Jun 032012

This is a departure from my usual content, but I thought a discussion of my experiences with Banks & Ashby (a custom suit company) would be useful because the only information about them online is their webpage.

The summary of my experience: Groupon is awesome, Banks & Ashby is terrible

The details:

My suit collection is largely composed of hand-me-downs from my father. While they are nice suits, my dad is a size or so larger than me, resulting in a baggy fit. This has not been much of a problem because I do not wear suits to work – only for special occasions. However, the near-ish future will require job interviews and the very-near future had a fancy wedding in it.

So I began looking for a new suit. Dark gray. Wool. Around $500. The hard part – I need a size 36 suit. Or a very fitted 38 suit.

Trips to Men’s Wearhouse (I always thought it was Men’s Warehouse), JoS A. Bank, Macy’s, Banana Republic, and J. Crew confirmed that this was going to be a difficult process. Banana Republic and J. Crew do not carry suits smaller than a 38 in stores. Men’s Wearhouse and JoS A. Bank would have, literally, six poorly fitting 38R suits and one 36R suit between them. Macy’s had maybe three different gray size 36 suits, but they all fit very poorly. Getting desperate, I had Men’s Wearhouse order in a 36 suit, but the accompanying pants fit extremely loose, requiring extensive tailoring.

I was around two months out from the wedding when J found a Groupon deal that looked intriguing – a Banks & Ashby custom made suit with two custom shirts, tie, and cuff-links for not much more than the poorly fitting Men’s Wearhouse suit. I called Banks & Ashby up to confirm that they could deliver the suit by the wedding on May 12. They said it would not be a problem. I was still leery because I knew nothing about Banks & Ashby. Because Groupon advertises a 100% satisfaction guarantee called the Groupon Promise, so I decided to lay out the money.

A couple of weeks after ordering, I was visited by three young women who took dozens of measurements and asked a few questions how I wanted the suit to look and fit. I told them I wanted a classic gray slim fitting suit. I picked out fabrics for the suit, suit liner, and shirts. I was a little concerned because the “clothiers” seemed more interested in giving me a fashionable suit rather than a classic suit. For example, I got pressured into accepting slanted pockets for the suit jacket. I again confirmed that the suit would be delivered before May 12th. I offered to pay extra for rush, if necessary, but they said it wouldn’t be necessary.

In an interesting development, it seems that Banks & Ashby have already changed the process – now you have to measure yourself and pick out swatches online. A cost cutting measure, I supposed. The “Process”, as of 6/3/2012:

Still, you can see this is recent change. Not just because they have not noticed that there is no space between 12 and 13. In the “customer service” section you can see this paragraph (taken on 6/3/2012):

So now you have to do 1-7 by yourself instead of getting a personal visit.

It is about seven weeks out from the wedding and I have been measured, selected the fabrics, and conveyed my suit design preferences. Now, I just need to wait. Well, I did change my mind about the slanted pockets and after some ignored emails, talked with a customer service representative and got the pockets changed to the traditional un-slanted angle.

I decided to be proactive about keeping track of where my suit was, since my online status tracker was never updating. I call a month out from the wedding to confirm that my suit will be ready on time. I get a unsatisfying answer along this vein – “if you were promised delivery by early May, then I’m sure it’ll come by then”. I decided not to be a jerk and press the issue any further.

I called again two weeks out and was told my suit was in progress and should be delivered to Banks & Ashby for final tailoring a few days before the wedding. Which was making me nervous, but it seemed like they were confident I would get it in time.

I called again 9 days from the wedding (a week before I needed it in my hands) and only could get a voicemail – I left a message saying that I needed my suit delivered in a week and to please call me back immediately. The next day I heard nothing but was too busy to call. On Friday I called, over and over, continually get a voicemail prompt. Finally, late on Friday I got a person – who was very surprised to hear that I expected my suit delivered in a week and told me that probably would not happen. The CS women told me she would “call operations” and get back to me soon. Never got a call back. Which would become a pattern.

On Monday, now frantic with the wedding on the upcoming Saturday, I was reduced to sending emails to every Banks & Ashby email address I could find and calling every hour (getting only a voicemail prompt). To my surprise I was contacted by the Operations Manager, later that day. Apparently the CS woman didn’t contact him – he only knew I was getting the run-around from one of my desperate emails. He apologized for the horrible service I was receiving, saying it was an aberration and should never happen again. He said he looked into my order and got it expedited so it would be delivered to Boston on Wednesday and in my hands on Thursday. Perfect. Just the response I wanted. I only wished that I got my problem escalated to the Operations Manager sooner.

So, I expected to hear from Banks & Ashby on Wednesday confirming shipment, but I heard nothing. Still, I wasn’t too worried since I had the promise from the Operations Manager. On Thursday I also heard nothing – and worse, did not receive my suit!

I began calling Banks & Ashby every hour and only getting a voicemail prompt in response. I again emailed every address I had, telling them that if they did have the suit,to deliver it to the hotel I was staying at by 9 am so I could wear it for the afternoon wedding. I received neither a suit or a response from Banks & Ashby.

On Monday, much calmer now that the deadline had passed, I contacted Groupon to tell them that I was receiving horrific customer service and to please help me. I promptly received a response expressing their regret at how poorly I had been treated. I told them I was going out of town for a week and to 1. figure out where my suit was and 2. help me get compensation for the horrible service I have been receiving.

When I returned from my trip I had an email waiting from Groupon – they had wrangled a tracking number out of Banks & Ashby. I checked it and was shocked to see that the suit was delivered – to the wrong city, on the Tuesday after the wedding. The city where the wedding was. The suit was shipped out on the Friday before the Saturday wedding, from Istanbul, not with overnight service. Were they hoping it would magically arrive on time?

I also had a few voicemails from the CEO of the parent company of Banks & Ashby waiting for me. I got in contact with him – he, like the Operations Manager before, apologized for the horrible service I was getting, and asked how I liked my suit. I told him I did not have it. He, surprised, put me on hold to call the customer service people at Banks & Ashby. He, also, could not get anyone to pick up the phone. He told me he would find my suit and get it delivered to me ASAP. Then we would talk about compensation. I think he was hoping that I would love the suit so much that I would forget about the dozens of hours I wasted trying to get someone at Banks & Ashby to help me.

On Friday my wife called to say that FedEx attempted a delivery. Apparently it was my suit – of course Banks & Ashby didn’t bother to tell me to expect it. I, excited to see my custom suit, drove to FedEx that night and picked it up.

Drove home and ripped the box open.

Inside was the suit and (one) shirt. Packed very tightly. You can see how wrinkled the shirt is.

I was supposed to get a suit, two shirts, cuff links, and a tie. So they stiffed me a shirt, cuff links, and tie. OK, whatever – how does it fit?

In short, not well. If this was an off-the-rack suit I would have put it right back and kept looking for something better. The pants are skinny-jean tight (see how bunched they look?) and the suit jacket has little taper (i.e., where’s my waist?). When I raise my arms I’m surprised how far the jacket pulls away from my body at the armpit. Amazingly enough, they made the jacket with three slanted pockets, instead of the two traditional pockets I asked for. Sigh.

The herringbone fabric of the suit itself is beautiful.

The suit appears to be well-stitched with quality materials. Just fitted very poorly. Disappointed, I contacted the CEO and asked him to get a representative of Banks & Ashby to contact me so I could arrange for a return. Heard nothing back. Surprise! The negligent customer service of this company appears to extend all the way to the top.

Once again, I needed to ask Groupon to get this company to help to me. A few days later, Banks & Ashby contacted me, offering to further tailor the suit, but I was (and am) sick and tired of dealing with problems at every stage of this process. I asked Groupon to give me a full refund – and they very graciously have agreed to give me all of my money back. In 3-10 business days I should be totally finished with this nightmare.

In summary, Banks & Ashby have failed me in three major ways:

1. Did not deliver the suit on time

2. Did not deliver a well-fitted suit

3. Did not provide competent, responsive customer service

Groupon, on the other hand, was amazing. They responded promptly and effectively to my (numerous) issues during this stressful process. They really do back up their 100% guarantee. While I can never recommend Banks & Ashby, I was thrilled that Groupon backed me up, even on this high-priced transaction.




  33 Responses to “The Banks & Ashby Custom Clothier Experience”

  1. Thank your for your detailed review! I recently purchased the same Groupon and I am having trouble to with customer service already! Did you try going to a local tailor to get your suit fixed? Apparently they cover up to $50 in tailoring.

    “You can arrange with a local tailor to have any minor adjustments made (we give you a $50 credit towards this). If there is a major issue, we will do everything we can to correct it.”

  2. Anthony – good luck with ’em. I suggest getting Groupon to nag them if you are having trouble getting them to respond.

    As for the suit…..as I mentioned in the review they offered to have it fixed, but I declined, since it appears to require major work to make it well (re-cutting the shoulders?). I just got a refund.

  3. I also purchased this Groupon. I have been back and forth with them via e-mail and phone calls since mid-May. They first told me they would be in NJ in early July to measure me. Today i was told about this self measuring kit which is not what I signed up for. Once again, they are supposed to call me back tomorrow. I am trying to get this suit for my own wedding in October.

    I’m suprised there aren’t more reviews out there.

    • First, good idea to get a nice suit for your wedding. I regret renting a tux.

      Second, I suggest you look seriously into getting your money back (just ask Groupon). With the drop of the in-home measuring, Banks & Ashby has become a “upscale” version of Indochino. Given all of B&A’s teething problems, I would start looking into another suit maker – Indochino is quite cheap and from the reviews I read, they do a solid job making a fitted suit (but the quality of the materials is lower than what B&A would provide, I think). More importantly they’ll deliver a suit in < 3 weeks so you will know well in advance if it’s good enough for your wedding. I’m also surprised there aren’t more reviews out there…..hence why I spent the time writing this review. Whenever I spoke with them they often stressed how many thrilled customers they had, insinuating that my experience was an outlier.

  4. Had a similar experience – they are terrible, terrible, terrible.

  5. An update on the suit:

    Last weekend I took two suits to a tailor – the B&A suit and a off-the-rack (OTR) suit. I put on the OTR suit first. The tailor circled me, pulling the fabric and asked me quizzically “What do you want done? It fits fine.”

    I then put on the B&A suit. She immediately started putting pins in everywhere while making the following comments: “The shoulders are too wide – very old fashioned”, “The body is way too big”, “This is an old man’s suit, not the current fashion at all”.

    In the end the following changes are being attempted:
    – Removing the sleeves and cutting the shoulders to narrow and re-shape
    – Tightening up the body of the jacket
    – Loosening the waist of the pants
    – Loosening the legs of the pants at the thighs

    The changes for the OTR suit:
    – Hem (pants came un-hemmed)
    – Shortening one of the sleeves (they were a touch uneven)

  6. Had the exact same experience, though I didn’t get any of the shirts I ordered and the lining was not what I had chosen. This is a terrible company – will be contacting Groupon asap.

  7. Contacted Groupon last week with a page long e-mail illustrating the problems I had. This week they got back to me with a full refund. As it was stated in this blog, dealing with Groupon couldn’t have gone smoother. Not suprisingly, Banks and Ashby has yet to call or e-mail me back.

    • I did the same, Groupon was fantastic. I wonder how many other refunds they’ll end up issuing for this one…

  8. Exactly the same experience for me, although never did actually receive my suit. Contacted Groupon for escalation, and the company didn’t even call Groupon back! After several attempts, received a full refund from Groupon. Groupon rocks; Banks and Ashby is a complete waste, and hope this word spreads before others are victimized.

  9. Wow. I had nearly the same experience. Horrible process to get the suit, horrible suit, horrible fit, horrible customer service from Banks & Ashby after getting the suit, great responses and refund from Groupon.

  10. Thanks for this review! I actually found this blog just now after seeing the offer on Groupon and Googling the company. I was planning on purchasing it as a gift, but you’ve changed my mind.

  11. Thank you so much for this review – I came across this while trying to decide whether to buy the Groupon. What I don’t understand is why is this posted on Groupon yet again with so many refunds and issues? I wish there was a past performance rating from folks who bought the deal before or something…

    Sorry for the hassle, that sounds miserable.

  12. Thanks! You will be pleased to know that this review saved me from wasting my time and money on this deal. I’m pretty sure groupon is able to flow any refunds through to B&A or withhold the $ to begin with, so they probably don’t care too much (other than customer satisfaction).

  13. Thanks for the story, you just saved me $600 and a headache. I am just surprised that Groupon is still carrying B&A deals if they are this bad. The deal in DC just started today.

    • I too am in the DC area and bought this when it came out on 6/12. As I haven’t had any response from them yet I started googling. I sure wish I had bothered to look this up before making the purchase to begin with. I just sent groupon an online request for refund and noted all of these problems. Thank you greatly for this (and posting the pictures)!

      • I DID Google them before I bought the groupon.
        Their website said that they had 150 years experience. Then need to be nailed in a Lanham Act action. (consumer protection/ advertising).
        I too have asked Groupon for a full refund as B&A are way overdue with the clothing, and they absolutely will not return phone calls or emails.

  14. Thanks for the review boss. Saved me from buying this today.

  15. Thank you for taking the time to share your thorough review. I was considering purchasing today’s groupon, for the same deal, with the same company. Your review was a huge help in making a final decision. Groupon should block companies like this from participating in Groupon, in efforts to protect their customers. It was also good hear how Groupon backed you up. Kudos to Groupon and to YOU for informing other customers of the problems with this company!

  16. I just wish these reviews existed before I made my order off of Gilt months ago. 3 months ago to be exact. And guess what? I have yet to receive my suits, and no mention of a delay since an email 4 weeks ago saying they were further delayed.
    I emailed customer support at Gilt seeing what can be done. What’s too bad is I also upgraded my fabric so I got charged an additional $1100. I suppose I will have to handle that through my credit card company as Gilt certainly wouldn’t be responsible for that. What a mess. At this point, I don’t even want my suits anymore (and 4 shirts).

  17. Thank you so much for the review. I searched high and low trying to find out information about the company, but had no luck. I am thrilled I found your response, because you not only saved me money, but also headaches. I am sorry about your experience, but am thankful you took the time to blog about it.

  18. Just an update. After trying to contact B&A for the past week (at last count, currently exactly 15! weeks since I went in for the fitting) and receiving nothing…no email, no call, nothing, Gilt has refunded me in full (I was extremely pleased with their customer support…too bad B&A didn’t have the same level of commitment to customer service), and also received a full refund from my CC company for the fabric upcharge. It’s very unfortunate because I had very high hopes, and now I have no suits and will have to search again for such a good deal. Luckily, I do see the occasional custom tailored suits deals on Groupon and Gilt, so maybe I’ll chalk this up to bad luck and try another company.
    Hopefully your suits turned out better after the tailoring!

  19. I purchased a groupon and it took forever to get an appointment for a fitting (over two months) mainly because of their failure to reply to calls or emails. Only after contacting Groupon did I get an appointment for a fitting. Had they gotten back to me sooner, I could have stopped into their Boston location since I’m in Boston a couple of days each month.

    My fitting was done in early May. In late May I received an e-mail telling me “due to large demand” it would be approximately take 12 weeks, which wouldn’t be so bad if everything else were timely.

    The status on my account on their website hasn’t been updated since my fitting.

    Robert said it best. I wish this blog was posted earlier.

  20. Thanks for writing this. Banks Ashby is horrible. I just got my money back from Groupon. I bet Banks Ashby goes out of business soon, especially since the internet has the word out now that they have some serious issues.

  21. Exact same experience. I’m only posting to emphasize the amazing customer service I have always encountered with Groupon.

  22. Yet another update (from the Eric who posted August 10)…I received a call from a fellow in the UK who said they had recently added B&A to their portfolio of retailers, and he was immensely apologetic and wanted me to contact him (an international call…no thanks). I found his email through some Googling, and emailed him. He replied, saying my suits were nearing completion and again, very sorry for the service. And also that the employee that was responsible had been removed. I emailed him telling him he was free to call me last Friday as I was busy most of the week. Friday comes…no call. Surprised? Not really!

  23. Don’t even think about it!!! Please save your time, money, fraustration and blood pressure levels by avoiding this seemingly good offer! I too purchased this Groupon and experienced the same issues as many of you. After two months of repeated calls and emails just to schedule an appointment, I finally gave up after getting no responses from Banks and Ashby. I’m now in the process of getting a refund from Groupon.

  24. Same thing here- bought in March through Groupon in DC, have been trying since then just to get fitted! No response whatsoever from any method of contact- phone, email, website, direct twitter messaging. Actually made an appointment online from a Groupon supplied website: aperfectshirt.com, which said to report to 1155 F Street NW in DC. Thought I was finally going to get something done. WRONG. Building has a lobby with a person sitting at a desk who has never heard of B&A or aperfectshirt.com. Showed up at the scheduled time for no reason. Called B&A again but don’t intend to hear anything. I’m done at this point- just want my money back. I hope Groupon isn’t out $600 from everyone that got nothing from B&A…

  25. This company is such a joke. I got my suit which fit terribly, after damn near 8 months of chasing people down. Mind you, I also purchased a $600 upgrade on top of my groupon purchase. FYI: aperfectshirt.com is the same damn company as Banks and Ashby. The only difference is that they offer terrible customer service and false promises with a British accent. Groupon gave me a refund, and Bank of America also credited my account for the $600 upgrade.

    Stay clear of aperfectshirt.com, as Banks and Ashby no longer exists. What a surprise.

    • Same terrible experience. Was measured last May, got the runaround constantly, infrequent response to phone calls or emails. Received a clown suit in late September, the fit was laughable (but I wasn’t laughing). I had paid $650 to upgrade the fabric. Groupon recently refunded my $599. I figure my $650 is gone.
      aperfectshirt.com phone system is a joke, just goes in circles. STAY AWAY.

      • Do NOT give up on your $650. I easily got my fabric upgrade refunded to me by my credit card company once I explained the problems. It’s also good to note that Groupon refunded you…all I did was call them up, give them the dates and amounts the upgrade charge was made, and they investigated it themselves and refunded me within a few days.
        Hilariously enough, after THAT happened, I got a call from one of the owners of B&A (from England), asking me to call him. After a few emails, and him promising a call back from him, nothing happened. I’m a happy owner of the money I spent on both the Gilt offer and fabric upgrade, and also multiple new suits from another vendor.

  26. I got this same groupon for my husband for our wedding back in 2012. His suit arrived on time but we never got a tie, cufflinks or a single shirt. The suit had the SAME problems- ill fitting pants- WAY to tight even when my husband was super clear about the style and fit he wanted. The jacket was so tight across his shoulders he could hardly wear it. We took it to a local taylor and she did what she could (at our cost) but there was hardly any wiggle room in the seams for her to make changes. It was so disappointing and every time i contacted groupon they said it was out of their hands… i’m still to this day mad about how much we spent (thankfully not what the company actually charges) and that he will never wear the suit again- plus you can see how uncomfortable he is in all our wedding photos.

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