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Customer Service Nightmare: Utrecht Art

Oh my goodness. Don't ever buy online from Utrecht Art Supplies. I don't think I've met such poor customer service in a long time.

So back on October 15th, I ordered some tech pens that were on sale from them for a project at school. I figured it'd take a week or two to receive, and since our project wasn't starting for about another month, that'd be plenty of time. They're having a great sale and the item states that it's in stock, so... perfect!

About three weeks go by, classes are busy, time flies by, and as everyone else in my class is showing off their new pens, I suddenly realize mine have never come. How strange.

I go online to check the status of my order... it says "Processing". Processing? Was my card bad? What's the deal? And more importantly, why hadn't they told me about this sooner? I'd expected to receive my item by now and it still hasn't left their warehouse? What's going on?

So I email them and inquire. The response back was that these are backordered indefinitely and that I can call this number to cancel if I want. What? This couldn't have been told to me three weeks ago?

I called the number and tried to cancel. I was planning on heading into the city that Friday so figured if I could get my money back in time that I could just walk into an art store there and purchase a set.

Well, the nice lady on the phone told me that they weren't really back-ordered, they had just run out and the truck delivering them had gotten stuck in the hurricane. Okay, I can understand that. She said they were expecting the truck to get through on Friday and would ship this out to me immediately. My project was starting the following Wednesday, but I figured that I could borrow some pens for a couple days if need be. I said okay.

Another week goes by. My order still says, "Processing", so I email again, explaining that I'd just talked to someone who had told me they were going to be shipped out soon and what was the status of my order please? The email response was that they'd probably be yet another week. *facepalm*

So what could I do? I waited. School got busy again. By this point I had some permanent loaners from another student, so I didn't really think about it again for awhile as this project went on. About another week goes by and one of my classmates asks how the saga of getting my pens was going. Oh! I think. And go back online to check. I'm sure you can guess what my order status was... "Processing".

This time I emailed them and ripped them a new one. I told them I couldn't believe they STILL had me in processing a good month and a half after I'd originally ordered these pens. Why hadn't they contacted me sooner? Why had they repeatedly told me it'd just be another week? Why had they listed this item for sale in the first place if they knew it wasn't available for sale? I told them I wanted my money back and would never order from them again because I couldn't believe how horrible this experience had been.

Another week goes by... I heard nothing from them.

I go back in to check my order status. This time it's actually changed to, "Cancelled Order... Due to Customer changing their mind." Can you see steam coming out of my ears? Changing my mind?? NO! I did NOT change my mind! I wanted these a month and a half ago and they never sent them!! And not for my lack of trying to get them. But I told myself to take a deep breath and remember that they probably just clicked a drop-down menu choice to fill that spot in. Yelling at them for a stupid filled-in reason won't help anything, even though it feels like insult added to injury.

I emailed them again for a refund since I'd never seen one come through my account. I inquired also as to why I hadn't heard from them since requesting my order be cancelled. To their credit, they actually responded within 24 hours this time, telling me, "Valued Customer", that they could not do a refund because they'd never charged my card in the first place.


I don't know whether to be relieved or angry. I mean, seriously? They never charged my card? It's been nearly two months since I placed my order. I had financial aid then, which I used to order all my school supplies. Now my bank account's almost dry. What if that $75 had suddenly popped out of my account months after I'd ordered this? I realize I should've probably paid closer attention to my bank account to realize that it'd never come out, but I'd just sort of assumed it had, since I placed this order so long ago! Sigh...

In any case, the saga is over, and I'm never ordering from them again. I have no idea if this is typical of their customer service or not, but it sure left a sour taste in my mouth being a first-time customer and being treated so dismissively. COMMUNICATION, people! They should've been straight with me from the beginning and told me the item was unavailable, that they hadn't charged my card yet, and would I like to order something new or cancel my request? Why did it take me calling about my order a month later to start the (albeit misleading) customer service train? That was absolutely the wrong way to deal with a backordered item.


Don't list something's for sale if it's not. Let your customer know immediately if there's a problem with the order... not three weeks later when they finally realize it themselves. Don't just tell them it'll be another week if it's not going to be. Don't blame it on a hurricane if that's not the reason, since that only makes the customer feel like they're being too pushy when it's really your problem, not theirs. And please, oh please, don't wait until they contact you to start communication with them, because they're probably already mad by that point. Be proactive about these things, please.


  1. Grrrrrrrrrrr, how frustrating. I agree, don't post for sale if you don't have it.

  2. This is frustrating!! I had a similar horrible experience happen on black friday when I ordered christmas presents from Macy's, though they sent me an email saying instead "Order cancelled due to conflicting information" so I called and they said that they cancelled it because my billing address didn't match my shipping address [because my shipping address is around the corner where my doorman is] so I yelled at them to fix it and they replaced the order but then my bank was showing a double charge, so the lady from Macy's three-way called the bank and had me confirm tons of personal information to get the charge off of my bank account! I was reeeeally mad & really worried they were going to sell out of something or I would lose the black friday price. I think all large companies suck at customer service, especially with online orders!! Unfortunately good service seems to be the exception and not the rule.

  3. Wow. Usually a company will email you as soon as they know an item will be back-ordered or delayed or something. That's horrible that they never told you anything. But, I think a lot of companies wait to charge you until something ships, so that's reassuring at least.

  4. That's super frustrating! I've bought a few things online that they say they're in stock...when they're not. Target at least sent me an email, but Amazon didn't. :(


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