A couple weeks ago my sister called me. The one who is expecting her second baby in less than twelve months. She was laughing as she explained to me that she had planned on using my nephew's diaper bag as a diaper bag for the new baby. My nephew that will probably be in diapers for the next two years. I laughed too.
She had fallen in love with the Chirp! fabric I used to make my charity quilts and wanted to know if I had enough to make her a diaper bag. I had plenty of the greens, yellows, and even the blues, but after making two blankets I had one small 4 1/2 inch square of pink left. Still though, I told her it was no problem. After all, the fabric I had originally purchased in June was now on clearance all over the web.
I visited my go-to online fabric shops. Fat Quarter Shop had some, but was missing one of the prints she specifically mentioned loving. Fabric.com had none. So I googled it and I came across Hancock's of Paducah. They had every print and for $3.98 per yard! That was a full $2.67 less per yard than the Fat Quarter shop's sale price. They had a little scrolling bar across the top of the screen that quoted customers singing their praises. They had over 11,000 fans on facebook. I am usually smarter than letting a few facebook fans and the advertising on a site lull me into a sense of security, but I did it this time. Within a few days I had placed an order containing 3 1/2 yards of fabric and a jelly roll that was on sale for less than $20!
I was excited when just a few minutes after my order I received the automated e-mail showing my invoice. My bank account had the charges pending. All signs pointed to me being a satisfied customer.
But then a week went by. I had no shipping confirmation. I no longer even had pending charges in my bank account. Some "fans" on their facebook page were saying that their orders were taking weeks, then being canceled because everything was out of stock. Some other fans received packages containing all but one or two pieces of their order, with a simple X over the parts that were no longer available...and they had no prior notification that this would be happening.
I started panicking and sent them an e-mail telling them that I order a lot of fabric online and I know how it normally works, and how I had never been treated this way. Then I asked if my order was actually going to get to my house at some point.
It took over seven hours to get a response from their customer service person. They told me that they were busy. They had sent out a catalog recently and orders were pouring in from everywhere. My order was scheduled to be shipped out the following day...and really, since they strive to have every customer's order to them within 5-7 days, it wasn't a big deal (although regrettable) that they had to extend my order's arrival time to 6-9 days.
Boy, didn't that make me sound like a jerk. Here I am complaining when it's only two days late. Except that I looked all over their site and couldn't find this mission statement of theirs anywhere. Most online retailers will ship an order within 48 hours...and my order didn't arrive in 9 days. It took 10. I never got an e-mail letting me know my worries were over and my package had shipped, either. I just went by what they told me they were going to do and periodically checked my garage for a parcel.
Until I got my package, there were two things that angered me about the whole situation. First, Hancock's of Paducah has been in business for 40 years. In all their years of mailing out catalogs a person would think that they might come to expect a rush of orders. That they might even prepare for it by putting a few more people on shift. It just seems like good business practice to me.
Second, and worse than the first is the complete and total lack of communication. As a customer if there is any problem with my order I certainly expect to be told about it. If I go to McDonald's and have to wait 3 minutes on an order of fries that cost $1, I am told they're being cooked and apologized to. And while I may be hungry, and may not want to wait 3 minutes, I am completely pacified and I stand there politely. Why, when I am spending 40 TIMES that amount, am I not notified at all that there is a delay? An e-mail two or three days into the ordering process letting me know what to expect would have kept me from getting suspicious and angry. I would be annoyed, but I wouldn't be writing up a terrible business review on my blog.
Did you notice how I said that was what angered me the most until I got my package? Because when I opened it up this was folded nice and neat, right on top...
Like a giant middle finger. Had this happened in my local fabric shop I would have gotten a discount at the very least. More than likely they would have cut me a new piece without even saying a word. They wouldn't have sent me out the door with it.
I looked around and found these holes too. The moral of the story here is that I would gladly have paid $2 more per yard to know that I was getting a quality piece of fabric, in a decent amount of time, with a shipping notification. The rest of my order was intact, the prices I got were phenomenal, but it wasn't worth it, not in the least.
FYI, Hancock's of Paducah is not affiliated with Hancock Fabrics. I have no experience with Hancock Fabrics and would hate for someone to take this review as a reason not to shop with them just because they have a similar name.