Last week, the new fashion design competition and home shopping show, Fashion Star, debuted on NBC. The ratings were okay — not great — but about 4 million people tuned in. Some of those folks attempted to order clothing seen on the show. But that doesn't mean they actually received any garments.
We tried ordering the H&M dress designed by Sarah Parrott immediately after the show last Tuesday night — March 13 — and received a confirmation email at 11:10pm, stating that the items would ship on March 15. Quick! Efficient! Easy! Then on March 15, we received an email which read:
Dear Valued Customer:
Thank you for your recent order placed on the H&M Fashion Star website. We appreciate you coming to shop at our online store. However, we regret to inform you that due to a technical error with the available inventory in the online store, we are not able to fulfill your order and as a result your order has been cancelled in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of the H&M Fashion Star store.
We sincerely appreciate your understanding in this matter and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please use this code HMFSFSW1 for 20% and free shipping on your next order at www.hmfashionstar.com. Code expires 3/28/2012 at 11:59 PM PT.
Additionally, you will receive another email later this month with a different code for 20% off and free shipping for a future order.Winning items go live at 11:00 PM ET on Tuesdays after Fashion Star airs. Please remember all winning items are limited quantities!
H&M Fashion Star Customer Care Team
Ugh. Twenty percent off is a nice gesture, but what about the dress we wanted (and thought we'd paid for)? We weren't the only ones who had issues. A commenter on the Today show website writes:
H&M cannot manage the inventory on this dress. Really pissed that I tried to be proactive but they did not plan for the popularity.
I ordered this dress on 3/13/11. On 3/14/11 I went in store to make sure I ordered the right size. Tried on the other color but passed because I knew one was coming in the mail. On 3/15/11 I received an e-mail that there was an inventory glitch and it would not be coming. I tried calling all the local stores and located one 50 miles away that has the dress in my size. The corporate policy is that they cannot hold purchases, so they will not hold the dress I am TRYING to buy in response to their own inventory problem.
And there are many other similar complaints. (Other sore spots for viewers: the two-in-one skirt, sold at Saks, was priced at $350; and the fact that none of the items for sale came in plus sizes. As one viewer wrote on Facebook, "way to ignore half of your audience.")
Priced at $19.95, it makes sense that the H&M dress designed by Sarah Parrott sold fairly quickly, but we couldn't help but wonder if the show and/or retailer purposely kept quantities low to create the buzz. As Fashionista reports:
But maybe these items are selling out because retailers placed small orders, designed to sell out fast. [H&M buyer Nicole Christie] assured us that's not the case. "I can tell you that we ordered the dresses at our normal order size–average H&M quantities," she said. "And we have it in 101 stores in the country and…it's flying off the shelves."
Still, fashion is a business where customer satisfaction should be the ultimate goal, and for many, this experiment didn't deliver.