I have had a lot of experience dealing with people and stores over the years both personally and professionally but I’ve never had as strange a time doing basic things as I have since I started weaving.
I’ve found that a lot of weavers tell me privately about horror stories involving these producers, stores, and organizations after I ask them directly about their experiences after having poor experiences of my own. I know it’s not me being singled out but producers, stores, and organizations taking advantage of people and banking they will not say anything because there is no centralized way to do so and that is such a small community no one wants to alienate anyone.
I don’t like writing about this type of experience. It can be uncomfortable to be in these situations and say something but I do feel like people should be aware of what’s going on.
I’m hoping to go to the MAFA conference in June 2023 and noticed some of the classes required a travel loom (Wolf Pup checking in!), a small warping board (check) and specific reeds. The class I want to take the most requires a 10, 12 or 15 dent reed and since my Pup came with a 8 dent, I’d need a new reed.
I had just finished a scarf on my Wolf Pup so on 11/17 I thought I’d order a reed or two and treat myself to some new yarn to start a new project. I really want to be super experienced using the Pup before hauling it to the conference.
I googled ‘18” loom reed’ and one of the first sponsored shopping (aka ad) results on Google was for Gist Yarn and it had a 20% off coupon code right in their ad. What great luck!
I knew Gist’s price for 18″ Wolf Pup reeds is $10 more than what other Schacht dealers charge but with 20% off my total purchase I’d be coming out ahead buying the reeds and their own brand yarn from them over anywhere else.
I placed the order for two reeds and three yarn cones using the code from their ad. I got $50.80 off my total—a little under $32 off the two reeds and the remaining ~$18 off three cones their Mallo Cotton Slub yarn. My total with the discount was $215.40 USD.
Imagine my surprise almost five hours later when I get this email:
Thank you for your order!
I’m sorry, but it looks like you checked out on our website with a staff discount code that is not eligible for the general public or for fiber arts equipment. May I ask where you found the discount code? It seems like a website may have scraped our site for coupon codes, so we are just trying to figure out where because we know it’s not a good customer experience to be expecting a code that isn’t available!
Due to our agreement with Schacht, we are not allowed to sell their products at a discount. If you would like to proceed with the order, we can send you a link to pay the balance of $50.80. If you prefer to cancel the order for a full refund we can also do that.
I really sorry this discount code appeared to be publicly available! Unfortunately our small business is just not able to process the order for these reeds at a 20% discount.
Please let me know what you prefer to do, and thank you!
What a strangely pointed response! The code didn’t “appear” to be publicly available, it was literally in their own ad. I went to Google to screenshot it and saw the ad had been taken down in must have been the 30 minutes between sending that email to me and my opening it.
This is where you would think they’d immediately send me a second email explaining that it was their mistake and to disregard the email quizzing me about how I got their staff code. They did not do this. They just took down the ad.
I responded “It was in a sponsored ad result on Google for Gist. You might want to look into that as it was one of the top results from googling 18” loom reed. It wasn’t “scraped” it appeared in a paid result on Google.
Honestly, I feel like this email is incredibly strange. You’re right, it’s not a good customer experience. All I did was click on your ad and use the included code that was right there in the sponsored result. I feel like I’m being accused of doing something shady when I all did was click on your ad. It looks like you took it down so I guess you know this.
I’m sorry there is some mistake on your end but that’s not really on me and I don’t find this a professional way to handle it.
So yes, please cancel my order for a full refund. What a bizarre scenario and email to receive.”
I’m really sorry the email appeared to accuse you of something shady, that’s certainly not what I meant. It looks like Google was having an issue today where it made a change to scrape all discount codes through our website provider, and we were just able to get them to turn that setting off.
I’m not able to honor the discount for the reeds because of our agreement with Schacht , but would be happy to do so for the yarn if you would still like that. Or I can issue you a full refund for both reeds and yarn.
Apologies again for this experience, and if my email came off as accusatory.
This is where I would think a lot of stores would offer to split the difference or let me have it for the discount they admittedly literally paid Google to offer customers but they didn’t.
Honestly, their second response doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Here they are telling it was a mistake on their end by not updating or correctly setting up the settings on their Google ad. Of course, they are still trying to pass the blame to someone else, this time Google, as if they don’t get updates about changes—which I know they do as an admin on a Google ads account myself. Google shouldn’t be “scraping” codes from their site at all. As far as I know they can’t so that’s an odd thing to imply. The permissions for all this are set up by the person placing the ads at Gist.
This email reinforced to me that what they were really doing in that first email was accusing me of something, not worrying about $32.
My admittedly slightly testy and migraine addled response “I’m glad you were able to turn the setting but i shouldn’t have been involved in your site and ad issues at all. It’s seems weird to want to alienate a customer over less than $32 but okay. I hope you aren’t emailing other people in the way you have me.
As I said, please refund my money and cancel my order. Thank you!”
I don’t know exactly what’s true there. Either way, the problem is clearly on their end and they apparently realized this immediately after sending me the first email.
They didn’t cancel my order after my first request. Instead they asked for money again despite realizing it was 100% an issue with their own ads displaying a code they didn’t want public.
I finally got a return notice after all this back and forth.
It really left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t like it when businesses won’t take actual responsibility for their own mistakes. It wasn’t my mistake. It wasn’t even Google’s mistake. It appeared in ads they placed and paid for.
Even if it was a “staff and for non-equipment purchases only” coupon code, their site let me use it as a new customer on both yarn and the reeds. How did that happen if their site was set up properly? All of this is really on Gist Yarn and Gist Yarn alone.
A better response would have been to process my order and then ask me where I came across the code or investigate what went wrong themselves before contacting me at all. Not demand a customer pay them back for a coupon their store created and then try and figure out the problem.
They basically accused me of either hacking their site, shaking down a staff member for a code or using some nonexistent sketchy third party site that shares weaving store staff coupon codes.
They were also trying to leverage the fact that they are a small company and guilt me into paying for their mistakes. That’s not really appropriate and makes me think negatively towards them. It is okay to admit when you are in the wrong. I don’t know why they refused to do that and instead pushed the blame to me, to imaginary shady third party site “scrapers” and finally Google when it was their ad and their code they mismanaged.
I am sympathetic to Gist being a small business but how many people could have used that code in the few hours it seems it was up before they realized it? I’m willing to bet it was just me and that’s why they were trying to get to me to admit I did something weird to get it.
As for the money—I wasn’t charged on the 17th when I placed and then canceled my order. I was hoping they would just void the order like most stores do and it wouldn’t go through but no, they did charge me on on the 18th. I had to contact them again and that money was out of my account until the evening of 11/22.
If you have followed all this, there is even a stranger twist—I had sent a message to Schacht saying I had a strange experience with Gist while trying to buy reeds and asking about finding another dealer.
Schacht’s response was surprising! I don’t know what is going on in the world of weaving but it looks like Gist told them a very different story than what they told me.
Your email was forwarded to me. I am sorry you had a negative experience. Unfortunately, GIST was hacked with a bogus coupon code. This created a lot of confusion on the end of customers and staff that had no idea what was happening. This is very unfortunate that anyone would target small companies that are so focused on service and the customer experience. My apologies for the confusion. GIST is a wonderful company and didn’t deserve the cyber-attack. I know they would be happy to have your order for a heddle, but if you need help finding an alternate supplier I am happy to help. Again, I am sorry that you were affected by this incident.
Gist was clear to me that it was a staff code and that they hadn’t properly set up their Google ads. Not a “bogus” code. I guess Schacht contacted them after my message and Gist told them they were the victim of some “cyber attack”?? What? What a bizarre story to make up and tell a company you partner with. Did they tell them I hacked the site? Some mythical third party?
They know it was a code they created and accidentally put in their ads! They told me this. Why tell Schacht some made up story? Unhinged behavior.