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Giggle Moon Photography, Design Revolution Online, Janean Bagley Lindner

Bright light green and bright yellow Hug Me Slugs, original art toys by Elizabeth RuffingThese are two Hug Me Slugs I made for Giggle Moon Photography, in exchange for professional photographs of my toys with kids, something I was looking forward to having. The exchange was also supposed to include a feature in a children’s counting book, and free advertising in the book, on the web, on Facebook, and on the Giggle Moon Photography site. I sent these off to Janean Bagley Lindner, the owner, back in June of 2011, but, unfortunately, none of these things ever happened.

I had a hard time getting any response from Giggle Moon, but was told in two emails over the past seven months that there were reasons the work couldn’t be done, even though I continued to see photo sessions posted, throughout the same time period, on the Giggle Moon Facebook page. I’ve reported the incident to Etsy, and asked Giggle Moon to reimburse me for the toys. She promised me she would send payment for the toys, but she did not.

Update as of June 2012: Janean Lindner at Giggle Moon Photography never did pay for the toys she kept. Not one single payment. This is just stealing and it is fraud. I would beware of dealing with her. She has also since started a business under the name of Design Revolution Online, which is also on Facebook here, selling accessories and props for photographers. I have seen at least one contest on this Facebook page, making similar promises as the promises she made to me. Although she told me she could not work, she has continued to publicly post new work, and although she told me she did not have the funds to pay me, she has continued to publicly post about other things she has both bought and sold which cost more than she owes me. She does not respond when I contact her.

Update as of July 2012: I finally received payment for the toys, after emphasizing to her that what she was going was illegal, and pointing out I’d written about my experiences with her and her business online, as a warning to others. It has been over one full year since she received the toys. Although all of us, including me, go through hard times, I don’t feel that is an excuse for reneging on promises or taking things without paying for them. Everyone has a story, including me, but I don’t use hardship to try to take advantage of other people. I am relieved she settled her debt. It would have been better had she approached me on her own, at any point, to work something out with me. She should be thanking me for being as understanding and as patient as I have been. I waited over a year. She could have sent me six dollars a month and have been done with it in that time. She could have sent the toys right back, unopened and new, if she realized she couldn’t follow through. She has never asked me about my life, or my situation, and I don’t appreciate receiving emails from her trying to make me feel guilty for asking to be paid for my work, when I have done nothing wrong. No one should be subjected to emotional blackmail for trying to get paid. I will never send anything out again to anyone without payment up front.

I’d like to warn anyone on Etsy about participating in trades. I know I won’t be doing any more trades. Everything looked legitimate, and I’d had a good experience with sending my toys to be photographed for a TV show, with another Etsy member, who returned them in perfect condition, in short order. So, I thought this would be a similar experience, and am very displeased over the situation. This is my business. Even though it is pleasant to make toys, most of the time, I don’t do it for entertainment. I do it to make a living. I would never expect to walk into a store, take something, and not pay for it. I don’t expect anyone to do that with my shop either. If anyone else has had a similar experience, please report it to Etsy doesn’t mediate in trades, but they do investigate suspected scammers.

My very full workroom, by Elizabeth RuffingI am continuing to make my toys, and trying not to be angry. This is what my workroom looks like right now, filled with fabric and projects, with hardly any room for me. As you can see, I am not some big toy company, but one person, working from home, making toys by hand. I don’t wholesale, and I don’t send out free samples. I send toys directly to their new homes, where I hope they will be appreciated and loved.

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Husqvarna Viking Platinum 775 sewing machine repair problems, the ongoing saga

Husqvarna Viking Platinum 775 sewing machine on my worktable
My Husqvarna Viking Platinum 775 sewing machine repair problems have continued.

Husqvarna Viking Platinum 775 sewing machine on my work tableAs I said in my last post about my Husqvarna Viking Platinum 775 sewing machine repair ridiculousness, I hoped to have my machine back after more than two months of waiting for parts. At first, I meant I hoped to get it back repaired. Then I lowered my expectations, and hoped to get it back as it was when I brought it to the repair shop. Well…

Before I even touch on how tired I am of this entire process, or how frustrated I am with the Husqvarna Viking sewing machine business as a whole, I think I’ll just voice my suggestions for Husqvarna Viking that might help avoid all the problems I’ve had:

1) Sell the sewing machines directly from the Husqvarna Viking company.

Post them on the Husqvarna Viking web site with set prices that everyone can see.

Allow customers to purchase them online, directly from the Husqvarna Viking web site, or allow them to purchase sewing machines through dealers who take their orders, send them to the company, and have the machines sent directly to the customers from the company. That way, dealers can still get a commission, but there is no intrigue as to whether or not a warranty is valid or a dealer is authorized.

There is no wondering if a machine has been tampered with or refurbished. There is no room for price gouging. It’s a cut-and-dried transaction. Staples does it. You can go in to Staples, look at a desk, have someone there order it for you, and it comes to your house. Easy.

2) Post the complete warranty conditions on the Viking web site.

Be clear about what customers need to do to address any issues, and how they go about doing that.

3) Allow customers to have the option to send machines in for repair, directly to the company, where they have people specifically trained to work on their machines.

Post set prices for cleaning, repair, and servicing directly on the Viking web site, with instructions on how to send your machine to them.

Again, there is no room for price gouging, and there is no burden on the customer to ascertain if their local repair person/Viking dealer is honest or qualified to repair their machine.

Allow customers to go to dealers for repair if they choose, but give them the option to mail their machines directly to the company, if they choose.

I think that would solve a lot of the problems with this company that I have been through so far.

At any rate, I got my Husqvarna Viking Platinum 775 sewing machine back, and it’s in worse shape since it took a trip to the local authorized Viking dealer’s repair shop.

I was afraid this would be the case, but I didn’t want to say that in my last post, because I was holding onto the hope that it wouldn’t be true.

I have no choice now, but to report this to the original seller who agreed to fix my machine. He is in CA and I am in NC, on the opposite coast. He has his own warranty on the machine, for defective parts. I think the parts would have been covered, but now the waters have been muddied, because the dealer in NC took my machine apart to look at it. I’m hoping the original seller will still replace the parts.

I had a choice of going to one of two local authorized dealers, who were within a reasonable driving distance from me. I had misgivings about one of them, when I tried to buy a sewing machine. At the time, she had a half-off sale on all her discontinued models, and I asked to try one. Then I noticed another sewing machine, the same model I have now, the Husqvarna Viking Platinum 775 sewing machine, that hadn’t been marked with a price.

She told me she had completely forgotten about that one, since no one ever looked at it. Everyone who came in wanted the newer models instead. It was an older, discontinued, used floor model, but once she saw I was interested in it, she refused to sell it to me for half off, even though all her discontinued models were half off. She decided to stick close to he price point of the other fancier model, that came new in the box, that I had looked at, assuming, I guess, that that was how much she could get me to spend. That really turned me off.

I liked that model though, and after calling the other local dealer to find out they didn’t have it, I found it online instead, brand new. I really liked the sewing machine. It had all the features I wanted and I loved the stitch quality. I ordered it from CA. I sewed with it for some time, with no problems. Then it started stitching backwards, and having irregular stitches.

So, I went to the only other local authorized dealer for repair. As I said before, the price for repair more than doubled, without anyone notifying me, over the course of the two plus months I waited to get it back. I left out of my last post that, in the time between the dealer/repairman telling me were were already “up to $700” and his agreeing not to charge me, there was a lot of negotiating. My dad stepped in to deal with that. I felt like I was being taken advantage of, and I was.

The NC dealer I went to also told me he thought the machine had been worked on before, that it had major damage, and that, “Whatever gremlins got in there must have had a party.” It’s all been very confusing and upsetting. I personally don’t believe in gremlins, and even if I did, I can’t imagine how they’d get inside the machine.

I used my eBay-bought copy of the service manual to get into service mode to check the clock on how much use the machine had had, in case it really was a well-disguised used machine. There have been only 33 hours and 12 minutes that it’s been on at all, and only 11 hours and 53 minutes that it’s actually sewed. I did most of my sewing on my other machine, and saved this one for detailing.

I also unplugged it between use, and kept it on a surge protector. There have been a lot of insinuations by the Viking company and their dealer, about my machine and the person who sold it to me, but I don’t know who to believe. Right now, I’m wishing I had just sent it to the original seller to fix in the first place. It hasn’t been repaired, and no one I’ve dealt with so far has behaved in a businesslike manner.

This has all been much more complicated than necessary and I still have no idea how this is going to go. Contrary to what Husqvarna Viking has been pushing at me, I don’t wish that I had bought my machine from one of the local dealers. I feel like I would have just paid more for the machine and received the same poor service I’ve gotten so far.

Husqvarna Viking used to be a good company, from what I’ve heard, and although I really liked my machine while it was still working, I’m very disgusted with the company.

I hope to be able to just get back to my sewing, on my older Sarah, my other Husqvarna Viking sewing machine, without having to think about this nonsense every day. It’s been very distracting and disheartening, not just for myself but for my family. Since we work together, there have been projects piling up that haven’t been gotten to because of this.

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My Husqvarna Viking sewing machine repair problems continue

I wish this were a photo of my Viking Platinum sewing machine home from repair, all ready to go back to work, but it’s not. These are photos of my new sewing machine when it first arrived here. In reality, it is still sitting in the repair shop, where it has been for over two months. Unfortunately, it looks like it will be MIA for an indefinite period of time.

Everything in regard to repairing it has been ridiculous so far. As I mentioned before, there was a problem with the feed dogs. I turned the machine on to work one day, selected a stitch as usual, and the machine just began sewing backwards, with the machine feeding the fabric in reverse. Nothing unusual happened at the time. I had really just started my day. I don’t think I even had anything else turned on yet, and the machine was on a surge protector. I wouldn’t have had the iron on, since I hadn’t as yet sewed anything to iron. No lights dimmed, no circuits popped, nothing strange happened. I brought it to the local Viking dealer to see if he could fix it, and he thought, at first, the feed dogs had been accidentally popped out of place when I got some fabric caught in the throat plate.

Later he told me that he thought the entire electrical panel needed to be replaced, along with the buttons, to the tune of maybe $250-300. I had the option to send it back to the dealer who sold it to me, but it seemed safer to just let this dealer fix it, rather than mail it across the country. I contacted the Viking company about transferring my warranty, which would have covered parts in question, to the new dealer, but they said they would not honor it since I bought the machine over the Internet. They told me their dealers aren’t allowed to sell machines over the Internet, and they implied that, for all they knew, it was stolen. They told me they only honored warranties on machines bought from authorized dealers.

I gave them the serial number, which is right on the mailing label with their distribution center’s address on it, along with a bar code that they must have scanned at some point, so they could trace it to the dealer address which was also on the box. I had managed to successfully register my warranty on the Viking web site, using my serial number, and I received an email confirmation of my warranty registration. So, I thought, the serial number must have already been in their computer system. I asked them how anyone could sell hundreds of their machines, for years, without any authorization from them, and without their knowing who the dealer was, or without them reporting machines that were possibly missing. Where else could he possibly be getting so many machines, but from them? I got no answer to my questions, just an apathetic response repeating that they wouldn’t honor their warranty.

Apparently, the dealer here who was ordering parts for my machine asked them some similar questions, and was told that the person who sold me the machine was in fact a Viking dealer…he just isn’t anymore. So, because of that they couldn’t honor the company warranty, supposedly because they don’t know what might have happened to the machine between the time they sold it to him and he sold it to me, as if that is something they could tell about any machine. The label on the box says it was sent from their factory to their distribution center in 2007, before going to the dealer, and I bought it from the dealer in 2008, new and sealed in the box. That seems like a normal turn-around time to me, not really enough time for it to have been used, abused, reconditioned, and repackaged from the factory without any note about it being refurbished anywhere on the box. It was working perfectly when I got it, and it seemed brand new to me. Plus, the dealer I got my machine from is still selling them, along other models that came out after mine. If he was no longer a dealer at the time I got my machine, how did he get machines that came out after mine?

Anyway, it seemed obvious that no matter what, the Viking warranty was useless. They told me my only option was to send the machine to the original dealer for repair, since he had his own warranty on it. I decided to just wait for the parts, and get my machine back. Over two months, I called and called, but no parts arrived from the Viking company. Finally, when I went in to look for a new presser foot, I was told my parts had just come in, but the dealer was too sick to fix my machine. After a couple of weeks, and some more calls, he told me it had turned out that the new parts didn’t do the trick, there was still something wrong with the feed, and that he would probably need to send my machine to Tennessee for them to figure it out. I asked how much all of this would cost, and he told me we were “already at $700.” I asked him if he could take those parts and send them back to the company, and he said he would. He’s not going to charge me anything, thank goodness, and now I don’t have to pass out cold on the floor.

So, right now, I’m out a couple of months time. Plus, I’ve had so much frustration with the Viking company itself. I’ve never heard of such nonsense over warranties and repairing a machine. Why don’t they just have a place you can mail the more complicated electronic and computerized machines to for repair yourself? And all this warranty intrigue…what’s that? If the company has a conflict with a dealer, that shouldn’t be my problem. The warranty should be on the machine, and not dependent upon how they feel about the middleman involved. How can I know who is following their rules and who isn’t when I buy a machine? How can I even know what their rules are? There is nothing in the language of the warranty about the Internet either. It’s not like it’s illegal, or even uncommon, to sell merchandise on the Internet, although their email to me made it sound like I should expect underhanded dealings if I dare to buy something there.

You find out that you are completely dependent on the dealer from whom you purchased your machine, and their own warranty on it, which makes purchasing a machine about ascertaining if someone is personally a good egg or not. Even so, if that person retires, I’m not sure what the Viking company says about your warranty, since they seemed to have said that if someone is no longer a dealer at the time you purchase your machine, the warranty is no good. And how can any potential customer know this about anyone? The idea is, supposedly, that you can transfer your Viking warranty to a dealer closer to you, if you live more than 50 miles from the original dealer, but that didn’t work for me, obviously.

I feel like I’ve fallen into some kind of sewing machine soap opera. I wish it were over now, but I have to start from scratch. This time I’m just sending it to the original dealer, and I’m going to hope that he is honorable about his own warranty, and that he knows how to fix my machine. I have the service manual myself, but they make their machines so they can only be opened with tools they sell to their dealers. The electrical aspect is well beyond my scope at any rate.

I don’t know what people who sew are supposed to do anymore. Viking, Pfaff, and Singer were all bought up by the same company. It was so important to me to get my machine before they began their production in China, but it seems like even though I like my machine a lot, the customer service of the company just doesn’t measure up if you have a problem. Two months to send parts to their dealer? We’ve been talking about getting a Kenmore as a stand-in, but there are so many complaints about Sears’ customer service now as well. They’ve been bought up by Kmart. It just seems like every company gets bought up by someone bigger, and their products begin to be made more cheaply, and their customer service becomes more detached. And even when your dealer tries to do right by you, he or she still needs to get parts from the company. The dealers must suffer because of these things too. So, who knows how long it will be before I see my machine sewing forward again, if I do. Fingers crossed.