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THE FEARLESS CONSUMER- Fancy pants:<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Blindstitching an ugly sight

"It looked like someone stitched them with their eyes closed or blindfolded," Lisa Hunnicutt says; she's describing the Armani pants her son Travis took to Crystal Cleaners in Seminole Square for hemming in early August. Travis left to study abroad soon after this Battle of the Pants erupted, and his mother has been trying ever since to resolve the situation. So far, she hasn't succeeded. 

Travis bought the pants, which were marked down from $375 to $275, at Saks Fifth Avenue at Tysons Galleria in McLean. Hunnicutt says that when he asked how long it would take to get them hemmed at Saks, he was told one week, which was then changed to two; and because he was due to leave the country before then and wanted to wear them on the plane, he brought the pants home to Madison. 

Travis took them to Crystal Cleaners in Seminole Square– which lists "expert tailoring" among its services in the Yellow Pages– on August 7 and was told he could get them on August 9. Hunnicutt says he specified that he wanted the hems blindstitched, as that was what he'd been told at Saks to be sure to ask for. When he went back to pick the pants up on August 9 and saw the hems, however, she claims he could see that they had been done in regular matching stitching. Also, she says, the hems were "huge (think 1970s!)." 

Travis, according to his mother, "was very, very upset." The employee who waited on him, Diane (she declined to give her last name), agrees that she told him "the tension [in the machine stitching] was too tight," but claims she went on to say that the seamstress, Grace Yoo (who owns the business with her husband), would "be able to fix it." 

Diane says she wanted him to leave the pants so that Yoo could fix the hems, but she claims he was "nasty," refused to pay, and left with the pants. When I asked Hunnicutt why Travis had declined to leave them for Yoo to look at and perhaps try to repair, she said, "because he was angry." 

Hoping that the pants could be fixed, the Hunnicutts took them back to Saks. Hunnicutt claims that the alterations employee who rehemmed them, Carmela Wiggins, told her that in addition to the tension having been too tight, Yoo made the hems too deep and used a needle that was too big for the material, and therefore left holes when the stitching was removed. Her conclusion: The pants are "ruined." I tried to contact Wiggins, both by phone and email, but was unsuccessful. 

"Travis is very particular about his clothing and most everything," Hunnicutt says. "Even if he thought no one would notice, he knows the pants are full of holes." 

For her part, Yoo says, "It's possible something [was] wrong," but insists she had the right to see what the alleged problems were and be given a chance to fix them. Instead, she says, the Hunnicutts didn't call to complain until at least a couple of weeks later. Hunnicutt vigorously denies this, and states they called the same afternoon Travis picked up the pants and again the next morning, but their calls were not returned. 

Things appear to be at a standstill: The Hunnicutts want to be reimbursed for the cost of the pants, and Yoo wants to examine her work and be given the chance to repair any mistakes. Anyone know of an impartial and qualified alterations judge? Short of agreeing to abide by a third party's verdict, I don't see much hope for a resolution. 

Do you have a consumer problem or question? Email the Fearless Consumer or write her at 100 Second Street NW, Charlottesville 22902.