I fell in love instantly.
After stumbling upon Made.com, the site that boasts “beautiful furniture without the High Street mark up”, I found it – The Hollander. That curved frame, those long spokes…this bicycle was everything I could want, and at a fraction of the price! The RRP is usually around the £500 mark, so imagine my excitement when MADE promised to send her to me for £169! And only £15 delivery charge? There had to be a catch.”It could take up to 12 weeks as it’s being manufactured in Japan. Is that ok Miss Hill?” Ah. Well, it’s a fantastic deal for something that will last me for years. What’s a little wait time?
So, I placed my order and I waited patiently. At the 3 month mark, I began to get anxious. Sure enough, an email arrives along with an apology – they added an extra 3 weeks to the delivery time to secure extra packaging and ensure safety for the product. A little hiccup perhaps, but I was going on holiday anyway so I saw no reason to send a strongly worded email. Just my luck it arrived the day after I flew out to New York. Charlie, being the boyfriend he is, makes plans to build the bike whilst I’m away so it’s ready to ride upon my return. Not wanting to ruin my trip, he doesn’t mention the problems until I get home.
The bicycle arrived in a box that had been obviously thrown around a lot – there was definitely so secure extra packaging that I had waited an extra 3 weeks for. Inside, the front brake was unusable – it was far too tight for the wheel, meaning that you either had to remove it completely (look Ma, no brakes!) or fix it to the bike and never use the front wheel (impossible). The over all product was exceptionally poorly made, from the sketchy paint job to the rough, un-sanded frame work, which Charlie actually cut himself on when he attempted to put it together. I have to admit, I was pretty close to tears by this point, so I decided to call. And email. And call again. Customer services were so far unresponsive – that was, until I decided to Tweet them my disappointment.
Within minutes a very apologetic Claire called me with a well rehearsed speech and informed me that the batch had been met with a handful of unhappy customers and that MADE were looking into the process to ensure it didn’t happen again. I opted for a refund with a heavy heart, and Claire continued to contact me via email at every step until I’d received it. As unhappy as I was with the product and the initial customer relations, I couldn’t take it out on her – if it’s one thing I can’t stand after working in retail, it’s getting yelled at for a problem that’s out of my hands.
The moral of this cautionary tale? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…