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Terrible Shopping Experience: DandelionVintage.com

By September 23, 2010

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I should write terrible "shopping" experience, because I didn't end up buying anything from Dandelion Vintage. I'll tell you why after I acknowledge this fact: I realize that my writing about the shop gives it more traffic. A double-edged sword, I know, but I was planning a review anyway.

First, some background info: we plus ladies know how hard it is to find vintage clothes in extended sizing, and I am always on the search for new places. I went to DandelionVintage.com, which has low-priced pieces dating back 100 years or more. I checked it out; they have some larger pieces, and I put a review note on my editorial calendar. Then, as anyone would do, I starting shopping for myself.

Cut to a few days later: I had been emailing back and forth with the owner of the shop, trying to decide what I wanted to buy and how much it would cost to ship it. I asked about a hat, but I decided to buy a bag and said that I would like to purchase the bag (verbatim) as long as the shipping quote was reasonable. The shipping prices were sent, but two days later, the bag was sold to someone else. I only found out because I realized that I had not received my invoice and had contacted the seller.

What happened? The website, run by one person to whom I was writing, claims that one can either email to purchase or to "add to cart" in the system, although one can't actually pay on the website. I chose the first option; I asked to get a shipping quote so that I know how much to pay, but I suppose my correspondence was trumped by the online check-out system.

As a customer, it's not enjoyable to be told "I had a customer today order the purse and 3 other items" in defense, as if a smaller purchase is automatically not worth the bother. That's a reprehensible way of doing business, because one happy customer, big or small, brings others.

How did I expect to be treated? I wish I had received a courtesy email before the other person bought my piece out from under me, nothing more. I said I would be buying the bag two days before it was sold; per shop policy, I have seven days to submit payment. I thought my bag was on hold, and wouldn't you?

Even if I don't understand the nuances of doing business with Dandelion Vintage, I expect things to be put right in some way. I don't want to hear justification of shop practices/policy when I am upset; it's distasteful and not in the tradition of small business. I am a loyal and trustworthy customer, as you ladies know, and my patronage of shops goes back years. (It also stretches across three continents, which is part of the reason I'm in Brazil right now.) Trust me, it's better to shop somewhere that values all customers, big and small, and that uses an up-to-date checkout system that's convenient and clear.

With all the low-cost e-commerce solutions out there, you'd think you wouldn't have to deal with a company on the internet that doesn't feature some form of immediate payment and an easy shipping chart. If it's going to be antiquated and fiddly, then you expect to have personalized service as you muddle through. Emailing back and forth causes communication issues, plain and simple.

I'm somewhat glad I didn't give my money to Dandelion Vintage. Why support a company that leaves customers feeling cheated and belittled? I literally imagined the shopkeeper looking at someone else's order form with the bag and laughing because she sold it to someone else--that's how bad my experience was. (When fashion's your life, these things get personal!) I also find it hard to believe that she didn't think of our correspondence when she processed the payment for the other customer. Were there any red flags?

This leaves a terrible taste in my mouth, but at least you've been warned about DandelionVintage.com. I feel like I've done my duty. Shop at your own risk! The formal review on this site will be published next week. I'm wavering between two and two-and-a-half stars.

Oh, and don't forget: share your terrible shopping experience here. I double-posted by accident, but that second one should be going away soon.

Update:

I would almost bet that the FAQs were updated because of me; see second asterisk in "How do I place an order?" It sounds *very familiar*. Also, as an FYI, the website notes that "I've only ever received a few letters telling me that I suck, so I guess I am doing a pretty good job!"

Comments

September 24, 2010 at 9:31 am
(1) Some Like it Vintage.com says:

Oh dear! That is definitely not good! In my experience of having a similar online store, it can be difficult to run it as a sole proprietor – there is a lot of work to do :-)

But also as a small business, EVERY sale, and every potential sale is incredibly important!

September 24, 2010 at 9:39 am
(2) plussize says:

Absolutely; I know you have a ton of work! I will be swinging by your shop for sure, as I need a new place to buy goodies.

Do you ever get extended sizes in your shop?

September 24, 2010 at 10:27 am
(3) Robyn says:

Oh my. If the seller isn’t offering immediate checkout and payment; and/or allows up to 7 days to pay, there is no reason that an item put in a cart or “on reserve” via email should be sold to another party before that 7 day period is over.

And clearly the seller *knew* that there was a reservation for the item. Inventory should have been removed or reduced to zero so this couldn’t happen.

Small businesses can’t compete on price; it’s got to be on selection and service. Especially if you choose to run your business “quaintly”.

The owner of Dandelion Vintage had a chance to make this right and chose not to. Even a simple “I made a mistake and I’m sorry” goes a long way to help turning a problem transaction into a loyal customer.

September 24, 2010 at 10:39 am
(4) plussize says:

It’s really terrible, Robyn. I know it’s somewhat he said/she said, but customers who take shopping seriously don’t expect things like this to happen. I like endings with mutual understanding instead of defensiveness all around.

I usually don’t shop at places where it’s more difficult to pay. I like my transactions to be clean and quick. I am gutted; I had a list of stuff I thought was nice, and it’s painful not to shop somewhere because I’ve been brushed off.

The funniest thing is that because I didn’t buy what I wanted, I went to a competing site and spent about $80 this morning. Call it revenge shopping.

If you have vintage shop recs, please send my way.

September 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm
(5) sweet n' sour vintage says:

I run an online vintage shop on Etsy (it’s more of a hobby, really, because I work my “real” job as a copywriter in the fashion/beauty industry) and can’t believe something like that happened. I could never imagine doing that. I try to be as flexible and fair as possible with customers. As one commenter said, small businesses rely on that little extra bit they offer in terms of service, packaging, etc., so it seems ridiculous that Dandelion would do that. I’m a big proponent of small businesses and this just seems out of character.

Since you asked for recs, my shop, Sweet n’ Sour Vintage, does sell some plus-size stuff, though I believe there is only one plus size dress posted now but I have a lot more larger dresses to put up when I have the time. Etsy in general is a good resource for plus size vintage too. I don’t know if you’ve mentioned ReDress in Brooklyn (I’m in the NYC metro area, so I shop and sell things there sometimes), but they carry a very wide range of what is considered plus vintage, consignment and new stuff and the girls that work there are super awesome for the most part.

Btw, I’ve been reading your blog here for a few months and love it!

September 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm
(6) plussize says:

Your shop sounds cool! I love that you do it part-time… and that we work in the fashion/beauty industry. I’m so curious which company it is that you work for, lol!

I like Redress in Brooklyn. I did give them some negative press when they did their modeling competition, but I like what they have to offer.

September 29, 2010 at 6:15 pm
(7) Erika says:

I was looking at the Frequently Asked Questions section of her site and was floored when I read the following at the bottom of the FAQ page, “Wow, rereading the above stuff, I sound like a bitch! But I’m not. I am very reasonable and easy to work with, just be reasonable with me. I love selling vintage clothes and I feel very lucky to have been able to ‘fall’ into doing it. I appreciate everyone who visits my site, even if they don’t make a purchase. I enjoy the nice letters that I get from people telling me about their visiting and enjoying the site. I’ve only ever received a few letters telling me that I suck, so I guess I am doing a pretty good job! ”

MEIELI!!!!! DID YOU REALLY ATTEMPT TO SHOP AT THAT STORE? I mean, if you were shopping out of her basement then I’d say okay. But if she has an online store with verbage like that on her site, HOW PROFESSIONAL CAN SHE BE?!?!?!?!? I am passing the word via email to all my friends (plus and not) so that no one shops at her store. In this day and age (and economy!!!) word of mouth is your best and most critical form of advertising. Also, when you sell items you can be reported for bad, misleading and/or false business practices, so they really need to be careful.

And in the land of blogs and with google, she really made a big boo boo. She must not have known who you (and by extension) we are!! We are a movement. And in the e-commerce world you live or die by your business practices (or lack thereof).

I mean I use ETSY and dont get such fly by night crap as I read on her website. You do realize she used profanity and slang right?

Yeah, um no. And she didnt make any attempts to rectify the matter????

Yeah um double no.

So mark my words, check back on whateverthatwebsitewas.com in about 5 months and see if you dont get the “website not found”.

I cant believe she treated you this way.
I have to go now, I am off to kill the site with negative press.

*picking up cape and keyboard*

September 29, 2010 at 6:18 pm
(8) Erika says:

Another thing – on the FAQ page this “person” has the nerve to list their pet peeves!!!! What kind of business is this? She needs to be reported. I am going to check where she is located and contact her BBB.

Her site is a laughing stock. I would be very hesitant to buy anything online with her for fear she lacks the proper security to encrypt my credit card, protect my personal information and with her kind of scrupples, I would fear she was stealing the clothes off of respectable people’s back and selling them online!!!

*frowning in disgust*

Another reason why the big stores win. Sites like this give credible small plus size boutique owners a very bad name.

September 30, 2010 at 8:09 am
(9) plussize says:

Hey Erika! I’m so glad to see that you are shocked… you have always been one of my greatest supporters.

To answer the question of why I chose to shop there in the first place, the site was either a sponsor of or recommended by a blog I really enjoy (don’t get me started on THAT).

I’m very relaxed about shopkeepers and their websites, although I did pause when I read her FAQs. Let’s just way it was a red flag of many, but I really, really like my vintage.

Spread the word as you see fit. Thanks for hearing me out!

December 18, 2010 at 10:03 pm
(10) sweetnsourvintage says:

Hi Meieli, thanks for replying to my comment! I know this was a long time ago, but I didn’t realize that you had added to the thread. I work for my sister, who has her own fashion/beauty boutique PR firm and I ghost write blogs for her clients and do copy for their sites, etc. As I said, I am also really trying to make my Etsy shop, sweetnsourvintage, work as well. There are a few plus sized things posted now, so you may want to take a look (see below)! I also saw you wrote a positive post on Etsy, which I’m happy to see. Most of the sellers on there are pretty cool.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/sweetnsourvintage

December 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm
(11) plussize says:

Yes, I answer most people, but some don’t realize it! :(

I will have a look at your Etsy shop right now…

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