I don’t know where to begin today. I am truly feeling ill because of some things that are happening with my business. Those of you who read on a daily basis, know that I typically don’t gripe and moan about things, as I usually try to look at the bright side of things and focus on that. But some times it is difficult to find the bright side in a situation and there is nothing but darkness.
Yesterday I found out some extremely troubling news regarding one of my wholesalers. A friend of mine decided to order some of my patterns from them ‘just to see’ what the patterns looked like. I had discussed in previous blogs that this particular wholesaler had tried several times to strip all of my information from the patterns that they were distributing. We had gone through the rounds about leaving contact information so that customers who purchased the patterns through them could still contact me with questions or concerns regarding the patterns. While “company A” wanted to strip all of the information, as they felt we were competing with them, we had told them if that were the case, we would not have them sell for us. As a result, they promised (in an email that I still have) that nothing would be changed in the nature of the pattern and that our contact information would remain on the pattern.
Recently, things have come to my attention that made me believe that this was perhaps being violated. Just to be sure, I had my friend order some of my patterns from them. He received them yesterday and scanned them in and sent them to me. What I saw made me sick.
Not only was there NO contact information for me on them (they did have that I designed it, but only my name) but they also changed the instructions completely. Much of the instructions were removed, and other parts were changed as far as thickness of wood, etc., making the project something that I had not intended.
The pattern was the Victorian Birdcage ornament pattern, that I had shown here on my blog:
But in the pattern my friend was sent, the plaque was completely different.
While I had stated in the instructions that this pattern required 1/8” wood, they had in it to use 1/8” to 1/4”. I couldn’t imagine how ugly and clunky these would be with that thickness of wood. They also left the blade size at a 2/0 blade, which would have extreme difficulty cutting the straight lines on 1/4” stock, making the pattern hard to do.
They had asked me if I would allow them to include a pattern that I offered free on my site at the time as a limited ‘bonus’ pattern, and I agreed to do this, thinking it would be good business and nice for the customers. The pattern was the companion plaque which used one of the cages as an overlay piece. One could choose any of the eight original cages and hopefully, after purchasing the plaque would also want to purchase the set of 8 ornaments. This was, I thought, good marketing.
Not only was the plaque downsized – making ALL the pieces extremely difficult to cut successfully – but they also decided instead of making it a self-framing plaque, that you were to put a plywood back board on instead, having to glue it to the frame itself. You can see by the picture that the decorative holes around the frame would leave you with either seeing the backboard through the holes or very little to hold on to. This to me made the piece cheap and crappy. Not to mention that now the original sized bird cages wouldn’t even FIT into it!!
I am angry and disgusted beyond words.
I have been working with this supplier for over 15 years. They just had a catalog come out which is about a third of our designs, and knowing that they have butchered our patterns like this makes me livid. On top of all the cutting back (the plaque pattern was originally FIVE pages and they have it cut to ONE!) they are charging TWO DOLLARS more for the pattern than I am – and paying me at a percentage of my own retail price!
Now I don’t care what they charge – they can charge the moon if they want. I agreed to a percent of my own retail. That isn’t the point. My thoughts are with the CUSTOMER who pays so much for this piece of crap with my name on it! (And they have several hundred of my patterns!)
This was a substantial part of our income. But since they are printing my patterns “in house” I have no confidence that anything they are doing is on the up and up. They out and out lied to me when they said they would not change anything and that they would include our contact information and I don’t know how I could trust them with anything more.
All of this work that Keith and I do every day for what? So that they could lie to us and butcher our products and cheapen them while charging customers more?
What bothers me most is how people who are getting these patterns are viewing us as a company. With the quality they are getting for the price they are paying, they must think very little of us. And there is NO WAY for them to tell us if they don’t have internet! I am quite upset about this.
We are just getting on our feet as a company, and we are just getting our head above water. I don’t know if we can even afford to pursue this legally, but we need to do something. Beside the revenue and customers we already lost, we are saddened about the future income from this source, as we are just now beginning to survive on our work.
It really is bad, and I am very discouraged. There are only so many times you can climb out of a hole. No wonder there are so few designers left.
Sorry to be such a downer today. I finished my latest project and wanted to show you all that. Perhaps another time.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"