Some LuLaRoe customers are saying that the company’s leggings are tearing and starting to “disintegrate” after as little as a few hours of wear.
The clothing brand has grown rapidly over the last two years by building a cultlike following among millennial mums.
Most of its success has been built with a single product: soft leggings, which cost about $US25.
The company releases a limited number of leggings in unique patterns — it distributes them through a network of “consultants” who sell to their friends at parties held in homes — and customers seem to go nuts trying to get their hands on the latest styles.
But in recent months, complaints about the quality of the leggings have started piling up.
Women are sharing photos on social media of LuLaRoe leggings with large holes in the fabric — or, in some cases, dozens of tiny holes — and many say the damage appeared after the leggings were worn once or twice. There’s a Facebook group with more than 1,400 members devoted to sharing stories about the damage, a guide for how to put the leggings on without tearing them being passed around, and even a theory about which leggings are more likely to wind up damaged.
“These pants rip like wet toilet paper,” said Valerie Williams, 35, of Syracuse, New York. Williams has bought five pairs of LuLaRoe leggings. She says two of them tore as soon as she put them on.
“This must be a widespread issue,” she told Business Insider.
Maintaining quality is a challenge for any fast-growing brand, but for a company like LuLaRoe, the backlash is particularly serious because it is taking place in the same forums that helped create buzz for the leggings in the first place. LuLaRoe’s customers say they’re having a hard time returning the damaged goods because the company’s sales consultants, who buy directly from the company at wholesale prices, are barriers.
Some consultants, meanwhile, say they’re saddled with the damaged merchandise.
A LuLaRoe spokeswoman, Shana Frahm, said an internal audit showed that damages were 0.061% of shipped merchandise per month. She said this is well below the industry average.
“As you know, we are a new brand, and we have been working diligently to ensure that our customer experience is highly satisfactory,” she said. Frahm declined to answer questions about whether the company was aware of problems with holes in the leggings.
But one LuLaRoe consultant said on Facebook in early February that the company was aware of the issue.
“LuLaRoe is working super hard to reinvent the process a bit, to stop holes from happening yay!” Nichole Ramirez wrote on February 2.
Advice for buyers
LuLaRoe sellers are also widely sharing a diagram with tips on how to avoid holes, including advice like “Pull just a tad or you’ll be sad!”
Still, customers have complained through social media and the Better Business Bureau’s website.
“Second pair of LuLaRoe leggings to get a hole. … Safe to say, I’m done wasting my money,” one person wrote on Twitter on January 31.
Another customer wrote on Facebook: “What am I doing wrong with LuLaRoe leggings? I hand wash them, basically treat them like newborn infants without a fully formed skull, and still only have 1 pair left without holes all over.”
On January 30, someone wrote in a review on the Better Business Bureau’s website that three pairs of their leggings developed large holes within hours of putting them on.
“In November I put on a brand new pair of leggings,” they wrote. “By lunch the whole rear end had just disintegrated.
“That ends my years long relationship with your consultants,” they wrote. “No more Lula for me. Sick of paying twice what I should for clothes that disappear. THREE pairs in two months is three too many.”
The bureau’s website has 170 reviews of LuLaRoe and 210 customer complaints, mostly about quality issues — primarily holes in the leggings.
On Facebook, more than 50 complaints in the last two weeks have cited holes in the leggings. On Twitter, more than 100 complaints since September refer specifically to holes.
One theory among LuLaRoe customers is that the holes are more common with leggings that are manufactured in Vietnam as opposed to in China or other countries. In Facebook groups where LuLaRoe is sold, customers are inquiring about where the leggings are made before purchasing them, according to Williams, who is a member of many of these groups.
There’s no place to review LuLaRoe’s products on its website because it doesn’t sell any clothes on it.
LuLaRoe sells products only through the consultants, which the company refers to as “independent retailers.” The consultants — many of whom are millennial mums — buy the clothes at wholesale prices and then sell them at marked-up prices to friends in their living rooms and in online forums.
The consultants can earn money not only from their direct sales, but also from the sales of a team of recruits. This strategy is called multilevel marketing, and it’s also used by companies like Mary Kay, Beachbody, and The Pampered Chef.
For some LuLaRoe customers, this setup has made it difficult to get refunds or credit for damaged goods.
Customers have said in reviews that when they tried to get in touch with the company about damaged goods, either they couldn’t get through to anyone or were told to contact their consultant.
“The quality of the clothing is extremely poor!” one customer wrote on the Better Business Bureau website on January 13. “I have had several leggings arrive with holes OR disintegrate upon first wear. Wrote customer service who basically blew me off and told me to find a consultant to replace them.”
Some customers say their consultants won’t do anything to replace the damage goods. Others say they can get only a credit or exchange, not a refund.
“In regard to returns, our direction to our independent retailers is that we stand behind our product,” Frahm said. “The retailers can take those damages back and replace or issue refunds, and in turn, we credit their accounts as well.”
She also highlighted LuLaRoe’s limited control over how consultants conduct business.
“With the independent nature of our retail structure, complaints to the BBB are sometimes regarding customer interactions with our independent retailers,” she said. “We try not to interfere with how they run their businesses, aside from providing guidelines and internal policies to help shape great customer service and cultural transference.”
People who say they are current and former consultants have also complained that they can’t get in touch with anyone at the company to resolve issues.
“I’m a former [LuLaRoe] representative and am still waiting to be refunded for the damaged items I submitted on May 19,” one person wrote on the Better Business Bureau website in late October. “It’s been over five months since these damages were submitted and I’m still waiting for money. Very frustrating. … Also very happy I stopped selling it.”
Another person who said they were a consultant said they also had trouble getting a response from the company.
“I am still waiting on five backordered shirts they will not refund or send me,” the person wrote in a review. “Then, when the products arrived, they would have holes, look worn, etc.”
One person who said they stopped selling LuLaRoe said in December that the company delayed refunding them for unsold products.
“After some product would not sell we were given the option to send it back and pay a restocking fee,” the reviewer wrote. “After following the process word for word on filling out the forms, paying money to UPS to send the product back, we have not received our refund or credit for that matter. You cannot talk to anyone on the phone and we have also sent numerous emails inquiring. Three weeks ago we were sent one email saying it would be process but that was it. … As of right now we are out $US1100 with no way of speaking to someone to try and resolve.”
Despite these seller complaints, some women say they are getting rich by selling LuLaRoe.
As Business Insider reported last year, LuLaRoe’s top sellers say they make six-figure salaries by selling the brand’s clothes and managing teams of other sellers.
Some have posted rave reviews on Glassdoor, a website where employees can anonymously review the companies they work for — although the company has an overall rating of 2.5 stars out of five.
“I have been a consultant for seven months and it has been life changing,” one review says. “I didn’t have two dimes to rub together and I am making more money in a month than I used to make in a year.”
As with most multilevel-marketing companies, employees’ experiences appear to be wide-ranging, based on the success they have had in selling products.
But achieving that success could be increasingly challenging if the company’s quality issues erode brand loyalty.
Williams says she isn’t ready to give up LuLaRoe just yet, even after purchasing two pairs of leggings that ripped open on the first wear.
“I will buy more LuLaRoe, but I’m disappointed that I have to ask now where the leggings are made before claiming so as to avoid more Vietnam pairs,” she told Business Insider.
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