Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Little Fussy

A few things have happened around here in the past couple of weeks that have made me fussy. You'd think I was a two-year-old with all the fussy. Instead of subjecting you to a series of woe-is-me posts, I decided to just get it all off my chest in one sitting. I'd really like to hear your feedback, but completely understand if you'd rather not listen to me whine and just skip today's rant.

Fussy #1

Awhile back, I got a note from a woman asking me about our superwash yarns. She told me she had been reading online about the process and wanted more information.

Dyeing yarn is a magic mix of art and chemistry and I was happy to oblige. I like teaching people about what I do and how it works.

I explained what I know about superwash yarn. I'm not a chemist but over the years I have learned a little about how the wool is treated so you can throw it into the washer and dryer without disastrous results.

In a nutshell, wool fiber has scales on it. When wool gets wet and rubs against itself those scales lock together and you get felt. Superwash fibers are treated so those scales are smoothed out and can't lock together. There are a couple of ways to do the smoothing. One is to have an acid soften the edges of the scales. The other way is to coat them with a polymer. All superwash yarns use one process or the other, sometimes both.

As it turns about, the woman who contacted me is an environmental activist and intended to quote me and publish my remarks. And it was in a less than flattering light. I don't really mind so much that it was less than flattering. What bothered me was that she didn't tell me she was an author and that she was getting information for the record. Had I known I was going to be quoted, I would have combed my hair and put on a clean sweater.

Actually, I wouldn't have changed a single word of what I told her. That's not the point. The point is that it is common courtesy to tell someone that they are speaking on the record. It is also best journalistic practices. Everyone who is writing should follow them. From the New York Times all the way down the line. Even if the only person who reads your blog is your mother.

Fussy #2

I got an email from a woman the other day didn't like the way her yarn was behaving. It was twisting and kinking up on itself while she was knitting.

I told her I'd be happy to replace it and asked her to send it back to us. Part of the reason I asked her to do that was so that I could send it to the mill and have it tested. Quality control is a huge priority around here and if I need to bust the mill's chops, I need to show them samples, not just pictures.

To make a very long story short, she didn't think it was reasonable for Lorna's Laces to ask that she return the yarn. She wanted to keep the yarn and have us just send her more. Have her cake and eat it too.

When did it become OK to demand a company send you free stuff without returning the original goods you purchased? Do people call Nike or Levi's or Mr. Coffee and tell them that something is wrong and have them send out more without returning the original? And why wouldn’t you handle this through your retailer first?

We work very hard here at Lorna's Laces to make sure that the product that goes out the door is first rate. We have a giant box of millends in the corner to attest to that. But I won't deny that sometimes something slips past us. I'm just not sure that buying a skein of that slippery yarn should entitle you to a two-for-one.

Fussy #3

A note came across my desk from a woman who had picked up a copy of Lorna Miser's Faith, Hope, Love, Knitting. I still get two or three email a year for Lorna.

Anyway, the woman said that she had purchased the book intending to copy a few of the patterns and then return it the next day. I couldn't believe my eyes. Fan mail and copyright infringement all wrapped up in the same package.

I sent her a nice email thanking her for keeping the book and did my best to encourage her to buy patterns in the future. I explained that designers like Lorna have to make a living from the royalties they derive from the sales of their books and patterns and that every sale makes a big difference to them. I hope she understands.

Sometimes I get the feeling people are just trying to take advantage and it doesn’t seem right. Or maybe I just need a vacation.

Please return to your regularly scheduled programming.


indiknits said...

Sadly, none of these things surprise me. You must have heard so many similar stories from retailers too over the years, much less designers, yarnies, and just about everyone else in the world.There's a different expectation from some customers about 'the little guy' vs the big box shops or companies. No, they wouldn't ask so much of nike. If you want an exchange, you have to give back the incorrect item. But little companies are different in some way. Little designers are different. I don't understand where that thought process comes from; it's so backwards. The small companies need even more support from our smaller customer base!

JelliDonut said...

Wow. I think you hit the mother lode of stupid people. Sorry. I guess I should be nicer about it, but seriously! Where do I start?

Who returns a book? I didn't know bookstores would do this, probably because I never tried. As for that person who nabbed a quote from you--that wasn't a journalist, that was a jerk. The alliteration doesn't count. The person who bitched because you wanted her to return the (supposedly) defective yarn is just another jerk. Or maybe a relative of the other two jerks.

Try not to let the morons get you down. They may outnumber us, but we're smarter and better looking. Yeah, I've had more than my share of these people today, which is why I'm about to pour myself a glass of wine. Cheers!

pendie said...

I don't think you are fussin' like a two year old. In each instance I would have been totally annoyed. It sounds to me like you're very gracious and took it in stride. I think it's true for a lot of people these days that they expect more than what's reasonable and it's left up to the rest to explain why they are expecting too much. Have a happy weekend!

Unknown said...

I wish this was ravelry so I could click your love button. I don't think you're being fussy at all.
They all sounded like grade-a ridiculousness.


Robin said...

The incredible chutzpah of these people entitles you to feel "fussy". Considering you handled them with grace- where I would have let them know their shortcomings is impressive.

Melissa Morgan-Oakes said...

Oh, oh, oh the stories I could tell...suffice to say I feel your pain. Incident number 1 gives me the greatest discomfort. It is unethical, really, for anyone to solicit information from you for the purpose of publication without telling you of their intentions first. So totally uncool, unprofessional, unethical.

depravedDyer said...

It sounds to me like you have very good reason to feel fussy. I feel your pain.
I've been repaving my high road lately to keep up with this kind of stuff.
Consider yourself compassionately hugged.
Also I'll pour.

ikisti said...

You are right and you totaly have reason to be fussy.

You also handled all 3 things very well.

amanda said...

clap clap clap ;-)

craftydiva said...

I totally feel your pain. At least once a week (sometimes a lot more than that) someone would walk up to me at the shop, show me a book, point to a pattern and say "I want to make this." I'd help her pick out yarn, get to the register to ring her up and she'd say, "Can you just copy the pattern for me? I don't want the whole book, I only want that one pattern and I'm not paying (insert book price here) for just 1 pattern" - even though we had a sign posted at the register saying we won't copy books or patterns because its copyright infringement. Sometimes they'd give in and purchase the book, other times they'd leave in a huff without buying anything.

Pam Huang said...

I think that you are being too polite-I would consider myself p******-off if I found myself in any of those situations!

Gina said...

I feel your pain!

I was a carhop at Sonic and once had a customer demand a new Junior Banana Split because her's was melted by the time she finished her meal on an 108 degree day!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a sad commentary that some of the general public feel entitled to take advantage of others and get upset when called about their bad behavior. Nothing surprises me these days.

You handled the three situations with more grace than I would have.

Bonney said...

The public will never let you down - even when you think you've heard it all!

Syd said...

# 2 is also a pet peeve of mine, I manage our Customer Service Office,we manufacture our product and are very proud of it. It there is a problem we what to know why and utilize these problems to improve our products. We always ask the customer to return it to us, and we will either repair it or replace it. This is a huge help in finding problems with our manufacturing process. I can not tell you how many times each and every day my gals get yelled at because the customer wants to keep the product and get a new one. I also have to say my department is filled with saintly women, who do everything they can to calm down customers, treat customers very well and do not deserve to be treated in such a disrespectful way. Sorry this is so long, as I said, it is a pet peeve.

Rebecca said...

Good Grief!! I just hate it when a whole passel of idiots come my way -- you have a right to be fussy with all that craziness happening in front of you. And we are here to ensure you use that right whenever necessary. ;>)

Kara said...

Since you handled all of the above with such grace, maybe karma will grant you a few weeks without having to deal with any more foolishness. Congratulations on successfully achieving what I can never seem to master!

Jenn said...

I think kara put it well- you are due some good things. I too am impressed by your grace and tact. I'm sorry you had to exercise both so much recently.

Allyson said...

I like to think that people are stupid and not malicious. It is the only way I make it through the day.

Annie said...

What everyone else said. Sheesh!

And, I have to agree that #1 makes me the most angry. It feels like a downright lie that the "journalist" didn't tell you her affiliation when she wrote.

I can imagine her justifying it by saying she never claimed the discussion was "off the record" - however, it sounds like she never made you aware that there WAS a record.

What a loser - in our country we've lost our concept of what journalism is, this is just further proof. So sad.

The woman wasn't a journalist, she was a charlatan.

Karen said...

Oh you poor dear! I don't think you are fussy at all. I think it is righteous indignation and I hope the people you talked about read this blog so that--maybe, just maybe--they will learn the error of their ways.

I used to work in a chic little boutique (not a good match for me) and a woman came in to return some turtlenecks. And then she told me that she read the care tag but just threw them in with the regular wash anyway because she didn't think she should have to wash them in cold. Now if she told me she never read it and just assumed that she could wash them with her towels, I would have given her money back. But, dude, you knew what you were doing was wrong and you did it anyway--not my problem. P.S. I got a new job soon after in a totally different industry and way down in NYC and she turned out to be my boss's wife.

pia said...

Ugh, that stuff all stinks. A year or so ago I was having some major issues with a sock yarn from a fairly large European company. I was shocked that the US distributor didn't want the yarn in question back. I still have the socks that the icky yarn was made from and think that perhaps their quality control would improve had they let me send them the sock/yarn back!

Genevieve said...

Sounds like you handled everything well considering the situations. I would call you reasonable and wise, not fussy.
ps-talking about your box of mill ends made my head spin. I adore the perfect yarn I buy but wonder at what might be hiding in that box!

Josee said...

Aie! Aie! Aie! Fuss as much as you want, after the treatment you've been getting, you deserve to! Like my daughter remarked to me just this week - common sense doesn't seem to be very common!

Passionknitly said...

I think it's interesting that people blatantly disregard the entire purpose of copyright. While I understand not wanting to buy a whole book for one pattern, I hate it when friends ask me to copy patterns in a book I have that they don't. I'll admit to doing this in the past but once I learned more about what it does to designers/publishers I immediately ceased.

The bit about the journalist also freaks me out. I feel like there's a certain social protocol there that wasn't followed and it really REALLY bothers me.

mtreile said...

Working in media relations, I can tell you that the behavior in #1 is becoming more and more common even from so-called traditional media outlets. Ethics classes are a part of a J-school curriculum for a reason but when you bypass training to reduce the payroll, this kind of behavior, though infuriating, isn't surprising.

#2 & #3 are why I'll never be in customer service.

shin ae said...

My husband's father is a musician so we are very sensitive about the issue of copyright infringement. I think many people genuinely have no idea that what they are doing is wrong. It seems to be so widespread that people consider it almost a right, although I suppose some people are very aware and just don't care. But yes, each instance directly harms author, musician, artist, etc.

Bogie said...

Ugh. The sad thing is, if you posted this in a large metropolitan area newspaper (let's assume they still exist) there would be too many readers who would not understand the issues. Thanks for running interference for all of us.

Kate said...

All of your complaints sound completely legit. #2 bothered me especially. A few months back I had an issue with quality in some LL shepherd sock. I emailed you guys, and was immediately sent two more skeins to make up for the quality issues in those I'd purchased. Granted, the situation was a bit different (I didn't encounter issues 'till I'd already knitted one full sock, and it was deadline - Christmas - knitting to boot), but I'd hate to think that some rude, greedy people could damage LL's motivation/inclination to do right by their customers. In short, "mean people suck."

And that journalist? Wow. So rude.


Unknown said...

scenerio #1 that was just chicken s*** journalism and I would write her editor, who probably wants to have a classy magazine and blow the wistle on that..
scenerio #2 someone wanted free yarn and there probably was no problem with the original yarn
scenerio #3 i have to admit until two friends of mine published their own book (and began having problems with people copying patterns and selling items based on their pattern) i had no idea.. hers may have been sheer ignorance.
you've had a rough week... lie down and breath deep...

Amanda said...

Aww, I am sorry to hear all of this.

As a former journalist, I can say that our company had a policy I was not allowed to quote someone in print without expressly informing them they were on the record. If any quotations had been questioned, we'd have had to print a retraction and I would have been disciplined. So that sounds like someone was not behaving ethically. Did you send a note to their editor?

I do know people who try to "work the system" of customer service to see what they can get for free. Sometimes they'll complain about anything, even things that they notice that aren't bothering them, just to see what they can get. I don't have much respect for this behavior. Customer service is a generosity of good business people; abusing it is trampling on that generosity. :-c

And per the third, I am trying to give that person the benefit of the doubt. Until I worked in publishing, I was very ignorant of copyright law and intellectual property. I really believe a lot of people are - if they realized they were in essence, stealing directly from you, I HOPE they would change their actions!