legitimate merchandise from your retail site stop other people from buying counterfeit versions from somewhere else? The stupidity, it burns!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    twobuck40 (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 10:53am

    Re:

    I can't wait to see all the local bums in spandex! Yum err... I mean YUK!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    MOMOM, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 12:18pm

    Lululemon

    Lululemon, they are just a bunch of 'Downward-Facing Dogs'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: companies hate customers

    Since the eighties some in government have argued, if we get rid of government regulation, the economy will go better. we have that regulation free economic system, I work, I pay taxes, I personally don't have the time to monitor the big companies to make sure they stay on the straight and Narrow.

    That use to be One of the services the government provided.

    But well with all those tax cuts for the 1%.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    Re:

    why give a shit about brand clothes to begin with? they are made in the same sweatshops as unbranded stuff after all.


    Actually, not sure if this is still the case, but it used to be that all their clothing was made in their factory in Vancouver, Canada. They even have a display window on the factory so you can watch the workers making the clothing.

    Nowadays it has probably got large enough they outsource a bunch of the stuff to the sweatshops, but one of their "differentiators" and the reason they charged high prices was supposedly the fact that they were paying their factory employees a decent wage and benefits.

    But then they went public, so who knows.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Zonker, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 1:41pm

    Re:

    You see, blocking you from buying the official legitimate merchandise from their store means you can only buy counterfeit versions and thus become a swashbuckling "pirate". This is the only way they can make money: suing you for trying to obtain their products, and convincing legislators that because you tried to obtain their product they need to be granted broader powers to sue or extort "settlements" out of you.

    It's a very successful business model and keeps their lawyers employed. You don't want to put good, hardworking lawyers out of work, do you?

    The only way to avoid this once become large enough to have merged with every other clothing company is to go nude, and then they'll arrest you for indecent exposure.

    /sarcasmCausedMyBrainToImplode

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Zonker, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    How long before someone sets up a site where used Lululemon clothes can be freely traded on the internet?

    I suggest the site to be named lululemonparty.org

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Surprised anyone still buys from them anyway...

    "Asian people have a hard time making the sound for L, and it's funny to watch them try."
    Yay for generalisations! As a guy named Benny said in 'Lethal Weapon 4', "Flied lice? It's fried rice, you plick!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    ysth (profile), Feb 15th, 2014 @ 8:02pm

    First Sale Doctrine

    Why is this attack on the first sale doctrine so shocking for clothing but taken so matter-of-factly by many for digital content?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2014 @ 8:57am

    Re:

    Is this a Tom Perkins quote?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Tom Perkins, Feb 16th, 2014 @ 9:02am

    Re: Surprised anyone still buys from them anyway...

    Those poor CEOs, why does everyone attack them ... it's exactly like the holocaust.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Cc, Feb 16th, 2014 @ 6:15pm

    I love Lululemon, their clothes are amazing. I tried to buy a sweater that was posted on their website Tuesday morning and I couldn't because people bought them all to probably sell on eBay for a higher price. Assholes. That's the problem, it's like when scalpers buy all the concert tickets within the first few mins of sale and rape ppl on the price on public buy and sell sites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 16th, 2014 @ 11:08pm

    Re:

    How exactly does blocking someone from buying your legitimate merchandise from your retail site stop other people from buying counterfeit versions from somewhere else?

    It makes it very clear that the counterfeit thing is completely made up and has absolutely nothing to do with the real reason they're doing this. I don't think anyone able to form complete sentences could believe that banning people who aren't buying your products from buying your products would get them to stop selling stuff that isn't your products but looks like it is.

    It is hard to fathom their motive though. It's hard to believe that they think people banned from the online store will then come to the retail locations instead, and shape up and stop reselling clothes because the corporation told them so. Are they hoping to make an example of these (I hope former) customers, so that others won't resell the clothes? Such an idiotic miscalculation. It seems likely for every person who hears about this and stops selling their Lululemon, there will be several others who hear about it and stop buying Lululemon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 16th, 2014 @ 11:19pm

    Re:

    I tried to buy a sweater that was posted on their website Tuesday morning and I couldn't because people bought them all to probably sell on eBay for a higher price. Assholes. That's the problem, it's like when scalpers buy all the concert tickets within the first few mins of sale and rape ppl on the price on public buy and sell sites.

    There's a mismatch between supply and demand, and you're mad at the people trying to get a price that actually matches the market? Shouldn't you be directing your ire at the people who can actually solve the problem - Lululemon?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2014 @ 7:37pm

    Re:

    No, the problem is worthless ignorant sheep like you that patronize assinine retailers like Lululemon. You DESERVE to get ripped off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    The Wanderer (profile), Feb 27th, 2014 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re:

    The rationale seems obvious to me.

    If they can ensure that the only place to get genuine merchandise is the official store, then all merchandise available through other channels will be counterfeit, and thus illegitimate. That way, anyone who sees merchandise claiming to be theirs that isn't sold through their official store will know it's guaranteed to be counterfeit.

    If people resell the genuine merchandise through other channels, then some of the merchandise available through those other channels will in fact be genuine, and that guarantee won't be there.

    That only works if they can keep the 100% lockdown on resale, though... and it's questionable and potentially scummy even then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Joseph Ratliff (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 7:37am

    so, the answer is vote with your dollar?

    When people stop buying Lululemon, they won't have an income stream with which to pay the lawyers.

    Until then, some 6 year old will probably be sued by them for buying their stuff from Goodwill or something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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