Hermès accused of exploiting customers

March 25. 2024




Customers in the United States accuse Hermès of unfair commercial practices because it is difficult to obtain the famous Birkin bag, which the French brand reserves for those with a “sufficient purchase history”. Customers who were unable to obtain the highly sought-after Birkin bag are suing Hermès in California, accusing the brand of unfair commercial practices.


Indeed, Tina Cavalleri and Mark Glinoga accuse Hermès of creating a system that encourages customers to buy shoes, scarves, jewelry, and other accessories in the hopes of gaining enough status with the brand to purchase a Birkin bag.

According to their complaint, filed on Tuesday, March 19 in a San Francisco court, sellers are instructed to reserve the famous model, inspired by singer Jane Birkin, for customers with a “sufficient purchase history”. The complaint alleges that this practice violates US competition laws.


Tina Cavalleri obtained the famous bag after paying tens of thousands of dollars to the saddler-leatherworker. However, when she contacted the Hermès store to purchase another one in September 2022, she was told that it was reserved for “customers who have always supported our company,” which implied that she makes other purchases. According to the complaint, Mark Glinoga “attempted several times” in 2023 to purchase a Birkin bag, but was told each time that he needed to buy other items and accessories.


The plaintiffs accuse Hermès of ordering its sellers to use Birkin handbags to force customers to buy more products. According to them, employees receive a 3% commission on accessory sales (shoes, belts, jewelry, scarves, and so on), which encourages them to support the system.
Hermès debuted its iconic Birkin bag in 1984. This leather handbag is handmade and produced in very small quantities, emphasizing its exclusivity. Its price ranges greatly, from a few thousand euros for the most basic models to several hundred thousand euros for the most luxurious.


The complaint filed on Tuesday is a “class action,” which means that additional consumers are likely to join the proceedings. The plaintiffs are requesting that the courts order Hermès to cease its practices and seek damages, but no amount has been specified.







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