Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Negative Customer Review: Wholesalehats.com



Background
Based on their large selection of winter hats, I chose WholesaleHats.com as the vendor to supply hats for an event I was planning.  The event, an upscale bar crawl, was to feature custom-embroidered beanies.  The hats were an important part of the event for two reasons:  first, they were a promotional item intended to promote my business and secondly, local establishments were giving us discounts and were identifying whom to give the discount by our hats.  I had 50 attendees who had paid for the event and all expected to get a custom hat.

As an aside, I have organized a number of events such as golf tournaments where I had to work with a few different custom embroidery companies.  I am not new to the process.

Timeline
Monday 12/2/2013 I contacted WholesaleHats.com, provided them with my logo and requested a quote.  I clearly explained that I was willing to pay to ensure the hats arrived on or before Friday 12/13, the day before my event.

Throughout Monday afternoon and evening I worked with their sales and design department.  I ended up having to drop the logo (image) and resort to a text-only design due to the high cost (relative to stitch count) for embroidering the logo. 

Tuesday 12/3/2013 – After a few more discussions on Tuesday morning, I approved the design for the text-only logo.  I received an email on 12/3/2013 at 1:46pm eastern (note – this company is in California) from Beverly (not her real name), Executive Account Manager, confirming the order.  The email included the following text:

“We will have your order moved onto the production process.  With your selection of Expedited Rush Production  order will ship to arrive no later than 12/13. And tracking information will be emailed from our shipping department, the business day afterwards as confirmation.”

Later, only after approving the work order and being charged, I discovered that I was charged the logo rate instead of text-only rate…about $100 additional.  When I called to inquire, I was informed that I was charged for the logo rate because they used the font I provided.  Had they used one of their fonts, I would have been charged the text-only rate.  This should have thrown up a huge red flag, however despite being annoyed, I let it go.

Saturday 12/7/2013 – Realizing I had not heard anything back all week, I sent an email to Beverly asking “I haven't heard anything since this email this past Tuesday.  Can you confirm the order is still on track for delivery no later than 12/13? “

Monday 12/9/2013 – I receive an email from Beverly at 1:04pm Eastern.  She states the following: “These are shipping today via UPS 3 day air, to land eta on 12/12.”

Great!  On track for delivery two days before my event. 

Friday 12/13/2013 – On the evening before my event I get home from work and the package is not delivered.  I call WholesaleHats.com and inquire.  I spend over an hour exchanging phone calls with the general manager Brian Burr.   

In summary:
·         Brian first tells me that the UPS package was delayed due to weather and the package would not be delivered to me until Monday (two days after my event).  He explained that weather is an act of God and thus WholesaleHats.com was not liable. 

·         I respond by pointing out that I paid for a rush production order and asked why the product didn’t ship until Monday.

·         Brian’s response is that the order shipped on Friday 12/6.  I point him to the UPS tracking, which clearly indicates the product wasn’t shipped until 12/9.  I repeat my question asking why the order was shipped so late.

·         Brian back tracks and confirms that the item was shipped on Monday, but he isn’t sure why that occurred.

·         I then spend 5 minutes explaining that despite this mistake, I was told by Beverly that the order would ship 3-day air, so I assumed it would still arrive in time. 

·         It was at this point that Brian admits that not only was the order not shipped until Monday, but it was shipped UPS Ground! 

Brian offered two solutions:
1.       Allow us to keep the hats, and give us a $200 refund.
2.       Allow us to return the hats at a 100% refund.

Neither solution was acceptable.  Because of WholesaleHats.com’s multiple mistakes, I wasn’t going to have the product that my customers paid for, my event would be unsuccessful, and I would have 50 angry customers to deal with. 

I declined both solution and requested that I get a 100% refund and also keep the hats.  At least then I could mail them (at a significant personal cost) to my customers who paid for them.  Brian refused and said he would rather give the hats to the homeless than refund me and allow me to have the product.

In the end, I had to accept the second solution.  Immediately (as evidenced by UPS tracking) Brian recalled the order via UPS so that we would never see the product.  Note that at the time of writing this (Tuesday 12/17/2013), I still have not seen the 100% refund I was promised!

My experience with WholesaleHats.com was incredibly negative.  I encountered:
1.       Questionable ethics during the ordering process (e.g. charging me the logo price for text only).
2.       Negligence in executing the rush order I paid for.
3.       Lies on the phone about the when the product was shipped and by what shipping method.
4.       And finally, a general manager who was unwilling to make up for a situation that was completely the fault of his business.

Furthermore, the WholesaleHats.com website states “We have never missed an order deadline. Ever!  Based on my experience, I believe this is an outright lie and should be removed from the website.

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