May 4, 2012

The General Public.

I am really lucky most of the time. Most of the time, running My Bearded Pigeon is great.   People are lovely, they say thank you , they say hello , they are excited by my cushions and they send lovely emails, they leave nice messages when they buy something and they tell me lovely stories about why they are buying that cushion and who they are buying it for - it's all very nice. Mostly. 

 What is not so lovely is people speaking down to me, demanding things from me that are just plain rude. I was not really expecting this when I started selling online, I probably naively thought it would all be very nice? And really 95% of the time it is lovely but I just wanted to show you 
 just how bizarre-o people can be!

gratuitous cushion shot

Below are just some examples of the bizarre things that have been asked of me over the last 18 months, these are exact quotes of the whole email/ etsy convo's. No please, no thank you, no hello no from who? I keep them in my etsy convo folder called Are you fo' real? (I have just cut and paste these. )

"Your cushions are really neat but they are SO expensive can I have a discount?" 

" I want to wholesale these but I need them from you at $25 each and I want 10, but in different colors to the ones you have" 

"I don't like this color I want it in tan?"

"I want this but in a lampshade" 

"Can you do this map on a coffee mug"

"Can you make a tie out of this?" 

"I need this by Friday can you post today"     (obviously that will make little difference as you are on the other side of the world and it is Wednesday) 

"YOU have spelt **** wrong on the ******* map, you should really make sure you spell the cities properly"
(the map is actually in French and I don'tr draw the maps personally) 

gratuitous cushion shot

I probably get at least one a week like this: 

"We are doing a fundraiser at my sons school and would love it if you could donate a cushion - it would be great exposure for your business" ( I don't see how donating a cushion to your sons school on the other side of the world in a small town will really have a huge impact on my business)

Or this: 

" I would love to review your product on my blog" ( this often translates to please send me a FREE SAMPLE of your cushion to "review")

And, despite it saying on every listing that I sell the covers only not the inserts, and this is also stated in my policies, which I ask everyone to read before ordering on every listing,  I get asked  this at least 5 times a week:

"Can I get just the cover, will it be cheaper?" OR sometimes this:

"My order just arrived and its only the cover, I ordered the pillow!!!"

Then there is this kind of thing: 


My name is ****************and I would like to talk with you about your "Vancouver pillows". I was born and lived most of my life in Vancouver and you have made a MAJOR mistake with the pillows: most of the pillow is taken up with what is NOT in fact Vancouver, but is rather Vancouver Island, which is off the coast of Vancouver and is home to the capital city of British Columbia: Victoria. If you look on the far right hand side of the pillow you will see the first part of the word "Vancouver", which is near where the word "Burrard Inslet" also appears.Burrard Inslet is the northern boundary of the City of Vancouver proper. Vancouver Island is an ENTIRELY different place from Vancouver. If you are going to be selling pillows with maps of places on them, it might be a good idea to do some research on those places before you create them and publically selling them. I trust you will either remove these pillows from sale very quickly or relabel them with the correct name very quickly. 

Thank you for your time and attention.

This was my reply:

Dear *************************

I have just about 200 maps in my collection. I am a cushion maker. I am not, nor do I claim to be a cartographer. This was an oversight I made when I re-listed the item. I KNOW it is Vancouver Island not Vancouver. I know they are ENTIRELY different places because I have been there. 

Your email was quite threatening in tone with your demand that I remove the cushions from sale. What will happen if I don't? Will you call the police? Have me arrested? Imprisoned? 

I am human - I make mistakes. Please remember there is a person behind this shop who is just trying to run a business.

Perhaps a convo just asking me about this oversight would have been a little bit more reasonable rather than a threatening me.

Thank you for your time and attention,

gratuitous cushion shot

When I have had a bad nights sleep with a sick child and I wake up feeling sensitive and then  open  emails... well it makes me feel awful and I think people forget that. I have this shop/ blog online thing but I also have life going on in the background, we have morning sickness and gastro at the same time while your husband has put his back out and your featured seller on etsy so it may take a little while to answer convos , we have unexpected bills or sick relatives that are far away, or earthquakes!, or things happening at work that are awful and stressful or sick children, its all going on in the background. We don't see the context of peoples lives.

Most of the time I just think to myself "you dickhead" but sometimes it makes me feel really awful. As I never really set out to run a business and it was not something I ever thought I would do  and I have never worked in  customer service this has been a sharp learning curve for me. Those of you who have / do work in these areas are probably shaking your head. Chef often tells me of how rude and unreasonable people can be but I just didn't get it.  

As I said MOST people are so lovely. And mostly I laugh, but some days.... And I know I am lucky. Underlying all of this is the huge gratitude I feel to the universe (?) for allowing me to run a successful business I love....

So I will leave you with some lovely feedback I received  yesterday from a lovely woman who bought  word map wall hanging:

After wanting this for some time, I finally purchased for our 2nd wedding anniversary (to dream & plan the places we're yet to go together). Well, I received it today and truely, I couldn't be happier!!!! It really is gorgeous in real life, the colours are so brilliant & vivid and very well made. Best of all my hubby LOVED the gift as do I! Thank you for a beautiful product - and an amazingly lovely seller as a bonus. Big thank you Cath, I will be back for more :)

So its absolutely not all bad! Far from it. 

So tell me what has been the rudest thing someone has said to you via your shop of blog? It's time to debrief!!!


  1. what....there is a human running the show here?
    Seriously what are people LOIKE???!!!!!!
    What do they think?

    You know that saying from the great show Portlandia "put a bird on it"?
    I'm thinking a Pigeon response here might be 'Flip the bird on it'

    Why can't people just be NICE.
    Is it THAT hard?

    I'm pretty lucky as I don't get given a hard time on the whole.
    The worst I have gotten is "Why haven't you blogged that recipe you said you were going to?"
    " know in between being a mum to a bazillion I sometimes get caught up in my real life." OMG. WHO KNEW!!!
    Nice is good.
    Kind is good.
    I'm all for bringing back the nice & the kind.

  2. oh my god - this post made me laugh out loud...people are amusing! seriously?? some strange questions, strange requests...shows there are all types out there right?...very funny...great post!

  3. People scare me!!!

    So glad to hear that 95% of it is nice. You're nice. Hope your feeling ok today.

  4. You should make a Moron's pillow & when you get crap like that.. send them the link & suggest perhaps they may like that cushion!!!

  5. If we didn't have dickheads then there wouldn't be call for yelling You DICKHEAD!!! To the computer screen and that would be sad.
    That feedback from yesterday should be printed out and frames next to your computer. Then you read it straight after the 'you dickhed' moments.
    Now can I get one your cushions for free? I'll review it to all 10 of my twitter followers...
    Have a great day,
    Ab x

  6. I've been amazingly lucky to never ever have had to deal with anything like that!
    But I do get requests for freebies and even though I'd love to help everyone out, I just can't.

  7. I am astonished & sad. Part of me is glad I'm not the only one who finds those demanding/rude comments super upsetting. I get frustrated when people tell softies like me to "grow a thicker skin". If I do that, I'll be numb. I won't be me.

    Cath, you are *lovely*, and I hope you get lots more encouraging emails and that the silly ones dry up. xx

  8. Argh, the annoyance!

    I don't get too much rude online... what feels like HUNDREDS of charity requests though.

    Although once when I did a market, a lady accused me of selling prints of other artist artworks. She was extremely embarrassed when I kindly explained to her that each and every print on my stall was from one of my own works. That what she was looking at was the result of five years of me working very hard. She blushed an hurried away.

    After my annoyance melted away, I ended up feeling kind of flattered.

  9. This post is OH SO TRUE! Thank you for the laughs and a little sadness behind it too. The blog review requests are the cheekiest ones - of course they only want a freebie!

  10. Unbelievable how rude people can be!

    I haven't encountered this kind of rudeness yet but was a bit put off when someone send me a convo asking if I could make 50 Dutch Houses cards for the launch of her new business in Amsterdam... I very excitedly mailed back that I could definitely do that, but never heard from her again :-(.

    I hope you will gets lots more of those nice emails and will manage to brush off the rude ones...

    Best wishes,

  11. Never fail to be amazed by people's arrogance, rudeness, stupidity or general thoughtlessness...especially over the net. Luckily I haven't had to deal with any such crap (so far. Touch wood) on my blog or with my few attempts at online selling. Probably because I try hard to keep my head down. This is because I have the type of personality that lies awake at night worrying about what a person-one whom I have never met nor will ever meet and who lives on the other side of the world and is incredibly rude- thinks of me.
    But one gracious note makes up for a truckload of ugly ones.

  12. I'll do a blog review... bwahahahaha!

    You'd be horrified at what I endured working in a petrol station. People are rude-rude-rude! Although most people are actually quite nice :)

  13. Oh Cath, that Vancouver one is a pearler. A good hobby could fix so many problems...

    And as you know, I love your cushions, so don't go changing!


  14. Oh my lord, this makes me feel so grateful to be an editor hiding away in my home office!

    I'm almost surprised someone hasn't complained that they haven't been able to navigate with a cushion :)

    If it helps to balance out the freaks, let me tell you that we love our map cushions - even my son, who has been transfixed by them since he was a tiny new baby. I like to point out to him the little town in Ecuador he shares his middle name with (even though it's not actually labelled on the map). We wish we could have lots more of them, and I hope that one day we will.

  15. I've worked retail for about 6 years now and let me tell you, people can be fucking arseholes!!!!! I've never had anyone be rude to me through my blog or online selling, but I have had some bad ones in real life. At least online you can have a little time to calm down and not lose your shit in front of them. It takes some massive willpower to work retail sometimes! I just always tell myself it's their problem, they have the small little lives that mean these really small things are huge for them.

  16. there is not a comment box big enough!!!! The will you donate to my school, footy club etc is the one that kills me. When I say I don't have time to make them the exact toy in the exact colours they asked for but I could perhaps send them a set of patterns ( you know to the value of about $120) they simply don't respond or better yet they threaten to "expose" me on blogland as a not very nice person because I refuse to donate to them.
    Some days I just don't want to open emails....but other days you get an email that makes your day.
    I have always said if you spend enough time on the internet you will get to see every colour of crazy. ( self included)

  17. Oh my goodness, Cath, home businesses are not all sugar and spice are they? I guess this is what life is, ups and downs, as I keep saying to my children, the waves go up and down and "you just have to learn to surf". I certainly don't surf well at all and somehow take in every low much more than the highs.
    Perhaps we all need to reverse this and concentrate on the highs.
    And by the way, the teatowel I bought for my daughter is a total hit! Thank you so much.

  18. Email makes people rude, and stupid. You need to use the delete button more.

  19. OH. YEAH. I've never thought of filing them in a separate file... On top of all the usual requests, comments, people not reading things stuff, I also have a constant stream of requests for information, including where I get supplies that I sell, weird things like what STAPLES I use in my pattern instructions (?!!) and help with OTHER PEOPLE'S bag patterns. Oh, and apparently I'm a 24/7 general-sewing-advisory service (don't bother looking up a book or Googling anything.... JUST EMAIL ME and expect a tutorial in response!).

    Oooh.... I've had a bad day.... I could go on..... I shan't.

  20. The rudest exchange I ever had started with someone who'd seen me at a particular market several months before. They'd been back to that (very very small, diff sellers every month) market looking for me but to their inconvenience, I hadn't been there. Could they order a cushion? I replied that yes, I took online orders, but they needed to be aware that since they'd last seen me I'd increased my prices (meaning I was making about $10 an hour for my time rather than $6). They responded that they were SHOCKED by the price increase: they knew how much THEY made per hour and didn't see how I thought my time was worth so much. It ended with "Don't contact me, I will be in touch with you if I want to place an order." I'd struggled so fiercely with the decision to increase my prices and finally decided I was worth it, so it killed me to get such an intense response. Arsehole.

  21. People can be terribly rude and so stuffed full of an undeserved sense of entitlement, can't they?
    Although it wasn't pleasant for you to receive such an email, I had to laugh at the Vancouver one. As someone who lived in Victoria, and is now living in Vancouver (although hopefully not for much longer - back to Victoria!) I have to say that this email is a prime example of the rudeness I've encountered in this city. People here are straight up rude to your face - so much so it's laughable.
    Personally, I'd much rather have a cushion of Vancouver Island :)

  22. I am a Property Manager and look after rental properties.... NEED I SAY MORE????? Our mantra at work "it takes all sorts to make the world go round", most of the time it doesn't help, but we try :-), also a massive big glass of bubbles at the end of the day does wonders and that delete button can soothe the soul!!!

  23. Like farmer Liam says...people are strange.
    They really are.
    My favourite is when they end their judgy/critical comment with kisses.
    What's with that?

  24. Well, it takes all kinds I suppose. I have been pretty fortunate with customers and such, just a couple of rude types and of course the donation thing. I don't judge the donation askers too harshly - I know they are simply trying (if somewhat ungracefully) to help their most cases anyway.

    I have received bizarre and extremely hostile emails and comments about my blog. Which I don't get since I am hardly controversial. And some really, really strange requests - you don't want to know.

    It is lovely to get the good feedback though isn't it. Thank goodness most are kind.

    If only common sense were more common.

  25. WOWEE! People never cease to amaze me - when they're sending off these ridiculous pieces of rudeness and/or stupidity do they ever stop to think 'how would I feel if I got this request? how does my tone come across?'. Clearly not. Thank goodness for the 95% niceness!

  26. WOWEE! People never cease to amaze me - when they're sending off these ridiculous pieces of rudeness and/or stupidity do they ever stop to think 'how would I feel if I got this request? how does my tone come across?'. Clearly not. Thank goodness for the 95% niceness!

  27. :) I'm glad you finished with some positive said it right yourself people can be real dickheads! Keep your chin up you do great work! xx

  28. i work in the customer service industry, and people are just dicks.
    the amount of customers i have walk in out store, and then as they're walking out, everyone one in store will look at one another with a 'what the??' look, happens on a daily basis!
    i just think some people have no idea about empathy, or even sympathy!
    goodness me!!
    luckily we get the good with the bad too!!!
    hope you're well chooky!!

  29. Thanks for telling it like it is , or can be! And putting it in perspective of all the other things going on.. I had someone complain about the price of my $3 zine and that clearly I was only making them for profit.. And then several huffy follow up convos when I 'broke down ' my pricing into how I had arrived at that amount.
    Sigh. What planet do some people live on? Cos clearly I'm rolling in it living off zine profit...

  30. I'm lucky so far I've had no horrible comments about my shop (maybe that's because I've only had 3 customers LOL!) But your words really struck a cord with me. This week I had a hideous experience with my boss who took umbrage at me asking for a decrease in hours as I am a carer( my partner has Parkinson's), her reply was that my partner works fulltime! Oh so that's fine then. Obviously the fact that the only reason he can do that is because I do the other stuff he can't and the fact that everyday I have to support and bolster him emotionally doesn't count! Yeh lady there's a human being hurting at the end of your comment. Unbelievable. Oops sorry for the rant but really people should be nice! Interesting post thanks. ♥

  31. I'm absolutely gobsmacked at some of the things people have sent to you! Wow.
    Though I shouldn't be surprised as I have worked in customer service for many years :p
    My shop is very new, so no negative things just yet - but I get it every day at work. Just this morning a man screamed "For f***'s sake!" in my ear and slammed down the phone because he didn't have some basic information which I needed to answer his question. Lucky I was in a good mood so I just laughed, especially when he rang straight back, got me and hung up again when he heard my voice!
    On the phone is one thing though, putting negative stuff in writing however... just rude and horrid.
    Here's hoping the positive outweighs the negative for you every day from now on :)

  32. Thank cripes for the 95% of nice people. I was musing the other day about my unfortunate tendency to strike up conversation with random strangers. I reckon 95% of them think I'm a complete nutter. The remaining 5% are fabulous. Right up for a quirky conversation. Usually that's enough to put a skip in my step.

  33. far out brussell sprout, people really write that shit?

    you must have saint like patience.

    someone wrote to me the other day and asked if i would change the entire format of my blog, becuase it would suit her so much better. she signed off "thank you for your cooperation" or was it "thanking you in advance"....and with the kisses thing!

    sure luv, i'll just go and change everything, even though i could care less about format, just so it makes your day.

    some people take and never give, some take before they give, and others give before they take, and then some special sparkly people just give all the time without wanting anything in return. just pay attention to the sparklies and ignore the rest.

  34. I snorted my tea when I read "I want this but in a lampshade"! lol but I seriously can not people actually make these demands. In a world where plastic, mass produced crap fills our shopping bags we should be bowing at the feet of those willing to use their hands and physically make something of quality.
    I absolutely loved your response! And you're right, we'd all do well to remember that there are real living and breathing people behind our favourite blogs/ online shops. Take care!!
    Keep up all the loveliness!!
    xo Beck

  35. having worked in the hospitality industry I really am not shocked by the emails you posted, really, some people are just plain rude & have absolutely NO idea.
    I think reading your comments a few people have had bad customer stories.
    you know what, they are strangers, it still hurts, but what hurts even more is when they are your friends and they ask for an extravagant cake, you give them an "extremely super mate's rate" quote and they come back to you asking for a cheaper option!
    this has been my week of questioning human nature.
    apart from that, hope all is well with you chooky ♥

  36. OK, so I make hand painted little figure/doll thingies out of cloth. Recently I had someone "ask" me to make something that was already sold, only much smaller, and how much would that cost. (Mind you, it's one of our least expensive items.) I said that I'd be happy to, but it'd cost a bit more since I'd have to make a new pattern. To which she replied, "I wouldn't pay more for LESS material!" It was all I could do not to send her a bit of cloth and tell her to go for it :)

  37. My sister used to write a free weekly e-newsletter (FREE!) about kids' crafts and if she was ever a day late in sending it out, her subscribers would write to complain. Yay people!

  38. I often get requests asking to drop the price on something so that the buyer can then re-sell it in THEIR shop and make a greater profit for THEM.


    So the premise is that I need to make no margin so they can make more?

    I usually explain that I am not a wholesaler, I am a retailer and I cannot help them. I think I am being very kind in replying at all!

  39. Oh dear god. I live in Vancouver and on behalf of all of us, I apologize. What a twit!

    Personally, I'm awful at replying to Etsy convos and emails. I read everything as soon as it comes in, but procrastinate on sitting down to actually type up a reply. You're already my idol for replying to the friendly, positive ones! :)

  40. Oh Cath,
    WOW......this is ace!
    I often get the exact same emails...and wonder what kind of people are sending these sort of emails?
    Obviously they have no idea what what we do.
    I'm still laughing about the tie....that's classic!


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