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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
A note to online knitting stores. 
5th-Feb-2011 10:44 am
Knitting: Morticia
Technical glitches happen. I understand. It is all in how you handle them.

Case #1: The Sanguine Gryphon. I buy a pattern one evening. I go through PayPal, order placed, paid, fine. I get back to the page, and it tells me I need to log in to get my pattern. Which is a problem since I didn't make an account - just checked out as a guest. I make an account; pattern isn't there. Okay. I e-mail them.

This is evening, so I don't expect an immediate response, and I'm not cranky when I don't get one (still frustrated, but not pissed). But they do contact me the next day, saying the pattern should be in my account now - and apologizing. The guest checkout is new, I found a bug, go me. I go to the website, and there's a banner in red across the top advising people of the bug and that they're working on it. This impresses me. Unfortunately, the pattern is still not in my account. I e-mail them to this effect, and they e-mail me the pattern immediately with another apology. I thank them.

Case #2: Knit Picks. I buy some yarn and three patterns. Patterns should be downloadable within an hour of purchase, they say.

Spoiler: 17 days later, they are still not available.

What happens is that I click "download" and get, not the pattern, but "DownloadPattern.cfm". I use their contact-us form to inform them that this problem exists. Website says I should have a response via e-mail within 24 hours, which is reasonable.

And it doesn't happen.

I repeat the message two days later.

And four days after that, this time demanding patterns or a refund, I no longer care which.


At some point they call, instead of e-mail. They leave a voicemail saying they'll e-mail me the patterns. They do not e-mail the patterns. Yes, I have checked my spam filter.

I e-mail again yesterday. Same message, but closing with "since it seems you will not provide the items I paid for, please refund my money."

They call today, before 10am, which is unprofessional anyway. The message is basically "this is how to download your patterns". They follow it up with - finally, 17 days later - an e-mail. I respond saying ONCE AGAIN that the patterns are not there.

She says "log in", I say yep, they're not there.

She says "I see them when I'm logged in with your order number and phone number."

I say "Yes. I see the pictures and the names. But when I click to download, the pattern files are NOT THERE."

Since it seems they are not technically capable of making their patterns downloadable, I closed with my first request to e-mail me the patterns as attachments or refund my money today. If they don't, I have to contact my credit card company and report this as fraud, and I don't want to, because I don't have time and it feels piddly because it's only $6, but at this point it's the principle of the thing.

So to recap:

Sanguine Gryphon handled things quickly, actually read my e-mail and understood the problem, advised other customers that the problem existed, and fixed it with an apology.

Knit Picks took 17 days to respond, has clearly not read any of the messages, denies that a problem exists, and is giving me "customer service" along the lines of "Have you tried turning your computer off and back on?", and I may have to report them to my credit card company to get a refund.

Customer service, people. There's a right way and a wrong way. It's a shame that Knit Picks is shitting the bed so hard here, because I like their yarn, but it would take a lot for me to shop there ever again. Whereas now, next time I have some spare yarn money, I am inclined to give Sanguine Gryphon a whirl - not because they're devoid of problems, but because they've shown a willingness and ability to fix them and communicate.
5th-Feb-2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
That's out of character for KP. I don't know what's up and I'm sure as hell not going to defend this, but I've always gotten excellent customer service from them in the past, especially if I call.

That said, YES GET GRYPHON YARN. I don't own any but I have seen it in person and YESSSSS SANGUINE GRYPHON IS SOOOOO GOOD OMG YOU WANTS IT. Yes. *ahem* I may have a fiber crush on Gryphon.
5th-Feb-2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
If they're like many other companies, it's entirely possible that the problem is that one csr is responsible for a ticket and follow-ups get added to that initial ticket (as opposed to a place like Amazon or Apple, where each contact might be with a different person). If that's the case, there could simply be one idiot messing things up here.
5th-Feb-2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's entirely possible. I haven't had many problems with them, but whenever I have I either email or call and they just. . .fix it. It's also possible that the pattern download thing is still new enough that the CSRs aren't really sure what to do about it, but it still seems like this one handled things pretty badly.
5th-Feb-2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
They're IDP patterns, and IDP has been around for a while... I don't know. But 17 days and four e-mails to them before a single response is eyebrow-raising.
5th-Feb-2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, completely agreed. It's unreasonable no matter what the problem is, because like Adam said there are other ways to do this.
5th-Feb-2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I said in my last e-mail to them that I've never had a problem ordering from them before and so I just find this bewildering.

I haven't called because I've spent half this time completely without a voice and the rest unable to speak in sentences longer than a few words without gasping for air, and being extra short of breath for a while after a conversation. Plus they have the capability to do this via e-mail and stuff.
5th-Feb-2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. They're better over the phone than email from everything I've seen, but that's no excuse. They should be able to deal with it.
5th-Feb-2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
What I don't get is why it's so freaking hard to just send the patterns as an attachment. Clearly, there's a glitch in their system; once things fail one or two or seventeen times, send them as an attachment to resolve the immediate problem (the customer doesn't have the pattern) before attempting yet another fix to the technical glitch.

Put another way, when I deal with someone who's not getting enrolled properly in a course, I try the tech thing first, but if they're still not getting into the automatic feeds after a day, I manually enroll them, then try to figure out what's up with the process. Because letting a customer suffer as a result of poor technology (or poor service) is just a bad idea.

Edited at 2011-02-05 03:51 pm (UTC)
5th-Feb-2011 03:57 pm (UTC)
Knitpicks are a nasty bunch. They ripped off the concept of their Harmony needles from another ocmpany -- completely in breech of copyright.

I'm not surprised they can't read their email. I won't do business with them.
5th-Feb-2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
Do tell!

I'm sad that I recommended them to someone recently, before this order.
5th-Feb-2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
The Girl From Auntie has a fairly reasonable and unbiased write up on it.

It happened a few years ago. I'm not sure of the outcome. However the Dyakcraft Darn Pretty Needles are very much nicer than the Harmony ones in terms of feel and wood quality. At least that's my NSHO :)

I'm a little biased -- I know the Dyaks and have been a customer of theirs for almost as long as they've been in business. I'm also very much in favour of the independent craftsperson and small business over the big box store.
5th-Feb-2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
Suck. :( Yeah, I usually default to Mind's Eye, but there's some stuff they don't have... and I did like KnitPicks Gloss heavy worsted. Fie.
5th-Feb-2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Not that this excuses ripping off a concept, but designs and concepts are not copyrightable. A physical design can be patented, but not copyrighted. Copyright applies to works like music, written words, artwork, photography, etc, and it only applies to an *exact* copy or a derivative work that includes *exact* copies of components of the original work (such as an edit of a photo).

Interchangeable knitting needles were invented and patented in 1985 by Cornelius M. Phipps and Cornelius M. Phipps, Jr: http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=K7csAAAAEBAJ&dq=interchangeable+knitting+needle

But this patent has long expired (in 1999?).
7th-Feb-2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
Copyright applies to works like music, written words, artwork, photography, etc, and it only applies to an *exact* copy or a derivative work that includes *exact* copies of components of the original work (such as an edit of a photo).

I nitpick because I must: the standard for copyright infringement is "substantial similarity." Otherwise, my outer space show "Space Journey" would be a monster hit.
5th-Feb-2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
Reading through your other link, the issue is trademark - not copyright - law which is somewhat different. One issue is whether Crafts Americana can use the name "Harmony" to refer to interchangeable knitting needles when the Dyakcraft used the name "Harmony" to refer to a different sort of product (a loom). The other is about whether or not the chevroned design itself is a trademark of Dyakcraft. Any idea what the resolution was?
5th-Feb-2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
See, this is why I take issue with managers saying that customer service isn't revenue generating and using that to justify cutting it back, or removing it altogether.

In a world where you can always find someone offering similar products, good customer support & service is what makes the difference between customers shopping with you, or the competition.

Sadly, I seem to be in a minority.
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