The short story is: Shabby Apple makes poor-quality items and doesn't stand behind them.
The long story? Well, buckle your seat belts. Because I am filled with indignation.
For Christmas, my mom bought all three of us girls dresses from Shabby Apple. Mine was this one:
Lovely, isn't it? My mom has good taste and always has (I do not joke when I say that every time I get compliments on an item of clothing I'm wearing it is always something my mom has purchased for me).
The thing was, at Christmas I was still nursing. A lot. And continued to for many months afterward, so wearing a dress wasn't really an option for me. So the dress hung, unworn, tags still on, in my closet for quite a few months.
Finally, when nursing had tapered off to the point where I could make it through three hours of church, I pulled the dress out of my closet, and with anticipation, slid it on.
And. . .then I realized I couldn't zip it up. Keep in mind that the website states that this dress is "fits generously." I am not sure what universe it is where a "generously" fitting dress will not zip over my sub-100 lb body, but it is NOT this universe.
And the top gaped like crazy.
Oh, and the top? Was white. And sheer. And unlined. So the whole premise of Shabby Apple, which is "A return to what dresses were always meant to be—a one piece outfit. No need to add anything…no tank tops, no cardigans, nothing," is blatantly untrue.
Also, it hit me mid-calf, rather than at the knee, which was quite unflattering.
We were starting to get dangerously near running late, which I loathe, so I quickly changed into something else and we went to church.
The dress still had the tags on it and I'd worn it for a total of 2 minutes in front of my bedroom mirror.
After church, I looked up the dress on Shabby Apple and it said, "Sizing concern? Not the right dress for you? Return your dress and Shabby Apple will ship you a new dress for FREE!"
Perfect. This would be an easily solved problem (my present self is laughing at this). Plus, the dress was still being sold at full-price, so I figured they'd let me ship it back and send me off another one. I'd pick a less expensive dress!
I called in to Shabby Apple the next morning and explained the situation. "Was it ordered more than 30 days ago?" the rep asked. "Then I'm sorry, there is nothing we can do." (I loathe this answer so much because that is NOT true. They are choosing to do nothing about it). Basically, I was stuck with a brand-new, non-fitting, poorly made $100 dress.
I emailed a long description of the scenario to Shabby Apple (recap: 6 month old dress, never worn, still for sale at full price, tags still on). I was upfront about the fact that I knew I was outside the return window.
They emailed back saying how sorry they were and could I give them some info about the purchase so they could see what they could do.
My heart soared.
Only to crash when they quickly responded saying, "Unfortunately we wouldn’t be able to make an exchange for your dress whereas your item was purchased in December. We understand and are flexible when the purchase is given as a gift but we do strongly advise that you try on your items as soon as possible to receiving them so that any exchange/return can be placed within our 30day exchange/return policy. I am sorry for any inconvenience that this may be for you and that the dress didn’t work out for you."
I'm not sure what their definition of "flexible" is, but it's clearly FAR different from mine. Also, why did they suggest they could do something about it when I told them the dress was purchased many months ago, but then when they saw the actual date, they suddenly couldn't do anything?
I went back and looked at some of the reviews of the dress again. One reviewer, who gave the dress 4 stars, said "The only problem is that the top is completely see-through. You can’t really wear an undershirt because the skirt is so tight that you would see a line. So you would have to sew a lining in the top. The quality doesn’t reflect the high price."
Okay, so I wasn't alone in this sheer problem. (Why you would still give it 4 stars is beyond me, but whatever).
Another commenter, giving it three stars said, "VERY LONG SKIRT. I'm 5'4" and rather petite. I ordered this dress in a Med, because another dress that I ordered very similar to this one was a Small was too tight. I have to return the dress because it sits WELL BELOW THE KNEE, as in mid calf. And overall it was just too big, which could have been the Med instead of the Small, but the length was just silly. I looked like I was wearing my big sisters dress. ha. No lining in the skirt, and it felt rather thin. I wish it had fit as it is a cute style! But the pics on this website show the blonde girl with the dress at her knee, ya-no way."
Again, why three stars? But I digress.
Another FIVE star review said, "This dress is not lined and is a bit of a struggle to get on and off. I did manage to zip it up and down on my own, but it took a good five minutes each time and I feared tearing the dress."
I guarantee you that the people who are giving these high star ratings with complaints like this are the people who give a standing ovation to every performance they attend.
As I looked through reviews of other dresses, I noticed the same sorts of comments again and again: cheap fabric, unlined, fit not as shown, poor sizing.
I know Shabby Apple has a good reputation. They take gorgeous pictures, they have lovely models, and their selection is wide. They heavily promote their brand in the blogosphere, giving away many many dresses. But their dresses are poorly made, don't fit well, and the photographs are terribly misleading. They are low quality products that are horrendously overpriced.
And their customer service is seriously lacking.
Compare this with my experience yesterday with Lands' End Canvas. I ordered a swimsuit a couple of weeks ago and it didn't show up. I had recently ordered another swimsuit and a shirt for Bart for Father's Day (Lands' End makes excellent, excellent dress shirts) and they'd both shown up within a week of ordering. I knew from my order that it'd arrived two days after shipping at the post office sorting center. But then the post office appeared to have lost it.
Twelve days went by.
I hopped on their website, clicked the "Chat Now" button and within seconds was chatting with Megan. I gave her my order number and told her the situation. Two minutes later, she was verifying my address and said a new swimsuit would arrive at my doorstep on Thursday, via UPS. No hassle, no waiting, not even a phone call.
And THAT is why I love Lands End. When they say "Guaranteed. Period." they mean it. That's why I buy my swimsuits there, and why Bart wears a Lands End shirt to work 80% of the time.
They know what good customer service means.
Last week, my mom emailed Merrick and me to ask if we'd like new black dresses for Landen's upcoming wedding. She suggested that Shabby Apple had a very cute line of black dresses.
Both of us emailed her back separately that we would love a new dress, but would she mind if we purchased them from somewhere else?
I ordered this one from eShakti. Their return policy? You can get a full refund or you can get a gift card back in the amount of your order PLUS 20%. Why?
* A way for us to show higher responsibility in not meeting your expectations.
* To give you the opportunity to order again so that we can try and delight you, the next time round!
That's a return policy I can get behind.
If you're considering buying a dress from Shabby Apple, I would strongly encourage you to think again. You can get a better dress somewhere else. A less expensive dress. A dress that isn't sheer, sized incorrectly, and unlined.
And perhaps, if you buy that other dress, if you need to return it, you'll get a better answer than, "Sorry it didn't work out for you."
(You can read my follow-up post about my Shabby Apple experience here. Spoiler: They never did responded at all. Updated 5/2012: They finally did respond and exchange my dress. Not that after this whole thing I'm at all convinced their dresses are worth spending actual money on).