4-rth Sustainable Fashion – Unsustainable Business Practices – Don’t buy from them.


When you find a company like 4-rth (pronounced “for earth”) you want to believe…….

It took me a long time to find quality, somewhat affordable yoga clothes for men.  I wanted them not only for yoga but because they’re comfortable for everyday use, when made with quality.  When I found 4-rth online, they had some cool clothes for guys.  The most interesting, different, and fashionable was the cuffed yoga short for men.  People tell me I write too much (too long), so I’ll try to shortcut this with bullet points.

Cuffed Yoga Pants (Cinnabar w/Grey)

  • I purchased the yoga shorts pictured above.  Note the gray cuff around the bottom of the leg.
  • When I received them, I really liked them but noticed that the cuff was orange, like the short, not gray.
  • When I pointed this out, Doug Donahue (Owner, CEO?,- basically the only person that works there apparently) responded to my email as follows:
    • “excellent eyes you have! 🙂 sorry about that — in that production run, that was an oversight by our production team so they all came out that way but we’ll go back to the Gray cuff in future production runs
    • He also added “p.s. – we have TWO new color-ways coming out in that pant”
    • Translation: “Oops – you noticed, huh.  Oh well.  But we have more stuff for you to buy.
  • I responded to his email and told him that his response wasn’t really unacceptable.  He never offered to replace them or exchange them.  I explained to him how customer service worked and gave him several suggestions to make his customer service better.  I gave him every opportunity to make it better.  I wasn’t mean or snarky.  I was honestly trying to help him.  I wanted him to succeed – and I told him so.
  • Doug Donahue’s response was “Please feel free to use my friends & family discount anytime — it’s good for 15% off at any time of the year! the code is: 4RTH”
    • Translation:  Feel free to REPURCHASE what you already thought you were purchasing – because as I said the next production run “should” be OK.  And you can buy them at a 15% discount.
  • So I can buy the shorts that I thought I had already did buy – at a 15% discount.  How nice.  And they “may or may not” arrive as shown in the picture on his web site.
  • I explained that repurchasing an article of clothing, simply because what I received wasn’t as advertised, was not my idea of fixing the problem.  I explained further how customer service worked.  I explained that I had planned on buying many more items from 4-rth.  However, since I couldn’t trust that I would get what I ordered, or that the follow up customer service would correct the problem, I simply could not do that.  I gave him another opportunity to fix the problem.  I had worn the shorts, but considering they were a design that he didn’t even sell, why would he want them back anyway, even if I had never worn them.  All he had to do was send me the correct product, at his expense, and I would have been a happy camper.  I would have been ready, willing, and able to buy more items in his men’s line AND tout his company on my blog.

This was a ridiculous exchange.  Mr. Donahue should have simply fixed the problem.  He sold me a product that was manufactured incorrectly.  Some may say “It’s just a cuff on a pair of shorts – who cares”.  Well, there are such things as false advertising, integrity, standing behind your products, and good customer service.  Plus, to be honest, from a fashion standpoint, the gray contrasting cuff was what made these shorts unique.

Doug Donahue must have a huge ego for him not to just fix this – easily.  He could not and would not admit that he was wrong.  He sold me a product and the product I received was not like the one pictured.  It’s a simple problem and a simple fix.  I should not have taken many, many emails to address – only to get absolutely nowhere.

I noticed that on his web site, he has “celebrities” like singer Daughtry saying he thought the stuff was cool, and Queer Eye cast member Jai Rodriguez pictures with Doug.  I’m betting if I were a celebrity the problem would have been corrected immediately.  I probably would have received his entire line of clothing as a “gift”.  But since I’m not a celebrity and Doug Donahue’s goal is to be rich and famous and hobnobbing with the rich and famous, he could care less about me, a lowly customer who received a product that was made wrong in the factory.

I gave Mr. Donahue many, many chances.  I even told him about the power of word of mouth (or word of word).  I told him I would hold back from writing anything negative about him or his company because I believed he would do the right thing to rectify the problem.

He Didn’t.  And so I’m writing to let people know what they are in for if they choose to purchase merchandise from 4-rth.com.  Some will think I’m just pissed off and it’s just sour grapes.  I assure you that is not true.  At one point I told Mr. Donahue that I had a lot of experience with online shopping and would be happy to work with him to ensure his customers were satisfied at all levels.  The customer is always right and it’s a company’s job to make sure the customer is happy.  I wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable – I was only asking for WHAT I HAD ORDERED AND PAID FOR.

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Restoration Hardware is less trustworthy than Walmart


rh

When a presumed reputable company like Restoration Hardware has a sale, and they say the sale will end on a specific date, most believe this to be true.  RH had a “sale” going on that “ended” on February 10, 2014.  One of the sale items was a somewhat expensive linen sheet set in various bedding sizes, and colors.  A friend of mine had received them recently and had them on her own bed, and on the bed in her guest room.  I experienced these sheets on a recent visit to her house and was amazed. They truly are a unique and awesome item if you love your bed and don’t mind spending a few bucks on it.

Because of the cost, I was hesitant, but I really wanted these sheets.  I received an email from Restoration Hardware on February 10, REMINDING me that the sale was ending on that day.

I bit the bullet and placed my order.  I didn’t want to miss out on the sale price, or possibly experience a lack of color choices.  I order the sheets.

The next day, I happened to check the RH web site and guess what?  The sale had been extended for “one more day”. They specifically stated that the sale was extended to February 11.

I sent an email to Restoration Hardware Customer Service asking what the deal was and why were they actively participating in such low-class tactics.  I expect more from them.  I didn’t use those words; I was much more diplomatic, but I was clear about how I felt.  I never received a reply.

Now it’s February 12 and guess what.  Not only is the sale STILL going on, but the wording about the sale being “extended” has been removed.  After my email, the “end date” of the sale suddenly vanished.

For those of you who hold Restoration Hardware in high regard (as I used to), let me tell you that they are no different than any other retailer.  Amazingly, even Walmart ends a sale when they say it’s going to end.  I have purchased items from Walmart for our business, at times, because they had the best price.  But their sales do end.

So if Restoration Hardware has lower standards than WalMart……….

UPDATE:  I received an email reply from Tricia Lavy in Customer Care at Restoration Hardware a short time after I wrote this posting, who said (and I quote exactly) ” Please be assured that the extension of this promotion was a last minute decision, and the promotion was extended an additional day to provide our customers with one last opportunity to take advantage of the sale. It was never our intention to make you feel misled by our recent decision to extend the promotion. ”

This was written to me TWO days after the “sale” had ended, and ONE day after the “extended” date, yet the sale continued.  Now it is February 13th.  Day three since the sale ended and TWO DAYS after the “extension”.  Guess what?  The “limited time sale” CONTINUES.  Restoration Hardware continues to mislead consumers.

Frank and Oak is Frankly a Joke


Update (8/23/13) – see recent post: https://noagenda.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/frank-oak-is-taking-itself-seriously-finally-offers-discount-code/

Original Post:

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.