Discounter Sued

BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc., based in Natick, Mass., has been accused in a federal class action suit of selling Movado and other “expensive watches” obtained from “gray market” sources. Also named are 20 “John Does” who may have, in the suit’s words, “conspired with or assisted BJ’s” in selling the watches.

BJ’s had until May 18 to formally reply to the allegations through its attorneys. They couldn’t be reached at press time.

The suit claims the watches lack valid manufacturer’s warranties and therefore are “inferior, ‘second-hand,’ or even stolen, have extremely reduced resale values, and cannot be serviced by the manufacturer or most legitimate dealers.” Selling such watches violates consumer protection laws in Pennsylvania and “numerous other states,” says the suit, and constitutes “criminal offenses.”

However, Julie Somers, BJ’s assistant vice president for public relations, told JCK that “the watches are genuine, authentic watches, that come through another source that is not Movado. We aren’t an authorized dealer in Movado watches.” The watches “do come with a warranty, one comparable to Movado’s but provided by another source.” The name listed on the BJ warranty card, she said, is Progress Trading, in New York City.

BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. operates 130 clubs in 15 eastern states, plus Ohio. The company has about 16,000 employees and almost 7 million members, and in fiscal 2002 posted sales of $5.2 billion.