Members-Only Clubs Mislead with Markdowns

What: If you’re still on the waiting list for one of those  “members only” shopping clubs – like Gilt Groupe and Beyond the Rack – don’t feel so bad. Turns out those exclusive “70%” markdowns are sometimes just rip-offs. At least according to an anonymous blogger who discovered the dirty underbelly of private, invitation-only retail sites: the original list price of a SofiaCashmere neck warmer was sited as $300 by Gilt Groupe, but $195 by NiemanMarcus.com. That blogger’s bubble wasn’t the only one burst – “shopping blogs and forums have been abuzz with complaints about instances where an original price was inflated or misrepresented on a members-only Web site.”

What They Say:

“We offer 2,000 items a week,” says Gilt co-founder Kevin Ryan. “There’s no way we can guarantee every item is going to be priced better here than someplace else.”

What We Say: We’re inherently skeptical of sites that put loads of pressure on us to make a purchase, like members-only and “limited time offer” sites (RedTagCrazy.com). However, we tend to trust retailers when they tell us something has been marked down by so much.