Today’s blog post is a little different than what I usually post up. If you’re not someone who purchases fabric or does not care to read a review with negative aspects, then please carry on with your day and something more positive. I have a bad habit of allowing things to slide, and I’ve decided that it’s time for me to start documenting experiences I’m not happy with. In my interest of being fair and charitable to others, I often leave myself in an undesirable position with no recourse for what happened.
Most sewists online are probably familiar with Fabric.com, a large online seller who exists as only a warehouse and sells fabrics for a fantastically low price and a low free shipping threshold. According to their FaceBook page they’re owned by Amazon, which I find surprising since all of my experiences with Amazon and their customer service are quite different than my dealings with Fabric.com.
I have been making purchases with Fabric.com for many years; I believe my first was when we lived in Alabama, which would place it in the 5-7 years ago range. I was very excited to get my order, which included a large cut of some quilting cotton I intended to use as a quilt backing for a project I was planning. Opening the box, I was a bit disappointed: the fabric was all shoved into a box that was rather dirty, and I could see dust/dirt scuffs everywhere in it. Many of the pieces had weird folds in them from how roughly they had been crammed into the box. I wrote it off as the price I paid for such a good deal on the fabric and free shipping cost. It would all wash out, right? There were other fabrics in there as well, but I remember that the large piece, upon opening it, had highlighter marks on it and splotches of dirt. I told myself it would be my only order from that company and stuck to that resolve for several years following.
But over time I found myself looking at the website and being tempted to place another order, and my next two were MEH but nothing was horrifyingly wrong like with my first. They were packaged in a minimalist way, but at least they were clean and what I had ordered. Nothing special, but nothing terrible either.
And then came my most recent order. I decided it was time to purchase a lot of clothing fabrics and Fabric.com had the best selection of ones I had been eyeing online and for the best prices, including Lizzy House’s Hit Parade line of knit fabrics. This fabric is the one that I ended up having a large issue with on my final order with Fabric.com. On the site, the fabric was listed as the “Hit Parade Knits Cat Heads” print. (Emphasis mine.) 100% cotton (which isn’t unusual for jersey knit fabrics. Not all are stretch blends.) All fabrics are listed as, “good for quilting, garments, and more,” so it’s difficult to tell right away that anything is amiss with a listing. I was delighted and purchased 3 yards to make myself a comfy dress out of the fabric.
When the package arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Fabric.com had upped their packaging standards. This package was the first one where the box was pristine and new, as well as all fabrics were individually packed in plastic bags, sealed shut, and nicely stacked in the box. I was impressed by how different this package was than previous ones. Piece after piece, I was double checking amounts and super happy with what I had received…and then it happened. I got to the cat fabric and paused, noting that I had received a woven quilting cotton from 2013’s Catnap line. It’s the same design (the Hit Parade is Ms. House’s most popular prints in knit fabrics for clothing), but the wrong fabric base.
Cue the Charlie Brown, “Auuuuuugh.”
While I was miffed, I decided to give Fabric.com a chance to fix the problem and set about contacting customer service via email right away. I explained the problem, including my annoyance that this fabric had been mislabeled, but I understood that mistakes happen, and I wanted this corrected right away. I received a confirmation stating that I would receive a reply email within 24 hours of having sent mine.
So I waited.
And I waited.
And I waited.
On the start of the third day, I received a terse and chirpy email back from a representative, stating that I was mistaken and that fabric was clearly quilting cotton. I could feel free to return the fabric if I wanted to, and they would process the label for me if I chose to go that route. I was happy to be able to return the fabric no questions asked, but I was very annoyed that the misrepresentation of the fabric was being brushed off and treated as an issue with my reading comprehension.
I may have had a Liz Lemon moment, and in it, I may have replied that I definitely wanted to return the fabric and more aggressively explained that the fabric was clearly mislabeled, and I found that dishonest. I realize that the representative most likely isn’t a crafter or someone who knows anything about actual fabrics and likely didn’t realize that “knit” is a type of fabric…but I take issue with being told that I do not know the difference between quilting cotton and jersey knit. I may have ended my email with a flouncy, “And this is the last time you will screw up one of my orders, because I will not be doing business with your company ever again.” I then waited for my label, hoping that being a bit pissy (though still polite) about things didn’t cause the representative to neglect processing my request. I have that effect on people; it’s my charm.
It came. I returned the fabric the same day. A few days later my money was refunded. And now I shall never do business with Fabric.com again. I will pay a higher price and get a higher level of customer service for it.
During my 3 day waiting period I did a lot of research online about Fabric.com’s customer service and found an overwhelming number of negative reports of poor customer service and items that were misrepresented on site as something different than what was received. Sadly, my experiences are not unique, nor do they appear to be flukes that happen every so often. When Fabric.com is good, it’s good. But when it goes wrong, you can be left with stained fabric, something completely different than what you thought you ordered, or left hanging waiting for customer service to contact you back. I appear to be lucky in the fact that they actually responded to me and did process my return, complete with refund.
There are many amazing online fabric stores out there; support one of them instead.