Some schools in our area start classes this week, and many students will head back without their required uniforms. It's not because their parents didn't buy them.
Some parents called consumer expert Amy Davis when a local business took their money months ago and never delivered their uniforms.
Parker School Uniforms is a Houston company with six stores in our area, from League City to The Woodlands and Sugar Land to Bellaire, but the business may as well be in another state because when customers have tried to contact it to find out about their orders, no one answered the phone or responded to emails.
When Davis dropped in at the Parker School Uniforms store on Memorial Drive, it was busy. A sign in the window reads, "In a hurry ... shop online at Parker."
That's exactly what mother Jennifer Brandino did, knocking the chore out early on July 2. A month later, she got an email from Parker alerting her of "unexpected delays" stemming from "issues that have been mostly resolved."
Then, part of her order arrived with no explanation of what had happened to the rest of it.
"It contained four pairs of shorts, and nothing else," Brandino told Davis. "And I'm interested to know: Do I have the other items forthcoming? Was there an error and Parker thinks they filled my whole order? And so the challenge as you know is I haven't been able to contact them to ask that question."
"School starts this week and a lot of parents don't have uniforms for their children," said Denise Maxey, of the Houston Better Business Bureau.
Twelve parents have complained to the Houston Better Business Bureau since late July. Parker responded to the first five complaints.
"They did stop responding," said Maxey. "The last response we got was Aug. 3."
When no one answered the phone, Davis walked into the Parker School Uniform store on Memorial Drive and asked for a manager.
"Is there some reason why people are not getting the items they ordered online?" she asked.
"I really don't know how to answer that question," said a woman who told Davis she was the manager of the store. "But I think corporate should be the one to answer that question for you."
She wouldn't give Davis the phone number or name of anyone to call at the corporate office, but promised someone from that office would call Davis. A representative of a public relations firm based in Philadelphia called Davis a few hours later, and then emailed this statement from Parker's CEO Eric Plott:
“Serving families at this busy time of year has been our privilege for more than 80 years.
"That’s why we especially regret the frustration and inconvenience that some customers have experienced this summer due to delivery delays.
"We have been working around the clock to troubleshoot the situation, which stemmed from an inventory and order management system conversion, and are in the process of solving the problem as quickly as possible. We are adding customer service staff daily and are working to ship the majority of backorders within the next two weeks.
"It is important to note that some portion of backorders will require additional time due to inventory constraints.
"We understand that, for some families, orders may not arrive in time for the first day of school. In those cases, we are working directly with schools to keep administrators informed of the situation and of our progress to remedy it.
"Customers can also check their accounts on either www.parkersu.com or www.charteruniforms.com (depending on where they placed their orders); once they see a tracking number has been assigned to their order, it means the order has been shipped.
"We want to express our deepest apologies to any customer who has been impacted.”
"Instead of relaying that to the parents, they continued to accept the orders, which is now increasing all of the complaints," said Maxey.
"At this point, I just want to know. Am I going to have it or am I not gonna have it?" Brandino said.
She will not have the other half of her order before the first day of school. After we received the statement from Parker, it sent one out to all customers, letting them know they can cancel their pending orders. The company provided them with a $25 gift card code they can use on future orders.
Parker also explained that the company has alerted the schools that referred parents to them to let them know that all of the uniforms have not yet been mailed to students.
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