Mercy Dash is one of those "educated consumers" who shops at Syms. And she had some doubts about the designer labels and comparable prices touted at the local Syms stores.

Dash, whose husband is one of the founders of Dash's discount menswear stores, explored those doubts about Syms with Richard Behar in the current issue of Forbes magazine.

The result is a hard-hitting piece by Behar, which says the Brioni label suits at Syms are not from the top of the line that sell at $1,200 and up but rather from a mass-produced line that sell for about $700. And the Givenchy suits, according to a quote from Al Cohen, head of Givenchy's licensing group, may be produced specifically for Syms.

So what else is new. We always thought an educated consumer realized that you get what you pay for, and there is undoubtedly a good reason why a Brioni or Givenchy or other designers' suits for men are selling at Syms in the first place. Behar doesn't agree. He writes: "Syms has cashed in on an ill-informed lust for prestige labels on the public's part and the discreditable willingness of many designers and their licencees to bastardize the brands for a bigger return." What is Sy Sums' response to the Forbes article? "I can only make one comment," said Syms. "It is in the hands of my attorney. But I will say it is massively erroneous; they didn't do their homework."

Dash's had price-tag problems of its own several years back for sales practices and agreed to stop advertising that merchandise was on sale unless the sale price represented "a meaningful reduction from its regular selling price." In a settlement with the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Affairs the company paid $1,500 to the county without admitting any violations of the law. Dash said at the time the company settled to avoid the cost and time of a court fight. "We feel we haven't done anything wrong; we never intended to lead anyone on ... we had no idea we were breaking any laws," Mercy Dash said then.