Gregory’s Fine Tailoring: buyer beware!

By | February 15, 2012

I can’t speak to the quality of the custom tailoring work at Gregory’s Fine Tailoring, located at Boston’s downtown crossing. What I can do is report the facts of what Gregory did to me, and then you can decide for yourself whether to patronize his business.

Executive summary: Work on my jacket, which I was told would be finished in two weeks, was not done over three months later, and in fact was never fully done. I was never called about the status of the work. I was lied to several times about when the work would be finished. I demanded the return of my jacket twice in person and was refused each time. In the end, I was able to get my jacket back only by threatening to sue for triple damages, at which point Gregory finally returned my jacket; to his credit, he refunded my deposit in full and actually did some of the requested work, albeit with mediocre quality.

On October 24, 2011, I brought my leather jacket, which needed some repairs, to Gregory’s, after he was recommended to me for leather work by another downtown Boston tailor. Gregory recommended also cleaning and dying it and treating it with water repellant, for which he would use an outside service. He said the total cost would be about $250 (not unreasonable for a nice leather jacket) and it would be done in a couple of weeks. He also said he’d call me when my jacket was ready to be picked up.

The timing of the work was important, because I wanted to wear the jacket this winter.

I paid a $100 deposit and left the jacket with Gregory. Here’s my claim check (with my phone number distorted to protect my privacy):

(click on image for larger version)

Over a month later, he hadn’t called, so I called him to find out what was going on. He claimed that the service he had tried to use to clean, dye and treat my jacket had “gone bankrupt,” but that he had found another service and my jacket would be finished in another couple of weeks.

Another month later, Gregory once again hadn’t called, so I visited his shop in person on January 4, 2012 to get back my jacket, finished or not, and my deposit. He said he could not return my jacket because it was supposedly out of his shop being cleaned, dyed and treated. He swore to me that the work would be finished “without fail” by Friday, January 6, and took down my phone number again so he could call to let me know when it was finished. To be clear, I informed Gregory clearly and explicitly during this visit that if the jacket was not going to be ready on January 6, I wanted it and my deposit back immediately, and he emphatically insisted that it would be finished on that date.

Once again, he never called. I visited his store again in person on January 20 and demanded the return of my jacket. He once again refused to return it. The same day, I sent the shop the following letter via certified mail:

Chapter 93a Demand Letter to Gregory's Fine Tailoring

January 20, 2012

Gregory’s Fine Tailoring
76 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02110

Dear Gregory,

This is a 30-day demand latter as required by M.G.L. Chapter 93a before taking legal action against a business engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices.

On October 24, 2011, I gave you my leather jacket to be cleaned, dyed, treated with water repellant, and repaired. You told me the work would take two weeks and that you would call me when it was finished. I paid you a deposit of $100, toward a total cost which you said would be around $250, although you did not give an exact figure.

Over a month later, you had not called, so I called you. You gave me an excuse and told me that the work would be done in another couple weeks. You took down my phone number again and told me again that you would call to let me know the status of the work.

Another month later, you still hadn’t called, so I visited you in person on January 4 to get back my coat, finished or not. Instead of giving it back as I asked, you gave me more excuses, insisted that the work would be finished on January 7, and said you would call me. You also told me that you would give me a discount for my trouble.

Once again, you never called. I stopped by your store this morning, January 20. You gave me more excuses, and the work is still not done. Once again you claimed you would give me a discount.

You have lied to me at least three times about when the work would be done. If you had been honest with me up-front about how long the work would take, I would have gone elsewhere. Furthermore, you refused to return my coat to me when I asked for it back on January 4.

A little research reveals that this is not an isolated incident. There are many reports of you lying to people about how long work would take. Your conduct is a clear violation of M.G.L. Chapter 93a, which prohibits unfair and deceptive trade practices by businesses.

Chapter 93a requires an aggrieved consumer to send a demand letter to a business 30 days before taking legal action. As such, here are my demands:

  1. You will complete, at an acceptable level of quality, all of the work you agreed to do on my coat. In particular:
    1. Clean it.
    2. Dye it.
    3. Treat it with water repellant.
    4. Repair the frayed sleeve cuffs as much as possible with the existing material.
    5. Replace any missing buttons securing the front and back of the detachable collar.
    6. Re-stitch all loose buttons securing the front and back of the detachable collar.
    7. Replace all worn elastic loops on the detachable collar.
    8. Repair or replace the hanger loop inside the rear collar.
  2. You will perform all of this work at no additional charge above the $100 I have already paid you.
  3. You will deliver the coat either to my home address listed above, or to my attention at my work address: [elided].
  4. You will ensure that the coat is delivered to me, with all work completed as described above, no later than 30 days after you receive this letter.

These demands are clearly reasonable, given how long you have had my coat; how much of my time you have wasted with repeated phone calls, visits to your store, and writing this letter; and how many times you have lied to me about when the work would be finished.

If you do not meet my demands, then I will have no choice but to file suit against you for a Chapter 93a violation. If it comes to that, then I will demand not only reimbursement of my court costs and the return of my coat, but also the triple damages (i.e., $250 × 3 = $750) to which I am entitled under Chapter 93a because of your unfair and deceptive practices.

There is one more thing I would like to bring to your attention. Your business is not listed in the business database maintained by the city clerk (http://www.cityofboston.gov/cityclerk/search.asp). All businesses in Massachusetts are required to register their business names (M.G.L. Chapter 110, Section 5). According to the city clerk, “Failure to register a business is punishable by a fine of not more than $300.00 each month that a business is not registered.”

I look forward to the prompt resolution of this matter.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Kamens

According to the postal service, Gregory received my letter on January 24. I received the following response on February 11. I have obscured Gregory’s name in this letter because he does not choose to associate it directly with his business in any way I’ve seen, and I see no need to “out” him.

Letter from Gregory's Lawyer

(click for larger image)

(click for larger image)

I have to admire Mr. Kenney for his impressive “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit” posture. His claim that it was unclear from my letter exactly what Chapter 93a violations I was alleging was particularly amusing. Oh, I don’t know, how about lying repeatedly to a customer and refusing to return the customer’s property when asked to do so?

Gregory insisted emphatically on January 4 that my jacket would be finished on January 6. He did, in fact, guarantee that completion date. If this ever went to trial, he would have to perjure himself on the stand to claim otherwise, and let me tell you, if it’s my word against his, there’s nothing here that makes him look particularly trustworthy and much that does the opposite.

Aside from that, Gregory told me on two different occasions that he could not return my jacket to me because it was out being cleaned, dyed and treated, and yet when the jacket was finally returned to me, none of those things had been done to it. What explanation would Gregory offer in court for why he did not return my jacket to me when I demanded it?

In short, there is little doubt that I would have prevailed had the case gone to court. Having said that, I had no desire to waste my time and energy dealing with a small-claims lawsuit, so I sent Mr. Kenney the following response via email:

Response to Lawyer Letter

Dear Mr. Kenney,

I have received your letter of February 10.

Your letter contains both errors of fact and errors of law, and I am confident that I will prevail should this matter come to litigation.

Having said that, I have no desire to involve the courts if we are able to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution.

Your offer for Mr. [elided] to refund my $100 deposit and return my coat with some of the work on it already completed is acceptable to me under the following additional conditions:

  1. I actually receive the refund. I mention this only to clarify that I have not yet received the certified mail copy of your letter, in which the refund check is presumably enclosed.
  2. As I said in my previous letter, Mr. [elided] must deliver my coat to me, either at my work address (c/o [elided]), or at my home address ([elided]), at his expense. I will not waste any more of my time making yet another trip to Mr. [elided]‘s place of business to retrieve my coat.
  3. Whatever work Mr. [elided] has done on my coat must be of sufficient quality to leave the coat in no worse condition than it was when he took possession of it.
  4. I must receive my returned coat at one of the above two addresses on or before February 23, 2012, the 30-day deadline stipulated in my last letter to your client.

I would like to remind you that, as I mentioned in my last letter, Mr. [elided] has failed to register his business with the Boston City Clerk’s DBA Database. This puts Mr. [edlided] in violation of both state law and City of Boston regulations and makes him subject to a fine of up to $300 per month for each month that his business is not registered. I encourage you to take the necessary steps to ensure that your client rectifies this omission as soon as possible.

I look forward to a prompt resolution of this matter.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Kamens

Negotiation of the details ensued, and my jacket was delivered to me at my work address today, February 15, almost four months after I handed it to Gregory. It has not been cleaned, dyed or treated, and the work that Gregory did on it was of mediocre quality and not what we had discussed. In particular, although I specifically asked him to replace the worn-out elastic loops, he instead re-stitched the worn-out loops in place.

In summary, Gregory of Gregory’s Fine Tailoring does mediocre work (at least some of the time), has no compunctions about lying to customers when it suits him, and can’t be relied upon to complete promised work in anything like a reasonable amount of time.

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