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!
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.
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.
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:
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….
WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER! AND THAT’S FROM THE OWNER HIMSELF!
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.
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