Bookfessional: Monthly Crates and Vendors – Bookish Buyer Beware (@jessicadhaluska)

Posted July 6, 2016 by Jessica in Bookfessional / 9 Comments

Bookfessional:

How many of you have fallen prey to the crate phenomenon? There are monthly crates full of beauty supplies like Birchbox, healthy snacks like NatureBox, and a billion others for a billion different things.

BUT.

The crates I NEEDED to get were of the geektastic variety like Loot Crate, Fandom of the Month Club, Uppercase, and, KING-of-the-mountain, Owl Crate.

I’d already found various vendors of book-type things on ETSY, Society6, and Redbubble, but subscription crates opened a whole new universe of bookish stuffs created by mostly small businesses.

Anything you take a particular shine to, be it candles that smell like paper and coffee, mini notebooks with cool cover art, minimalist magnets, etc., you can find the website on the handy insert that outlines all the cool stuff included in the crate, and get MOAR of it.

BUT.

There’s always one that has to ruin it for the rest. Someone who is unreliable sets up shop, and the newly discovered maker-of-cool-things you were excited to add to your collection of geekery leaves you hanging, and the negative column for all-things-NOT-corporate gets a tic.

Meet HalfBloodPrints.

I fell in love with the magnets featured in every Fandom of the Mouth Club crate I’ve received. A couple of times, the business card-sized magnet, with just the outline of various beloved characters, was the only thing I liked (I’ve since discontinued that subscription).

So I went to the website and ordered a collection of them (and a couple of t-shirts), making use of the “xx% off your first purchase” insert included with the other swag.

On April 22, 2016 I received an order confirmation email:

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A week or two later, the t-shirts arrived sans magnets. Knowing from past experience that different materials are printed separately, I wasn’t worried. I figured they would follow shortly.

They didn’t.

When I went back to the website to try to look up my order, I saw a disclaimer that I’d previously missed, stating that orders could take between two and four weeks to process:

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I wasn’t sure where on that timeline my order fell, and unable to locate anything resembling a “track your order” option, I retreated back to my email account, forced to sift through old messages, trying to find the order confirmation.

It had been a month, so I sent a message to the email address listed under the “Contact” tab on the website:

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A week went by without a reply. At that point, I was pissed. There’s no way around it. Buying from a small business isn’t like buying from Amazon—you pay upfront, not when your purchase ships. HalfBloodPrints received payment at the time of purchase, FIVE WEEKS after the fact at that point, and they couldn’t be bothered to respond to a simple inquiry?

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So I sent a second, less friendly email:

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That time I got a reply within minutes:

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I was still annoyed, b/c I seriously doubted she had been out of town for FIVE WEEKS, and if she was a responsible business person, she would’ve brought her orders current before leaving, but I received a shipping confirmation email a few days later on 6/2/16, so I let it go:

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AGAIN weeks went by without anything showing up on my doorstep, so AGAIN I went back to the website. I found this in the FAQ section:

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*flares nostrils*

I get that HalfBloodPrints is probably a one woman operation, so she doesn’t have the setup that Society6 or Redbubble has, spitting out products made-to-order within days of purchase.

BUT.

A two month turnaround is just riddikulus.

Even more riddikulus is that it’s been OVER TWO MONTHS and I still haven’t received my order. I tracked the “shipment” again before writing this post, only to see that the process had yet to go further than printing the label:

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SO. The moral of this story is two-fold:

1. When buying from small businesses be careful to avoid any that don’t have any customer feedback posted on their websites.

2. Don’t take for granted that something sent out in one of your subscription boxes is from a reputable vendor.

I’m looking at you, HalfBloodPrints. *glares*

Jessica Signature

My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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9 responses to “Bookfessional: Monthly Crates and Vendors – Bookish Buyer Beware (@jessicadhaluska)

  1. Oh man that sucks, yeah you just never know when you are ordering from places like that. I bet those crate places are a priority while anyone who orders directly from them takes a back seat which is not fair to the buyer. And not a good business practice.

  2. Ya know, I have tried a bunch of those subscription boxes. For the most part the ones I tried were good and the tracking went well. One box was from a small business and was for my rats. That box said they would put anywhere from 5-8 products in the box all for your specific pet. It’s was $25 and I wanted to see what I would get. I was sent a bunch of bird products. I was pissed. I sent the box back and asked for my money back. It only took 2 months. *glares*
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Favorite Picture of the week

  3. She literally is a one-woman shop. In fact, she and the gal who runs Fandom of the Month Club are part of a trio of triplets. All 3 of them run businesses online. I like FOTMC but the jewelry quality continues to go downhill. But then I think last I heard they were doing 6K boxes a month so it could just be a quality control issue. My earrings from the June box weren’t in good shape. 🙁

    Bummer HBP has jerked you around so much. I’m not a fan of her stuff TBH. I had a Kickstarter that was a horror last year and it definitely made me less trusting of one-woman-show businesses.
    Rhianna recently posted…Cover Reveal: LONG WAY HOME by Katie McGarry

  4. I had OwlCrate for a few months and I loved it. I just couldn’t justify the cost. I’m hoping you end up getting your magnets! I always try and place a small order first if I am unsure of a place to test the waters. Even if it’s heavy shipping costs at least I’ll have an idea of what to expect with a large order.

    I’m sorry you’re ha moving to deal with this hassle! 🙁
    Stephanie recently posted…When We Collided by Emory Lord *Alexa’s Review*

  5. Wow. I would be livid. I hope you do eventually get your buttons. But wow, there’s just no excuse for taking that long to fulfill an order. I’m guessing she can’t keep up on orders because even month she has to fill the crates and since that’s the most reliable income she’s getting from the buttons she prioritizes that. Looks like she better get some help before she destroys her business with bad turn around times. When you can get most anything from Amazon in just two days two months is just too much!
    Berls recently posted…Sunday Post | Terrible isn’t strong enough