This post represents my personal opinions. As this is my personal blog, I reserve the right to share them freely.
Integrity. I think most of us would agree that this is something we all aspire to in our personal and professional lives. It’s something that we look for in businesses when we’re choosing the recipients of our hard-earned money. To me, integrity means honesty, transparency, and a willingness to “do the right thing,” whatever that may be. Integrity is a characteristic of a well-meaning person who is hopefully worthy of our respect.
Based on the events of the past year or so, I would argue that integrity is something that Colette has been severely lacking. They have been selling patterns with obvious and glaring flaws, publishing photos of unfinished garments with unsewn hems flopping open, and worst of all, disrespecting their own customers by repeatedly and consistently deleting customer comments that point out these obvious issues. The only reasonable assumption, in my opinion, is that Colette has been ignoring and, when possible, actively covering up these issues in an attempt to (a) shield unsuspecting customers who might not know any better, and (b) continue to collect their cash.
To me, this is not honest, not transparent, and clearly an unwillingness to do right by their customers.
I think any hope of Colette displaying integrity is now lost.
Colette’s recent admission that “we made a mistake” with the Rue pattern is admirable, but only if you ignore the fact that (a) they published a pattern with such significant drafting and design issues in the first place (why weren’t these issues caught before the release?), and (b) they refused to acknowledge the issues for so long after the release. Let’s be honest: everyone is allowed to make mistakes; we’re all human. But this was a pretty huge pile of mistakes, and it was pretty unsettling to watch them being swept under the rug for so long.
Sending out corrected patterns to customers, as they have now promised, is a solid step in the right direction. However, if I had purchased the Rue (which I haven’t) and experienced the drafting issues firsthand, I would have demanded a refund. If you’re reading this and have purchased the Rue, I would encourage you to ask for your money back. You purchased a defective product from a company with a history of deceiving its customers. Will you be satisfied with a replacement product from such a company? Personally, I would want my transaction voided and a complete refund.
Regardless of how Colette chooses to proceed with the Rue from this point on, I’d argue that their professional reputation has now been irreparably damaged. In light of their long history of pattern debacles and unprofessional treatment of customers, this rather large debacle with the Rue isn’t all that surprising. They’ve established their reputation in the sewing pattern business, for better or for worse, and any attempts to rebound from this latest crisis are simply too late, in my opinion. The damage has been done. I have officially written off Colette and, sadly, Sarai as its responsible party.
As a scientist, I have to be brutally honest and completely transparent about my work on a daily basis. This is the only way the scientific process can succeed. I admit it: it’s hard. We are so used to injecting our opinions into our everyday conversations that it’s really difficult to only report what you observed, nothing more, nothing less. It’s also really hard to admit when I don’t know something, to admit when I’m wrong, and to admit that I’m imperfect. But I’m an adult and a professional, and so I do it. Without academic integrity, my reputation as a scientist could easily be ruined, and my professional aspirations squashed.
Why should any other business be different?
Can someone really sleep at night, knowing that they’re sacrificing their personal and professional integrity in order to swindle people and collect their money?
Sadly, many people can. I refuse to be one of them.
Sometimes we do business with companies who are deceiving us, but maybe we’re not aware of it. (In reality, this probably happens to all of us, everyday.) Sometimes we do business with companies who are deceiving us, but we don’t have another option (e.g., cable companies with local monopolies). But sometimes, on the rare occasion that we’re pretty damn sure that a company is deceiving us and we actually have a choice as to whether we do business with them or not, why in the world would we choose to give them our business?
I encourage you to ask yourself this question and vote with your dollars.
For me, Colette’s attempt to rectify the Rue debacle is far too little, far too late.