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Friday, February 15, 2013
AP Jones Bra Shocker
This is something you are not supposed to know.
upmarket, store that stocks expensive brands like Pringle is selling you bras
made for a middle to lower income, predominately cash only chain, with the labels removed.
At least that’s what’s supposed to
happen, one of the owners told me. But oops - on this occasion the labels were
And when I tried to establish who was
supposed to remove them, that’s when the mystery really deepened.
at AP Jones the 80 year old, family
owned clothing shop at Fish Hoek in Cape Town’s southern suburbs that has been
patronised by generations of the area’s high society elite.
Nothing attracts them more than an AP Jones sale. It’s the talk of the town.
A tennis enthusiast friend looking for
a bargain tried on a black Shock Absorber bra
made by Playtex. It was marked down from R200 to R89.
It fitted perfectly, but she didn’t
like the colour so the shop assistant brought her a white one which she bought,
assuming it was the same fit as the one she had tried on.
But when she got dressed for a game it
was uncomfortable. The fit was
different so she looked at the label.
It was Mr Price’s Maxed brand and there was no
absorber for the shock she felt.
At a Mr Price store I was told that their most
bra was R179.99.
When my friend returned to the AP Jones shop she looked at the sports bra section
and there were numerous others with the Mr Price label on them.
Furious she spoke to Rick Bing one of the owners and a nephew of the founder. "He went a bit red in
the face,"she said. "He told me,‘This
is very embarrassing. We got these from
our wholesaler and they should have cut the labels off before supplying them to
She returned the Mr Price bra and was given her money
back even though notices in the shop say,Sales Goods - No Appros; No
Returns; No Exchanges.
The scandal spread rapidly through the
tennis club where it was dubbed Bra Wars.
When I spoke to
Bing, who runs the business with his brother Greg,
he said he knew about the incident. He then told me, "She’s misunderstood me the way I meant the
label should have been taken off. I prefer this
He went on to say they often did stock
clearance from factories and, "We would buy it from Playtex or whom
ever and usually what happens is Playtex would
obviously remove that labelso that we didn’t know that it was a Mr
Price style and more importantly the customer
wouldn’t think they were buying Mr Price garments from
So it’s clear that the last thing he wanted was for his
posh customers to know about this
devilish merchandising ploy.
"It’s a style
that we carry as a regular product,"he went on. "And it just so happened they had 120 units at a significantly better price which we bought and sold on. I’ve
taken it up with Playtex today and I’ve had no response."
MacDonald the Managing Director of Playtex denied that his firm cut off Mr Price
labels; relabelled Mr Price stock or that they did this for any other
But they did supply Bing
with end of range Shock Absorber stock and a similar
range that had been made for Mr Price "got mixed up in the
distribution area and ended up being sent to Mr
Bing as part of his order, although labelled corrected as Mr Price product."
What was Mr Price’s reaction?
Paul Knoop, the Merchandising Direct of Mr Price Sport, appeared
extremely agitated when he phoned me. He said things like,"We feel seriously
aggrieved. It is fraud. We take steps to close people down for something
In emails he added, "It is for the law to investigate and for a magistrate
to rule. Our supplier manuals are exceptionally
clear as to protocols that any supplier needs to follow and we cannot just let
them sell our stock anywhere.
believe it or not two similar situations were discussed with our CEO and my MD
However when Rick Bing
told me there was "nothing untoward"about
what had happened my conversation with him went like this.
Jon - I have spoken to Mr
Price and they say it’s extremely untoward.
Bing - Yes, of course it
J - They say it’s a
B - Mr Price is more
than welcome to take it up with
whoever they wish to.
It was so "untoward"that a couple of days
after my friend had seen all those Mr Price bras and spoken to Bing I went there with my wife and we couldn’t find
any of them.
So there you are ladies. If you continue
to shop at AP Jones and you see bras
or clothes without labels on them I’ll leave it to you to work out who might have
removed them and where they might have come
But one thing is certain. I’m sure you won’t appreciate having the
wool pulled over your eyes.
Jon, your Consumer Watchdog who will always expose
what you are not supposed to know.
Note:AP Jones is a one shop business whereas Mr Price is a huge group with
branches all over the place and a 10-billion a year turnover.