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  1. #1
    Join Date
    1st January 08
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    Vancouver, Canada
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    The cost of buying from Scotland: new Argyle outfit arrives

    After thinking about it long and hard I decided in December to really treat myself and buy an 8 yd kilt and Argyle package from Scotweb. I looked at other on-line sellers and decided they looked the best (this was before I joined X). I wanted the kilt in an Ancient Mackinnon and knew I would pay a premium, but thinking this would be a once in a life-time purchase, threw caution (and wallet) to the wind. I thought the measurement instructions were a bit vague and so took them to a professional dress-maker to have my measurements done. I wear a 42 regular jacket, but the measurements came out, according to the instructions, that I would need a ‘short’ jacket--this seemed strange as I don’t normally need a ‘short’, but thought maybe an Argyle is different. Likewise, I normally wear a 17 3/4 collar shirt, but as they didn’t offer in-between sizes settled on an 18 collar for the shirt, thinking a little too loose is much better than too tight. Because of the time difference I had to do the ordering and querying by e-mail, which wasn’t very satisfactory as there was a few days delay and some questions did not get answered.

    After what seemed, because of anticipation, like an eternity, my outfit was shipped on the 1st of February. Scotweb has a section on their site where you can track the progress of your order. Unfortunately this was never updated and even two e-mail enquiries could not tell me how things were going. Once shipped, I was able to track it on the FedEx site and expected delivery on Monday…then Tuesday...and finally on Wednesday. FedEx had sent it to a commercial broker who refused it and then sent it back and FedEx didn’t know what to do—never mind calling the customer! After some telephone tag, it cleared customs and was delivered.

    What arrived was a crushed, torn and mutilated box. Don’t know who played football with it, but the box was simply not strong enough to withstand the rigours of a trans-Atlantic flight.

    Thankfully everything was still in the box, though some things were a little worse for wear. Anything not properly wrapped was crushed—including the kilt pin which was twisted and bent. I managed to bend it back into shape but it will always be a little askew.

    The kilt is magnificent. The craftsmanship seems superb, and the material first rate. They included flashes from the same material, which is nice, but nothing to hold them up with. At the price paid I would have thought including at least elastic garters would have been standard. The sporran is nice, but a little smaller than it looked on the website and nothing special. The shoes fit and seem like good quality. The belt buckle is not so nice. I opted for a family crest style. The buckle is a generic one with the family crest inserted into a space on the front and held with a metal pin through the back. I will need to find a metal worker to affix it properly if I don’t want it lost.

    The Jacket turned out to be (comically) too short, not only on the sleeves but also under the arms, and the shirt far too large. I don’t now how Scotweb does their measurements, but they certainly were different from what the dressmaker and I understood. As promised, Scotweb stands behind their product and will accept an exchange. However the return postage cost me $50.00 (FedEx at $70 for a 14 lb box turns out to be a bargain).

    The outfit cost me $1700+, the duty, taxes and charges at customs another $490, shipping with FedEx $70, and the return postage $50. This brings the total cost so far to over $2300.00!

    For this price I could have had a jacket and vest tailor made here, all of the accessories bought locally and two 8 yr kilts made by a local kilt-maker and still had enough left over to buy a round at our locals’ kilt night. The quality of the kilt is superb, but I don’t think any better than I could have had here. The added costs of shipping, duty, taxes, and the frustration of ‘made to measure’ without benefit of trying it on does not make buying from Scotland worth it. A very expensive lesson, and one I have learnt the hard way. My next kilt will be made locally.
    His Grace Lord Stuart in the Middle of Fishkill St Wednesday

  2. #2
    Join Date
    9th June 06
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    Midland, TX
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    Oh man. I'm so sorry to hear of all this. Just makes you sick I'd bet.

  3. #3
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    Contributing Tartan Historian
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    26th January 05
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    crest belt buckle

    The belt buckle is not so nice. I opted for a family crest style. The buckle is a generic one with the family crest inserted into a space on the front and held with a metal pin through the back. I will need to find a metal worker to affix it properly if I don’t want it lost.
    I'm not going to comment on your various other frustrations, though I certainly do sympathize. I just wanted to chime in re: the belt buckle above. I've carried clan crest buckles in our gift shop from a variety of manufacturers and this seems to be the standard way of doing it -- make a generic buckle blank with a place to affix a standard crest badge. The badge pins onto the buckle. I myself have owned a buckle of this style for years and I have never had a single issue with it. Works like a charm. Though I will say that this is on the belt that I use for more formal occasions, so it only gets worn a couple of times a year.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    7th July 06
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    For what you paid you could have gone to scotland and had them measure you, and brought the darn thing home. As you said, a costly lesson learned.
    Convener, Georgia Chapter, House of Gordon (Boss H.O.G.)

    Where 4 Scotsmen gather there'll usually be a fifth.
    7/5 of the world's population have a difficult time with fractions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    27th May 07
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    Leona Valley, California
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    Quote Originally Posted by turpin View Post
    For what you paid you could have gone to scotland and had them measure you, and brought the darn thing home. As you said, a costly lesson learned.
    Now that's the way to do it if you want a Scottish handmade...


    northernsky, I'm sorry to hear about the near fiasco you're dealing with. I hope this all gets resolved to your satisfaction.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    6th September 07
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    Red Deer
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    That whole mess just sucks. Sorry to hear it. For that price, you could buy 3 Utilikilt suits. Or 2 suits and a pair of them boots.

    Or, 18 SWK, 12 good SK, or a tonne of lotto tickets.

    Next time, just hand the kilt maker 20 bucks and tell him to speak in a scot accent.

    Cheers man.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    7th April 06
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    Ouch! That is a very painful lesson.
    Andy in Ithaca, NY
    Exile from Northumberland

  8. #8
    Join Date
    15th April 07
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    State College, PA
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    I do feel for you. That is why I got into kiltmaking myself.
    Wallace Catanach, Kiltmaker

    A day without killting is like a day without sunshine.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    8th January 08
    Location
    The Bayou City - Houston, TX
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    I bought a bespoke jacket from a company in Scotland. I have an athletic build and they ignored some additional sizing information I gave them that I knew, from other tailoring jobs, they would need. The jacket arrived, including a customs charge based on the "value" of the jacket. I had to send the jacket back indicating that it did not fit and requested a re-cut. The vendor gladly complied and re-sent the jacket, but put the same value as before, rather than a nominal value to indicate work performed (even though it was free). As a result, I had to pay ANOTHER $80 customs charge when the jacket arrived inspite of my protests and explanation to the gov't authority. So, all bespoke clothing I purchase, I buy from the good ol' U.S.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    16th August 04
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    Hi northernsky, I've just read your comments and I'm obviously very upset to hear that you're unhappy with your experience. I'd have to take issue with some of your comments, as for example I just don't believe that you could get two well made kilts etc in the fabric you chose locally for the same price. But I'm more concerned about your general feeling of dissatisfaction with the service. And I'd just like to say that if there's anything I can do to help you (or anyone!) sort out particular issues then do please message me personally.

    I'm writing on a Sunday morning from home so I can't check into the specifics of your complaints. I'd second Matt's comment about the clan crest buckle - this is how every manufacturer does it, as any other way would be prohibitively uneconomic. As for not getting replies to messages, this is something we generally take great pride in, but we have had a series of technical bugs of late which for a period meant many messages not getting through which we never even knew about. Pretty bad stuff. But if it's just that the team member didn't give you a full reply, I can only apologise and ask for details - we run a very comprehensive issue-tracking and analysis programme for service failures of any sort, and I'd always like to know about specifics.

    The jacket measurement problem I can't really say much about now. It's something we have very few problems with on the whole. It's a widely known issue in the industry that different manufacturers/vendors quote/ask for measurements in different ways - e.g. whether the arm length is taken inside or outside the arm! (Very different!!). Are you certain you followed our measurement guides carefully? Certainly if we provided goods that didn't match the lengths you specified, or if our measurement guides were misleading, we would expect to cover your return postage costs.

    The order tracking part of the site we've actually just improved with a couple more feedback stages, where that's within our in-house systems. But regretably it's hard to explain why it takes a long time for the goods themselves to be made by a kiltmaker etc., and at what stage the sewing etc. is!

    And as for packaging, again it's something we actually have few complaints about, and it does sound as if you've been unlucky. But if an item arrived damaged, please just email us a digital pic of it and we'll be happy to replace it for you.

    Anything I've missed, please just message me!

    Nick

    PS - send my love to Vancouver! One of my favourite cities... I have family there on both paternal and material sides, oddly enough.

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