Wednesday, May 7, 2014
The epic saga of the cloth diapers (and a CottonBabies giveaway)
Alternative titles to this post: do not ever use UPS! Or CottonBabies is the best! Anyhow, last November while I went crazy reading everything about cloth diapers, and after having finally decided what we were going to do I found out that CottonBabies had a pretty nice deal on their BumGenius diapers for CyberMonday. As it happened, my brother and my sister-in-law were visiting the US at the time and they asked us if we needed anything. One of my closest friends happens to live there and so, realizing that we were going to pay EUR 13.5 per diaper, instead of EUR 24 per diaper, the decision was a no-brainer. For the 24 diapers that we wanted we saved a total of 250 EUR . Not a neglectable quantity at all (specially if you consider that with that amount we got the crib, the mattrass, the moses basket and its mattrass). Anyhow, because we ordered our diapers before 14:00 on a Monday, we (well, my friend) was supposed to get them by that Thursday, or Friday, at the latest, considering a worst-case-scenario delay of a day. My brother and SIL were going to be staying in the US until the next Monday, and they were meeting my friend on Sunday, so there was plenty of time. The idea was that my brother and SIL would bring the diapers back to Mexico, and then my mom and dad would bring them to us in February when they came to see our baby. A perfect plan, no?
Well in comes UPS to completely mess up and throw the whole plan to the drain. You see, CottonBabies offers free shipping (within the USA) with every order, and orders placed before 14:00 EST ship the same day. If you want your stuff faster there is an Express option in which orders are guaranteed to arrive within three business days from the date of shipment. This option is fulfilled by UPS 3-day select, in which the delivery is done by the end of the third business day. Well, you know where this is going. First of all, our order did not ship on the Monday we ordered (as it should have because we ordered around 11:00 EST), but on Tuesday. Even so, with the Express shipment the company guaranteed that the diapers would be delivered by Friday, so, no problem. Well, yes problem. UPS simply did not comply with their conditions, blaming there were many orders going around the country because of the Black Friday deals. Fine then, but then, as a company, wouldn't you make sure that the order is still fulfilled within the chosen, guaranteed conditions? As soon as we knew the order did not arrive on Friday, we contacted UPS. After going through a long answering machine and speaking to a computer we finally get to talk to someone, who had no idea where our package was, could not do anything about it, would just say sorry but not fix anything and informed us that the package would be delivered by the end of the day on Monday (which it was, but, by then, my brother and SIL were already on their way back to Mexico). We could not get a refund or any kind of compensation from them, no matter how hard we tried.
Anyhow, deep breaths. How were we going to fix this? After thinking long and hard we decided to ship the diapers to Mexico via UPS standard, instead of normal post, because once a package crosses the border the post can take forever to deliver a simple letter and it is not rare that stuff just simply disappears. (Shipping the diapers to Europe either by USPS or other carrier would have been way more expensive). When you ship from the the U.S. to Mexico, customs clearance by UPS is required, but the cost includes routine customs clearance. The shipment was accepted, and even though this solution meant we were spending 60 USD more than we were planning to, we'd still be saving money in comparison to the price of the diapers in Holland, and the diapers were on its way. I love to track packages, to see all the random places where a box stops on its way to their recipient.
That's how I found out, quite early, that something weird must have happened because at some point the package, although already in Mexico, was on its way back to the shipper. To make a long story short, Mexico did not accept the package. We never got a clear answer on this, no matter how much we pushed the people at customer service, but from reading around it seems that our diapers did not clear customs because all clothing coming from the USA is assumed to be made in China and Mexico recently decided to impose high anti-dumping quotas (which range in 500%) on Chinese Origin goods. (Never mind the fact that BumGenius Elementals are fully made in USA, with local materials.) Within a few days the package was back at my friends' where it had started. And we still did not know how on Earth we were going to get them because we really did not want to pay >100 USD to have them shipped to Europe and then pay taxes over everything. We sent the longest complaint ever to UPS... and after days and days of emailing back and forth, it turned out that although UPS made a mistake in accepting the package from the start (because they act as a broker, they should have known that the shipment was going to be refused due to Mexican regulations), they could not -as a company- do anything about it. Instead they instructed us to process the complaint further at the specific UPS shop from where the parcel was shipped.
My friend went to Mexico in March, but she was not able to bring the diapers with her. An uncle of hers was planning to visit her, and offered to bring the diapers to Mexico, but he ended up cancelling his trip. In the end, it was my friends' kind sister who brought the diapers to my parents, and they sit there, waiting for us.
In the meantime, we did contact Cotton Babies about the whole issue (because if the order had arrived that Thursday in the first place, none of this would ever have happened). We are impressed. They have the nicest, friendliest, kindest staff ever. I did not even have to fight for anything. I did not have to send a million and one emails to get our case escalated to someone with the capacity to make decisions. I simply explained what had happened and how inconvenient it all had been, and they not only immediately refunded us the total amount that we paid for shipping, but they gave us a 20 USD coupon in compensation as well.
So this is where you get rewarded for reading all of this. Since Cotton Babies only ships within the USA, and given how complicated it was to get the diapers to where they should be, I am sharing the full 20 USD with you, by giving the coupon away. Anyone can participate, but be aware that you need a USA address for the delivery (see above). If you are not in the USA, you could always use it for a present. If you want to try cloth diapers, this is a chance to get a diaper and see if you like how they work. But if cloth-diapering is not for you, they sell all kinds of other stuff, from wooden toys, to baby carriers, swaddling blankets, bottles, cups, nursing bras, baby books, shoes, clothing...
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me your first childhood memory or other fun story from back in the day, and fill in your participation in the box below. For an extra entry, you can tweet about the giveaway and fill it in as well. The giveaway will be open until next Wednesday, May 14 at 3:00 P.M Amsterdam time, when I will choose a random winner. I will announce it on Thursday May 15, so be sure to come back and check if you won!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This is NOT a sponsored post. I am only writing about my experience and I am giving away the coupon I received from CottonBabies as compensation for the whole epic journey that our diapers went through.