Saturday, September 18, 2004

Monthly Gripe

I'd meant to have the Gripe be a weekly feature, but I just can't get pissed off about enough things to post one once a week. But it's about time for a Gripe, as I don't think I've had one in over a month.

This Monthly Gripe is about customer service at chain stores. As in, what customer service?

The scrubbers I make have a nylon side which is made out of plastic canvas yarn. I haven't been able to find a wholesale supplier of this yarn yet, so I've been buying it at Michaels. Unfortunately Michaels, being a chain store, can only get in as much of the yarn as it is sent from the warehouse. So I was frequently having supply problems. Favorite Husband was happily willing to check the Michaels store out where he works and pick some up for me there... if they had it in stock. Sometimes there were weeks when neither store had the yarn in stock, and I couldn't make any scrubbers at all. I would buy them out whenever they restocked, but it would sometimes be a month before they got any more in.

To get around this I figured I'd special-order a dozen skeins of the yarn-- enough to get me through to the Christmas season-- and just keep it on hand at home. So I called up Michaels and asked if I can special-order a larger quantity of an item they normally stock. At first they told me I couldn't, but that didn't sound right to me since they encourage people planning weddings to come to their store. I used to work at a craft store like Michaels and we did special orders like that all the time-- 20 dozen bottles of wedding bubbles, 30 rolls of Sea Maid ribbon in peach, etc. Then they recommended to me that I just buy as many of the skeins as come in until I have a dozen. I explained to them that I'd been doing that already and the shelves were not being restocked fast enough to meet the demand.

I had to talk to three different people (one of whom had to talk to her supervisor) before someone took down my order. She told me it would arrive in two weeks. I figured that meant three weeks, so I planned accordingly. It has now been four or five weeks since I placed the order. Every week I go into Michaels (or call) and ask if my order is in. Every week they tell me either that they don't know anything about it and they'll call me when it comes in, or that they have no control over when it arrives. Well, I have a business to run. I can't wait for months for them to get a dozen skeins of yarn sent down from On High. If you'd placed a special order for your wedding supplies there, I'd bet dollars to donuts you'd be married before they came in (especially with all the six-week engagements they have out here).

At the independent craft store I used to work at, we ordered yarn from wholesalers. If we wanted more of one kind or another, we would just order more from the wholesaler, and it took about two weeks. If we couldn't get it from the wholesaler in two weeks (because it was back-ordered, say) we would call up the customer and let them know it was back-ordered. Michaels, however, is a chain store, which means they are more than likely supplied by a central Michaels warehouse. Their planograms come down from On High and if they sell out of an item and want more, they are just SOL because there's no more in their supply ration. It wouldn't surprise me if my special order never came in at all-- or had never even been ordered in the first place. Either way, I really don't want to deal with it, because I need the goddamn yarn. THREE WEEKS AGO.

So I think I'm going to mail-order the yarn from an online supplier. I really prefer to buy locally whenever I can, since I don't have to pay shipping; but in this case it just causes too much of a problem for me.

UPDATE 9/24/04: a locally owned craft store, which I contacted at the same time as Michaels, just came through with six skeins, albeit at a higher price. Still haven't heard from Michaels.