A little insight and perspective please!

Discussion in 'Hats' started by vintage68, Oct 23, 2019.

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  1. vintage68

    vintage68 Practically Family

    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Nevada, The Redneck Riviera
    I've been giving the same hat maker my business now for about 15 years. Initially he sent me a little gizmo to measure not only the size of my head but also the shape so that the hat would be as close to custom as one can get these days. The first hat I received from him was perfect in terms of shape and fit. I soon ordered another hat from him that fit like the first, and in no time we had established a great business relationship. I sent him my hats periodically for cleanings, reshaping, etc in addition to recommending his services to any and all.

    Fast forward to just recently and he sent me a new hat that flat out does not fit. It was way too small, and sits very high on my head, so I can't even pull it down all the way and wear it at the level I usually do. Needless to say I was disappointed and wrote him an email saying so. His response was "mistakes happen, send it back and I'll make it right."

    So where i need the insight is precisely here: how could a hat maker just flat out make a hat that is way too small after fifteen years of doing business? Shouldn't my measurements be dialed in at this point? I didn't suddenly put on 100lbs, nor do I have tumor on my head, so what gives? I'm pretty irritated at the seeming insouciance of his response. I can understand if the hat was a little too big or a little too small, this is after all a hand made product, but to make a hat that isn't even in the ballpark just strikes me as bizarre.

    So, please offer some insights to this situation. Am I way off base and making this a bigger deal than it is?
     
    J Williams likes this.
  2. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    7,855
    Location:
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    Sorry to hear about your poor service experience, I have experienced something similar, though not with hats, with shoes. There's a specialist shoe maker who has made me a dozen pairs of shoes over a number of years, his workmanship is first class, but alas his business skills do not match his artistic shoe making talents.

    Every pair of those shoes were perfect right from the first time that I wore them, no pinching, very comfortable and really pleasing. The next pair were a dreadful disappointment, so too were the replacements. Having sent the replacements back I told him not to send me anymore, but to hold onto my payment and we could discuss the problem when we met, as we often did at vintage events.

    His, and my, saviour came when he found a new love in his life. His new lady friend was as sharp as a tack in all matters of business. She took over the running of the day to day affairs leaving him to concentrate on what he does best. When we met, his lady introduced herself, she took me aside and admitted that her partner had actually sent me another person's order, it was the same as mine and to confuse matters further, we shared the same surname. A genuine mistake, but he did it again with the replacements and that's what I said to his lady. She didn't try to defend, she could have said that he was up to here with work, tax problems, this, that and the other, but all she said was: "Is this redeemable?" Looking me straight in the eye as she said it.

    The second replacements are back to his original standard, I am so pleased. What can you draw from this? It's important to let your vendor know that you are displeased without any rancour, if it is a mistake and things settle back to the level of service that you once enjoyed then you have the result that you seek, but don't be held by emotional blackmail. The workmanship may be top class but that's pointless if the hat doesn't fit. Just make sure he knows. Good luck, I hope it works out well.
     
  3. Just Daniel

    Just Daniel One Too Many

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    1,218
    Whew. That looks frustrating! If you’ve been working with the guy for fifteen years, I definitely think you can expect him to have your stuff pretty well noted. Although given that, if he’s willing to fix it, maybe that makes it ok in the end; or maybe a phone call would work out better than an email?

    Good luck with the process and the next hat!


     
    J Williams likes this.
  4. J Williams

    J Williams Practically Family

    Messages:
    635
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    I would say give him the benefit of the doubt. Any number of things could have happened, something as simple as him or another employee placing the wrong label or allocating the measurements of another hat to the felt that was to be used for yours. How many years has it been since you ordered a custom hat? Say he has 20 hats on the go and another in the same colour and style as yours, or maybe he digitized his system and your measurements where entered in wrong. Basically who knows. I own and operate a custom cabinet business and there are 4 of us that work in the shop and much like the telephone game sometimes information can get distorted. It's not that uncommon especially when you are busy for something to be mislabeled or placed in the wrong stack and all of a sudden it's been painted the wrong colour and sent to an incorrect job. It doesn't happen that often, but it does happen, when it does we make it right in a timely fashion. I would judge him more based on how the mistake is corrected than the mistake itself.
     
  5. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Location:
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    15 years? Two hats, then cleaning and blocking, and only a third hat just recently? Well, the clean and blocks are already sized, they just go on the block and are cleaned, etc. A new custom hat...that requires something totally different. Perhaps.. business has grown over 15 years... instead of just a couple hundred, he now has several THOUSAND customers.
    And your "card" got mixed up, or your order was "make it like my last one" with no size specifics (you may have only said Dove hat with Navy Blue ribbon) and assumed mentioning size was not necessary?

    Or, maybe the hatter was say, 60 when your first hat was made. Add 15 years..he/she is now in their mid to late 70's.
    Plus a zillion or two hats thru the shop sales counter plus mail order customs... you get the idea.

    Another thing...it's a simple mistake on size. People have lots of stuff going on in their lives... financial, health, family, business... many distractions.

    At least this isn't a story about the surgeon who amputated the wrong leg!

    Here is the important thing: "Send It Back, We'll Make It Right". And I hope they did. They are probably more concerned about this than you, since now they have to eat the shipping, and do it all over again (at a loss). Mistakes are expensive.
     
  6. vintage68

    vintage68 Practically Family

    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Nevada, The Redneck Riviera
    Thanks J Williams. I like what you wrote here: "I would judge him more based on how the mistake is corrected than the mistake itself." And thanks too Anykev, but just to be clear this hat is actually more like my fifth from him.

    I happen to know he brought in a partner and expanded his business which is part of the frustration. He has people I've never worked with answering his emails, making hats under his name, sending off the hats, etc. I learned that his new partner made the hat which is the most frustrating part because I'm not sure of their experience.
     
  7. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Also remember that the written word doesn't always have the same, or any, inflection of the spoken word.

    The phrase, 'mistakes happen,' can be taken one way in written form, but in many ways in spoken form. I am running the phrase through my head with different inflections and even facial expressions, and they all carry different feelings, some of them 'feeling' quite apologetic and good-natured.

    Businesses evolve. New staff can make or break an operation. Customers stay loyal and/or move on, depending on how things go. I found a new hat maker (and when I say new, I mean NEW) that I am very happy with, who will be the guy I go to exclusively until I have reason not to). Keep your options open.
     
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  8. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    That's about the long and short of it Scotty. It's been estimated that body language makes up over 90% of our communication skills. That's how I read the honesty in the lady's face when she asked if it's redeemable. She didn't say something like, trust me, she just knew, without ever having met me before, that the way to convey reassurance was through eye contact. She was putting her reputation, as well as her shoemaker fellow, on the line. Expressions like: "Trust me," and "To be honest," leave me thinking the exact opposite, I would much rather have face to face contact.
     
    M Hatman and scottyrocks like this.
  9. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    My question would be: have you noticed an improvement or decline in the hats you have purchased with the "new" people apparently making them?

    I ask this from lots of first hand experience. Optimo, in Chicago...Graham has employees, and his business has grown significantly from when I first started buying hats from him almost 20 years ago. His quality is unsurpassed.

    Other hatters, I have gotten "excellent" and then "pretty good" from the same hatter (no names mentioned, some local, some across the sea). They all have had instances where the customer may have expected, shall we just say "better".

    Hat making is pretty much the same from shop to shop. It's the attention to the small details, and of course the quality of the felt (or the straw), which separate one from the other.

    You can have a great auto body shop you use, but one time the guy spraying the paint wasn't having a "good day", or the weather wasn't ideal (humidity), or he was just coming down with the flu. The true indicator of a quality craft shop is the consistency and the care for you, the customer.
     
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  10. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    22,704
    Location:
    London, UK
    Bottom line: creative, wonderful craftsmen are often not so hot when it comes to business. The music industry for one is litteredc with highly successful creatives who've been ripped off by corrupt accountants / management / labels / w.h.y. over the years because their skills lie in art, not business.
     
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  11. vintage68

    vintage68 Practically Family

    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Nevada, The Redneck Riviera
    "My question would be: have you noticed an improvement or decline in the hats you have purchased with the "new" people apparently making them?" AndyKev, the more I think about it the more I believe the problems started when he brought in his new partner. I'm not sure if the partner had previous experiences with hats, or if they're getting a internship into the bargain as part of the deal but I definitely see a change and sadly not for the better.
     
  12. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    4,114
    Location:
    The Beautiful Diablo Valley
    Ok you are referring to one of our Vendor/Affiliates. Felt quality is dependent on the supplier, and from what I understand, many are having difficulty obtaining quality hat bodies, and also in their choice color. The other aspects of the custom made hat include the "details", to whit, quality of the ribbon and sweat, and the liner. Lastly the "finish" would be how straight a sewn edge is, or how neatly the bow is sewn, or the "pouncing" of the hat.

    From over 20 years of buying from VS and Optimo, I can attest that each has improved over time. My first hats from Optimo for example, were good, but later ones were spectacular. If therer is a new person at the helm, it will never (AT FIRST) have the same "stuff" you value as the original artisian. I can only suggest that time, and experience will improve and it is my hope that soon, you won't be able to tell the difference.

    That said, support your local hatter, for if you don't, some day they will all be gone.
     
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  13. T Jones

    T Jones I'll Lock Up

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    5,925
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    From what I see in your post your hatter offered to make it right. Send it back to him and see what he does with it from there. Hopefully he'll pay your shipping cost and make things right for you this time around. At least give your hatter a chance to fix it or to refund your money.
     

  14. I don’t demand perfection from anyone. If he’s willing to make it right what more can you ask?

    The wrong size block is an easy mistake to make. Not being a perfectionist myself, I tend to give others a lot of latitude...just like I hope they’re willing to give me.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
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  15. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    ...I just don't see the issue here.

    I know the feeling of a custom hat not quite fitting right. I've never had an issue with a hatter not wanting to take it back and correct it. It sounds like you don't have that issue either. I would not read too much into a succinct reply. On the contrary, I actually kind of dig the economy of the words there. Short and to the point.
     
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  16. Like Jared, I appreciate the short responses. I’ve written Art emails with a couple dense paragraphs and received a two word response. The hats do the talking.

    This spring/summer I received a hat from Art made to the wrong specifications (used the specs from my previous hat), but I sent it back and got just the hat I wanted a week later. No complaints from me.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
  17. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    4,114
    Location:
    The Beautiful Diablo Valley
    I think this "question" has been properly answered in that in any business, mistakes may happen. The responsive (and correct) reply was "mistakes happen, send it back and I'll make it right."
    Nothing more needs to be said, no discussion necessary.
     
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