Posted by: jinniver | February 6, 2009

Not my choice, but…

I’m not sure why I opened one of the interminable mailings I get from Crafter’s Choice. I’ve been a member before, several different times.  Each time, I’ve cancelled my membership out of frustration, usually with the policies, poor customer service, or lousy selection.

I guess I’m just weak.  And a sucker.

You have to admit–$4 for 4 books sounds like a heck of a deal.  I figured chances were good that I could find 4 knitting books that I had a mild interest in but wouldn’t be willing to pay full price for.  Or 5 books, if I wanted to take advantage of the “first book at 1/2 price” deal (you have to buy 2 books in 1 year after joining, but you can buy the first 1 with your enrollment books for 1/2 price and then you only have to buy 1 full-price book).  How hard could that be?

Harder than I expected.  In fact, I only found 4…but Crafter’s Choice made it easy for me, by counting 1 book as 2.  I never did figure out why.  The book was The Best of Interweave Knits, and the member price is only $19.99.  Yet, Yarnplay + Yarnplay at Home (2 titles in 1 book) is listed at $32.99 but only counts as 1 book (I didn’t buy this one; just using it as an example…and I’m certainly not going to buy it through Crafter’s Choice at that price!).

See, this is the kind of thing that ticks me off about Crafter’s Choice.  There is no explanation for this decision.  I could call them to find out why…if I wanted to pay long-distance charges.  Ok, technically, I wouldn’t play long-distance charges, but that’s because I pay a set price for unlimited long-distance.  The point is that Crafter’s Choice doesn’t have a toll-free number.  Really?  What serious business these days makes customers pay to call them?  Oh, I’ve got a pretty good guess as to the reason behind this “business” decision–they don’t want you to call.  They want you to use the website because it’s cheaper for them than hiring people to answer the phone.  Of course, good luck on getting a timely answer.

Still, I picked my 4 (counts as 5) books–after a bit of finagling to make sure the cheapest book was the one I was paying 1/2 price for–and went to check out.  That’s when I was reminded of one of my biggest pet peeves–the shipping charges.  My cost for 4 books was $1 + $1 + $2 + $9.48 = $13.48.  My shipping & handling charges were $13.70–more than the books themselves.  Certainly, the total bill (including $2.25 in taxes) of $29.43 is less than the publisher’s price of $29.99 for Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines…but it’s when those s&h charges get tacked on to regular price purchases that they really add up, and really chap my hide.  I’ve had huge, heavy boxes shipped from other companies for less than the price of 4 thin books from Crafter’s Choice.

And yet…and yet…I’m a member of Crafter’s Choice again…for now.  The only reason I even considered going beyond reading the introductory letter was because they changed their most annoying policy:  automatic shipments.  When I first joined Crafter’s Choice, many years ago, you could opt out of automatic shipments of the monthly selection.  Suddenly, they changed their rules and you couldn’t opt out.  This was not at all convenient for someone who (at the time) was in the Navy on a ship that got underway; I didn’t always get my mail in time and they didn’t care.  That’s the first time I canceled my account.  In each of the membership stints that followed, I probably ended up marking “Return to Sender” on an average of 5 shipments.  Rarely, it was because I failed to notify them not to ship, but more often I’d gone to the website as soon as the next month’s shipment was listed and marked it “Do Not Send” only to receive a package from them.

Hopefully, the new policy is an indicator of better customer treatment…but to be honest, I’m not planning to stick around that long, because I’m not paying those shipping charges any longer than I have to.  I’m going to get my last book and get out.  If I really miss them, they’ll be trying to lure me back with another great deal in just a few months.  They always have before.  Plus, there’s an extra when you join…although I don’t remember any of the previous ones looking as useful as the free tote bag I got this time.  It’s roomy with a zipper and a shoulder strap, and although it could use some more pockets (interior and exterior), it may be my new big knitting bag.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, in addition to The Best of Interweave Knits and Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines (I would have liked the first Mason Dixon book, but they didn’t have it), I picked up Knitting Goes Large and my 1/2 price book was Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders.

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I can’t believe it, but I’ve received yet another donation from a fellow knitter for the Raid Jen’s Stash Raffle to raise money for the 2009 MS Walk.  My friend DharmaRN is offering any item, either yarn or roving, from her etsy shop, Frog Hair Fibers, or something custom dyed in the winner’s color choice! How generous are you knitters and crocheters? Well, of the $1375 that has already been donated, $650 has come from you! Thank you so much!


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