Auckland tee shirt retailer Mr Vintage is currently embroiled in a bit of online biffo with the NZ Herald's resident tongue-in-cheek lady of the back page, Ana Samways. It all started this morning when Samways wrote the following in her daily Sideswipe column:
"Not one to miss a marketing opportunity, T-shirt purveyor Mr Vintage has created a benefit T-shirt with a seismograph in the shape of the Christchurch Cathedral to support earthquake victims. How lovely! From every sale, $5 will be donated to the Red Cross quake appeal. How generous ... Or is it? The T-shirt costs $29.95, so if they sell 150, Mr Vintage will bank $2842 (minus an estimated $6 each to make) and Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal will get $750. Plenty of businesses will be trying to capitalise off the earthquake in Christchurch - 'buy this product and we'll donate [insert amount here] to such and such appeal. Please, just donate the full amount directly. Or make an automatic $20 donation by phoning 0900-33-200."Mr Vintage wasn't impressed.
To be fair, Ms Samways' piece did include a couple of inaccuracies (though most of the information she was working with did come straight from a Mr Vintage press release). The tee shirt actually retails for only $19.95, and, according to Mr Vintage themselves, costs more than six dollars to make.
Firing back on their own blog, the company said,
"We just wanted to touch on a few things that have come to light over the last day or two since we released our Christchurch Earthquake Relief Tee, and the resulting Sideswipe piece Ana Samways was nice enough to write for us. Her article’s here, with a few inconsistencies. The t-shirt is $19.95, not $29.95. It costs more than $6 to make our t-shirts. $6 doesn’t even cover the cost of the t-shirt itself. Production costs also include re-labelling, printing, ink, design costs and man-hours."They followed that up with some arguments in the favour of selling charity tee shirts – it's better to be donating some money than no money; people like to wear tee shirts that positively promote a cause; some people might not want to give a straight donation – they might actually want a bit of bang for their buck.
But then they went on to say the following:
"So yeah, we’re extremely disappointed that the views of one person have become so publicly aired – but we do know, from all the kind words we received yesterday, that they are just the opinions of one
journalistblogger. But it is a bit of a kick in the guts when you raise a whole bunch of money for a worthy cause, and someone comes along so carelessly and gives you sh*t for it."
They even took it upon themselves to print a special one-off tee shirt emblazoned with the message 'I LOVE SIDESWIPE'. This limited edition tee is retailing for $1000 and Mr Vintage has promised to match the $1000 dollar for dollar with all $2000 going to the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal.
Samways commented on the Mr Vintage blog, saying
"Here's your press release. Sorry mate, it clearly says $29.95 is the price. That's a big difference in profit from that to the hastily reduced $19.95. You have had second thoughts about the price and are trying to pin it on me. If the press release had said $19.95 the story would've run with a pic of the t-shirt and a good-on-ya-mate. The fact that there was $10 more in the mix made me uncomfortable, when only $5 was going to the charity."While it is admirable that Mr Vintage has taken it upon themselves to raise money for charity, the issue must be raised that it is not particularly wise, professional or mature to throw petty insults at a well-respected member of the working press (I'm referring to the struck-out word 'journalist' replaced by the word 'blogger'.) There's no doubt that Mr Vintage was put in an awkward position today by Samways, and the company's natural reaction was to defend that position. Name calling probably wasn't the best course of action.
For the record, I would estimate the cost of the tee shirt production (including the tee shirt, print and man-hours) to be approximately $11.50 – and that's a generous estimation. Therefore, by my count, the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal is getting five dollars per tee shirt, while Mr Vintage banks (approximately) three dollars and 45 cents. Whether or not making a three dollar and forty five cent profit on each charity tee shirt sold is worthy of a Sideswipe is not my call.
I, however, have another suggestion for Mr Vintage:
Why not make the tee shirt $29.95 and donate $15.00 to the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal? Surely if people are choosing to buy a tee shirt to support a good cause they wouldn't mind spending an extra ten bucks in the process... Right?
Update 8/9: Mr Vintage has pledged to date a further $1000 on top of the $3500 they've already raised on tee shirt sales alone (that means 700 of the Christchurch Quake tee shirts have been sold).
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