Hermès Hit With Class Action Suit Alleging Birkin Bag ‘Tying’ Scheme

REUTERS/Roselle Chen/File Photo
REUTERS/Roselle Chen/File Photo

A class action lawsuit was filed against luxury design company Hermès on Tuesday, alleging that the company coerced its customers into buying ancillary products in order to purchase the coveted Birkin handbag.

In a class action complaint filed in District Court in Northern California, lawyers on behalf of Tina Cavalleri and Mark Glinoga, alleged the company violated antitrust laws by making Birkin bags available to only select customers who have already racked up a lengthy bill.

Lawyers alleged that Hermès directs its sales associates to “only offer Birkin handbags to consumers who have established a sufficient ‘purchase history,’” meaning, they’d bought other expensive “ancillary products” from the brand such as shoes, belts, scarves, and home goods.

“Typically, only those consumers who are deemed worthy of purchasing a Birkin handbag will be shown a Birkin handbag (in a private room),” the class action complaint said. High demand and low supply have created a uniquely desirable product which can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $450,000.

The lawyers allege that the practice of “tying” one purchase to another violates U.S. antitrust laws because customers, who can buy shoes, scarves, and belts from any store are “coerced into buying ancillary products from Defendants, by virtue of wanting to purchase Birkin handbags.”

The complaint accuses Hermès of tying together products that are in “separate markets.”

The class action applies to residents of the United States and California who were asked to purchase the “ancillary products” from Hermès in order to purchase the heavily sought after purses.

Hermès has previously denied this practice, but CEO Axel Dumas once said that employees are encouraged to vet prospective buyers to find “real” clients, who aren’t planning to resell the bags online, according to Business of Fashion.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.