Baume & Mercier Warns Against On-Line Sales

December 17, 1999

Baume & Mercier Warns Against On-Line Sales

In a full-page ad this week, watch company Baume & Mercier asked readers of The Wall Street Journal to avoid purchasing its watches from Web sites.

Asking "cyber-shoppers to beware of so-called 'deals' on our products on the Internet," the firm says it placed the ad to inform the public about risks involved in purchasing its watches on-line. None of the Web sites selling Baume & Mercier watches are authorized retail sources, the ad noted, adding that consumers may receive "a counterfeit or second-hand good presented as new merchandise."

The ad singled out Ashford.com, an on-line watch and jewelry retailer. Ashford recently showed a Baume & Mercier watch in television commercials. Ashford President Kenny Kurtzman told the Los Angeles Times its Baume & Mercier watches, while not authorized by the watch company, are guaranteed "authentic, new and unworn."

"This is a clear statement that Baume & Mercier does not sell any of its merchandise directly to any e-commerce retailers or sites," says Simon Critchell, president and CEO of Vendôme North America, the holding company for the watch brand. "We value our customers and believe they need to know that the only way to be assured of purchasing an authentic Baume & Mercier watch is through an authorized Baume & Mercier dealer." The ad encouraged readers to visit the Baume & Mercier Web site (www.baume-et-mercier.com) for a list of authorized dealers.

Many similar ads by watch companies in recent years recommended consumers buy only from authorized retailers, which are carefully chosen by watch manufacturers. The advertisers emphasize their watches are not authorized for Internet sales. Most luxury brands will not honor factory warranties with Internet purchases, though some on-line vendors, including Ashford.com, include their own warranties and return policies.

The move comes after a recent study showed 4-8% of luxury watch brands sold on-line are counterfeit. (Read related story.)

- by Michael Thompson