April 2016

I started off with the idea of writing a blog that might give folks a little ‘insight’ into how come everything is costing more these days.  I know, ya’ll at some level realize it is costing “us” more and we are just passing it along in order for us to be able to also live and ‘pay the bills’.  I thought I’d just put out some actual numbers – to make it all more ‘real’ and ‘in perspective’, so to speak.

So, when I began this business, about 15 years ago, the cost of fabric (wholesale) was around $4.00 per yard.  It is now approaching $6.00 and my recent order had a shipping cost of $0.79 PER YARD!  I swear, it cost something closer to $0.25 when I started!  And I know it was around $0.50 last time I ordered!

My first printer was big and expensive – I needed one that could print 11″ x 17″ – and I think total for the 4 cartridges was in the $75 range.  The current printer is $140 for the four cartridges!

I use ‘flat rate priority’ for mailing larger orders, which are ‘free shipping’ to my customers! (over $50 orders).  I think when I started it was $3.85?  More recently it has been $5.05!  And the other day, imagine my surprise when it came up at $6.45!!  That’s an increase of $1.40!!  In one ‘swell foop’! (hmm, does this program also have spell check/auto correct??  I thought I typed it that way and it showed up the right way – as ‘fell swoop’. ^_^ Just a funny way someone way back in my past used to say it – on purpose.)

The paper I use for all the covers was ‘expensive’ when I started.  I needed something that wouldn’t soak up even more ink given those photos on the covers are pretty ‘intense’ – ink-wise!  It was around $10, as I recall.  It is now $17.  As is the 11″ x 17″ paper – on which all the actual patterns are printed.

So, today I found myself wondering if it isn’t time to raise my prices – because ‘the rest of the story’ is, while all of those things have been increasing – total sales per show?  not so much!!  In fact, my current ‘realistic’ goal each time is definitely less than a few years ago!  BUT as I even considered raising my prices, I found myself slammed against that same old stupid wall – the whole ‘self-worth’ thing!!   Not going to write a bunch about that here – not now.  I just found it surprising how ‘gut-wrenching’ it is to even consider “asking for more”!!  Visions of “Oliver” dance before my eyes! ^_^ funny

After two days of attempting to do things online – here is my take on it.  All those wonderful new conveniences offered that are ‘supposed’ to make everything so easy?  Truth is, what they really do is make it virtually impossible to do anything you want.  ok, not impossible, just so incredibly difficult that they take you right up to 3 seconds away from throwing your cellphone as far as possible!  Or kicking the proverbial shit out of your computer!

Today, just now, I have spent at least an hour or more attempting to make reservations at a Calif. State Park campground – OMG.  They all have the same phone number, which just wouldn’t even complete a call!!  I got thru once and then hung up when  the recording said the opposite of what was on the website – which said I could make reservations and  the recording said I could not!  So I tried to do it on the website – it took me to a lovely page where I could enter the days, and it showed me a drawing of where all the sites and amenities were, etc.  But, there was no way to actually make a reservation!!  Well, not that I could figure out.  I then chose to call again – call failed – again!!!  At that point I said you know what and went to Motel 6 online reservations!!!

And then there was yesterday – omg!!   So –  went online to do my credit card payment and was planning to pay it off.  I had printed out the most recent statement and thought I knew the current balance as I had not used that one in many months.  WTF  Not the same balance as the day before!  When I go to ‘transactions’, I find a charge that was made on 3/24 – one I had made – HOWEVER, I had also cancelled that purchase the same day!  And I had a transaction #, tho’ no official printed documentation.  This was something I had done with Dell and was a silly mistake on my part – thinking QuickBooks software was just that – and not computer brand specific!!!  So, when it failed to download I was not happy and spent a long time dealing with Dell’s ridiculous menus etc before eventually being told (essentially) how stupid I was and them “cancelling” the order – or so I thought!!!

Given what a nightmare it had been to deal with Dell, I chose to call the credit card company and do a “charge back”.  Not something I’ve ever done before, but figured lots of folks must have, since it’s an option.  So here’s the thing – I grew up in a much different world.  “Back in the old days”, it was perfectly acceptable to ‘hate’ something – you know, like vanilla ice cream. ^_^  And when you got really, really mad – you could say “I’m gonna kill somebody” and folks did not run for cover – tho they would probably tend to stay out of arm’s reach. ^_^

SO – given I was already upset, and then had to wade my way thru their menu with that stupid computer lady asking me questions and not understanding my responses – I was about “at the end of my rope” when I finally reached a live person!!  And when she informed me that a ‘charge back’ would take 30-45 days, I kinda lost it and out it came, yep – “I’m gonna kill somebody”.  Being a fairly sensitive person, I could somehow feel the reaction at the other end and was immediately ‘calmed’.  However, it kinda worked in my favor because she then offered to call Dell herself and attempt to get it straightened out = cancelled charge!!

And then the real fun began – she put me on hold and after a fairly long time of listening to that incredibly awful ‘music’, she came back on to apologize and let me know SHE was on hold!!  She went away again, and another long time later came back on to tell me she had been directed to a different department and was on hold again!!  This time we waited together – and, yep, the same awful ‘music’!!  We had a little chat – she asked what time it was where I was and I told her 5pm. It was 7am for her (which also explains her reaction to my statement about ‘killing’ someone) and she was nearing the end of her day and her 3 year old daughter was waiting at home for her!! We were eventually interrupted by a woman from Dell and what followed was the closest thing to a “Who’s on first” routine you can imagine!  There were at least 4 rounds of:  “How did she pay?”, “Credit card”, “this is the returns department” & so on! I think she told my lady she needed to call the credit card company!!  Trust me, my lady had clearly identified herself as a representative from Barclay Credit Card company!!  I couldn’t hear the 2nd woman that well, and they both had accents, but at one point my lady said something like “please be professional”!!!  After several rounds of nonsense and being told she had to go back to original department that had transferred her to returns – she gave up and said we will just have to do a charge back!!  She then assured me that I would not be charged interest on that amount.  So, I guess “no harm, no foul” – as long as I don’t have to go thru this process again!  Have you seen the commercial (don’t know what it’s for) where the guy is yelling “representative” at his phone??  I was literally doing that after I managed to disconnect our call before I got a ‘case #’ and a fax # to which I needed to send a copy of my receipt. Once finally back there,  I was smart enough to get a phone number that should get me directly to that department if I need to call again!!

And just for the record – all of this happened after I had gone thru filing my taxes online that morning.  What a day it was in our new ‘quick & easy’ world of conveniences.