Maggie Velvet (untitled747) wrote in egl,
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Indie Brand Review: 4 O'Clock by Linda Friesen

Many of you may know of the 'indie' brand 4 O'Clock by Linda Friesen. For those of you who don't, she is a well-known and established designer from the Netherlands. She won 2nd place in a Dutch television series called Project Catwalk in 2011. Linda has a couture line after her own name, whereas her brand 4 O'Clock is more popular within the gothic & lolita fashion community.

I became a fan of her designs immediately after I discovered her. But to my dismay, her products were very expensive, especially since I am still a student. For months, I admired her pieces posted on Facebook and longed for one of her winter coats.
Finally, at the end of October/beginning of November, I decided to inquire about them. I posted on the EGL LiveJournal community asking for advice (some of you may remember), about past experiences and the quality of her pieces. I got entirely positive feedback, although not many have purchased from her since it was so expensive but they had seen her designs in person or had previously modelled them. From those who had purchased from her, they all reported that the product was flawless but she was a bit late in finishing them and so she included a 'sorry' gift.


Cost: 500 eur + PP fees
Shipping: 41,10 eur

Construction: 5/5
True to stock/fit: 4.5/5
- the colour of the coat is brighter/bluer in real life, rather than the darker navy I would have preferred, although I understand that capturing colour on camera is very difficult.
Communication: 0/5
Shipping: 2/5
Total: 11.5/20

Please read for an explanation of my scores:

With this information, I decided to place an order. I had to do a payment plan and she was okay with this, but we never established set dates. However, I was steadily giving her large payments. On the 30th of October, I inquired about how long it would take to be completed, as well shipping costs + time. On the 31st she responded that it would take 2 weeks to make the coat, and shipping would also take 2 weeks. Now I would like to note that before this point, I was literally just making inquiries, asking what colours she had available and shipping + construction time. Before I had actually stated I wanted to place an order, she already asked me to pay for materials.
On the same day, I sent her my first payment to cover the costs of the materials. From then, we discussed the type of lining I wanted and the colour for the coat. She told me that she would let me know when she found the right colour.

November 2nd, I sent her a message because I was interested in one of her accessories. I got no response.
November 4th, I sent her a message saying that I was having trouble with PayPal and wanted to make sure that she received the amount I originally sent her. I got no response.
November 6th, I was re-evaluating my decision of placing an order and wanted to cancel. I hadn't heard from her since my first payment on October 31st, so I thought it might be possible since it seems like she hadn't purchased the materials yet. She responded right after saying that it wouldn't be possible to cancel since she already bought the wool. But why didn't she tell me that earlier? Or respond to any of my messages?

I thought it over and consulted my close friends, and decided to go ahead with my order. Again, I decided to do so because of all the positive feedback. I informed her of my decision on November 8th. She asked me for my length, bust and waist measurements and asked which style of coat I wanted. I gave her my measurements and asked about the difference styles of the coats.

November 10th, she answered my questions and asked for my shoulder measurement.
November 12th, I gave them to her and requested a second invoice, as I was ready to make another payment.
November 13th, I made my second payment and asked for proof pictures of the fabric and buttons, as I wanted to see what my options were.
November 14th, she said she would take pictures of the fabric and buttons the next day. The next few days pass, and I don't hear from her.
November 17th, she informs me that she still has not taken proof pictures yet, and will do so the next day.
November 18th, she tells me that she STILL has not gotten pictures yet.
November 19th, I finally receive proof pictures of the fabric + lining. I did NOT get a picture of the buttons that would be available.
November 20th, I respond with, “Great, let me know about the buttons :)”
November 21st, I informed her that I would be able to make another payment, and that I might be able to make the final payment by that Friday (the next day, November 22nd). I told her that if I was not able to pay the final amount by the next day, I would be able to do so in the next two weeks. I also said that I was hoping to have the coat by December 5th.
November 26th, I have yet to receive a response. Worried, I politely ask if everything was okay and inquired about the status of my coat:
“Hi Linda, I am just writing to see if everything is okay. I understand that you must be very busy with several projects but I would greatly appreciate more of a constant flow of communication. Especially since I am giving you such a large sum of money and because I read such good reviews/heard of good experiences of your service and products, I expected better customer relations. I am still waiting to hear about the buttons. As I said before, I do understand that you must be very busy with work and your personal life, but the fact that the fabrication of my coat has not started is slightly confusing to me only because when I contacted you on the 30th, you said the coat would be ready in 2 weeks. On the 31st is when I made my first payment of 150 euros. I was told that you were going to let me know when you found the fabric but never heard back until 5 days later when I said I wanted to cancel. I decided to continue with my order only 2 days after. I am not unhappy because your responses at the beginning were mostly timely but am just a bit disappointed with your recent lack of updates and the timeframe that I was promised for the coat to be completed. It is getting to -17 here, and I would really love to be able to wear your beautiful work soon.”

Linda responded that December 5th will not be possible since it takes approx. 2 weeks for it to arrive, and that she was indeed busy with another project. She then informs me that she has NOT EVEN BEGUN sewing my coat. This was November 26th, TWO WEEKS after I gave her my full measurements, the date it should have been completed. She didn't even bother to tell me that she hadn't started.
I had STILL not received pictures of the buttons. She responded:
“About the buttons. I saw that you were still hesitant about the buttons so I thought it would be best to wait a little with it so when the coat would be almost done I would be able to show you several options on the coat itself.”

I don't understand why she did not explain this to me earlier, when I asked for pictures of the buttons the first time. I would have understood if only she told me, but she didn't bother.
Indeed, I was able to pay the full amount by the 22nd, but received no response from her. After she responded on the 26th, I told her that I would be able to make the final payment. If she responded to my earlier message, I would have been able to give her the full amount on the 22nd.
She informs me that she can finish my coat by the end of the week and it would be shipped it the beginning of next week (Monday, December 2nd).

November 29th, she sends me proof pictures of the coat and tells me that it should be completed by Monday.
December 2nd, she says that it will take 4-8 business days for shipping and that she will be able to finish the coat by the end of the day.
December 3rd, she has not finished my coat and says that it will be posted the next day.
December 4th, I inquire whether or not my coat is finished and she tells me it is not. Again, she says she'll ship it the next day.
December 5th, she has still not shipped my coat and says she will do so the next day.
December 6th, she finally ships it, and I tell her that I will let her know when I receive it.
I entered the tracking number and to my dismay, it said that would take at least 5-11 business days to arrive, which contradicts what Linda told me. This of course was not her fault, as I'm sure it was the mistake of the post office. However, because I believed her, I expected it to arrive in the time she told me.
December 23rd, I finally receive my coat. It is lovely and the warmest coat ever. I love it. However, even though the product was amazing, as you imagine I was still very disappointed with the service. I received no 'sorry' gift or other compensation for the delay/lack of communication, nor did I ever receive a formal apology or full explanation of anything.
The packaging was also scary. It arrived in a small cardboard box, wrapped in a large white plastic bag. For a coat that cost me 500 euro, I expected it to be a bit more carefully packed. Perhaps in bubble wrap? Even when I buy things from the EGL comm sales group, I receive products wrapped in bubble wrap or tissue and then placed into a plastic Ziploc, then placed into a box/large mailing envelope.
Out of courtesy, I decided to wait until after the 25th to contact her about my experience.

I live in Canada, and for those of you who have experienced harsh canadian winters, you know that it can get to -30/40 degrees celsius, and temperatures can drop and fluctuate drastically. By the time I received it, it was already around -25/30 daily. This means that obviously, I had to go out and buy another winter coat since my 4 O'Clock one did not arrive when it was supposed to. Therefore I had to spend more money and time to purchase ANOTHER winter coat, when I had already paid 500 euro for one, just because she was late! She promised me it would be finished within a certain period, but it was not and she did not bother to notify me, I had to ASK.

December 27th, I decided to discuss my issues with her and politely ask for a partial refund. She said it wouldn't be possible and explained that she delayed production because I was on a payment plan. However, that does not excuse why she did not tell me that construction of the coat would be delayed.
My response:
“Thank you for your response. I really expected the coat to be finished in time after I told you I wanted to go ahead with the order. I was not notified at all that the production would be delayed and thought that you would begin it after I gave you my full measurements and made my first payment. Sadly, the construction did not begin until 2 weeks later, with absolutely no communication from your part, not even letting me know that you had not started or responded to my messages. I never really got an explanation of why you did not contact me, and as a buyer I should not have had to press you to finish the coat or to be the one asking about it. I am really disappointed with the lack of communication, the delay and the extra week it took for you to ship it out. I hope you understand that this was not a positive experience for me and therefore will have to do a review of your service to let others know.”

She responded by saying that she had to put extra work into the coat which is why it took longer (again, I don't understand why she did not inform me of this at the beginning). She also says that production was delayed because she didn't know when I would be able to make the final payment, however if Linda responded to me on the 21st, things would have been different.
She then admits that it should have been finished on the 26th (still no apology for the delay), and says that was halfway done by that date. However, that is not true since when I contacted her on the 26th, she told me that she 'can now BEGIN sewing' my coat.
Linda then reminds me that at the beginning, it would take 2 weeks to ship and that I “should have taken that into account” even though when she was about to ship it, she told me it would take 4-8 days. I don't blame her with for the delay because that is what she was told from the post office, but I felt what she said was rather rude and contradicted what she told me previously. This was the rest of her reply:
“I'm sorry you feel this was a negative experience but I really think you are blowing this way out of proportion. The delay was 10 days! And don't forget you're not dealing with ready made things here, this was a custom order, there's always the possibility that the work takes a little longer. As for the lack of communication, as you say it. That is different with every customer. As soon as I found out that you needed a lot of updates I did let you know much more frequent what was going on. Most customers I deal with don't need so many updates.”

I don't think I asked for many updates. I asked about pictures of the buttons so I could CHOOSE them, that's one of the perks of having a custom made coat, isn't it?
I also didn't ask about the progress of the coat until the 26th (the date it should have been finished). I didn't really need updates, but she never explained anything to me.

In conclusion, my experience with her service was negative. The product is perfect, but I am very sad that I had to post this review. I am also disappointed with her attitude throughout the exchange, as I remained generous and understanding. As Linda and I have discussed, she is welcome to comment on this review should she find any errors. I was really hoping that I would have a good experience and to purchase from her again, but unfortunately that does not seem likely. I wrote this review to hopefully aid others in their decision making, and would happily respond to any questions.
Tags: garment: coats/capes, review product: coats/capes, review: seamstress
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