Friday, March 14, 2014

Secret Shopper Review: Mad Dog Metalworks

I've decided to change up my product reviews a bit.  Products sent to me specifically for review will still be discussed with Tuesday Reviewsday posts, but I realize that companies often treat bloggers differently than normal customers.  To present a balanced view, I'm going to begin Secret Shopper Reviews.

This Sunday is Mad Dog Metalworks.

Now, I will disclose that I had heard that Mad Dog Metalworks had issues with shipping orders on time.  Several of my friends reported that they waited months between getting their shipping notifications and actually receiving their items.  One friend ordered a tag on 5/17/12 and didn't receive it until 12/17/12. That included waiting more than five months for it to "ship" - it not showing up - and Mad Dog Metalworks admitting it hadn't even been shipped and sent it "for real" on 11/29/12.

After several good blog reviews, however, I decided to try my luck and order a tag.  (Sometimes I wonder why I make stupid decisions.)

I ended up inadvertently ordering two tags - one on January 14 and one on January 26.  Etsy's "Entire Cart Checkout" really sucks sometimes. The posted turn-around time was 2-3 weeks.



I finally was notified on the last day of February that my tags had "shipped."  After waiting about a week and the tracking number not being updated, I contacted Mad Dog Metalworks to get their take on the situation.  They responded promptly, and the email seemed to indicate that the tags had already shipped.


When I asked why the tracking number hadn't been updated past "Electronic Shipping Information Received," I was sent this response:


I understand that sometimes USPS drops the ball, but usually they're pretty good.  I ship via USPS almost every day, and even the packages I send internationally (Canada, Spain, France, Germany, etc.) arrive within a week or so.  I decided to check the delivery time map to see how long I should expect a package from North Houston TX to arrive in central Iowa.  The star is me.  That dark blue area is where the package was coming from.  Medium-blue means 2 business days.


Finally, the tracking information updated.  12 days had passed between the shipping label being created and the package actually being shipped.  According to Mad Dog Metalworks, it shipped prior to 3/12.


When I expressed my disappointment on Facebook, I was informed that personal friends of Mad Dog Metalworks usually don't experience these delays.  I know it was meant to make me feel better, but it actually made me feel worse.  In my opinion, it's unprofessional for a seller to give friends' orders priority over orders from strangers.

Finally, on March 14, my tags arrived.  They're okay, quality wise. I really love the typeface she uses, and the little hammer and pit-marks on the face of the tag.  Aesthetically, they're neat. I'd like to see a harder aluminum alloy, like what Fetching Tags, Aggie's Anvil, or Diva Dog Charms use.





Final verdict:  Never again.  The tags are nice but they aren't worth waiting 48-60 days for, especially when the publicly announced turn-around time was 2-3 weeks. Mad Dog Metalworks does offer refunds if you're not happy with the tags, but it wasn't the tags I was unhappy about.  It was the delays and the deception surrounding the delays.  If the tags really would have arrived 2-3 weeks (plus 2 business days for shipping) I'd be ordering Mad Dog Metalworks tags all the time.  Alas....

I get that life happens.  I am surprisingly forgiving if my order is delayed due to a death in the family, a sick pet, vacation, car problems, zombie apocalypse, unicorn attack, whatever.  But tell me what's going on.  Don't leave me hanging.  Don't lie to me about where my purchase is - for the moment I am deceived about why the product isn't in my hands is the moment I lose all sympathy for the seller.

If the numerous shipping delays are caused by whatever post office Mad Dog Metalworks ships from, I'd expect them to change shipping methods. If a shipper is consistently not meeting expectations, sellers should switch to another carrier.


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