Blog: Liz Claiborne's "over caution" proves costly

Joe Ayling | 12 November 2007

Liz Claiborne actioned the closure of one of its US stores, in northern Indiana, when an employee suggested she had picked up the MRSA bug, local press reported last week.

However, with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise destroyed as a result, it now emerges that the whole diagnosis was nothing more than a rumour among staff anyway.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the rumour stemmed from a remark made by a female member of staff that she was infected with MRSA, a bacterial infection often associated with hospitals.

The store, at Claiborne's Lighthouse Outlet Mall shop in Michigan, was subsequently closed and cleaned, the paper went on to say. But with cleaning agents rendering its clothes unsellable and then the employee cleared by doctors of showing any sign infection, the whole incident turned out to be a costly mistake. A company spokesperson, who was unavailable for comment this afternoon, told local press that Claiborne had been intentionally "overly cautious" for the benefit of its shoppers.

In this instance there is a fine line between customer service and over-reaction in my view. According to the National Health Service for instance, MRSA, which stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a type of bacteria that about one in three of us carries on the surface of our skin or in our nose without developing an infection.

If a person is infected, of course, it is more serious and can be difficult to treat, but then it does beg the question of just how many bugs are brought into the store by customers themselves.

I wonder whether complementary handkerchiefs, or Michael Jackson-style air filters perhaps, will shape the future of US "shopsitals".

By Joe Ayling, News Editor.,1,4770618.story


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