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 Two Shoppers Sued Hermès After They Couldn’t Buy Birkin Bags

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Two California shoppers have sued Hermès because they weren’t able to get their hands on the luxury brand’s exclusive Birkin bag.

Tina Cavalleri, one of the plaintiffs, said in a lawsuit she spent tens of thousands of dollars at Hermès, but when she contacted the brand in Sept. 2022 about buying another Birkin bag, she was told that the item was only being sold to “clients who have been consistent in supporting our Business.” She took that to mean that she would have to spend more in order to make her purchase.

Mark Glinoga, the second plaintiff, attempted to purchase a Birkin bag multiple times last year, "but was told on each occasion he needed to purchase other items and accessories,” according to the suit. He ultimately was unable to purchase the bag. 

Cavalleri and Glinoga took their case to court in a class action lawsuit filed in California on Tuesday, in which they allege Hermès' sales practices for its famous Birkin bags are in violation of antitrust laws. The lawsuit uses “Birkin handbag” to describe the “Birkin” and “Kelly” branded bags.

They allege that Hermès’ practices—which the complaint says require shoppers to build a “purchase profile” by buying other luxury goods, such as scarves, jewelry, or home goods, before they’re given the opportunity to purchase a Birkin—violate antitrust laws, which consider tying or bundling goods to other purchases as an abuse of market power. “With this scheme Defendants were able to effectively increase the price of Birkin handbags and, thus, the profits that Defendants earn from Birkin handbags,” the lawsuit says.

Hermès did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.

The lawsuit claims that the company’s sale structure indicates the alleged abuse: sales associates don’t receive commission on Birkin bags, but receive a 3% commission for the ancillary products sold to build up purchase History, the lawsuit claims. “In this way, Defendants are able to use their Sales Associate’s to implement Defendants’ illegal tying arrangement.”

Pricing for the famous bags, which cannot be purchased online, begins at $10,000, but can reach upwards of six figures.

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