49 Design review: Worst customer service experience I have ever had

49 Design review: Worst Customer Service Experience I have ever had

Hello all!

Happy Easter weekend to all! 🙂 If you know this site, you know that when I review products (see my Reviews section for more Indigenous products I have reviewed), I often rave about awesome products I have bought and amazing artists who have given me the best customer service. In my own life, I always encourage wholeheartedly Indigenous artists and their art to support the communities, might they be local or far (learn about a great Metis artist who I have become friends with and VIDA this great site that encourages artists around the world here). And when I discovered 49 Design through Facebook, I was ecstatic. They seemed to have so many great products with sooooo many possible patterns and combinations.

Although their website has no page explaining who they are and what they stand for, their products, at first glance, seemed legit. They even sponsored Indigenous people who did good deeds for their communities. Looking at their site, it seemed like a site I wanted to encourage. Boy was I wrong!! Let’s see why….

Car cover seats: I wanted them!

Car seat covers

Tribal design car seat covers

It started with a friend sharing this picture on the right on Facebook. I had been looking for car seat covers (the material of my car seats is just crappy) for a while and I wanted those! So I read through the description and thought “ok this should work”. What I should have read more closely is where it said “One size fits most bucket seats”….

But I did not because the site seemed legit as I said earlier and they had many patterns to choose from (I chose the one below). The order came to about $115 CAN (more than I would pay for other car seat covers but those were more unique). It also did not clearly say the materials they were using to make the seat covers.

seat cover pattern

Seat cover pattern I chose

And then the doubts set in…

As I clicked on “Submit Order”, a page popped up stating that orders took 4-6 weeks and that I should look in my inbox for my order confirmation email. Well, there was no email. Not in my junk email, nowhere. So using the contact form on their site, I emailed them asking if my order went through. No response.

A few weeks went by (life is busy, I forgot about the order) and then I realized I had never heard back. I knew they had received my email as I got an auto-reply thanking me for my message. So I messaged 49 Design on their Facebook page. A nice person stated they could see my order and that I would get an email once it was shipped. Surprise surprise, I never got an email that it was shipped. Nevertheless, I received my order over 6 weeks after I had placed it. I was excited!! The package looked underwhelming but I could not wait to put the seat covers on.

Until I opened the package that is….First off, the material. Fleece. Would you want to be sitting on fleece seats in the middle of summer when it is hot as hell outside? The answer is no, no you would not. As fleece would make it even hotter. This was not going well…

So I went in the parking lot and took the covers out. No note, no explanation, no nothing included in the package, which I later learned, was shipped by the owner of the company. I tried one on my driver’s seat. Just by the shape you can figure out how to put them on. However, velcro straps seemingly placed randomly (as I swear I could not attach any of them to anything) were not useful. They were not to be installed with hooks (which really help seat covers stay put) like the majority of seat covers. Sooo the website said that the covers would be snug. Yeah, biggest understatement of the year right there. They were not snug, they were a good 2 inches too small. Were I to fasten everything and pull the covers to their max, the covers were sitting 2 inches above the seat. Meaning that were I to sit, then the whole thing comes apart or I hover 2 inches above my seat. While they were too small on the seat, they were too big on the back of the seat. Altogether, very ill-fitting. Very. None of it was like the picture on the site, and I was more than disappointed. I even had a friend help me the next day to see if I was the only one here thinking they did not fit. She fully agreed.

cover in my car

Cover in my car

cover in my car

Ill fitting car seat covers









cover in my car

Getting a refund: Literally an impossible task

So, right away, I messaged 49 Design on their Facebook page (as they never answered my message on their site). Long story short: I was told the owner, Michael Brinkman, was away but that the person would check with him as soon as he was back. I messaged them again 2 days later, and received this message: “Please take a pic of one of the seat covers on one of your car seats and send it to me. Our owner will want a pic to make a determination. I will be treating your messages as a “refund claim”, and turning this issue over to our owner“. Ok, I did just that as well as provided the email where I could be reached by this mysterious owner.

Fast forward 6 days: still no response. So I message them again and was assured that all my information had been passed down to the owner who would get back to me. I sent 3 more messages over the next 6 days (we are now 12 days after I originally asked for a refund) with no response. All my messages went unanswered.

Then I got to talk with the very condescending owner, Michael Brinkman

Mind you I had to email them again as he was adamant that he had not received anything from me. Even though I was assured he had received all my info and my first email to 49 Design through their site went unanswered. By that time, I had mailed back the seat covers (paying another $15 to mail them back), as I was more than fed up. What I got next was a series of condescending emails from the delightful owner (sarcastic here…) of 49 Design, Michael Brinkman. In no way was I ever rude (even if I wanted to). I just repeated that the seat covers did not fit in my very standard car and that I wished to get a refund for my purchase. I had returned the seat covers in perfect condition and I was clearly not satisfied.

*** I never complain or return an article unless I am absolutely not satisfied. I am not someone who just constantly returns what she orders. Because 99% of the time, I am satisfied!

Reasonable request right?

Nope, not for the owner of 49 Design who proceeded to lecture me on how they had never EVER received a complaint and that they were then reluctant to issue a refund. Well, there is a first time for everything. I was also told that the covers were not installed correctly. I responded that I am an intelligent and capable woman and that both myself and a friend (who has freaking car seat covers in her own car) had tried to install them without success. That I did not need a lecture about their product but wanted a refund of an item I had returned in perfect condition. The owner then sent me this as “proof” that the seat covers fit:

seat cover

Covers installed in a different car

Yeah awesome, except that, that’s not my car! If I am telling you that they don’t fit in my freaking car, it’s because they don’t fit in my freaking car! Boy, was I getting pissed off. I am a strong woman so yes I pulled on those seat covers to stretch them and make them fit (I am also not an idiot) and they DO NOT FIT. I tried, not once, not twice but three times.

And then the epitome of condescending from the owner

So a reasonable owner would have said: ok, you have tried, you are not satisfied, you have returned the product in perfect condition, we will reimburse you. Well, not Michael! He actually had the audacity to send me back the freaking seat covers!!! I kid you not. And stated he would send me an instructional video to install them before I receive them in the mail. Not surprisingly, I never got the video. I refused to accept the package at the post office and returned it to sender. Which I told Michael I would do as I had clearly stated that I did not want them back and not to ship them back. I told him that he needed to be more open-minded and actually listen when a customer is not satisfied. Never heard from him again. Shocking! Not….


I have encouraged sooooo many companies and artists over the years. But I have never EVER experienced anything like what I experienced with 49 Design. I have now lost $130 on Native print car seat covers that are so ill-fitting it is not even funny. I was talked down by the owner, who seems to think I am an idiot who is completely incapable of menial tasks and judgment. Yeah the fact that the product is not good, I can live with. A pompous owner who treats me like a stupid woman? No way in hell will I accept that. mad emoticon

So please pass the word around, 49 Design is not a company that values its customers. They actually seem to think we are all idiots when we dare question their products. I am sorry but owning a company means being able to accept criticism and negative feedback. 49 Design and its owner Michael Brinkman have shown me that they cannot. They would prefer to ignore their customers’ complaints and reasonable requests.

As BTW, I am still out $130 as they are still refusing to refund my purchase. So please do not encourage a company that treats their customers this way!!!

All my Relations

27 thoughts on “49 Design review: Worst customer service experience I have ever had

  1. Ryan Bellerose

    You aren’t an indian and you are spreading bullshit about actual indians. you are a shameless asshat who needs to be called out. why dont you go learn your own traditions and culture and quit pretending to be an indian? I know for a fact they tried to help you, but you were too stupid to figure out how to put on seat covers. not their fault.

    1. Emily Post author

      Actually Ryan, appeareances can be disappointing. Because I don’t look like an “Indian” I am not one? Maybe you should be less judgmental. The help they offered me was useless. If a customer is not satisfied then the company needs to listen. That’s customer service 101. I am actually very intelligent and independent and not stupid at all. But thanks for assuming I am. Again, your judgmental attitude is not welcome here. I won’t be arguing with you on my own site. Sorry if I don’t look “Indian enough” for you.

      1. Ellaine

        Wow. Is all I can say. Mr Bellaire who is native. (Indians come from india) is shockingly rude. If only First Nations buy from First Nations companies the companies would soon go bankrupt. I’m glad I read your post. I was going to order those same seat covers. Glad I didn’t. All my relations

    2. TPA

      ” Calling somebody fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you” – Cady Herron

      Judging or making assumptions about someone based on appearance says more about you, then it does the other person.


        1. Francina

          it was taught to me that judging and making assumptions are “roadblocks” on the Good Red Road…

          And preventing learning from each other’s traditions, wouldn’t that make us “static” peoples? Does that belong to “Mitakuye Oyasin”? 😉

          Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ

          1. Emily Post author

            They absolutely are roadblocks. Judgment has no place on the Red Road. I shared my experience with the company but they refused to accept that someone was not satisfied. And made me feel like I was to blame.

  2. Francina


    Thank you for your gift: a $ 130 worth experience lesson of bad service. 😉 I hope you will find a decent alternative to your satisfaction.

    I’m not an Native American but “White” woman, “red inside” who put her first steps on the Red Road. I hope to find Home eventually 😉

    Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ

    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Francina
      I am glad the review was useful! I never got my money back and they stopped answering me… they could not accept that a customer was not satisfied. This is my first negative review on this site but I wanted others to know before they also were insulted and lost their own money.
      The Red Road is a way of life who welcomes anyone who shares the beliefs and traditions. Welcome to this way of life 😊

  3. Francina

    When buying on Internet, I always use PayPal to pay. They have buyer protection when the order is not delivered, damaged, not as described or not matching somebody’s expectations. Fortunately I had to use it only a few times. Most internet sellers are reliable and have good service.

    When there is an issue, I always contact the seller first. If that doesn’t work out, I contact PayPal for mediation. If that doesn’t work I upgrade it to a claim and PayPay refunds the money. There are also credit card companies with buyer protection.

    I hope your issue will be solved despite the fact that the seller is very convinced of his own truth…

    Mitakuye Oyasin

    1. Emily Post author

      That is a very good point! I used my credit card to buy the seat covers and asked politely and reasonably to get reimbursed as I returned the covers. But still nothing. I am a big fan of Paypal and I am loving the buyer protection. Amazon has a similar policy. Because unfortunately, some sites and their owners just do not offer acceptable customer service.

  4. Yvonne

    Hi Emily,

    Sorry to hear about your negative experience with 49 Design. It is a very unfortunate experience but thanks for sharing it so that more people will be aware of their condescending attitude and lack of professionalism.


    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Yvonne
      thank you for taking the time to read about my experience. It is very unfortunate but got to spread the word

  5. Francina

    I have to admit that I made a stupid decision by buying “Eagle” feathers on eBay 🙁 Of course the feathers weren’t “Eagle” feathers, but Turkey feathers…

    Fortunately the price was reasonable for Turkey feathers and I could use them. But: lesson learned! Think twice before buying something that’s “too good to be true” because most of the times it is too good to be true! Natural Eagle feathers on eBay… what was I thinking? Too eager to have Eagle feathers…

    But, every mistake is a lesson 🙂

    1. Emily Post author

      Yep when something sounds too good to be true, in my experience it often is! Selling eagle feathers is actually illegal. So any time you see “eagle feathers” for sale, they are quite likely turkey or from another wild bird. I was taught that there are 2 ways to acquire eagle feathers. They are either given to you or you find them.

  6. Dawn

    There are laws about online sales fraud and perhaps you could still get your money back. Anything sold online *must* offer a money-back guarantee and they must follow through on that guarantee if you are not happy for *any* reason. That’s my understanding, anyway. Even if the seat covers fit your seats and were in perfect condition, you could still get your money back if you decided you didn’t like the color once you saw it.

    Talk to your credit card company. They may refund your money for you, as well. Worth looking into!

    1. Emily Post author

      Thank you Dawn for your advice. I really appreciate it. The owner was extremely pretentious and refused to acknowledge that the product might not be up to par. I have since bought car seat covers elsewhere and I love them. The difference in quality is obvious and they fit very nicely.

  7. Deborah Nepoose

    wow! wish I had read this before ordering seat covers, I am already not happy as I am going to get different colored seat covers than I ordered. In addition it was their mistake, however I have been informed I can send them back to get the right color, but I pay the shipping. I was thinking of ordering Christmas gifts, but I think I will pass!!!!

    1. Emily Post author

      oh no I am sorry you had a bad experience too! Mine was awful but it seems like they are willing to exchange yours. But you should not have to pay shipping! I don’t know how they run their company but to me that is just awful customer service.

  8. Judy Goss

    I had a bad experience with 49 Design, too. They popped up on my newsfeeds with NODAPL merchandise. Silly me fell for it without noticing that most of the comments on their Facebook page looked bogus. Never received the stuff. Their order form seemed not to register my address properly. I contacted them multiple times explaining what I thought the problem was. They said they could do nothing because they shipped the stuff and it had never been returned. Multiple times they said they would look into it, but I never heard back. Now, over a year later, they claim they contacted me and I refused to pay for reshipment. That never happened. And now I can no longer comment on their Facebook page. The cowards.

    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Judy
      I am so sorry you also had a bad experience and ended up spending money for something you did not even get! Unfortunately 49 Design does not seem to believe in good service or in their customers. They treat the ones who are unsatisfied badly and that’s a big no no. They should listen to every customer equally especially those who are not satisfied!

    1. Emily Post author

      Jeez so sorry to hear that! The more people comment the more I see that 49 Design are absolutely not worth buying from and treat their customers like pure crap. So sorry you lost your order and money! I lost about $115 too. They sure are making money off the back of others!


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