Saffire Blue: What are your worst online shopping “horror stories”?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

As you all know, I’m not one to complain… very much. When I run into problems behind the scenes at theNotice, 95% of the time, you never hear about it — whether that’s a PR firm who’s upset over a product getting a bad review, or a rep for the company who could stand to learn a few things from Emily Post.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve been going through one of the most upsetting interactions I’ve ever had with a company. I don’t have any other form of recourse for their behaviour (you can’t Yelp an online store, after all — can you?), so here’s a warning for any of you in Canada who are thinking about buying cosmetic ingredients and packaging.

saffire blue - fraud vs bad business

I made an order at Saffire Blue this January (just shy of $100), and it arrived in early February. When I opened up the box, however, I found that a number of the items I bought were missing — seven of them, to be precise.

I contacted the company immediately, and contacted them again a week later when I hadn’t heard back from them. We exchanged a handful of emails, and then, after about a week, they suddenly stopped responding.

saffireblueinc

I called them out on it on Twitter to help speed things up (PayPal’s insurance is time-limited) because the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? But instead of saying “oops, sorry, we’ll get right on that,”, they instead made public claims saying I had never contacted them, even though their customer service rep had replied to many of my emails, and I have a record of all of them.

I had paid for the order through PayPal, so I opened up a dispute about the items. Throughout the course of this interaction, their CEO repeatedly stated that they had offered to send me the missing items – a request which I had been making for weeks, and which they had repeatedly denied. Each time I offered to take them up on it, they immediately backtracked and said that they would only reimburse me for the cost of the missing items, and refused to send them out or refund me the cost of shipping for the missing items — a cost which was worth 4x the value of the items, which made up over half of what they charged me for shipping, and which they never had to pass forward to the shipping carrier.

saffire blue false claims - mission statement

Sure, I’m raving — but probably not in the way you wanted, guys.

PayPal has now said that my only form of recourse is to file against them for fraud. I don’t intend to do this–because I don’t think it was fraud, I think it was just spectacularly bad business–but I did want to get a post on their company out there in the open.

If you need to buy raw ingredients or packaging materials in Canada, I encourage you to avoid Saffire Blue at all costs. They have a wonderful selection and website, but their customer service is unhelpful, humiliating, and quite frankly, full of lies. I’m not saying you should avoid all small retailers (this is the only time I’ve had anything but gold-star service from any online store, big or small!), but remember: even in the business world, you can’t count on everyone to be honest or professional.

What have your worst experiences with online shopping been? Is there anyone that you’d like to warn us about?

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57 Responses to “Saffire Blue: What are your worst online shopping “horror stories”?”

  1. WOW! I had just found out about Saffire Blue a couple of weeks back and had intended to purchase some containers for my DIY beauty products, now I won't even consider it. :/ I'm sorry you had to go through all of this and I hope things get resolved eventually. Thanks for warning us!
    My recent post Getting me through winter

  2. vanessa, on March 19th, 2014 at 9:56 pm said:

    Love the rant. :)

    Better watch your back Saffire blue.

  3. Jenni, on March 19th, 2014 at 9:57 pm said:

    i know some folks shop at HQhair…and got their shipments delivered. But I've made THREE ORDERS with them and NONE of them arrived. They sent me a shipment notification and they even had my address WRONG. How could that happen? I wrote my usual address upon registering an account with them to shop, and I've never had a single problem with missing shipment with any retailers I've bought with online. Avoid at all costs.

  4. ElizabethCoish, on March 19th, 2014 at 10:29 pm said:

    I hate to say it, but I would file the fraud suit, if I were you. The constant lying takes it beyond a normal case of bad customer service and it sounds like it still isn't resolved even with the third party. Plus, you could be helping other customers they have screwed over this way.

  5. Christina, on March 19th, 2014 at 11:30 pm said:

    How frustrating! I think it's great that you posted this, any good company understands the power of social media. Hopefully if anyone searches for them, this post comes up right below their website!
    My recent post nars narsissist eye palette

  6. Amalia, on March 20th, 2014 at 3:31 am said:

    This is the main reason why I avoid online purchases (although I want or need some items).The finances are not well in Greece ,so for me to lose some money (even the smallest amount) is a big problem .Sorry for my English .Big hugs from Greece.

  7. abeautifulzen, on March 20th, 2014 at 5:06 am said:

    wow! thanks for this heads up! i'll defs avoid this. and i think legally, the did commit fraud. but the hassle of it all might not be worth it.
    i'm glad you're calling them out! ppl listen to you.
    My recent post The Body Shop Color Crush Eyeshadows: Chocolate Liner, Boyfriend's Jeans, Grape Expectations*

  8. mostlysunnybunny, on March 20th, 2014 at 6:06 am said:

    Ouch! I'm so sorry to hear about this, Rae! This is just unacceptable!

    I haven't had a lot of bad experience with online shopping (I'm knocking on wood real hard here). I think I've had one parcel missing (but the store sent it again without making any fuss), and my Naked 2 had a little scratch on the case when it arrived so they gave me a small refund. That's about it. Thanks for giving everyone the heads-up! I hope a store like this will go out of business very soon!
    My recent post Chanel Smoky Grey Stylo Yeux Waterproof & Vert Grisé Le Volume de Chanel Waterproof

  9. Patricia, on March 20th, 2014 at 6:51 am said:

    I agree

  10. What a horrible experience! Tweeting this to let them know the blogosphere stands behind you.
    My recent post I’ve Got the Blues With Radiant Orchid

  11. I think Elizabeth is right – I would file for fraud as well. The lies the company's been sprouting in their communication with you go beyond just bad customer service. Gosh, this is truly awful… Hang in there, Rae <3

  12. That's awful!! I had been thinking of ordering from them but I will stay away now. Thanks for the heads up!

  13. Jamie, on March 20th, 2014 at 8:59 am said:

    Thanks for the warning! So sorry to hear about all that. It's such an awful position to be in when they have your money already and you know it's not fair. But I agree with you that it's most likely crappy customer service and bad quality control to blame for your experience – not fraud. I'm not sure what the requirements in Canada are, but in the US, fraud is a rather complicated and difficult case to win as a plaintiff that rises above rudeness, negligence and internal communication breakdowns.

    Do you have any kind of arbitration or administrative process you can go through where you're at? It's usually not a binding process, but it's WAY cheaper than formally filing suit, and small businesses and individuals often comply with the rulings/opinions of the arbitrators in order to avoid the costs of going to court. Where I live, our most well-known arbitrator is the Better Business Bureau. Might be worth looking around if you still feel wronged.

  14. My favourite webshop is Feelunique. They have the best customer support I have ever experienced, just sayin'. I love them!
    My recent post Favvolippiesar just nu

  15. fieran, on March 20th, 2014 at 10:00 am said:

    Sorry to hear about your bad service. I've had bad service from time to time but nothing this serious. Not sure if there is a consumer court in Canada, but you could consider that. *HUG*

  16. I'm embarrassed to say this, Elizabeth, but quite frankly, I just don't have the energy to see a fraud claim through — even if this was a bigger case. I know it may well be the right thing to do, but my fibro isn't very well-managed right now. Between work, school, and health stuff, I literally haven't had any time for just doing things — it's been almost three months since I've seen a single one of my friends, and I'd have to give up too much to file a claim that may not even go through.

    In a lot of ways, this post is my way to make up for the fact that I can't do more. I hope it will be enough. <3

  17. Thank you, darling <3 (Replied to Elizabeth above re: fraud!)

  18. I'm glad I could warn you off them, Christine — they have some beautiful containers, but they're not at all worth the hassle! (It's been almost two months and I still don't have all of the jars and lids that I ordered). If I find another retailer like them, I'll be sure to let you know :)

  19. I hope so, Christina! People should have the right to know if they're buying from a company that (a) won't send them everything they ordered and/or (b) will publicly make false claims about them. :/

  20. Big hugs right back you, Amalia. I can't imagine how tough things must be for you in Greece right now <3

  21. Maaan, really? (I've never taken a single course on business or law — in order to file for fraud, I'd first have to learn what it is by definition >.<)

    Are you saying you listen to me, Jenn? :D :D ;)

  22. abeautifulzen, on March 20th, 2014 at 11:28 am said:

    hahah i guess i must!

  23. Thanks for the heads up, Jenni! I'm actually pretty surprised you've made three separate orders with them — I think I'd have had enough after just one! :/

  24. This is probably going to sound weird, but your customer service stories are exactly what I think of when I think of GOOD customer service! Mistakes will always happen, you know? But where you really see the merit of a company is in the way that they deal with problems.

    Honestly, I think my missing items probably just ended up in someone else's order or on the warehouse floor by mistake — but then they decided to stake their reputation on refusing to admit to having made a mistake, which. >.<

  25. Thank you, my darling <3

  26. No problem, Louise! I'm glad I could let you know.

  27. I think they definitely messed up, but honestly, I don't have the time or energy to file against them (even through the BBB). I'm just hoping they will see how many people are now aware of their poor handling of this situation & smarten up in the future!

  28. Thanks, Ninni! I'm thinking of putting together a follow up post about the BEST customer service, but it looks like you're two steps ahead of me ;)

  29. It's not worth the hassle, but thank you for the hug!! It's very much appreciated :) xo

  30. superpopbooks, on March 20th, 2014 at 12:20 pm said:

    I have worked for online businesses in customer service. I've seen problems like this all the time.
    Sometimes, it is not the company's fault but a bad/new/or unwillingly to help representative. That's why it is better to speak with more than just one representative and/or the managers.
    I used to have a manager who was extremely unhelpful with customers, she refused to give refunds or send missing items to them. That gives horrible customer experiences.
    Probably they have a non-refund shipping policy, however, when the case is extreme, they should give you the refund for the missing items AND the shipping as well.

    Just because one person has a bad experience with a company doesn't mean it will be the same case with everyone. But I guess that how the business world is.

    The only bad experience I've had as an online shopper was shopping on ebay.

  31. *beams* :D :p

  32. I'm sorry to hear you had to experience something like this!
    I myself went through this huge e-tailer phase and I've heard many horror stories from fellow people from the MUA boards.
    The worst one for me was with an online site for color contacts called lensvillage.com, who lied to me about the shipping date and sent me defective items but didn't do anything until I posted a rant post on my blog. Later on they tried to fix the situation but it was too late.
    It is true there are unreasonable consumers who try to take advantage of the system and vice versa.
    How can we protect ourselves wisely? I really don't know since there is no real way to tell when it comes to smaller business.
    My recent post Review, Swatch – Manna Kadar Lipstick Saucy

  33. I totally agree that customer service can just depend on who it is you're dealing with, but I think, in this case, it's a broader problem. I spoke with both their customer service rep and their CEO, and the latter was actually much worse — something that, now that I'm looking for it, I've seen mentions of elsewhere online, too.

    I'm never going to understand no-refund shipping policies! Like, if it's a warranty thing or a return/exchange, then yes, that makes sense — but charging a consumer shipping for an item that you never sent??! That one continues to boggle me >.<

  34. Oh, geez — that actually sounds really horrifying, Lena. It is so, so easy to damage your eyes, and you only get two in your lifetime! I think you were totally in the right not to accept their attempt at repairing the situation.

    I always worry that I'm the one being an unreasonable consumer in the face of conflict, but from what I've read about Saffire Blue since this post went up, I'm 100% sure that this wasn't on my end. That said, I'm still not really sure how to protect ourselves from stuff like this, either :/

  35. ElizabethCoish, on March 21st, 2014 at 12:02 am said:

    That's completely fair. It's easy to say that you should do it, but it is a lot of work.

    Hope you feel better soon!
    My recent post Review: Peter Thomas Roth Masque

  36. Luckily I haven't run into any issues with online shopping, however I am currently dealing with some phone insurance problems! I bought iPhone insurance from a new york company through my provider Rogers. Sure enough, I lost my phone, and called the insurance and paid the deductible to get a new phone. A couple days later I received a call that they were out of replacement phones so they were going to mail me a check as compensation. 4 months went by and I still haven't received a check! It's at the point now where I have filed a complaint with the better business bureau. Hopefully the situation will resolve!
    My recent post Sheer Vintage

  37. kristen, on March 22nd, 2014 at 9:22 pm said:

    Thank you, Rae. I am so sorry you've had to go through this but I'm sure this post will help others not get fooled again, to quote The Who. I cannot imagine a company's CEO not being helpful in this situation! I agree with previous posters about filing the fraud claim via PayPal. It is fraudulent to keep someone's money for items they never received. GOOD LUCK, girl!
    My recent post Are you ready for The Scrub of Your Life? Whisk away your worries (and dead skin cells) with Soap &amp; Glory! | Review, Photos

  38. That's terrible, Alma! I really hope they fix the situation soon — have you tried calling them out on it publicly? (For some reason, I find phone companies have better customer service if you contact them via Twitter.) iPhones are pretty costly, especially for the larger sizes — it's pretty terrible that they've left you in the lurch for so long.

  39. I've filed one through PayPal already, actually! They've said that they can't do anything about it until I provide paperwork (I think within a couple of weeks) as proof that I've filed a proper, legal fraud claim against the company — which, honestly, I don't have the time or energy for. :/

    Hopefully, this post will be enough — it's really a shame that there isn't an online-equivalent for Yelp.

  40. jenny, on March 26th, 2014 at 5:32 pm said:

    Ugh this company sucks, by the sounds of it! I’ve ordered from a small company in my local area before, and it took 12 days to ship two lip balms 10miles. Two days! Never again.

  41. [...] at theNotice, Rae has a warning about a fraudulent online shop that sells cosmetic supplies… but doesn’t always ship them. If you live in Canada or [...]

  42. [...] at theNotice, Rae has a warning about a fraudulent online shop that sells cosmetic supplies… but doesn’t always ship them. If you live in Canada or [...]

  43. [...] at theNotice, Rae has a warning about a fraudulent online shop that sells cosmetic supplies… but doesn’t always ship them. If you live in Canada or [...]

  44. [...] at theNotice, Rae has a warning about a fraudulent online shop that sells cosmetic supplies… but doesn’t always ship them. If you live in Canada or [...]

  45. I had to open a case on ebay and ebay refunded me. Now I always read the reviews on the sellers specifically all negative and neutral reviews. With bornprettystore.com I suggest to get it with a tracking number. They do send thing when you don't get them but to get them to respond is a hassle. I had first opened a ticket on their site and a few went by and no answer. Then I twitted them and no answer and finally opened a case with paypal. I explained to paypal that a month went by and no package. I told them I wanted my money back. Born pretty store didn't answer instead sent me a traceable package in the mail.

  46. Horrendous! So glad you put out the warning, they shouldn't get away with this.

  47. [...] at theNotice, Rae has a warning about a fraudulent online shop that sells cosmetic supplies… but doesn’t always ship them. If you live in Canada or [...]

  48. I'm not actually sure quite how long a mile is, but I'm pretty sure that's a long time to ship something that far! :p

  49. Thanks for the warning, chela! That sounds like pretty terrible customer service — I think I'd rather avoid the company altogether than make sure to pay for tracked shipping, you know? Like, it's not worth my time or hassle, and I don't want to be giving bad businesses my money — they just don't deserve it.

  50. Jenna N., on April 29th, 2014 at 2:21 am said:

    My experience isn't as extreme as yours but it was still enough to not order from saffire blue again. I ordered my items over a long weekend holiday and took those shipping days into consideration. After 6 business days with no shipping notification, I emailed them and got a reply stating that my order will be sent out today minus the item out of stock (refund included of course).

    This is direct from their site: "In the case of out of stock items on orders without Rush Order Processing, we will contact you prior to processing your order to confirm whether you would like us to hold your order until all items are in stock, or cancel out of stock items and ship the remainder of your order"

    I was not contacted about my order and there was no sincerity in the response that I received. I will not be ordering from them again.

  51. Jenna, thank you so much for sharing this — I'm really glad that it's now out there for everyone to read. I hope you got everything you needed in the end! :(

  52. Marie, on May 30th, 2014 at 4:37 pm said:

    I am in several soap making groups on facebook, and the Canadian ones I am in have SEVERAL people complaining about the lack of service from this company, and now it is rumored that a new company that is called Purple Citrus may be them too. It takes weeks to get orders filled, they don't respond more than half the time to emails, when people call them they are rude and belligerent, and to top it off, a lot of the product they sell is of poor quality.

  53. Marie, on May 31st, 2014 at 12:21 am said:

    I had seen in one of your comments about wishing there was an online version of yelp for this company…I found one I believe http://www.yelp.ca/biz/saffire-blue-tillsonburg

  54. Hi Marie — thanks for the heads up on the soapmaking groups, and on Purple Citrus! I will be sure to avoid them in the future as well :/

    I'm not a believer in karma, but I sure do hope that Saffire Blue gets put out of business soon. There is no way they'd have been able to get away with doing this kind of business if they were a brick-and-mortar store, and it really saddens me that they're abusing the online shopping community in this way — stores like them give all etailers a bad name!

  55. Thanks so much for leaving this link, Marie! <3

  56. So something you should know about saffire blue is a family run business the customer support center all family and run by lies. They say the shipped your order but may have not just pass the blame onto the carrier.

  57. I have used this company recently and was totally ripped off by them too. They were out of stock of the main items I ordered and shipped a few remaining items anyway which means full shipping and rush order charges. I ended up paying through the nose. The option to cancel was not permitted by them and my request to do so was ignored. I will never deal with them again and advise others to be very careful and prepare for these situations.

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