I’ve gone back and forth about writing this post, but I decided to document it. I tried to be respectful and I hope you see that. Edited to add: Please scroll down to read the mid-day update to this story.
Ryan feels strongly about buying American-made goods. That’s why he chooses to wear these tennis shoes, these work shoes (although you have to check the individual shoes to make sure) and these jeans. He likes to support businesses that still produce in America. It really boils down to that. Attempting to put more of our money back into these businesses instead of sending it overseas.
It’s why we often eat in local restaurants. Shop at local stores. Bank at a local credit union.
With that said, I also feel that I may single-handedly make it possible for Target to remain in business. (Joking. Sort of.) And, in case you haven’t noticed, not much is made in America at Target. Our sofa is from Ikea. I drive a Prius.
In other words, we don’t have the time, inclination, knowledge or budget to search out and buy all things made domestically. But, we do try. And, I think a lot of you may feel the same way.
However…. during our remodel, Ryan and I have made the conscious decision to try to buy things made in the United States when feasible. This means we are willing to spend a little more in some cases to buy American.
And, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that it’s difficult. But believe it or not, it’s actually a little simpler at the hardware store than other stores. We have been able to easily find lumber, tubs, sinks, etc., that are produced in the U.S. But, some things are more difficult.
So, when I was searching for light fixtures for the bath, we talked about finding something made in the U.S. and with a vintage feel. I ended up narrowing the search down to Rejuvenation, Schoolhouse Electric Co. and Barn Light Electric. All tout the fact that their fixtures are high quality and American-made. I read lots of good reviews about all three companies. So, I ended up finding great looking sconces from Barn Light Electric as mentioned in our last bathroom post.
I was really excited about these lovelies. And while not uber-expensive, they are certainly more expensive than our usual budget (read: cheap).
And, then they arrived. And imagine my surprise when Ryan asked, “Weren’t these supposed to be made in America?”
Kinda strange, since the box reads “Made in China.”
So, I headed back to the website, thinking I must have misread something. Maybe it just says certain fixtures are made domestically. But, right on the homepage, it says, “Why buy from us? Unlike our competition, we don’t manufacture overseas to save money.”
So, I contacted the business. That’s what you should do, right?
Unfortunately, I started out the call feeling disappointed and confused. I ended the call livid. I’ve cooled down a bit, but the basic gist is that since I bought it in the clearance section, I should have read the copy on the landing page of the clearance section that reads, “Some of the lighting in this section has been imported and not manufactured in the U.S.A.”
It was very clear from his tone that this was my issue. Not his. No apologies. No pleasantries. No B.S.
So I went and checked it out. And, yes. It does say that (although I would argue that it’s really buried in the top image and few people would read it). And even so, it still strikes me as deceitful to keep it on a landing page. And because I actually came upon the listing from another blog, I never even saw the landing page. So, I suggested that the company would put the disclaimer ON the actual listing.
He hemmed. He hawwed.
So that means no.
The bottom line is that the entire buying process infuriated me. And apparently the clearance fixtures are not refundable. And since I really love the actual fixture and don’t want to go through the process of finding another one anyhow, that’s okay I guess.
But, the point is still there. I felt duped. And, still do. Even when I found the fine print.
So, fine. A company sells items that are imported. I guess in my mind it’s the point. The point that I could buy a fixture that was Made in China locally. For a third of the price. And know what I was buying. It’s about being transparent as a company.
Bottom line, I’ll be going to another company for the next lighting purchase. Which will be soon (read: this week). And I’m small potatoes, I get it. But, I’m still a potato, darn it. Right?
Edited to add:
Despite being small potatoes, I received a call from Donna Scott, owner and founder of Barn Light Electric after posting this. She was kind and apologetic about our issue. She explained that they run a small company and takes customer feedback seriously.
Donna offered to return the light, although I reiterated that I’d rather not go through the trouble to find another at this point. She explained again that they offer the clearance lights to appeal to customers who may like the style but cannot afford the U.S.-made versions. While my listing did not have a imported disclaimer, it should have and will have one soon. She also offered a discount on a future purchase, although Ryan and I have decided to shop elsewhere.
In short, I really appreciate the fact that the company cares. But, I did let her know that I question the fact that a company so focused on American-made products would offer imported goods, even as clearance items. She was nothing but kind and respectful and took my comments seriously. Thank you to Donna at Barn Light Electric for that. I let her know I’d be editing this post to add the fact that I received a response. I also let her know that this experience taught me some things as well.
So… What does this mean to you?
For those of us who want to buy American-made, we need to be vigilant. It’s not enough for it to be professed on the homepage of a website. The item itself should be marked. And if it’s not, you should contact the company and ask. (I’m getting in the habit of doing this. The few contacts I’ve made have been more than happy to tell me where the product was made. Transparency.)
At NewlyWoodwards, it’s not feasible or practical right now to buy everything American. Some things are just out of our reach or budget. Sometimes we just make the informed decision to buy something else. Some things we need RIGHT NOW and can’t take the time to research and buy it online. But, when it is possible in the future, we will definitely be more cautious about buying to ensure that product is what we expect.
And that’s what being an informed consumer is all about.
Sound off (but let’s be nice). Do you think that I am overreacting? Or have you ever felt duped by a company?