One of the interesting things that happens when you are an early adopter of some key new technology is that you not only get early looks at the device and some accessories, but you also get a chance to see how various businesses work with customers or… don’t, as the case may be. I recently had a chance to see how three different companies handled the pre-order process for their new iPad cases. Two impressed. One did not. Two I am eager to do business with. One I have no interest in dealing with ever again.
Here is a look at the good, the bad and the ugly. (More accurately, The good, the good and the ugly.)
First up we look at the newest company Owl Studio. Judie posted on their three iPad offerings two weeks ago. I was impressed with their “Wallet” case and went to order one for review here on the site.
It looked really good and might work well with the way I am using my iPad. I hit “Place a Deposit” and was greeted by this…
So the company took a $15 deposit and will bill my account the remainder when the case ships. That seems quite fair.
But then there was a problem. The company initially used one checkout system but had transitioned to a different one. They wanted me to cancel my order and reorder.
The explanation was clear, the process was simple and they knocked $5 off the price for my trouble. Happy Owl Studio is a new company, and they are experiencing some growing pains; it happens. I was more than pleased with how they handled it.
I hope I like the case, because I already like the company and their attitude a great deal.
Next Up Is Sena Cases.
I have bought and reviewed numerous cases from Sena over the years. I have also received review units and had the chance to give a couple of cases away here on the site. (Keep your eyes out for an iPhone case giveaway in the next week!) Whenever I have dealt with Sena, both as a consumer and as a blogger/reviewer, I have had nothing but good experiences. And as someone who loves quality leather cases, they always have something that grabs my interest.
Turns out Sena has four cases for the iPad on the way, the Zipbook, the Executive, the UltraSlim and the Folio, and the most expensive of them is still under $100.
All are made with Sena’s style, quality and are pure leather. I especially like the look of the Folio and am pleased that a review unit is in transit as I write this. I’ll likely end up buying either the Executive or the Ultraslim too since there are times when those cases will be better suited for me.
(I’m excited for Sena too, since the Black Folio and the Red and Black Zipbooks will be available in Apple retail and online stores this month!)
The Folio I am getting is a review unit so I did not place a formal order for it ,but I was curious what their pre-order process would be like. I asked and this is what I was told…
For Pre-Orders and all our orders, we send an email out to the customer confirming the order immediately, we bill the credit card via PayPal or over the phone once placed with the customer’s approval, however if the customer orders online w/ their account, they are not charged until it ships.
Once the order ships and at that time of shipment, we also send a receipt and tracking. We offer a 30 money back exchange policy for all cases, even if they do not like the color or style, and a one year replacement if anything happens to the case for warranty replacement or malfunction. We refund or exchange any new and unused merchandise with a replacement, refund, or a credit within 30 days of the original purchase.
Simple, easy and straightforward. I like Sena’s cases and I like doing business with them.
We’re two for two. But that is where the streak ends. Next Up- Orbino.
Orbino is a luxury case if ever there were one.
I mean… look at this Padova Case for iPad. It is gorgeous. It is also expensive with the price starting at $209 plus shipping. That is a lot of money, and I went back and forth on whether or not to order one to review. Ultimately I decided that I wanted the chance to review it for the site so I ordered it… in RED of all things. I figured either I or someone I like a lot could get tons of use from it after the review was done.
I ordered and got surprise number one… I was immediately charged in full. But the only notification of the charge was from PayPal. Orbino sent me nothing. I thought it was odd so I emailed them. And heard nothing back.
A few days later I emailed again and… heard nothing back.
A few days after that I started having second thoughts and emailed to inquire as to what the process would be if I wanted to cancel the order. I heard… nothing back.
I wasn’t feeling very confident in the company so a few days ago, after not hearing from them three times, I started a PayPal dispute so I could cancel the order. Two hours later… I heard from them. SHOCKING.
They ignored the PayPal dispute and wrote-
My apologies for the delayed response. We have been dedicated our time so heavily to making our products that some emails from our customers have fallen through the cracks. We have worked to ensure that this never happens again. We appreciate your patience and business.
Due to the overwhelming response to the Padova iPad case, there is a delivery time of 3-5 weeks from the time of order. We understand that the iPad is delicate and needs protection, and we are working diligently to get the Padova out to our customers.
If the wait is too long for you, please advise if you would like to cancel your order.
Okay, things happen so I wrote back…
Thanks for finally getting back. I ordered over two weeks ago. Where would that put delivery timing??
To which they responded…
I see you ordered on 4/13, so the end of next week. I would say 5/14 shipping.
Okay fine … right? So I was charged in full three weeks ago. They ignored three emails and only responded when I submitted a dispute. But the case is gorgeous and it would be coming next week. All is good in the world right??
Last night I got this…
Your order is in our cue. Our orders for the Padova have been incredible, as a result there is a bit of a delay for the red leather case.
I have marked your Padova for immediate action, once we receive our new shipment of red leather would should be shortly.
So three weeks after I was charged in full, I get an email from “Customer Service” (which was strangely reminiscent of Larry’s emails from Rebel Scholar and their refusal to use names) that my case is not made, they don’t have the leather to make it and the only timeframe I am given is that leather should be coming “shortly”. Still, it is a nice case and I would like to review it for the site. At first I was going to proceed but then thought twice about it. I like supporting businesses I like dealing with. For me it isn’t just about the product, it is about the people behind the product and this had not been a pleasant or personal experience from step one. I love the look of the case but ended up sending this email…
I’ve been giving it some further thought and I would like a refund to my PayPal account as soon as possible and my order canceled.
I would also like to explain you why I’m canceling the order.
I placed the order in good faith knowing that it was a pre-order but unlike every other company with whom I have been dealing with in regard to iPad cases, you charged me in full immediately. No other company has but so be it.
Then I could not get an e-mail returned. I made a number of inquiries, one even with regard to canceling my order. I got no response until I started a dispute with PayPal about the purchase. When I did I got an email within two hours. But even then I was going to pursue the purchase.
But now, THREE weeks after i made the order and THREE weeks after you charged me in full I get an email that you don’t have the material to make the case I have already been charged for in full and you tell there will be a delay but give no indication of a timeframe.
So please give me a full refund and let’s call it a day.
A few suggestions:
-Charging in full immediately is wrong. Other companies charge a deposit and then charge when the product is ready… Including Apple.
-An eta is always appreciated.
-It would be great if emails were signed by a name and not just Customer Service.
Thanks for processing the refund promptly.