Update (8/23/13) – see recent post: https://noagenda.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/frank-oak-is-taking-itself-seriously-finally-offers-discount-code/
Frank & Oak is one of a growing number of web sites that offer “convenience shopping” also called “crate services” on the web. These services deliver products to your door monthly. Some call it a crate, some call it a gift box, or just a box, but the theory here is that you sign up for their “service”. They do you the favor of hand picking items just for you. Each month you receive package. Sometimes it’s a surprise and sometimes you are allowed to specifically pick what you want. Products available via one of these “crate”services range from clothing, to home goods, to cosmetics and personal care items, and even food. They sound like a good idea until you get down into the nitty-gritty.
Make no mistake, you aren’t saving any money (although some of these web site would argue with that). The bottom line is, as it always is – BUYER BEWARE.
Frank & Oak is an online clothing store. You don’t have to, but if you sign up for their “Hunt Club” you will be a member of the “crate” brigade. On the first of the month you get an email informing you that they have released the hounds. Supposedly, you can pick between one and three items of clothing and/or accessories that they are offering for that month. You can’t pick from what will be their entire monthly collection; they hand pick certain items to offer the Create People. Dress shirts, Tees, Ties, Accessories, etc. They claim it’s all hand picked, high-quality, and made locally. For them, locally is Montreal, Canada. Frank & Oak claims to help “twentysomethings” dress better and they claim there is NO COMMITMENT.
Here’s how it really works. First, you are notified on the First of the month that the Club is open for members. You log in and TRY to select a few items you might like. The first problem is that they aren’t prepared for that many users logging in and the site crashed the first time I tried it. When I finally got in (the NEXT DAY), everything that “looked” decent enough to try was already SOLD OUT. So for those exclusive members who got a chance at early pickings, there was nothing available – it was all sold out. Except for a few scraps that nobody wanted.
I finally found ONE T-Shirt that I thought I would try just to see how this works. After I placed that order for my crate, I got an email saying that since I picked something, they wouldn’t charge my credit card (already given to them when I joined) a $45 fee. What?!. Yes, apparently if I decided I didn’t want to try anything and didn’t tell them that I wanted to officially “Skip this month”, they would have charged my credit card $45 and credited it to my Hunt Club account. OK so I get it. If I don’t want the crap you’re selling, or if one or two of the quality items are sold out, I have to tell you officially that I don’t want it or I’ll get a “store credit” for something I never bought. Got it.
Now, the shirt I ordered was sent to me with no shipping charges and I had 5 days to decided if I wanted to keep it. I didn’t. My god, is 50% polyester/cotton considered high quality? You can buy that at Walmart. This was the most cheaply made T Shirt I had ever seen in my life. The web site doesn’t give exact specifications on most of it’s clothing in terms of the exact materials the clothing is made of. It will say “cotton blend” or something like that.
So I immediately sent the shirt back and I was not charged for it the shirt or for return shipping.
The following month came, and the same thing happened. I got the email saying “release the hounds” and almost everything offered for the “membership has its privileges” crowd was sold out in seconds and the site crashed. That left scraps for the rest of us.
Let me interject here. The way these sites attempt to make more money and increase their customer base is if you can get X amount of “friends” to join the site, you build up credits. It took seven friends to join before I got a $15 dollar credit on my account. I made that happen and I’ll explain more later. But since I had that $15 credit on my account, I selected a passable T-shirt from the site as part of my monthly “crate” in the second month.
Except, they changed the web site and even though you click on the email link to choose your monthly crate times, you suddenly had to then select an item or items, and decide whether it was going into your CRATE or your CART. See what they did there?? They confused the customer base. They changed how the system works. And if you didn’t specifically request that the item you selected go into your CRATE, then it went into your CART and they charge your credit card for the full price of the item. No free shipping, no 5 days to try it on and decide, you bought it baby. And all because they relied on your memory of how things used to work.
When I went to go return the crappy T-Shirt (and I mean this thing I wouldn’t let my dog sleep on) I went online to get return authorization like I did the previous month. There was no such thing because I had bought it already. After numerous attempts at trying to contact “Frank & Oak” by phone (which was next to impossible) I finally talked to someone who explained that they had changed the way “things work” and that the customer had the responsibility to read the fine print of the web site. Long story short, I about had a cow. I yelled and screamed and returned the item and removed myself from their “club” and told them to shove it.
The joke, however, is on them. Do you know how easy it is to make up 7 fake email addresses with fake names on Yahoo, Gmail, etc. All I had to do was keep track the accounts I made up and sign in and become a member under those name. You don’t even have to join the Hunt Club. They just want these “people” to join the site so that Frank & Oak can bombard them with marketing emails.
But is the joke really on them, or me. I’ve broken ties with Frank & Oak because honestly, their products are crap and their customer service is worse. If their clothing is what qualifies as “quality, low-cost fashion” we are in BIG trouble. I now have a $15 credit on my Frank & Oak account that I will never use because there is not one thing this “men’s fashion” web site sells that is worth buying. It is all junk, every last bit of it. This brand new T-Shirt I bought (and returned) was pilled when it arrived, freshly packed in its original packaging. God, if it pilled on the way over, what’s is going to do when I touch it, or wash it.
Do yourself a favor, Don’t buy the come-on of places like Frank & Oak. Maybe some of these “crate” sites are worth it, but not this one. It all sounded like a fantastic idea. In fact, when I first found out about crate services, I really thought that this was what Internet shopping was morphing into – and I liked it. It was personalized shopping and a birthday gift (so to speak) every month. It was fun. But after seeing what it was all about, it was a huge let down. If only Frank & Oak truly offered high quality merchandise that was readily available to its members, it could have been a beautiful thing. It wasn’t. It was a joke.
I can guarantee you Frank & Oak will fail. I know this because let’s face it, this kind of shopping service is tailored made for the gay crowd (yes I am a member). We may put up with snotty customer service one in a while, but there’s no way in HELL we’ll put up with cheap clothes.