Bethie’s Present

Bethie posted yesterday about her new present — some pink cuffs and paddles from Westward Bound. No link there, because pleased as we are with the merchandise, my customer experience was very poor.

I was prepared to cut Westward Bound some slack, as they are located in the UK and I know it’s a challenge to deliver merchandise across the Atlantic with any reasonable speed. But this was ridiculous.

Folks, go look at the picture on Bethie’s post — it’s a heart-shaped paddle. I ordered it for a Valentine’s Day present — and got it in June.

January 25: I placed the order. Yes, I know mail from the UK can take more than a month, but I can live with this present being late. And sometimes I have better luck — it might arrive by February 14.

February 12: I received a “courtesy email” telling me that “all is going well with my order” and they will notify me “when your order is in our despatch department.” What the fuck? More than three weeks later and they haven’t even shipped? And no reason offered for the delay? That’s just ridiculous. I appreciate the courtesy email, but I’m gathering that these people aren’t serious about mail order. Whatever has happened to my order, all is not “going well” or it would be in the mail by now.

March 28: Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have to change my mailing address. Still haven’t heard from Westward Bound, and it’s probably too late to charge back the credit card, so I write the order off in my mind.

March 29: With perfect timing, email arrives from Westward Bound telling me my order has been shipped, about nine weeks after I placed it. I attempt to make arrangements to have the package intercepted at the old mailing address, but I don’t have much faith in the arrangements.

June 6: Another email from Westward Bound telling me that my package was returned. No suprise there. The suprise: They’ll be happy to reship, but only if I authorize another seven pounds and 22 pence charge on my credit card to cover the expense. So I wrote back and explained that the package return was due, in large part, to their extreme delay in shipping. I authorized the charge, but explained that I was not happy with their causing me to incur it. (At this point, an outfit concerned with the customer experience would have acknowledged their fault and re-shipped for free.)

June 7: Email from Westward Bound indicates that my package has been reshipped. The shipping charge appears on my credit card: $13.32 at current exchange rates.

June 23: Package arrives at about the usual speed for trans-Atlantic parcels. Note that if they’d shipped when I ordered the merchandise, I’d have had it well before Valentine’s Day.

The strong point about dealing with Westward Bound is that they do a good job with the automated status emails. But actual order fulfillment appears to suck stale donkey brains. More than two full months to ship an order? With no explanation? Simply not reasonable.

The paddle and cuffs, themselves, I’m fairly pleased with. They are pretty and pink and they make Bethie happy. Quality, however, is not extreme, and certainly doesn’t match the premium prices charged by Westward Bound. The paddle has some rough stitching and loose knots on the back, and the cuffs arrived with several small scratches where the pink “leather paint” has already been scratched away exposing the dark leather beneath. Nothing to complain about, but nothing special in the quality department either.

All in all, not a vendor I could recommend in good faith.

  1. Annie commented on June 26th, 2005:

    Paint scratching away? Not even aniline dyed leather? Poor quality indeed. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Gerrit commented on June 28th, 2005:

    In my opinion, they need a good spanking …

  3. Paul commented on July 10th, 2005:


    A few years ago I would not have been surprised but service in the UK has improved dramatically over the last few years, and now usually matches the excellent service you all expect and receive in the USA.

    By contrast to your experience, and in the opposite direction obviously, i ordered something from ‘The London Tanners’ which I looked at thinking it would be in the UK,(guess why!) and the product and delivery sevice was excellent.

    CDs are delivered quickly from the USA these days – we are getting better over here so I hope the poor experience won’t put you off ordering again from England.

    Thank you for your excellent blog – and the links to other equally good ones – I think these are my version of soap operas – I really enjoy the content, and the people involved and find them more interesting than professional, money making sites.

    Best wishes,



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