Claire's Accessories: The 'ignore it and it might go away' approach to social media complaints

Dan Martin
Former editor
BusinessZone.co.uk
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*** UPDATE 23/02/12 ***
Claire's Accessories has again been accussed of copying designs. I've blogged about it here
.

Original post from January 2011:

Retailer Claire's Accessories is the latest large company to bury its head in the sand when complaints are raised on social media.

As you may have read on BusinessZone.co.uk, an independent designer has accused the company of copying one of her designs for sale in its UK stores.

Like an incident last year when an artist accused Paperchase of doing something similar, the story is all over Twitter.

Laura Figiel, the entrepreneur in question, has blogged about her claim which has attracted more than 200 comments.

The popularity of the post also means that if you type 'Claire's Accessories' into Google, it is the seventh result on page one below the company's own websites and its Wikipedia entry. 'Claire's Accessories have copied me' isn't exactly a great result for the retailer!

So what has Claire's Accessories done about it all? Ignore it; that's what.

Before I published my story, I called the company three times to get a response. Despite calling the main number for its UK office, no-one answered. I eventually got through and asked to be put through to the press office. I was but it went straight to someone's voicemail. I left a message. No-one responded. I then searched LinkedIn and managed to find the details for Claire's Global Web Marketing Manager in the US. I sent her a message. No response. My final attempt to get in touch was to post on the company's official Facebook page with a link to my story. That message has since been deleted.

Many people are using Claire's Twitter account in their tweets about the issue and it has tweeted since I posted on Facebook so the company will be aware but rather than react and respond, it is choosing to ignore the situation.

The world has changed. Negative messages about companies spread fast. This latest issue could be a misunderstanding but no-one will know that until Claire's accepts that it needs to reply. As it stands, the company now has a reputation for stealing the concepts of independent designers.

UPDATE (24/01/11 13:50):

I have finally managed to speak to somewhere regarding this issue after being told by the Claire's Accessories receptionist to contact Exposure PR, the agency that handles the company's public relations. A PR executive told me that Claire's is "aware of the issue" but has not yet responded because it is "being investigated". She has promised to put me in touch with the company's "new marketing manager".

UPDATE (24/01/11 17:00):

Claire's Accessories has updated its Twitter account with a story about the necklace worn by an actress at a film premiere but it continues to ignore Laura Figiel's claims despite the continued attention on Twitter. The PR tells me "a statement" is being written.

UPDATE (25/01/11 09:45):

I left a message with Claire's marketing manager yesterday. She hasn't called me back.

I've discovered that this isn't the first time the company has been accused of copying designs. Olivia Brunio, the creator of 'Hip Hop Candy', made similar claims. According to her Facebook page, Claire's settled with Brunio and agreed to pay royalties on all products sold. 

UPDATE (25/01/11 12:40):

I've finally managed to speak to Hind Hadj, head of marketing at Claire's Accessories. She said: "We haven't seen any claims. I haven't got anything to comment." Hadj refused to discuss why my Facebook comment was removed but said I could call her back "towards the end of the day" when she "hoped to have more information". 

UPDATE (28/01/11)

I have had another conversation with Hind Hadj but she again refused to comment. Claire's Accessories has not yet responded on Twitter. 

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