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    July 2008
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Battle Weary

Our flag-line uniforms came in today.

When I heard the news, I was super excited. You see, last year we had problems with the company. They misinformed me about the payment schedule and when the money didn’t change hands at the correct times, our uniforms were pushed to the back of the very long line. So we ended up scrambling at the last minute to come up with uniforms. Four months after the original order date, we finally had uniforms on the field. Even still, we ended up taking the uglier in-stock uniforms so that they could be made quickly.

So, this year, I had everything double and triple checked. We payed EARLY. And having the uniforms arrive three weeks before the first football game seemed like a fabulous reward for my hard work.

Two girls sat with me in the sweaty, spit-smelling band room and we divided up the sequined tops and black lycra bottoms. We made sure the inventory was correct before we distributed them. And while I was reviewing the inventory I realized that the sizes had been converted from number sizes over to letter sizes. So the 10’s and 12’s were now M’s. And the 14’s and 16’s were now L’s. I should have realized right there that we were going to have trouble. But I never saw it coming.

I called the girls up to receive their uniforms and they skipped to the bathroom to try them on. Then I heard shrieking. My stomach sank.

“Mrs. STREAMS …. this don’t fit. Look at this. It be so baggy! My Mama’s goin’ to be so mad.”

The comments kept coming. Almost half of the uniforms were the wrong size. Which, in hindsight makes sense, because the company basically had a 50/50 shot at getting the size right. Girls who needed a 14 but could have squeezed into a 12 really should have gotten a medium. The company should have called me to ask what sizes the girls needed. But instead, they guessed. And they were wrong.

So, I called to complain. The company offered to take a look. They want us to ship the uniforms back and if they deem that the mistake was theirs (the lady on the phone admitted that they’d made a mistake before she started back-pedaling) then they will alter our uniforms and send them back to us. At no charge. In FOUR weeks.


Our first game is in three weeks.

I told her that 1.) we need the uniforms before then and 2.) the company OBVIOUSLY cannot get an order right, so why should I trust them with the uniforms a second time? I want money. Do you hear me lady? MONEY. I want you to pay for the uniforms to be altered here in our town. I want to get them back within a week. I want a person I can speak to face-to-face.

She said she couldn’t do that. I said we would be taking our $6000 worth of business elsewhere next year. She said, “Okay.”

So I sat all of the girls down. I told them the facts. 1.) The company messed up. 2.) They are offering to fix it consider fixing it but we will not have them before the first game. 3.) We want them to pay for a local person to do it instead.

I asked them to call their parents on their cell phones. Because there’s nothing like an angry Mama to get things done in these situations. Each girl called and explained. We gave the parents the phone number and the woman’s name. They went to town. I instructed the girls not to call on their own behalf because they would just get a reputation as misbehaving teenagers. I only wanted the parents to call. Because ultimately it’s the parents who spent the money.

The parents rallied 100%. I even got a few calls back about who said what and what the lady said in reply. So far she hasn’t budged yet. I have a feeling she’s kind of mad at me for sending the parents after her.

Now I’m not sure what to do next. Should I call her again in the morning? One parent suggested moving up the chain of command to her supervisor/ the owner-of-the-company, etc. Someone else suggested going to the Better Business Bureau. I am not sure what to do next. Got any ideas?


7 Responses

  1. I would say move up the chain and if that doesn’t work call the Better Business Bureau. They screwed up and they know it! It is unacceptable to run a business that way. I REALLY hope you can get something worked out before your first game!!! I think it was great having the parents call:)

  2. Way to go! Definitely go up the chain of command, if the lady will give out the info. Good Luck!

  3. I am a Customer Relationship Manager and my job it to make disgruntle or unhappy customers happy, to the best of my ability, especially when we are at fault for their issue. Our Customer Service begins with our call center reps and if they are unable to solve an issue then it is escalated to my office where me or one of my 7 co-workers will pick up the issue and stay with it until we have a resolve that works out best for our customers and for us. Excellent customer service is what has kept us in business for over 30 years and continues to allow our business to show an increase in growth.

    NOW … All that said to say this … It is obvious, from reading your post that the uniform company has made several mistakes. I’m guessing from what I have read, when the uniforms were chosen and ordered they were being offered in numeric sizes, not alpha sizes. Secondly you were not notified of the sizing change, they assumed what would work without bringing it to your attention. Thirdly and most importantly they are not, in any way, providing you with customer service that is appropriate for the situation you are in. I’m guessing this is somewhat of a reputable uniform provider otherwise you would not have selected them for your order. It is definitely time for you to take a stance and demand what you need. That is excellent and valuable customer service. $6000 is a lot of money to give a company you trust to satisfy your needs. Your needs have NOT been met and it will cost you a good deal of money to have the alterations made in time for your first game. Definitely call the company and demand to speak with a manager … do not hang up until your call has been escalated to management level and you get some satisfaction. Call faithfully and continue to ask to be escalated to another level. Demand the company president if need be. Overnight a letter to the attention of the company president clearly stating the problem you are faced with. Include photos of your girls in their ill fitting uniforms. If they still refuse then I would advise them that I was seeking legal guidance. I’m sure the school system has a legal representative who can pursue this matter for you. In the meantime, if your needs are not met by this company, keep all of your documentation such as the order you placed, the shipping details from the order you received, as well as a journal of everyone you have spoken with at this company and the letter sent to the company president. This will assist legal reps with solving this issue for you and the school system. Make sure all other schools in the area know of your misfortune so they will not be using this company.

    As for the uniforms … do what you have to in order for your flag team to look splendid on the field for the first game, keep all receipts as well as the time you have spent trying to resolve this issue. Documentation is the case winner in the event that satisfaction has to be taken care of through legal assistance.

    I’m sure you are not the only unhappy customer they have … it doesn’t take many unhappy customers spreading the word to ruin a company. Don’t threaten and not follow through … suggest the issue either be taken care of in a timely fashion (by the first game) or else advise of pending legal action and follow through with it.

  4. Go up that chain girlfriend and don’t back down till you they have satisfied your every need.

  5. Funny this should come up. We’ve been dealing with a very similar situation. We wanted to refinance our mortgage. No problem. A broker gave us a good rate, we signed all the papers, locked in the rate, gave them our life history, etc. There was a backlog at the bank, we waited. Relocked the rate. We waited. Still a backlog. The broker was supposed to relock the rate, but forgot. FORGOT. then he tried to cover it up. Two months have gone by at this point. We begin asking lots of questions, wondering what is going on. Then we find that Mr. X is no longer with the company. Bla bla bla, we’ll have to get you a new loan. We were really really P.O.’d. Because at this point rates have gone through the roof.

    We keep calling, asking them to work something out with us. We wait. We call. We wait. We email. We wait. Lots of stalling on their part. Finally, they just start ignoring us. They tell us “we’re going to look at your file and call us back in one hour.” We call, guess what, they’re out of the office! Anyway, they avoided us like the plague for another month.

    I finally decided I’d had enough and that I’m filing a complaint with the Virginia Board of Financial Institutions. Husband sent an email over to the broker’s headquarters, and to the managing agent telling them we had the paperwork all filled out to file a complaint and that these people are inept and that we have been scr*wed around with long enough, and what do you know but we got a phone call the very next morning and closed on the refi within one week. It was not as good a rate as we had before, but it was pretty close, they split the point with us and they waived a lot of the fees associated because of the hassle (to put it mildly).

    Husband and I understand that you try to be polite, you try to work things out, but when you’re being taken advantage of, when you have been done seriously wrong, you stick up for yourself. Go to someone higher in the chain of command and be cordial and open to compromise. If that doesn’t work, report them to the BBB, and then let it go. Because you’ll only get angrier and angrier over it.

    Just my humble opinion. 🙂

  6. Definitely move up the chain. It’s possible she doesn’t have the authority but likes to pretend she does…. 🙂 How incredibly frustrating!

  7. […] Teachers, Uncategorized | Tags: business, complaint, costume |   I recently read a post at Citystreams about a color guard uniform order gone wrong. It was an all-too-familiar account that I know many […]

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