Despicable Act of the Day

7 Jan

According to the NY Times, the NY Herald Square store of the international fashion merchant H&M is purposely maiming otherwise perfect unsold clothing and tossing it the trash instead of donating it to a charitable organization.  H&M’s website claims that…

H&M is committed to taking responsibility for how our operations affect people and the environment. We donate garments that do not meet our quality [emphasis added] requirements to organisations such as UNHCR, Caritas, the Red Cross and Helping Hands. When possible, we also donate faulty [emphasis added] garments that have been returned to our stores. However, we do not donate clothes that do not meet our safety requirements, chemical restrictions or are damaged. We have agreements with reputable aid organisations in most of our sales countries. In total, more than 500,000 pieces of H&M garments were donated during 2009.

H&M is more than willing to give their poor quality, shoddy mistakes to the poor, but high quality, perfect garments that are taking up floor space are gathered up to make room for new stock and then are slashed and hacked until they’re unwearable instead of letting the poor have them.

Who thinks there’s something wrong with this picture of “commitment to responsibility”?  Damn straight!

Of course, damage control the next day was that they would “stop the practice of destroying new, unworn [emphasis added] clothing that it could not sell at its store in Herald Square [why no one responded the first day and why no one responded until the NY Times got involved are both interesting questions to me], and would instead donate the garments to charities.”

“It will not happen again,” said Nicole Christie, a spokeswoman for H&M in New York. “We are committed 100 percent to make sure this practice is not happening anywhere else, as it is not our standard practice.”

Ms. Christie said that H & M’s standard practice was to donate unworn clothing to aid organizations. She said that she did not know why the store on 34th Street was slashing the clothes, and that the company was checking to make sure that none of its other stores were doing it.

I’m calling Ms. Christie on her weasel-worded PR here.  It may not be “standard practice” to chop up “new, unworn” clothing, but according to the website it’s clearly not “standard practice” to donate perfect, high quality, new, unworn” clothing that made it to their showroom either.

Personally, I don’t think they’re off the hook yet.  I think this act reveals systemic poor judgment and bad business practices at H&M.  Have we learned nothing from the downright illegal critical thinking that infected Wall Street and “allowed,” nay encouraged outrageous abuses like the slashing of useful clothing?

I’m so tired of weasel-worded PR that doesn’t jive; what’s coming out of their mouths ain’t matching what’s coming out their asses.  I’m not stupid and neither are the rest of us, if we just stop and think about what is really going on here.  About how such things come about and get done.  About the thinking and rationale behind them.  And the corporate atmosphere that creates the fertile ground for such atrocities.  We have to start letting companies know they need to stop fudging the truth and own up to bad judgments.  Responsibility?  Pfah!  They haven’t got a clue about what responsibility means.,

I don’t shop at H&M and now I’ll never shop at H&M.  If you like to shop at H&M, I seriously suggest you ask yourself whether you really want to support a company that is so ethically bankrupt.  In fact, I think everyone should do as I did and send them a little love note telling them this kind of stupidity is not going to be tolerated, especially during these hard times, and that they need to remove their heads from their asses before you’ll grease their palms with your hard earned money again.  Click here and send them an email they won’t forget!

Afterthought:  Compliments of Rooker’s Soapbox (h/t back!), consider this.  While H&M certainly was and is under no obligation to be charitable, they were certainly expending more money (which ends up increasing the costs of the products you buy) to have someone destroy those clothes than it would have cost to just toss them out or walk them down the street to the closest charitable organization.  You don’t think someone sat down and cut up all those clothes for FREE, do you?  A highly paid executive came up with the idea to destroy those clothes and a low rank employee with no choice or say in the matter had to sit down and wield the implement of destruction.

If H&M were really serious about this kind of mismanagement, poor judgment and bad business sense, they’d be head hunting the decision maker and kicking his ass (with head still inserted) out onto the street, not just mouthing off that it wouldn’t happen again, blah blah blah.  All talk, no action, so typical.

8 Responses to “Despicable Act of the Day”

  1. Elle January 8, 2010 at 4:05 PM #

    I emailed them too and this is the response I got:

    Hello Elle,

    Thank you for contacting H&M regarding the recent article in the New
    York Times.
    H&M is committed to taking responsibility for how our operations affect
    people and the environment. Globally, we donate garments that do not
    meet our quality requirements to organizations such as Gifts In Kind
    International, UNHCR, Caritas, the Red Cross and Helping Hands. Since
    2000, H&M US has donated more than 350 pallets of our products to
    charitable organizations throughout the United States and around the
    world via Gifts In Kind International.
    When possible, we also donate garments that have been returned to our
    stores. However, we do not donate clothes that do not meet our safety
    requirements, chemical restrictions or are damaged. We have agreements
    with reputable aid organizations in most of our sales countries. In
    total, more than 500,000 pieces of H&M garments were donated during
    2009.
    We have thoroughly examined the situation surrounding the garments found
    outside of our 34th Street store. We have determined that these garments
    were damaged, did not meet our safety standards or had been used for
    in-store display. For example, shoes that had been punctured for use on
    mannequins. The garments in question were not excess inventory that did
    not sell well.
    Going forward, we are reevaluating what we categorize as “damaged”
    garments and we continue to be committed to donating as many of these
    items as possible to our aid organization partners.

    Sincerely,
    H&M Customer Service Team

    Thoughts?

    • Faerie♥Kat January 8, 2010 at 5:16 PM #

      Hi Elle

      How interesting! I’ve emailed them twice and heard nothing back.

      Notice that they did not address at all the following (because there is no excuse and no other explanation than that they did not want to donate the clothing):

      “Gloves with the fingers cut off,” Ms. Magnus said, reciting the inventory of ruined items. “Warm socks. Cute patent leather Mary Jane school shoes, maybe for fourth graders, with the instep cut up with a scissor. Men’s jackets, slashed across the body and the arms. The puffy fiber fill was coming out in big white cotton balls.” The jackets were tagged $59, $79 and $129.

      These items were cited to specifically have come from H&M on December 7th. This is not the kind of damage that happens to items when they are used for “in-store display.” It’s quite possible they were used for “in-store display.” Who cares? But then going out of the way to make them unusable afterward is a bad business decision — from a cost standpoint and from a PR standpoint.

      I also just looooove that they cut-and-pasted their web PR into their reply. Like that’s supposed to buy them extra credit or forgiveness for this egregious act, or prove their heart really is in the right place. They REALLY CARE. If that was really the corporate atmosphere, NY never would have happened.

      So H&M wants us to believe that “the garments were damaged, did not meet our safety standards or had been used for in-store display.” Okay, let’s tackle the question of how those “damaged” and unsafe garments come to be at H&M on Harold Square in the first place so they could be discarded in their trash. What are the options here (and let’s keep in mind that there were 20 bags of these items, so there weren’t just one pair of gloves, one pair of shoes, and one man’s jacket)?

      Did H&M accept shipments of goods that had the fingers cut off, insteps cut up, and slashes across the body and arms? Do they really expect us to believe that those gloves, shoes and men’s jackets arrived at their store location in the condition they were in when found in the trash? AND that they chose to throw them out rather than return them to the supplier/manufacturer/warehouse? Or maybe they took possession of flammable gloves, shoes and jackets, AND to prevent them from bursting into flames and killing someone, they slashed them to pieces instead of returning them to the supplier/manufacturer/warehouse. Well, they best hurry and fire the manager than made that decision, because that’s just bad business!

      Did H&M let customers return purchases with the fingers cut off, insteps cut up, and slashes across the body and arms? Do they really expect us to believe that their Customer Service Department accepted the return of those gloves, shoes and men’s jackets in the condition they were in when found in the trash? Well, they best hurry up and fire the manager than made that policy, because that’s just bad business!

      H&M sure wants us to swallow quite a lot of garbage–literally. Or maybe like me, they believe in faeries and it was the faeries that did it! Even my faeries recognize bullshit when they smell it.

      Hugz,

      Kat

  2. hidingplainsight January 8, 2010 at 5:06 PM #

    I agree with everything you say. That said, when I worked retail it was common practice for every story to destroy unsold merchandise, returned merchandise, or even very slightely damaged merchandise. That way folks couldn’t dumpster dive and return the garbage for money. Also it was the only way they could write it off. I would hope that this practice is being banned worldwide.

    But god forbid the poor should wear attractive currently stylish clothes. At any price.

    *sigh*

    • Faerie♥Kat January 8, 2010 at 5:32 PM #

      And it’s not like charities haven’t figured out how to deal with this issue. In fact, this is what Mary Lanning of the Clothing Bank had to say in the follow-up article:

      “We use a method of ‘defacing’ each garment that does not impair its wearability, but does remove any potential street value in the underground market.”

      Obviously her defacing method would also make it impossible to return donated merchandise.

      Businesses like H&M think they’re so damn smart and everybody else is just dumb. If their heads weren’t already so far up their asses, I’d volunteer to put it there for them.

  3. Marvin January 11, 2010 at 9:27 PM #

    Scum.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Despicable Act of the Day « Faerie♥Kat's Faerie♥Korner -- Topsy.com - January 7, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kat Cranston, Kat Cranston. Kat Cranston said: @ellexmarie They're not off my hook, though! http://wp.me/p9erV-1ea […]

  2. H & M – A Company Run By Douchebags « Rooker's Soapbox - January 8, 2010

    […] Update: Yeah, that figures. I’m two days late writing about this. They’ve already been shamed into halting this despicable activity. (h/t to Faerie Kat) […]

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