So let's discuss Discontinued Brand Name yarn, shall we? A fairly popular website that sells discontinued yarn at heavily reduced prices. I've heard good things about them. A few weeks ago, they were having this big special on "100% New Zealand cone yarn". 2+ pounds of yarn on a cone for $8! What a deal. I wavered for a bit and decided to purchase approximately $40 worth.
Now, let's get one thing straight. The website said that the yarn is "suitable for rugs, outwear, and felted items". I wasn't assuming it'd be cashmere soft here. I knew it'd probably be not great for next-to-skin items. Now let's see the product description.
So I ordered some. One bulky cone, one worsted cone, and five further discounted "slightly less than one pound" cones, on January 18th, 2012. I received my order on January 24th, 2012.
I was not happy.
First of all, the mini cones. They're described as "slightly less than one pound". Of the five I bought, one weighed 10oz. Okay, cool. Three weighted 5oz. Um, what? The final one weighed 3.5oz. So in total, what 90% of the world would interpret as about half to two thirds of a pound, I got less than half with 4 out of 5 of them and less than a THIRD with one of them. But whatever, the five cones cost like $10 total.
So what about the two big cones I bought?
First of all, the weight looked thin. It was NOT worsted weight. Not a chance in hell. So I whipped out my WPI tool. 15. What? That can't be right, that's like sport weight. Measured again. 15 wpi. Yup, they sold sport weight, light DK at best, as worsted. Then I looked at the bulky cone. It's just two strands of the "worsted weight" wound around the cone. Not plied together like a cable ply, not a true 4 ply. Two strands of sport weight, creating a yarn that's aran weight at best.
Oh and then there's the feel of the yarn. This isn't garment worthy. This isn't outwear worthy. Fuck, after knitting a SWATCH, it left a swollen sore red mark on my left index finger from how rough and scratchy it was. And this was AFTER I washed and soaked a small sample with conditioner. A second sample, soaked in Eucalan, came out the same.
So now I'm pissed. The only thing about the entire order that was accurate was the color. I can't even felt this crap because I can't work with it. So I contacted DBNY. My email was mostly what I've said here, and I asked for either the amount of yarn that the INCREDIBLY generously described small cones was short of to be sent to me, or store credit for my order. I had not desired a refund at this point. This was the first response.
"Please realize that you are buying yarn that even as a mill end sells for $12 per pound. Do you think that you got a half pound--that is worth $6 .. Some people got cones that were over a pound and of course we had no complaint from them."
So the disparity is even LARGER than I thought, and the description is even MORE inaccurate. It doesn't say anything about a varying amount to THAT degree. "These cones of 100% New Zealand Wool weigh slightly less than 1 lb. "
"Please do not gamble on discounted seconds if you need a certain yardage."
Well thank you for being condescending. I do not need a certain yardage, I expect to receive what was described.
"The yarn is so inexpensive anyway that you do not have to play games with cone sizes. Those cones are heavy and we give hundreds of them away free, for example today. Today and last week and tomorrow those cones are free. If you want them without paying for them, just wait for the free yarn mailers. We do at least one per week."
Fine, whatever, what generous souls you are. So why aren't you offering to send me cones to compensate for your inability to describe things properly?
"You are buying rug yarn and the plies are correct for rugs."
I'm sorry, WHAT? This is rug yarn? The website never said that.
"Two ply is considered the right weight for what we were advertising."
This comes up again later. What the fuck is the point of this? You never said it was rug yarn on the website, and it's STILL INACCURATE TO THE PRODUCT DESCRIPTION.
"Have you considered paying retail for yarn? We sell well below wholesale to hundreds of people per day and if you need something specific, please never buy grab bags, cones, mill ends or seconds from us. It might be better for you to pay the long dollar and get exactly what you want, but you will not get a half pound of New Zealand wool for $2.25 from anyone else.
If you would rather pay full retail than take a "chance" on $2.25 for a $6-$12 cone, we would be happy to direct you to our competition. Do you realize that you are complaining about getting a great deal, even though it wasn't an awesome deal? Some customers did get awesome deals, and it's just luck of the draw. We have 8000 cones of yarn that we are selling at 75% off plus today you get one free with every order. Would you have complained if you got 4 pounds of yarn plus a 2 pound cone free? Some customers do ... we don't single them out, it just happens."
Two full paragraphs of condescending, hostile bullshit. So I responded.
"My complaint is NOT with the product or the pricing. It is the
advertising. You advertised the yarns as "slightly less than one
pound". They are HALF, or LESS, than a pound. That is not what your
"Two ply is considered the right weight for what we were advertising."
That is NOT what you advertised.
This page says "4 Ply" and "Knitting Weight: Bulky". This is not 4
ply, it is 2 ply. This is not bulky weight, it is sport weight, double
stranded across the cone. And this yarn is not suitable in any way for
knitting, which is displayed all over the advertisements for these
cones as "knitting" yarns; nowhere on your website does this say this
is rug yarn, yet after feeling the yarn and knitting a swatch, it's
obvious that it is.
I am not the only person that feels that this is highly unprofessional
and that my order was not what I received. I've spoken with a dozen
other people who have all agreed that the product is not as
advertised, the yarn is absolutely in no way suitable for knitting and
should be explicitly labelled as rug yarn WITHOUT the word 'knitting'
in any of the descriptions, and that they will not be purchasing from
The pricing may be a great deal. But what I received is NOT what was
advertised. This product should be advertised with the correct weight
and number of plies, a more appropriate wording of the $2 cones
("cones are not weighed individually and will be between one third to
one full pound"). I have purchased dozens of yarns that were mill
ends, yarns from grab bags, or seconds. I am perfectly willing to
accept less yardage than I was anticipating, or yarn that is not up to
normal standards. However, the yarns I've purchased are blatantly
mislabeled and falsely advertised. I wish to return this product for a
full refund. If you aren't willing to do so, then I will be filing a
dispute with PayPal."
The response was:
"What you got was less than a pound. Some people got as much as two pounds."
Well that was helpful. So I waited about two days after this, three days total after my first request for compensation of some kind. I sent through my PayPal and BBB reports and informed them of such. About a day later, they responded to my PayPal dispute.
"The ply we advertise is correct for rug yarn. In addition, we are prepared to offer the customer some free rug yarn cones as our way to address his disappointment in his order. Thank you."
AGAIN with claiming that the number of plies is correct for rug yarn. And NOW they offer to at least send me more yarn to compensate, which at this point I'm not willing to accept. I had to file a PayPal dispute to get them to do that, and my emails were ignored for two days in the meantime.
Oh, and by the way? They've since changed the website in at least two places to say "rug yarn". So they know they fucked up, but they're not willing to fix my order. I didn't think to take screenshots of the website before they changed it, but there's this post on the DBNY Ravelry group that corroborates that the only mention of the word "rug" was that tiny paragraph, and nowhere else (and by the way, yes, I had to go to the Ravelry group to get any real info on the yarn, such as it was bought from an out of business rug company and that it most definitely is NOT suitable in any way for anything that will touch you).
Oh, by the way, this is my second order with DBNY. My first order was botched too. I ordered two balls of yarn in two colors, but about two hours after I get the email of shipment notification, they say that the website was wrong and they only had one ball of one of the colors. And since it was already shipped I couldn't cancel the order. And for that whole situation, I was never offered anything except "sorry, you didn't ask to cancel fast enough", even though I didn't know there was anything wrong with my order until AFTER it shipped.
I've since escalated the PayPal dispute for them to review and decide what happens. All I want is my money back. If I get it I'll even ship back all the yarns to them. I've even offered a reduced refund for just the price of the yarn without the tax or shipping.
And I just need to say: if the only problem was the yarn being rougher than I hoped and the mini cones being lighter than I hoped, I'd still be disappointed, but I'd just suck it up and maybe try and destash everything. But because they described the yarns in blatantly false ways, it becomes false advertising, and that's when it becomes bullshit. They're so willing to give away free cones to people, yet not willing to offer any to ME as a peace offering for an order I'm not happy with (at least, until PayPal and the BBB gets involved, and then "oh we're willing to offer free yarn"), or to refund my order after they know they fucked up. Couple this with the INCREDIBLY condescending attitude of the responses to my emails, and yeah, I'm going to fucking go to war with you. This is not how you treat customers. Even if every other custom you've ever had has been pleased as punch with their orders, when you get that one customer who's completely pissed off at you for misrepresenting your product and manipulating your customers to sell more than they otherwise would, you better fucking make it right.
So hey everyone, shop at DBNY! You might get what you ordered! Maybe! If not, it's your fault because you're stupid.