6 August 2012

Last September I got involved in a project run by an Australian indy-dyer, Kylie Gusset (Ms.Gusset).  She had the great idea of purchasing a ton of cormo wool direct from the farmer and having it processed in Australia.  If you’re not in Australia, you may not know that nearly all our wool goes overseas (mainly to China) to be processed and that Australian Cormo is not readily available here.

So she set up a Pozible account (like CrowdFunder) where she asked people to pledge money towards this enterprise.  Depending on what we’d pledged, we’d receive a “gift” – in my case 3 x 100g of spun yarn.  She had to raise $33,000 for this and exceeded her target.  In other words, we were pre-buying the yarn (and tops, for the spinners among us) and anything left she’d be able to sell on the open market.

This is a large endeavour and we all knew that we’d have to wait a while for our purchases.  Tops started to be sent out in January/February and in March she received the undyed spun yarn for those who wanted that, or to be dyed, for the rest of us.  In May, I was asked to choose which colourway I’d prefer.  I did that but as I was going away for 5 weeks, asked if she’d hold onto the yarn until I returned.  This was refused on the grounds that it had to be sent out “immediately”.  So I gave her a friend’s address and was assured “it will be waiting for you on your return”.

I think you can guess the rest.  I was away for 5 weeks and have been back for 6.  No yarn, no explanation.

And I’m not alone I gather from the PMs I’ve received on Ravelry (where I’ve raised the issue in her group – in the Ton of Wool Q&A section, which seemed appropriate).  Some are still waiting for their tops, some for the dyed yarn.  But a number are still waiting and getting nowhere with their queries.  Questions asked in her group are often deleted.  I’ve been “ordered” to delete my post, she’s threatening to report me to Ravelry for being in breach of their Guidelines**, and if I post again, she’ll block me from the group.  Overkill? 

I think the final straw was to see that she was selling it at the Bendigo Show recently so now we have to read about happy shoppers who’ve got their beautiful yarn (and I believe it really is lovely) and have already used it while those of us who funded this project are still waiting.

What is such a shame is that what should have been a wonderful marketing opportunity for her business has resulted in a large number of knitters saying that they’ll never deal with her again.  She had loads of good publicity from this but instead of capitalising on it, has wasted it. It was a huge undertaking, I’m fully aware of that, but if she weren’t up to the job, she really shouldn’t have taken it on. But as she did, she could at least be polite and business-like, not threatening, with her customers who are still waiting.

I’ll let you know when I get my wool. 

**  Ravelry Guideline:  “Ravelry is not customer service! If you have negative feedback about a business to share, share it with the owner first. When posting reviews that contain negative feedback, remember that you are talking about somebody’s livelihood. “

This is to stop people from posting all over Ravelry unsubstantiated claims about bad service INSTEAD OF contacting the owner of the business.  The group I posted in IS the owner of the business.  I posted my concerns nowhere else in Ravelry.  And it wasn’t “negative feedback” – it was a simple, polite request for delivery information, similar to asking in a group run by a knitting magazine what date I could expect my next subscriber copy.  

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  1. I deliberately chose not to have mine dyed and I had to follow up a few times before I got my yarn.It is such a shame – this was an inspired project which could have done so much good. Instead, it highlights a major drawback of crowd-funded projects – that it enables people to raise substantial funding for projects that have not been properly planned, budgetted or resourced. Any other income source would have asked for a fully costed business plan and would have carried out proper due diligence. It’s certainly put me off contributing to such a project again.

  2. I got mine fairly early, but I was surprised and disappointed to hear when others hadn’t received theirs several months after. 😦

  3. I’m with Kris, disappointed with the whole debacle. I gave my yarn away, intending to buy more for myself, but I won’t now. And while Ravelry guidelines state that Ravelry is not customer service, it also states that you should contact the business *first*, not that you should never, ever mention it on Ravelry

  4. While I got my fibre very early in the piece, I have been watching the group, waiting for the pledge-fulfilling stage to finish and the remaining fibre and yarn to become available for sale. But when Cormo was sold at Bendigo and the purchasers start crowing about how lovely their purchased yarn is knitting up, I’m sorry, that is galling and inexcusable when there are still pledges to be sent out. All the excuses in the world and all my remaining goodwill for the project went out the window. My advice to future crafty crowdfunders: careful how many small pledges you allow as the numbers of people to track for the sum of money you raise might get beyond what you can administer. And all the publicity and social media and word-of-mouth that gets your project funded successfully can turn around and trash your community standing if you don’t follow through on what you promise and if you don’t meet community expectations.

  5. I am still waiting also, for dyed yarn, as I didn’t want to risk ruining it through my inexperience in dying. I purchsed 10 skeins. I quite understood that the whole process had become a daunting task (presumably beyond expectation given no business plan – except that it seemed like a good idea at the time) and was quite prepared to wait. What has got me though is a) the fact that a statement was made that the all the back-log would be posted out on a Friday several weeks ago now which had me haunting the post box and then getting worried it had gone astray, then I saw that others hadn’t received theirs either, and 2) the fact that yarn was sold at Bendigo when people who were hanging out for left-overs via Rav Group were given the impression they would have first dibs on it.
    The biggest problem now is that there is no way of knowing if any shipments have gone astray and when queries are made they are not answered courteously but with belligerence.
    All that is needed is some accurate information as to what has been actually sent out and when. Particularly easy in the case of dyed wool, send it out by colour, post on Rav and then we’d know what is happening and whether we need to be concerned.

  6. Still waiting here, too, for my kilo of dyed top. My complaints stem from the fact that communication from the get-go has been sporadic (if I’m being generous) – I got involved in a project, I supported it because I loved the idea and wanted to get in on a great big grass-roots movement to reclaim wool processing in Australia. What I’m taking from it is NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM GUSSET EVER AGAIN.

    I haven’t called her out on Rav; instead, I’ve politely – VERY politely – contacted her a number of times on Pozible for updates. Once, I got no answer at all – nothing, until a day or two later when she sent out a general update that bypassed the usual lines of communication (i.e. I wasn’t notified there was an update) and for which I had to actually hunt. My latest (polite) request for some base-touching brought a very pissy response.

    Kylie’s assertions, that she’s not a business but a sole-trader, and that we didn’t enter into a transaction with her but rather donated to a creative project, are disingenuous at the very best. She’s finally admitted in her Rav thread that she’s “terrible with people”. Colour me suprised, but really – knowing that as one of your personal drawbacks, is this really something you enter into without having organised prior help?

    I’ve just looked at the Q&A thread on Rav for the project (in her group) and the comments going back three months have been deleted. The thread is locked. This is not customer service – it’s dictatorship. It’s running dangerously close to looking like a con job. I’m disgusted at her behaviour, her demeanour, her lack of organisation and most of all her contempt for common courtesy.

    I’m just glad that I didn’t spend more than I did on the whole ill-conceived circus.

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