The Dumping of Louis Dell’Olio And Charla Rines Sparks Customer Outrage At QVC And ShopNBC: How Shifts In Strategy Can Alienate Shoppers

Charla Rines

We’ve chronicled two instances now where customers of QVC and ShopNBC have become livid, and threatened to boycott those networks, because the two channels were getting rid of two popular personalities.

In the most recent brouhaha, more “mature” QVC shoppers were ready to tar and feather QVC president Mike George and John Malone and Gref Maffei, who run QVC’s parent Liberty Media, when they got word that the home shopping channel was dropping designer Louis Dell’Olio’s line.

Linea Ladies (named after his QVC Linea collection) this week mounted a focused campaign to keep Dell’Olio on the air, setting up a Twitter account, bombarding the offices of George and Malone with phone calls, and writing to these executives.

Who knows what will happen ultimately. Campaigns like this, no matter how passionate the protesters, seldom work.

But the “Ladies” seem to have made some progress last week on behalf of Dell’Olio. The award-winning designer wrote on his blog Friday that QVC officials now want to meet with him to discuss the future of his line for them. Prior to that, Dell’Olio said that QVC had informed him that it would stop placing orders for his line in the fall.

Customer relations are not much better at ShopNBC, where angry viewers are still shocked that the No. 3 shopping network canned spike-haired Rines, a loud-mouthed but popular host, back in January. Our blogs about Rines have received the most traffic of any items on this site, and more than 80 people have posted comments damning ShopNBC for letting Rines go.

These ShopNBC customers are also posting that the network had gone down the toilet in terms of the quality of its merchandise, especially the high-end jewelry that Rines used to do presentations on.

What’s going on here? You are seeing customer reaction to major changes in strategy at both QVC and ShopNBC.

Mindy Grossman

HSN is making similar changes, but even when veteran vendor Suzanne Somers left last fall after more than a decade at the network, there was no viewer ire. We guess that’s because she had her new home-shopping gig set up — moving over to ShopNBC.

With the recession, it’s a tough environment out there for home shopping networks. Gems TV went black last Thursday, and has filed for Chaper 11 bankruptcy protection. QVC, HSN and ShopNBC obviously don’t want to suffer a similar fate.

All three home shopping networks have shifted their strategies. For one, they have changed their product mixes to include less jewelry (which apparently no one but us is buying nowadays) and much more beauty and consumer electronics producs.

QVC and HSN are going in similar directions in many respects: In particular, they are replacing their older clothing lines with hipper fashions by younger designers. So for example, you have HSN CEO Mindy Grossman bringing in higher-end design talent like Badgley Mischka, Naeem Khan and Stephani Greenfield to the network.

In the case of QVC and Dell’Olio, he makes gorgeous classic tailored clothes, the kind of garments that women my age love. But QVC is trying to attract new, younger viewers, and has brought in more fashion-forward designers such as Isaac Mizrahi and Chloe Dao with their edgier fashions.

Linea Ladies pointed out to QVC that they have lots more disposal income than the kids, and that younger shoppers are fickle and unloyal. Good points.

If you read QVC’s online forums, you will soon learn that the Linea Ladies don’t like the new designers like Mizrahi, and that they feel they are being swept aside in the home shopping channel’s push to draw new shoppers. And these women are probably right.

Keith Stewart

That age issue is also at the center of customer anger over ShopNBC letting Rines go: She was not a 20-something, she was maybe a 50-something. The new generic, picture perfect hosts that ShopNBC has hired just don’t cut the mustard, according to Rines’s fans.

With her bright red lipstick and short platinum blonde hair, Rines didn’t look or act like any other host on a home shopping channel. She was outspoken, blunt, sarcastic and had a real edge to her. She drove us nuts sometimes, but at least she didn’t have the nauseatingly sweet, unskeptical persona of many home-shopping network hosts.

ShopNBC’s situation, except for it getting rid of an older talent, is opposite of QVC’s and HSN’s. Chief Keith Stewart is trying to make the No. 3 home shopping channel less upscale, lowering the average price of its merchandise. You won’t see many $20,000 rings being sold on ShopNBC now, the way you used to.

And he is widening ShopNBC’s product mix to be more like QVC and HSN, in that the No. 3 home shopping network is now selling gourmet food and even 3D HDTV sets (before its two rivals did).

All three home shopping channels will soon be reporting their first-quarter earnings. They have been seeing rising sales, so maybe their new strategies are working.

But their core customers are not happy. And those are the shoppers that they depend on to come back again and again.

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19 Responses to “The Dumping of Louis Dell’Olio And Charla Rines Sparks Customer Outrage At QVC And ShopNBC: How Shifts In Strategy Can Alienate Shoppers”

  1. Faye Johnson Says:

    Has anyone else noticed that there was no spring clothing from Pamela McCoy on Shopnbc. All of her clothing is on sale or clearance. Does this mean she is is gone from Shopnbc?

  2. Paula Marx Says:

    Pam Mccoy is probably on her way out. The new Pam is probably Judy Crowell. All of Carla’s fans made a big mistake. We should have stormed the gates of ShopNBC as Lineas Ladies are doing at QVC> Is it too late? What do you think.

  3. Hugh Jee Says:

    An interesting point about older customers having more disposable income than their kids. But here’s the caveat- at a certain point as “older people” become “elderly people” their disposable income shrinks. I see it with my parents with the cost of medication and health care (insurance and Medicare goes so far)….and Linda, you live here in the Garden State. Property taxes and other incidental costs really sticks it to the elderly on a fixed income.

    The bottom line….the shopping channels may have hit some raw nerves and alienated their older core customers with some of their decisions. But as a long term business strategy some of the changes makes sense. Obviously they see advantages of having 30 year old customers for the next forty years rather than 50 year olds for twenty.

    Is it fair? No its not. But as Sal Tessio said to Tom Hagan in GODFATHER I, “I always liked Michael. It was ONLY BUSINESS”…..and then Old Sallie was taken away and whacked.

    As for the Charla Rines situation; memo to ShopNBC execs- please note the anger of HSN’s customer base over the dismissal of “real woman” host Kelly Repassy.

    Enough said.

    • homeshoppingista Says:

      You make some good points Hugh Jee. While I like Dell’Olio’s clothes, for me they are career wear. I like some of the hipper stuff — like that of Chloe Dao and Marc Bouwer — for casaul days or nights out.

      These channnels do have to keep up with the trends and attract younger viewers. But I think they really misfired with Mizrahi. He has been a huge disappointment, and I was one of his fans. His line extensions into plaid cheesecakes at $40 and felt clogs are ridiculous and plain ugly. His clothes are mediocre, nothing special.

      As for Charla, middle-aged women often get screwed over my male executives — I can attest to that, as can a number of my friends. She did get on my nerves a lot of times, but at least she was not a Stepford Host. That was refreshing.

  4. monalisa Says:

    It’s not just the shopping channels – Talbots, according to WSJ, also is going to try to appeal to a younger audience.

  5. Susan Says:

    I was surprised to hear about Charla. I have noticed Shopnbc got rid of Dallas Prince, and others. Now Dallas is on HSN but it doesn’t seem she is doing well. Offerings now called San Jeen or something like that is also on HSN but not often. It doesn’t seem like any of them are doing well. I am glad Chuck is still at shopnbc. It is really disappointing. I am sorry to hear about Charla I really liked her. Take Care Charla.

  6. Kelly Stevens Says:

    ShopNBC says they are going after a younger audience, yet they sell elastic waist pants that even my grandmother wouldn’t wear. Let’s be real – my nieces and nephews are NOT shopping from television, nor will they ever. These networks should embrace the success that makes them unique, listen to their customers and find a way to give them what THEY want, not the greedy executives and shareholders.

    The new management at ShopNBC tore the business down completely to try to “rebuild” it. They celebrate “metrics” tha are really irrelevant to the bottom line. Don’t be duped by sales increases – last years numbers were among the worst in their history so improving upon that is not much to brag about. They celebrate increases over last year, which are really over 50% less than two years ago.

    Such a shame that what was once a fantastic boutique, has now become a bad version of Walmart. Here’s to wishing Charla all the success in the world – she deserves it.

  7. Mary Says:

    So sad and shocking to hear that “anything-for-the-almighty-dollar” ShopNBC let Charla go. ShopNBC is so “qvc” now…elastic pants and dumb chattering “west coast” hostettes. I don’t need any cheap jewelry. I don’t need Suzanne Somers. I respected SNBC for its high-quality jewelry and other items.

    Yes, times are hard and for me as well. but i liked having the option of watching Charla, Sonia B (and formerly the Ramseys); and Meredith. The only reason I don’t despise ShopNBC as much at the moment is that it apparently dropped Cedric’s bloody and cruel fur line. Fur is greedy and cruel, and most of the fur sold in US comes from China–where bales of dog and cat fur are stockpiled and raccoon dogs are skinned alive for pure greed.

    That said, I am sad that ShopNBC’s apparent motivation for finally — perhaps — going back to its earlier fur-free pledge (which it reneged on) appears to be … more greed.

  8. terri Says:

    I do quiet a bit of shopping on qvc and hsn and not as much on snbc. I don’t find that much as far as clothing that fits my lifestyle on any of the shopping networks the styles are more as mentioned before for the younger generation and I don’t mean 40 and above. These styles that they offer today will be out next year but the real classic styles will last for years. Maybe we should start boycotting other reasons for not shopping with a lot of retailers and maybe somehow someway we could get clothes made in the USA for a reasonable price, that are worth the money that we spend. If we quit buying China made products we would save a lot of money and maybe the manufacturers would get the message. Oh Well it all starts with me how about you.

  9. AnnaClaire Says:

    I love Charla Rines! I am no longer watching Shop NBC. We should all boycott due to the dismissal of a fine, honest and sweet host. Not like all the other shopping channel “perfect” women. More like the rest of us. She is a breath of fresh air.

  10. Deborah Says:

    Wow! Where have I been? I turned on SHOPnbc today and was wondering why I hadn’t seen Charla. I’m so annoyed. She was the only one there who wasn’t a lobotomized Stepford Wife. I really enjoyed her personality. Also, what happend to their high end stuff? The jewelry all looks like crap.

  11. elena Says:

    Shopnbc is not gonna get another sale from me,,,after Bill Fahey,Charla Rines, and the others who were canned, and the vendors who are gone,,,,,what was once a great place to shop is in my opinion a disaster.

  12. Rosanne Says:

    Why does Shop NBC want to be just like QVC and HSN? I miss the high end jewelry and that was the draw for me. I no longer watch. The customer service is terrible and so are the hosts.

  13. Nancy Balstad Says:

    I haven’t done much shopping on any of the TV shopping networks for the last 2 yrs. ShopNBC was never a fav. They were definitely more upscale but they also seemed to have a stable of really obnoxious hosts. Maybe everyone who couldn’t make it on HSN/QVC. The exception was Charla. I only recently realized she was gone. If they let Charla go why are Shawn Wilsie & Tim Temple and a whole pile of vapid females hosts still on there? HSN & QVC have also let some fine hosts go. I agree with another that the 30 somethings aren’t shopping on TV. They are keeping the malls alive. I can’t imagine that Suzanne Sommers is doing that well at ShopNBC. I don’t look for her there.

    Welll good luck to Charla.

  14. janie morin Says:

    I have bought most of my clothes from the Linea line due to the fact
    that they are classic, and will never go out of style….it does not matter what age you are…..they are well made, classy……and they cater to
    Petite women such as myself…..their sizes are true to size!!!!! I am
    looking forward to seeing his NEW show this month….and marked
    my calendar…i will buy up as many items as i can…you can not
    find his style, or quality any where else……and yes, we do spend alot more money then the younger generations and the FAD clothing lines…QVC can afford to bring in more Classic designers with quality
    …..plzzzzzzzzzzz do not stop this line…..or will not spend a nother cent on this Website either……i shop weekly if not monthly……you are making a big mistake if you drop this line…..

  15. ems Says:

    I no longer shop at Shopnbc,,,since the firing and subsequent death of, Bill Fahey, Karen, Charla, and the rest of what made this a fun place to shop, and the decline in both quality and vendors,,,,I can do better elsewhere.

  16. Akkuschrauber Makita Says:

    Makita…

    The Dumping of Louis Dell’Olio And Charla Rines Sparks Customer Outrage At QVC And ShopNBC: How Shifts In Strategy Can Alienate Shoppers « Homeshoppingista's Blog By Linda Moss…

  17. Pat wartenberg Says:

    Pls keep louis’S line!!! So classically chic.

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