The media has already determined that the merchandise on flash sale sites like Gilt Groupe and Haute Look isn't as awesome as it once was, since luxury fashion labels don't have as much inventory to unload as they did in the worst of the recession. The Times did some searching and determined that they don't always have the best deals anymore, either. Writer Stephanie Rosenbloom found a number of items — Celine and Kate Spade bags, Born ballet flats — in situations like this:
Consider an Enzo Angiolini Sten boot that was $85 last week on HauteLook. The same boot on Piperlime, a Web site owned by Gap, was a few dollars more: $89. At first glance, HauteLook is the better deal. But Piperlime offers free shipping and returns. HauteLook charged $7.95 for shipping, so the boots ended up costing $92.95. That’s $3.95 more than on Piperlime — and if the boots didn’t fit, you would pay extra for a refund.