Every experience is a lesson from which we can glean knowledge. Some days, this experience is positive and we enjoy or lesson. Other days, we feel as though it is an experience we could happily do without. I am not a believer in coincidence. I strongly believe that every interaction, every experience happens for a purpose. Sometimes, that purpose is unclear and may not become clear until we have traveled much further on our path. This weekend, I believe my lesson happened with intent.
My bean is OBSESSED with the make-up artist, James Charles. She adores this colorful, positive, and talented young artist. Not only for his very obvious skill and artistry but for his positivity and kindness as well. Every day we listen to multiple stories of James Charles. James Charles has “merch,” which is the cool kid term for merchandise. I am new to the world of internet sensations and cool kid terms. I have taken the time to view his videos…are they still called videos? I have also taken the time to research him. I am one of those parents…I don’t want her exposed to anyone or anything that is not positive. Everything I have found and read about him is kid friendly, clean content, and positive. I must admit, the world wide web makes this mama nervous. All I have heard from my bean for weeks is how she wants a James Charles sweatshirt, a James Charles pallet, and James Charles merch.
You may remember my commitment to being ahead of the game for Christmas and birthdays this year. I happily report my Christmas shopping is done, except for a few small items…don’t hate me. I stayed up very late one night and checked off my list item by item. Of course, one of those items was a James Charles sweatshirt. I went to the site The Bean visits repeatedly, looked at the page, added to my cart and checked out. I was happy I was able to get the coveted “merch” she has been dreaming about. I never gave it a second thought. The “merch arrived a few days later. I was impressed with the quick shipping. However, when I opened it, I was less than impressed. The sweatshirt was a cheap Gildan brand sweatshirt one could purchase from a discount store, the graphics were less than professional quality, and it arrived in a plastic shipping bag. Not the impressive boxing and display I was told about repeatedly. I began to question the authenticity of my purchase.
The second sweatshirt arrived on Saturday and Jordan walked in when I was opening the plastic bag it in which it arrived. I squealed, “Ahhh, get out!” However, I knew it was too late, she had already seen her potential gift. I decided to give her “the merch” on the spot because she has been doing such a bang-up job with cyber school thus far. She was over the moon. My heart was happy, she was happy and all was well for the moment. She wore the sweatshirt immediately and even slept in it. I thought, money well spent for the happiness of my bean.
However, the next day she began to question the authenticity of the prized merch. She asked to see the box it arrived in because James Charles includes a note with each of his purchases…classy…insert winky face. He also has a signature black box in which he mails his merch. None of this was part of my purchase. The icing on the cake, the deal breaker, the smack your forehead and say f-word a duck moment was when my eleven-year-old asked how to spell sisters. Mind you, I am a former English teacher. My proof-reading skills are a bit rusty but this was blatantly obvious. James Charles’ logo is Sisters. The repeat logo on the back of the sweatshirt was spelled correctly. The smaller font logo on the front read, “Sisiters.” Seriously? F-word a duck indeed! I have been ripped off.
The Bean and I began our investigation. I initially blamed the innocent James Charles for faulty “merch.” However, when The Bean and I went to the James Charles website, I soon discovered it was not the website I had gone to. I went to the emails I received from the fraudulent site. The authentic site is Sisters-apparel.com. The site I purchased from was Sisters-apparels.com. One tiny, lower case letter off. The pictures are of James Charles, the merchandise looks authentic, the site appears professional but it is all a fraud. I am out more money than I would ever spend on two sweatshirts for my eleven-year-old, I am embarrassed I made such a sloppy mistake, and I am angry for several reasons. First, these thieves are taking advantage of consumers. Secondly, this talented young man’s good name is being exploited. Lastly, and most importantly, my child is disappointed and has learned a rough lesson about greed and human nature. It pained me to have her declare indignantly, “People suck!” After admonishing the use of the word suck, we discussed the event and the lesson we can take from this.
The lessons learned are we must be very careful with online information. This reinforced that not everything on the internet is as it appears, information is not always truthful, and one must work diligently to fact check all sources. Also, not every retailer has the best interest of the customers at heart. There are indeed individuals who will go to great lengths to deceive consumers, make false claims, and mislead the consumers to make a buck. She also learned that no crime is victimless. Yes, we were taken advantage of and lost money on fraudulent products. However, James Charles is also a victim because these individuals have stolen his image, his reputation, and his ideas to make a profit. Lesson learned.
I have emailed said website and am in compliance with their return policies for one sweatshirt. Obviously, the sweatshirt she wore and slept in is not returnable. It will make a good barn shirt…an expensive barn shirt but a barn shirt nonetheless. However, I do not expect to receive a response, let alone an RMA. I am fully prepared to accept my losses and move forward. I genuinely believe The Bean walking in on my opening of the package was not a coincidence. It is better to have a disappointed Bean now rather than on her birthday or Christmas. I am hoping the James Charles merchandise is back in stock before either holiday. That would be a lovely surprise for a deserving little bean.
This experience has only solidified my commitment to be as transparent as possible in my own business practices, keep customer service and satisfaction at the forefront of my small company, and only offer the very best products I can create without taking any short cuts. I have always had the attitude that there are enough “less than desirable” products out there at one’s fingertips. It has always been my goal to offer individuals high quality options with a unique and beautiful appearance. For those of you who support me and my philosophy, thank you. You have my word I will do my best to create only the very best to make you happy. Knowledge is power, the universe shares with us the lessons we need and often, they come as not so subtle reminders as to what path we need to follow.
As always dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, take your lessons as they come, and of course wash your hands.