Sucked into a Simplicity Service Screw-up

I used to wonder why Fabricland, the largest fabric chain store in Canada, refuses to carry Simplicity patterns. Now I know.

I just spent more time than anyone should have to spend fixing a problem with patterns I ordered from Simplicity, and so I need to rant. The short story is this: don’t order from because it’s a clusterfuck and their customer service motto seems to be is something along the lines of “Whatevs”. If you want the long, boring story that I need to get off my chest, it’s below.

But first, have you had any problems with Simplicity? Does your fabric chain carry their patterns? When I asked at Fabricland why they didn’t carry them the woman rolled her eyes and said something along the lines of they were such a pain in the ass to deal with that they just decided to stop carrying them.


I ordered two Simplicity patterns from their website. Total for patterns: $14.96. Shipping cost: $9.79. I always check how many patterns I can fit into an order before the flat shipping charge goes up to the next level. $9.79 was steep — this is in American dollars after all, which is somewhere in the ballpark of $7,987.63 Canadian — but spread across two patterns I figured it was acceptable.

A week later I get one pattern in the mail. I always forget what patterns I ordered so it’s kinda like finding Easter eggs I hid myself when I get the package. Except this time was disappointing because there was only one Easter egg. So I checked my receipt, and then sent an email to Simplicity asking whether the other pattern was being shipped separately or if this was a packing error.

“After reviewing your order, the reason as to why you did not receive that Jumpsuit pattern is because it was on backorder and we unfortunately are not able to send backorder to Canada.  You would need to keep watch for when that pattern becomes available/in stock again and replace the order for that pattern> [sic]”

Ok. Not sure why there might be some arbitrary ‘rule’ about ‘not being able to send backorder to Canada’, but whatever. We’re used to being treated arbitrarily when it comes to shipping from the US. I wrote back to say that there was no indication at the time I purchased that the pattern was on backorder (in fact, my receipt is clearly marked as having it “in stock”), and that I would not have agreed to pay $9.79 to ship just one pattern.

Second email from Simplicity: “When yo9u [sic] are on the pattern page where it indicates the price as well as the area to select your size, there is a box where it does state Status.  Where it states Status, it does indicate on backorder-expected in stock 6/1/15.” — Nothing addressing my complaint about paying too much for shipping. So I email back to remind them that the website and my receipt clearly showed the pattern as being in stock, and that when I hit purchase I was agreeing to buy two patterns and pay shipping for two patterns. I tell them they had better fix this problem, because I am not happy that they falsely represented what exactly I was paying for.

I suggest two possible solutions to them: either refund me half the shipping cost, or agree to send me the backordered pattern when it becomes available with free shipping. Simple, right? Either way, we’re talking a cost of LESS THAN FIVE BUCKS to mollify a pissed off customer.

Third email from Simplicity: “Thank  you for clarifying your complaint. According to the invoice, this original authorization was 21.76,  which was both items and the shipping.  Since one item was not available, the actual charge was  $19.37.  This was the difference in shipping. The cost of shipping is actual  international rates.  This is calculated as you check out according to the billing and shipping address involved. Our inventory is not LIVE.  It does not update as each customer is shopping.   It may take  a while for the system to update after each order is processed.   We do apologize, but this is not an exact science, and things change very quickly.   We do see that this order was kicked into our corrections program to take off the back ordered item as we are not able to send back orders to Canada.”

Setting aside the factual error (that the lower price charged was the difference in shipping; the difference was the price of the pattern they didn’t send me), WTF? It’s my problem that your website doesn’t talk to your database? And that I should just be OK with it if I agree to pay for one thing and get something different? So I’m really fucking pissed off at this point. You’re really going to make me spend ALL THIS TIME chasing you down to fix this minor problem that is so easily fixable? I mean, I really don’t give a shit at this point about the lousy $4.90 but now it’s about the principle of the thing.

My next email to Simplicity said, among other things: “You have engaged in a bait and switch scheme when I checked out at your website — you indicated I was purchasing one thing, when really it was something else. How is a customer supposed to judge value for money if you do not inform them that you are going to give them something different than what they agreed to pay for? Not only is that bad business practice, it is entirely unethical.  I’m rather certain it’s also illegal….If you will not refund me half the shipping cost, or send me the second pattern for no shipping cost, then I will insist you take back the one pattern you did manage to get to me and give me a full refund for the pattern, the cost of shipping, as well as my cost for shipping it back to you. You let me know which one of those three options it’s going to be….Please don’t make me keep chasing you down for a solution to this problem that you can very easily fix.”

The solution came when I got on the phone with them. After some arguing, they finally agreed to refund me $4.90.

Cripes. I need a drink.

Unfortunately, a drink is going to cost me more than $4.90. 😉

20 thoughts on “Sucked into a Simplicity Service Screw-up

  1. Seriously, this was fascinating. I almost never sew or buy Simplicity patterns. Very rarely, at least. I feel like I needed popcorn reading this, it was so engrossing. I am impressed that you persisted and that your persistence paid off!


  2. This is why I think the NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement needs to be scrapped. Close the border, the US government really wants this just as Donal Rumsfeld and no more trade with the USA. No Americans in Canada! No Canadians in America. Let them stew on that for a while. We may be small as, Stuart McLean says, but we’re big. The mouse that roared.


  3. unbelievable! I did use simplicity pants patterns a couple of years ago – the amazing fit collection. I really did like them – but alas another pant pattern came out and I’m to bigger and better things! However, I’ve never ordered off their site – not sure why as I order most everything on line. I’m glad you persisted and it paid off.


  4. Oh wow. I have never dealt with such atrocious customer service! What would the shipping cost you if you ordered elsewhere? I see Amazon has some Simplicity patterns (they’re way more than 5$ though). And does Pattern Review offer decent shipping to Canada?


  5. Yes Pattern Review does offer decent shipping to Canada. It’s better ordering through them. And they’re fast, not like BMV which can take a month to six weeks to get to Vancouver.


    1. Yes! Except I didn’t start the complaint with “now, I’m an old lady….” Maybe I’ll try that next time and save myself a few steps.


  6. grrrr! I feel your pain – so unfair and annoying! I hate these kinds of frustrating interactions with online or remote vendors where you can’t just walk into a store to deal with the issue. At least you got a few bucks back – good for you, standing up for yourself!


  7. Why have I only read your blog now? I enjoyed your post so much I’m going to have to read all the older posts. As for Simplicity, they must be patterning their business model after the airlines. I’m still baffled by their logic and why they,if they can mail patterns to Canada, why a back ordered pattern would cause a system breakdown.
    It gave me a good chuckle at the end of a crappy day so thank you for that. Next time simplicity has a sale here I could buy the patterns for you and send them myself to Canada!


    1. Ooh, careful what you offer or I’ll have you doing importing on a full time basis! 🙂 except I think I’m just going to not use Simplicity patterns in future…plenty of other fish that don’t treat their customers like crap.


  8. Why is the onus always on the customer when a company stuffs up their service? They sound awful.
    The only time I don’t mind paying a mystery price for postage is for fabric…. one shop in the UK has telephone orders only even though they have all the photos of the fabric online. You have to call to place your order and are told an approximate postage cost. They post your items then process payment based on the actual postage cost – I always check the postage price stamped on the parcel and they’ve always been honest. At least you only pay for what they send even if you don’t know the exact cost upfront.


    1. There’s a yarn supplier I use called Little Knits that charges you a set amount for shipping at checkout, but they always refund part of it if the actual cost of shipping was less. I like that system, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Here is what I do when I feel that customer service has not given what I was promised. I write one email with my demand. If they won’t do it, I dispute it with my credit card company, takes 2 minutes with a form online. I have never lost. In fact, when I did exactly what you did, and disputed half the shipping cost (different company) they refunded the whole amount, $30! Credit cards have amazing protections and consumers should take advantage of that. I had another incident where the company sent me the wrong item. I told them to send the right item, but they wouldn’t until I returned the wrong item. I don’t have time to be haring off to the post office, I told them they could pick it up if they’d like, but since the error was on their part, they need to just give me a refund. When they refused, I disputed it and got my money back.


  10. I dread ordering from the USA – the cost, exchange, duties, the time. I once ordered something and it took over 6 weeks! I did not realize that Fabricland did not carry Simplicity. I haven’t bought one in years. Good work on getting the shipping refund!


  11. I just came across your blog and I’m reading them through. May I add on this topic that Simplicity patterns are not available anymore in Québec either because “from now on the company refuses to translate their patterns into French”. This is what I was told by the lady at Fabricville (the sister company of Fabricland). I just can’t believe it: these patterns had been offered in both languages for ages and I’m pretty sure that the cost of translation was close to nothing as compared to their sales. This company sucks!


    1. Wow, that’s shocking, Helene. Well, we can comfort ourselves with all the other great pattern companies and not even miss Simplicity!


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