Dan: I received my original iPad the day it first hit the shores of the United States, and it was love at first sync. The device was absolutely amazing, and I knew I had entered into a new era of computing. I was so enamored with the iPad that I decided to splurge on a high-end protective case for it. After all, it seemed criminal to cover up such gorgeous device in the first place, but it did need protection. If I was going to cover it up, I might as well get a case that was as awesome as the iPad itself. I went in search of such a case, and I came across the small leather boutique, Orbino. At just over $200, their Padova case was pricey, but I figured I would just go for it. I placed my order, and I was immediately charged for it.
Things went south from there.
I heard nothing from the company for a good amount of time, and my e-mails went without reply. The frustration was tremendous, and it continued to grow. After yet another email went without reply, I documented my experience in a post.
It was only after I reached out to PayPal to reverse the charges that I heard it from the company owner, Michael Ventre. Michael was quite honest about being swamped with orders. He apologized and offered to sell me the case I had ordered at a generous 50% discount. I had already posted my article on his company’s poor service, but I did update it to explain what happened, share that the owner had taken responsibility for it, and express my gratitude for the discount.
The case arrived, and it was as gorgeous as I had originally hoped it to be. I used it for a bit, and then sent it down to Judie so that she could take a look. I know that she loves gorgeous leather goods, and I fully expected that she would fall for this particular case; I was right, in fact she is still using it! Together we wrote a review of the Orbino Padova, which can be found here.
Judie: A few weeks ago Michael e-mailed Dan and me to say that he was releasing an updated version of the Padova for the iPad 2. He asked that we consider removing the title to the post about Dan’s initial experience with his company, since things had improved greatly since then. Michael went on to explain it to us once again that the company had been completely swamped at the time and that they have since gotten things under control.
Though we still have the challenge of operating with limited resources, we have tried to learn from our mistakes. Firstly, we now have a dedicated customer service person. We have also instituted a support ticket system so that each and every inquiry or request receives a unique ticket number and can be tracked until a suitable resolution is reached. Of course, none of this will guarantee that we will have 100% success in making sure that each customer is happy, but most importantly, I think it shows that we care. We care about the products we make. We care when a customer is not entirely happy with their purchase. And yes, we care, when our company is depicted on a reputable website as having “zero customer service.”
While we were sympathetic to the fact that if someone Googled Orbino, our negative post was one of the first things that popped up, as I explained in my email back to Michael:
At the end of the day, we are all consumers, and we share our experience as consumers with our readers — whether products are purchased by us or donated to the site as review items. This honesty is what makes our posts genuine, and it is why our readers trust us.
While it is good to hear that your customer service has improved, that is something that people who order from you will have to experience for themselves. Those with positive experiences are welcome to share them in the comments section of either the review or Dan’s original post. If Dan or I should opt to order an iPad 2 Padova case, then you can be certain that we will post about the experience again. Hopefully, as you have said, there will be no issues and we’ll be able to reflect that in any posts written.
So here’s the thing … Dan and I both loved the Orbino Padova case, I am still using the one Dan ordered, and I would easily recommend it as my favorite to anyone who asked … but Dan’s negative customer service experience was always in the back of my mind. If Orbino had truly solved their customer service issues, then it was petty and unfair of us to not recognize the improvement. My resolve to give Orbino another chance was strengthened when Michael responded to my email, saying …
Though it smarts a bit to have the negative review on the first page of our Google search, we will learn to live with it. No hard feelings. I notice Dan is in New Jersey, which is not far from our U.S. design office here in Brooklyn. If he is ever in the city, I’d be glad to give him a personal tour of how our product is made (though I will be in Italy for much of the Spring).
Meanwhile, we will be working hard to make sure the iPad 2 launch goes more smoothly. Please let me know if you’d like to try out the new case — and in which colors — and I will send out a couple units.
The fact that Michael took our explanation with dignity, and he even offered his company up for yet another blood-letting … I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we were impressed. And so Dan and I put our heads together.
Dan: We decided that we wanted to test Michael’s promise that customer service had improved. Obviously it wouldn’t work if we just took him up on the review unit offer, and it made no sense for either of us to purchase a case since Michael most likely keeps a good eye on orders coming in to the company – especially right now when the iPad 2 Padova is rolling out. Our solution was to ask Elana to place an order for one of the basic black cases at $209, before we responded back to him. After she had placed her order, we asked Elana to wait a short time, e-mail customer service and then change the color. After that we asked her to follow up and cancel the order. We were curious how quickly customer service would get back to her, and we wanted to see how they replied to her, as she was being probably the most indecisive customer Orbino had seen in a while.
We figured that the point of this exercise would be that by making Elana and her customer service rep jump through all these hoops, we would be able to gauge whether the customer service process was better or not. Best case scenario, Michael would be absolutely true to his word and customer service would now totally rock. Worst case scenario was that their customer service would stink, and I would get “stuck” paying for a gorgeous leather case for my iPad 2. Either way, we thought it a good test.
Judie: So that’s how Elana became Gear Diary’s “Secret Shopper”. [Thank you, Elana! =)]
And how did Orbino do? Long story short – Orbino impressed us.
Elana placed “her” order and received confirmation within a few minutes; she then e-mailed to change the color, and customer service responded to her that her ordered color had been changed. She then, most annoyingly I suspect, e-mailed to cancel the order. Within a few moments she received confirmation back that the order was canceled and the purchase price had been refunded.
Orbino’s leather cases are truly gorgeous; I love the Padova case they made for the first iPad, and I have no doubt that based on this and my past experiences with Orbino, the iPad 2 Padova case will be phenomenal. It’s good to see that Orbino has taken responsibility for the weak points in their ordering process; they have addressed them, and they are now taking care of their customers in a manner that matches the quality of their products. Because of these changes, Dan and I have agreed that the original post deserves an updated title and a link to this post.
We wish Michael and Orbino the best, and we hope that if you all are in the market for a high-end iPad or iPad 2 case, you will give them a chance. Because there was such a drastic change in their customer service, we are going to update the title of Dan’s post with a link to this one.We have no idea how long it will take for Google to update, but we hope that it won’t be long.
The Orbino Padova 2 is available for pre-order, with a delivery date of 5 – 7 weeks.