01 October, 2012


I managed to hit both the Pendleton Woolen Mills store and The Mill End Store
on McLoughlin Blvd on Sunday.
I didn't buy much - some cheesecloth for the Waste Not V-8 juicer person and some trims.

I am still grumbling (well - minor rumbling) about a customer service problem I encountered recently while on-line fabric shopping. If you'll remember, I posted here about my crankiness.

To recap, most of my order fell out of the hastily sealed flat-rate envelope. The seller took five days to get back to me.  She then wanted me to go find my order through the morass that is the USPS. In short, it was not her problem.

Since then, I have visited other shops and kept an eye out for policy wording.

This seems to be a typical worded policy at several on-line fabric shops:
After your order is shipped, we cannot be responsible if your package is lost, stolen, or undeliverable. (To date this has never happened.) We will help you locate the package by providing all relevant shipping information, but we cannot reship or refund your order. Please call your local  Post Office and/or local Customs Office.

Several on-line fabric stores have this policy posted. I don't believe the one who took so long to get back to me and then wanted me to chase my fabric had this policy - which is actually the norm - not to have any policies. I haven't been back.
Those are important words: "I have not been back".

I then looked at Joann's, Hancock's, and my own Fabric Depot. No policy stated.
Are these 'no responsibility' sellers only boutique sellers? hmmm. . .

1. What do you think of foisting the entire blame for an incomplete or lost shipment onto the post office and the customer?

2. Would you be satisfied to say sayonara to your money and your fabric if it went missing?

3. Am I the only one who sees this as bad customer policy?

4. Have you had a shipping incident? What happened? Were you satisfied? Dis-satisfied?

I went back to my etsy shop and re-worded my policy to include provision for the customer to tell me what they wanted to make them happy as I clearly identified my dis-satisfaction of not getting the fabric & pattern I spent time to order and pay for.  I was never asked what I wanted - to make the problem better.

Here's my re-worded policy:
In the event USPS or UPS loses your item or it arrives irretrievably broken or incomplete, I will refund all monies. However and Please, let me know if you would like to try something else. I want my customers to be really happy.

I tend towards overkill in the shipping and packaging department. I want you to receive your order asap and in fantastic condition.
I rarely encounter problems and I believe there are generally few problems. But if you wanted the customer to come back wouldn't you bend over backwards to keep them?

I would be interested in what you think. If you don't want to share in public - you can e-mail me at k8hobbies(at)yahoo(dot)com.

And finally: USPS.com has about 40 different priority products that you can order for free and receive for free. Take a look.


  1. I think one big problem here is that both parties may think that the other is lying - i.e. the seller may think the buyer received the package but is claiming not to have and wants to keep it *and* get a refund versus the buyer thinks the seller claims to have sent it and actually hasn't. After all, someone on the internet could be anyone.

    I don't expect a full refund if the package is genuinely lost in the post. Your policy is very generous. I would however expect the seller to do everything they could to claim for the loss and to refund me whatever compensation was received. I don't live in the US. Here the postal service does have some compensation available for loss of an uninsured parcel. (Not much). I've also seen internet sellers who will only ship by insured post and although that makes the cost to me more expensive, I can see their reasoning. (And if it was lost I would expect them to do the work of chasing up the claim, not me).

    1. I agree with the seller should be the one chasing the claim.
      I can see the possibility of the buyer lying if it was an eBay sale. I have found the Etsy audience to behave more kindly and trustingly than the eBay customers. So this etsy transaction left me stewing.
      Thank you for your interesting comment.

  2. 1. The customer should not be blamed for a lost shipment. The seller has an ethical responsibility to refund the money for a lost order. Even if the buyer is lying and has actually received the order, if they claim to have not received it, I would refund the money. It's just good business and thank goodness 99% of the people out there are honest. The Golden Rule always applies.

    2. I would be very angry if I was out money for an order that never arrived or arrived damaged. I always check Etsy seller policies before I buy anything because every seller is different. Even so, I think most sellers would still refund my money if a problem occurred even if they stated no refunds. Check their feedback before purchasing too.

    3. I agree it is bad customer policy too. Think about Lands End or Penneys. Full refund, no questions asked, anytime.
    I took back a mixer to Penneys this summer that I purchased last summer and they took it back without a receipt or box! It was obviously new and unused and I described the problem (it turned on as soon as I plugged it in! How dangerous is that!!! None of the buttons worked and it stayed on until I unplugged it.), but they didn't even want to hear my complaint and said they refund every time, no questions asked!

    4. I had an interesting sale once where the gal bought something and I shipped it. The next week, she writes back, Oh no! I used my old address! (It was her first purchase on Etsy so impossible to do but hey, what can I say.) There is no way to trace things once I ship but it would be returned to me if undeliverable. I never got it back so I know she really got it. I happened to have a duplicate of that item so she purchased that too and I shipped it to her new address for free as compensation for the supposedly "lost" item and never heard back again. No feedback from her for either purchase and I was really friendly about the whole thing.

    I also once purchased a gift from an Etsy seller that never was shipped. They would not respond to Convos and I finally ended up going through PayPal to get a refund. No apology or anything. Just a refund after a couple of months. That is the only time I've left negative feedback for a seller, and they had other negative feedback as well.

    Your items are all OOAK so once an item is lost, there is no replacement available. I think people will appreciate your policy of a full refund. It will make them feel safe shopping with you.

  3. My policy reflects my OOAK inventory. Yes - it is generous, but if golden rules apply - that's how it should be.
    Truly, in 20 years of on-line selling, I have had less than five problems. But when they become problems, they balloon way out of control by not having this thought out in advance.
    I find I am now curious as to why these boutique fabric sellers think this is a good policy.
    I wonder if they would read a random e-mail from me with these posts and change their policies???


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