Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We're Getting Spoiled

Just now on Ravelry I came across a forum thread started by a knitter who'd ordered from a small (not an indie) but wonderful yarn vendor on Monday and was worried about her yarn since the website was down today. I've seen other "should I worry?" threads there about slow delivery or slow response from an online vendor after just a couple of days. Some have gone into snarkiness and beyond. WTF? Can we say "Overreactors R Us?" What about the indie yarn dyers or pattern designers who've been touted on the big yarn blogs or podcasts - Yarn Harlot, WendyKnits, Lime & Violet, etc - who are just totally overwhelmed by the volume of orders they get in just a few hours. I expect you've read the stories, and those include lots of people who don't seem to get how big the yarn community has become. When Grumperina announced a contest to pick 6 people to receive skeins of the new Lorna's Laces yarn done in a color just for her, she got 1,000 posts. ONE THOUSAND, people!! Even with Lorna's Laces production capacity, the vendor couldn't keep up for a bit.

Now I deal with Elann a lot. Their orders are always shipped USPS Priority Mail, and it's rare that I don't get my yarn on the 3rd day after I order, unless it's a Canadian holiday or those days include weekends. KnitPicks used to be pretty slow, and so was WEBS, but both of those seem to have improved. Patternworks used to be notorious for shipping by way of turtles. There are a lot of other online vendors, knitting-related and otherwise, who are really speedy with delivery: Amazon, (shoes), etc.

So we can get spoiled quite easily and come to think that good service means just a couple of days. Maybe I'm just more patient than most, especially since I sometimes forget that I've emailed someone about an order and haven't heard back. Since I charge everything to VISA, I figure if it never comes, I can deal with getting a refund through them. Recently I've had transactions with a couple of yarn vendors that had backordered some stuff for me, since they were waiting on product from elsewhere. I'd forgotten to follow up for a couple of months, but I got my yarn soon after I inquired again. Both vendors tossed in a bit of a price cut, because of having fallen behind themselves, or lost my email in the inbox somewhere. That price cut was gravy IMO, and I wouldn't have felt full price was unfair. How do I know I've forgotten these deals? I have a folder in my email where I move all the incoming bits about an order, and I go through periodically and zap the ones that have come; then I check on any open ones. Fairly foolproof works for me.

It seems to me that we need to take a breath and think about what's truly reasonable in terms of response and delivery times. I suppose I'm fortunate that I have a stash larger than some small LYSs, and I've always got more projects on the needles or in my Ravelry Queue than I can possibly knit in weeks and weeks. So a delay of a week or two - or even a month or two!! - isn't a deal-breaker for me, let alone something I'm going to panic about. Other knitters are in a different mindset, and may have nothing else they want to knit than THAT project with THAT yarn. I wonder if there's a larger proportion of rather-new knitters in that group, or if there are other interesting demographics.

So, my little group of readers, what are your thoughts about what's good turnaround, good service?


Yarnhog said...

I suppose it depends on the situation. Time is relative, after all. If I'm in a particular hurry (deadline knitting or I've run out of yarn mid-project), then I will order from a vendor I know is quick if at all possible. But, like you, I have a decent stash and don't generally order yarn for specific projects. I usually order yarn because it's a good deal, and then put it in the stash until the right pattern or inspiration comes along. The one time I did run out of yarn for a really important project on a tight deadline (a wedding shawl), I sent a frantic email to Sue at Little Knits, which she not only read, but immediately emailed me back that she was bumping my order to the front of the line and I would have my yarn in two days. Awesome service, but not something I would ever expect.

Anonymous said...

i would always give it about two weeks for my order to arrive. even though we order online it may take the company a day or two to process that order.a lot of people do overreact to slow delivery

marie in floria

Grace Yaskovic said...

I too agree it depends on what is up. If an indy seller on Etsy, etc is selling one specific item, already made and I am paying immediately with Paypal then I expect it to be shipped in 48 hours or so, If they offer free shipping then I would say it should be shipped in 72 hours or so, but thats for something already made and not a special order or something I am buying on spec. If I order from a big company like WEBS, Elann, Little Knits the order is usually for more then one item and involves a shipping center etc then I do expect them to be timely too but don't start looking until a week after I placed the order. Of course most times they are much quicker then that. Before Christmas I ordered Master Blocker a sweatshirt from Coast to Coast Radio, I never heard another word after the original invoice. I wrote to them daily for 4 months beginning one month after the order was placed. I finally found an address for the host of the show with upteen zillion listenership and emailed him. i had the shirt in 2 days. So what was that about? Its definitely a buyer beware situation when we buy through the mail and not buy hands on! Great topic Barbara

Sandra said...

I've never really thought about it. I order, I wait, I get. Luckily, I've never had to chase down a vendor, but also, I've recently not been buying as much. (The piles of yarn were getting a little ridiculous). I think our mindset has changed a fiar bit as technology has changed how we live our lives. Teenagers going more than 10 minutes without being in touch? Not any more, not with cel phones, text messaging, IMing, etc.
We are now a "Want it NOW" society, and when that doesn't happen, we get pissed. (Not me, or most people I know, but I'm just talking generally, here.)
My nephew can't believe I don't text message with my phone. (I can't be bothered - I spend all day on a computer - enough for me).

Suzann said...

I have only ever had one problem with yarn delivery. And since the yarn was on back order I should have known better. When the yarn did arrive it look all faded. Like the last hank out of the dye bath. I asked if I could return and get yarn that reflected the yarn shown at the site. I was told that all monitors vary. This wasn't a case of color so much as lack of color. Live and learn. I have had really good luck with the Etsy sellers I have bought from.
As to the latest flaps at Ravelry about Indi companies. I always think what would happen if Yarn Harlot decided to knit a pair of socks with Jayne's yarn. Poor Jayne would be buried under out for blood knitters who want their yarn NOW. So I am inclined to cut them a lot of slack.
I never never buy yarns that big bloggers are working with. They tend to be new, or very old or something that isn't out yet. And I refuse to pay double for a yarn on ebay because Wendy or Yarn Harlot or Grumpy are using it.
I do find it a bit disingenuous when big bloggers have a yarn that isn't yet available. I have the feeling they are like shills at a carnival, ratcheting up the drool factor among the faithful. I remember thinking that a few years ago when Sundra (sp) first started up. And the mad feeding frenzy that followed. :rolleyes:

Anonymous said...

If the yarn will be made to order, I will make an allowance on the creation and delivery time, of course, but in-stock items from the US should be at my house within one week, especially if it is coming from a larger online retailer. No excuses. Two weeks for those retailers is too long, but I will wait that long before I complain. There is too much competition to wait longer for an order from a slow provider. If I can get yarn orders from England and Australia within one week, I can easily get them from the US in the same amount of time.

Carol said...

Very thoughtful post. I think that in our current society, there is very much an instant gratification problem. people often seem to think that if they want it, they should be able to get it. Instantly. This applies to yarn or service in a store. I work in a pharmacy and you would be shocked by how many people find that a 20 minute wait to fill 5 prescriptions is unreasonable. Umm, they DO want the right drugs I hope?

it's not like the dilitium crystals are going to blow if they have to wait a few minutes or days for their drugs or yarn order, I hope?

benne said...

Good post, Barbara. I am dismayed by the instant gratification some segments of society has about everything - latest sports shoes, TV, toys, you name it. I think that same attitude is also partially responsible for the financial mess some people and some lending institutions find themselves in right now. Maybe it's more a sense of entitlement combined with the desire for instant gratification.

As far as yarn shipments are concerned, I am fairly patient. I don't panic and I prefer to handle my financial transactions off the net. I think it is unreasonable to start posting about bad service and missing packages when it's been a short time and the customer hasn't gone to the trouble of picking up a telephone to inquire about an order.

I usually don't mind waiting for merchandise but if there is going to be a delay, I do expect to be notified. I stick with a list of reputable sellers most of the time. That doesn't eliminate an occasional glitch but I know they will make it right if something does happen.

TracyKM said...

Interesting thinking....I'd rather pay a little less for shipping and have it take longer. I"m in no rush. It'll get knit eventually. I don't think EVERY order needs to be here in 3 days. Now, of course, I NEEDED my mother's day card to get to my mom in 3 days, LOL!
This rush mentality is rampant in the manufacturing world. My husband sees it all the time at's cheaper to make something in China and have it shipped back to Canada to be finished, so it has to be done quick, quick, quick. It's crazy, and it's accounting for a LOT of layoffs in manufacturing.

Anonymous said...

I order most of my yarn and knitting/crochet accessories off the Web. I have waited as much as a month for yarn and some I've gotten within a couple of days.

I usually stick with 'local' sellers (a three state area around me) but have ordered yarn from Webs which is on the opposite coast. I also ordered last year during their big sale and expected it to take a while to be shipped. (I heard that a lot of people were pretty vicious on Ravalry about the shipping time for orders then.)

Instant gratification isn't important to me - I would rather think about it for a while. I probably get as much pleasure about thinking what I will knit from yarn that has yet to arrive as I do from knitting said yarn.

Joan said...

To me, don't accept an order unless you WILL ship no later than the next day.

smariek said...

I can't recall ever having to wait excessively long for an online order for yarn, however the majority of my orders are from Elann. I've also ordered from other places too, shipping time reasonable, and I never expect them to be as fast as Elann. I think I would allow for extra time if I made a special order of something.

I can't say enough about how great Elann service is. Always prompt delivery and never a mistake in the order. There was one time when the box arrived on the 5th or 6th day, instead of the usual 3rd. No big deal since it's not like I'm in any hurry to knit with any yarn I order online. The main "problem" with delays is when it happens to arrive when DH is home. Wouldn't it be nice if we could leave a note with our orders to have the boxes delivered only on suchandsuch days between suchandsuch hours? :-)

This is a great post Barbara, sorry I can't offer much input as my experience is quite limited.

Anonymous said...

As with so many things: It Depends!
Am I dealing with an indie dyer who has a life too? or a shop that has a stock.
Did I order something in an etsy shop that is IN Stock?
If it's not a big company, I don't assume that they go to the P.O. EVERY DAY. So... that's 2 days to get an in stock item in the mail, 3-4 - ? to get it to me (did I say priority? or parcel post??).
If they're dyeing to keep up with demand.... easy two weeks...