Yes, I must be cursed with this, because just a while back I had another unfortunate experience with my lolita purchases. Luckily Fanplusfriend was able to solve this case fairly and quickly to satisfy both parties, so all in all, this was actually a good experience and a good example of when things go wrong, but get solved, despite all the trouble and grey hairs it cost me. And for their defense, I must say that the clothes are of good quality and well made, and the laces are beautifully detailed, and I am now very happy with my purchase.
Everything started with me drooling over a dress on Fanplusfriend's website after having heard good things about them. I purchased the brand new Ten O'clock Cinderella blouse in black and a black vintage inspired lolita dress (the name was Classic Lolita Vintage Lace Shirring High Waist OP, see the original catalogue pictures on F+F's site or google them, sadly I can't put their pictures here due to copyrights). Their website was very easy to use and they had a large selection of clothes.
Soon after I had made the purchase and paid, the trouble over DHL began. I received an e-mail from F+F asking for my SSN (social security number) saying it was needed for customs. I of course was alarmed by this suspicious message and went to their website to contact them directly and to ask about it. They in turn were surprised and a bit upset saying it was not a scam, but needed for the customs. I already knew this was not the case, since I've been much engaged with customs due to my work, so I went ahead and investigated about the courier services which F+F were using.
It turned out that at least DHL (which was used to carry my package to Finland) needs the customer's SSN in order to clear the package from customs AND to bill the customer with their additional custom clearance fees. So if I'd agree to include my SSN to the package, I would then have to pay not only the legal VAT and taxes at customs, but also I'd have to pay an additional fee to DHL (maybe some 30 euros) for taking care of the customs for me without asking me first, not to mention I've already paid them 22 euros for carrying my package to Finland! I am more than able to do this myself and save the DHL's extra fee.
I kindly informed all of the above to F+F and they said they didn't know the SSN was being used by the courier for this. Luckily F+F was happy to ship my package without my SSN included for DHL. They always answered very promptly and gave me good customer service with this, so I felt relieved and my package got happily on the way. It reached Finland the very next week, but DHL contacted me via text message asking for the SSN before delivering the package. I replied that I'd take care of the customs myself using the webservice that the Customs in Finland had set up at the beginning of the year (handy that one I tell you, I didn't even have to leave my home to get the package). And so they sent me the necessary info to my e-mail and I paid the VAT for customs and two days later my package came home.
I was so excited when opening my package! The blouse was perfect, every bit as I had imagined and it fit like a glove, just like I had expected. The fabric was soft and smooth and the lace was beautiful! But the fabric of the dress was all wrong! It was completely made of flowery lace fabric when it was supposed to be made of cotton with lace-like circle patterns. Also the lace on the hem and waist was different from what was in the catalogue pictures. Sure the dress was black and the design was right, but that's about all it had in common with what I was supposed to get.
And to top it all, the dress was also way smaller than it was supposed to be. I had to pull it on over head, because the zipper wouldn't close on me! And even so, I just couldn't breathe. The description said Lady 70 bust is 86cm (my bust is 83cm) and waist 58-76cm (my waist is 71cm) and it still did not fit.
My god, I was so upset that I wrote an e-mail to F+F about it, but after cooling off for a good long while I rewrote it into a completely polite and almost-not-upset-at-all-letter telling them I didn't know what to do with the dress I had received (I've been working with customers my whole life, so I know how unfortunate it is for an honest worker to have an angry customer). F+F answered promptly asking for photos and saying that they sometimes change the fabric and lace (wait, WHAT?!) and that this info could be read from the return policies (you've got to be kidding me, right?). All this vital info is surely supposed to be in the item description to avoid such sticky situations.
So I carefully photographed everything and sent them the pictures with an epic e-mail telling the specifics of the whole thing, of how the lace was different, the fabric was different and the size was too small to wear. I told them that I would not like to return the dress, since I would then have to cancel the whole order, because it would have been too expensive for me to order just one blouse with the 22 euros shipping costs, that's why I ordered two garments to begin with. I also told them I had a sewing machine which I regularly use to make my own clothes and that I could make the dress fit me, but I wanted a bit of compensation for these unpleasant surprises and for the extra work, because the dress was not what I was supposed to get. They kept answering promptly, and they admitted that the size was different from what I was supposed to get. And then they offered me a refund of 15 usd (about 11,60 euros) or I'd have to return the dress.
So, let me think it over, the dress cost me 70 euros, the blouse 43 euros, the shipping for both 22 euros, then I paid VAT at the customs 22,31 euros for the dress and 10,49 for the blouse (oh yes, we have VAT at 24% here in Finland, isn't it just peechy?), so the whole garment price just went up to around 103 euros for just one dress, if the shipping is halved between the two. Does a measly 11,60 euros of refund make me feel any better, when the dress was not what I expected, but a total let-down, of which I could make a decent garment only by putting hours of work into it? NO! I was not happy with this, because the dress was not the right fabric and not the right size.
So again I went, cooling off and trying very hard not to cry over it. Happily five minutes later (which I did not notice until after a good few hours of raging around the house by myself) I saw an e-mail telling me they had noticed that the dress was now discounted on their website, and they could add the discount to the offered refund to make it 33,54 usd all together (which is around 25 euros). I was very happy that they had found a solution that would satisfy both parties and I accepted the offered refund. The refund was on my PayPal account a week later.
All in all I think that F+F offered me good customer service throughout the whole case, despite all the unpleasant surprises it involved. I am happy to know, that in case there is an issue with an order from F+F, they can offer good customer service and are able to solve problems quickly and fairly. I'll make a more detailed post later about how I fixed the dress, but for now I can only say that I am now very happy with both the dress and the blouse and have worn them out already!
The blouse going out for a meetup
The dress after fixing at Tracon9, the photo is by Helene Lindfors