Monday, June 11, 2018

Buyer Beware

With so many online retailers out there now, I thought I'd bring up a couple situations that have happened to me recently. I have learned the meaning "caveat emptor" in a very frustrating and disappointing way.

Many of you know I tend to make the majority of my minis. But for the Storybook Cottage, I had worked hard on making and selling vanities, and liquidated some of my older mini projects so that I could afford a few special artisan pieces. Sadly, I will have less than I thought, and will have to make several of the things I intended to purchase. Mainly, because they are hard to come by, and secondly, because I am afraid to shop. Unless I can find something through eBay, where I feel there is accountability, a way to rate sellers and relatively easy recourse when something does go wrong.

On April 27th, I placed two orders from Swan House Miniatures. One was for a tea set, using a gift card from my daughter. The other order included pieces by Alex Meiklejohn, Taller Targioni, TYA, Jason Getzan and Elisabeth Causeret. As you can imagine, little old 'make your own and make do' Jodi was quite excited!

What happened next did not alarm me at first. Mistakes happen, lord knows I've made my share. But how events unfolded, the way I was treated, and the general lack of any responsibility taken from the merchant has been shocking. I felt I needed to warn you: Buyer Beware! What follows are the email communications with comments.

5/7/18 - Initial contact when I did not receive a shipping notification or tracking number for the orders after 11 days. Having paid $11.95 in shipping on each of the orders, I was a little surprised when the seller did not refund one of the shipping charges, as they were all tiny items, and one postage charge would have easily covered the postage cost and insurance.


His response. Apparently, it is the customer's job to research information. Note the two order numbers in the subject line.


My reply

I did not receive a response, so on 5/12/18, 5 days later, I sent this:



His response. Apparently, he had not even looked into the situation, or read my email, because he did not know there were 2 different orders.


To which I responded:


His response:

The end of the week came and went, so on 5/21/18, 8 days later, I sent this:


To which he responded:



He mailed my package to someone else. Apparently not checking or letting me know until I hounded him. No offer to send me what he had in stock. No apology. Now we wait for the customer in possession of the package to fix the problem.

On 5/23, I ask...


His response:


Monday came and went. In fact, another 7 days went by before I contacted Him again!


Suddenly, as soon as I wanted to cancel the order, he responds:


Okay, all is well that ends well, right? By 6/6/18, the Priority Mail package is still not here. I email again:


To which he replies:


Note the lack of apology or taking responsibility of any kind. It gets better. I still do not have the package as of this 6/11/18 post. Was this all a giant misunderstanding? A series of unfortunate events? Maybe, and I can forgive more than most. But being treated as if I mattered, and an apology would have gone a long way.

Some interesting facts about the tracking.

1. The label was created on 4/30. This was prior to my initial contact on 5/7, and before he even realized that there was a problem (that he sent the package to someone else) on 5/21.
2. The package was shipped from the very same zip code as his store. Funny, since supposedly the customer was faxed a label and she shipped it from her house.
3. The package reached his USPS distribution center on 5/31 and then just disappeared. Was it really a package? No way to tell.
4. In spite of it being a $135 order, it was only insured for $100

I submitted a lost package trace with USPS. I was told they were not going to be able to track it down, and that I should file an insurance claim. Uh, huh. And lose $35 through no fault of my own? Let's say this together - "It is the sellers responsibility to get my package to me"! Otherwise, buying online is like gambling.


I have requested a PayPal refund. He said he would not refund unless the package was returned to him. See the problem? I have no package, and other than placing items in a cart, I have no control and very little recourse in this situation. I have escalated the case in PayPal. I'll update this post when it is resolved.

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*** NOTE: As of 4:18 on 6/11/18, the PayPal case, number PP-006-998-838-041, has suddenly disappeared from my PayPal account. It's as if it does not exist, though I have all the email conversations with the case number listed. I emailed PayPal. Will advise if/when I hear back. Moving from baffled to angry.

6/11/18 4:00pm - filed a new complaint with PayPal explaining that the original complaint disappeared, and that their reply to my inquiry about the original complaint disappearing was an automated response telling me to visit the Resolution Center, which I had already done. The Resolution Center gives no email address or Contact Us link, so it takes some major sleuthing to find a place to send one. Beware.

As of 5/12/18 7:00am, PayPal has the claims under review, and has assigned a new claim number. The seller provided them with the bogus tracking number. How long until I get rejected or can finally make them understand the circumstances?

6/12/18 7:12am - Submitted complaint with the Washington State Attorney General's Office.
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Another important caution. I recently had another lost package. It came from France. I contacted the seller after 5 weeks and was told that her policy is not to lift a finger until two months has passed since the shipping date. Again, Buyer Beware. Read policies, and fork out the extra $$ for tracking and insurance. I was refunded because Etsy does have limited seller accountability, and regardless of the particular shop's policies, the Etsy policies take precedence.

Hope you're having better luck than me!

Jodi

More folks who've experienced issues with this online shop:

http://parisminiatures.blogspot.com/2009/09/our-swan-house-miniatures-saga.html

http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=forums&module=forums&controller=topic&id=28396

https://www.scambook.com/report/view/79678/SwanhouseMiniaturesandPropGregAMadl-Complaint-79678-for-$1,231.99

UPDATE 6/15/18

In response to my formal complaint, the Attorney General's office in WA feels there is merit to move forward. Here is what they sent:


We'll see if he responds. He has six weeks.

No formal response yet from the USPS fraud complaint I filed.  The package is still "lost", and I am being told to start a search through the MRC (mail recovery center) process. More red tape.

UPDATE 6/19/18
A repackaged package was delivered today from USPS containing some of the items from my order. However, $74.75 of the merchandise was either missing, not what I ordered or broken beyond repair. I have revised my PayPal claim. Will update with any news.

UPDATE 7/5/18
More frustration after PayPal did not respond to my request to have the seller refund me for the missing items. Instead, they gave me 7 days to return the entire package to Swan House and provide a tracking number. After hearing about the customer who returned a package, which Greg them claimed to be empty, I instead filed an insurance claim with USPS. I filed on 6/21/18, the claim was approved on 6/25/18, and I had a check 7 days later. I then canceled the PayPal claim, and left them a detailed review of the whole situation. Disappointed in PayPal, outraged at Swan House, but go USPS!!! All is well, I have 5 lovely items, insurance refunds on the rest, and I know to never deal with Swan House or Greg Madl ever again.


79 comments:

  1. Yeesh... That's really disappointing. I hope your pieces arrive or you get a refund.

    That's part of why I pay for everything through Paypal. Just that extra layer of security. So far I've been lucky but I've had problems in the past with sellers so I'm very particular about who I order from.

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    1. Thanks Sheila! <3

      Be warned though, if the seller is shady and say, mails a label, not even a real package, you will have a fight on your hands with PayPal. You have to proove to them he's shady. Bad business.

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  2. Siento todas las preocupaciones que te esta causando la mala gestión de ese vendedor. El debería haber enviado de nuevo tu paquete y solucionar su problema aparte, tu no tienes culpa sobre su error..
    Espero que todo se solucione.
    Un abrazo

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  3. Es muy triste que se den estas situaciones.

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    1. Gracias Isabel: es triste y lastima a las empresas honestas.

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  4. Hi Jodi. Sorry this has happened to you. I have had problems with Swan House, as have others I’ve read (including the artisans he represents). Don’t know how he is still in business. I hope Paypal comes up with the goods for you - I find them generally pretty good. And as for the parcel from France, my local post office tells me with the internation postal agreements, there is a 60 day time frame for responses between countries for disputes so the post office has to wait up to 60 days for news on a lost item. So that may be why the French seller wouldn’t help you out. Also, the postage is getting very slow these days. Anyway, onwards and upwards. There are still good sellers out there. Xx

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  5. Hello, Jodi - I'm so sorry that you've been subjected to all this frustration and anxiety, through no fault of your own. From my personal experience, Swan House is not a reliable company to deal with. I have a big note to myself in the folder where I keep my "Wish List." The note reads "DO NOT ORDER FROM SWAN HOUSE EVER FOR ANYTHING." While I finally had satisfactory results - after months of waiting and several emails - the time lost and the frustration suffered were simply not worth it. I should say, though, in fairness, that before I decided that I would not place further orders, I did - out of sheer desperation - place a couple of orders with Swan House that I received promptly and accurately. I think possibly Greg is simply not organized, is way too busy, and just has no head for business. I hope so much that your problem will be resolved (in the fullness of time) with no monetary loss to you. The frustration and aggravation have already happened, however, for which you have my sympathy. I've ordered from several other online sources and have never had the slightest problem with any of them. So don't lose heart - but beware and be wary.
    Marjorie

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    1. I am so sorry that we have had similar experiences with this seller. There are far too many others coming to light, as well. :( I think they could do a whole DateLine episode on this guy.
      I wish that we could spread the word enough so that artisans would just stop selling to him. If he's got nothing to sell, he can't hurt people.

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  6. Absolutely unbelievable. You really do want to believe the best with people in this hobby, but this is really beyond. I always like to think that either Paypal, eBay, Etsy, and even my credit card company will have my back if all fails. I hope Paypal follows though with you, at least they have standards to be held to. I think in this case a public call out is fair and what is even more worrisome are the comments above saying others have faced problems as well :( So sad. I hope you get it resolved with Paypal soon. Hugs.

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    1. Thanks Kristine. PayPal and credit card companies have a vested interest in making us believe that they have our backs and will step in when there is trouble. The problem is, some sellers are frauds, and it's up to you to prove that to PayPal. That's where I'm at.

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  7. I just wanted to post in the comments here some of the messages I have received via Facebook, email, Instagram regarding not only bad service, but fraud by this seller. Apparently, there are lawsuits being filed as of this posting. This guy is not just unorganized and overworked, he is a predator and must be held accountable. I am filing a formal complaint with the attorney generals in both states. I'll keep the blog posted, and post how to complain if you find yourselves in this situation with any online retailer.

    "I've also had a bad experience with Swan House, although I don't remember all the details now. I think I ordered something from them that turned out not to be in stock and a month went by before they rectified it.)"

    "I have never heard good stories about that retailer. I avoided their table at the big Chicago show because of it. They caused so much drama they had to start their own show"

    "Yep yep. Like {redacted}, I heard all the background drama that led them to creating their own Chicago show. They’re a terrible vendor. 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻 I’m so sorry you had to deal with that because our hobby is supposed to be FUN"

    "Horrid human being and a Huge stain to this industry. Fraudulent in all his business! Stay away from that wretched thief!"

    "Hi Jodi
    I read your post and blog. There are many people who are sick of this person and their level of dishonesty. One good friend of mine purchased over $4,000 worth of items. All items arrived completely destroyed and broken. Greg would not refund until items were returned. The customer immediately returned the items. Greg then made a claim that the box received of returned items was EMPTY!
    And proceeded to file a claim of fraud on the part of the customer. He made the claim with USPS against the customer. THAT is the level of dishonesty you’re dealing with. Attorneys are getting involved with all the fraudulent activity and business he does.
    Show producers and lots of people in the business with pull are getting involved. Everyone is encouraged to make a claim with your local Post Office. What he is doing is mail fraud and is a very serious Federal offense. So far I personally know 8 people who recently filed with USPS.
    Please Jodi, file a claim with USPS.
    Good luck to you! I wish you the best! And keep posting.... it’s the only way people can be warned
    Much love
    M
    Oh I’m so glad you’re filing with your State Attorney General! Blog about that too because people don’t realize how easy that is to do and may be informed by you.
    You’re an Angel!
    We’ve been fighting but it is behind the scenes. The $4,000 guy.... he’s obtained an attorney.
    That horrible horrible man has roped off so many people. But he’s become more sophisticated by turning the tables onto the customer.
    I’ll keep you posted!
    You’re not alone ❤️"

    Just a sample. More to come...

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  8. This is awful! I’m sorry you have been/are being treated so badly.
    I sell on Etsy, and as far as the package supposedly shipped but suddenly can’t be tracked... it may be because he printed the label online but never sent the package. I print prepaid shipping labels all the time. BUT you only have a couple of days to actually shop the package before the label expires. If you don’t get the package sent during that time the label expires and you have to pay for it again. So my guess is that he never actually sent it.
    As far as fighting back.... look them up on Google and leave them a scathing review. Facebook too. Vendors can’t change their reviews on either.

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    1. Thank you Susan - leaving reviews is great advice! Based on my local Post Office response to my request to find the package, I believe that there was never a real package, too. I have heard similar scams. If there is a tracking number, it is harder to get a refund. Even a bogus tracking number.

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  9. Sorry you are dealing with this.

    To keep a little hope... earlier this year, I had a pacakge arrive at a USPS sorting center and remain there almost month. The USPS auto tracking notification was useless. I was receiving automatic updates informing about the continued search for about two months AFTER it delivered. The last e-mail was the the notification time period was expiring and they could not locate it.

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    1. Hi Katherine! Thanks for a little hope! <3 I can use some right now!
      It would be a very happy ending if the package showed up. Trust me - I just want to move on from this whole ordeal.
      I filed a complaint with USPS. I am hoping if someone scratches the surface a bit, they will find the rot.
      Still no package from Paris, either. It's been over 6 weeks now.

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  10. Hi Jodi
    Last year I experienced the old BAIT AND SWITCH game from SWAN HOUSE.
    I ordered 3 graduated copper pots WITH LIDS (which cost a pretty penny), but what I received was 3 mismatched pots WITHOUT LIDS.
    When I went back to his site to double check the picture of my order, he'd REMOVED the entire listing then claimed that he couldn't find the corresponding photo of my original order.
    I found this highly suspicious because he keeps ALL the pictures of ALL his sold items showing on his web page- and yet he'd removed mine?
    But when I complained about the lidless pots he'd sent not matching what I'd ordered, Greg said that if I would just be patient, he would order me 3 lids for the pots I'd already received, when he placed his Big order from the artisan.
    Needless to say that after several more MONTHS of waiting I NEVER HEARD from him and the lids NEVER arrived.
    When I dared to inquired again about their status, Greg's response to me was RUDE.
    Greg stringing me along, wasting my time after I'd wasted my money. so from that point on, I made up my mind to NEVER ORDER ANYTHING FROM HIM AGAIN, and now that I know that this is a regular practice of his, I'm Angry all over again!
    Thank You Jodi for bringing this out into the open. Perhaps we should hash-tag ME TOO
    SWAN HOUSE is a LAME DUCK and Greg is a ROTTON EGG!

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    1. Oh Elizabeth! I am so angry for you! This guy is leaving wreckage all over the place! How is he still in business?
      Please, I beg you, please! Post a link from your blog to my post. You have so many more readers than I do, and we need to get more folks made aware! Both the artisans who sell to him and potential customers.
      I am so sorry that you never got what you ordered, or your money back. Big hugs!

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    2. You are wonderful! Thank you! :O)

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  11. I’m literally speechless your post and all of the responses I’ve been reading. This is just awful. The “hell it was delivered” email just takes the cake… they can’t be serious?? I’m gobsmacked! It’s more luck than good management that I’ve not purchased from this vendor. I’ve certainly thought about it to the point of filling a cart but then no following through… you are doing the mini community a great service by bringing this situation out into the light Jodi. It sounds like a LOT of people have been burnt. Hopefully others will read this and think twice before hitting “buy”. Still keeping my fingers crossed for a satisfactory resolution for you. Fingers crossed. ((Hugs))

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    1. Thanks Sam! It is funny that you never went through with a purchase. I always had a little voice in my ear too warning me to move on. Unfortunately, this time, I did not listen because I was dazzled by all the goodies. I am going to do my level best to make lemonade out of this situation, and hopefully, save a few folks from heartache.

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  12. Hi Jodi,
    Sorry for your having to go through this very frustrating situation. I've had my share of disappointments and am very careful about ordering things by mail. You are doing a good thing by
    warning us against bad suppliers. We should all do so.
    Hugs, Drora

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    1. Thank you, Drora! We may not be able to make a global difference in holding online or mail order retailers accountable, but we can at least warn those in our circles. I am happy that my experience might do some good.

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  13. I just had a poor experience with a trader at a show and mentioned it in my blog but I felt awkward about naming them in case it was just a 'misunderstanding' BUT after reading this I really do think we should be brave and 'tell it like it is' to save a least a few other folks from the same trap. Even if we were wildly over-generous and gave him the benefit of the doubt in that he is busy, confused, disorganised and doesn't know he is being rude - it still means the end result is shocking sales service. Like others I suspect he is well aware of what he does and couldn't care less and seemingly has got away with it for years - I came across this blogpost from 2009!!! http://parisminiatures.blogspot.com/2009/09/our-swan-house-miniatures-saga.html he has traded many years since then unstopped. I do hope something can be done for you and that this business is closed down. M

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    1. Hi Marilyn,
      I totally know what you are saying! I would hope that I'd be met with kindness on my worst day, so I try hard to do the same for others and give benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, once this guy got backed into a corner, his unethical ways could no longer be hidden. I need to show him that not every kind person is a doormat.
      Thank you for sharing the link - there are far too many such experiences and they are shockingly, eaily found about him!!!

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  14. Hmmm, sorry about your experience - had similar on a smaller scale recently...
    Will avoid this guy like the plague :(

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    1. I am so sorry about your experience, Janet, but so happy you've been warned before you fell into another one!

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  15. Read your post.. then had to go and do something else for just to 'digest' it. What is wrong with people???? What a shonk! One thing is the money but the rudeness and outright fraud is just despicable. I am sorry to hear your exciting purchases have turned into such a horrible saga. Judging by all the comments from people who have had similar experiences with they man I am sad to say, I am not holding my breath that it will get sorted. But I sincerely hope you and the others acting on his shonky 'business' methods get some results.
    Anna x

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    1. Thank you, Anna! It is shocking when you realize that there are Monsters in the world! I am just grateful that I did not spend more. There were many other things I would have purchased if the initial orders had gone well. I often do a test when ordering from new folks, just to see. Then, I go back and spend much more! In this case, he is going to lose far more than I did now that his reputation has come to light.

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  16. Ive also received broken merchandise from him. Also Ive suspected that he buys some items used on ebay and resells at three times the price on his website claiming items are new from the artist. -Wyckedwood

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen, for adding your experience to the growing body of evidence against this man who does bad business. Our community will not stand in silence any longer!

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  17. Lamento lo que te ha ocurrido, espero que al final se te solucione y gracias por la información.Besos:-)

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    1. Gracias por tu amabilidad, Rosa! Rezo por una resolución para mi situación y para otros que han sido victimados.

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  18. jodi, these are hair-raising experiences! thanks for sharing...and I take up your advice on tracking numbers and all.

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    1. You are a smart cookie to invest in tracking and insurance, Marion. On some sites, upgraded shipping choices are not always obvious, so I have learned to take my time prior to excitedly hitting the purchase button. It's important to KNOW what you are getting, what are the policies if things do go wrong, and what secondary recourse you have in case the seller turns out to be a problem. While most credit cards do have fraud protection, be prepared to lay out your case with all the evidence, then wait up to 60 days for a decision.

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  19. Hello Jodi, I wanted to relate my experience with Swan House. Several months ago I ordered a print of a Yankee Clipper ship, sort of with an early American flag visible in the distance. What I received was a print of a small boat with three men in it. It was obvious that what I ordered was actually no longer in stock and Greg simply substituted something that in his mind was similar. I'm all about honesty and he could have easily just emailed me to inform me that the item was not in stock and asked if I would like to order anything else instead. But no, he just sent the 3 men in a boat picture. I informed him that the order was wrong and yes, he said to send it back and he would refund my order. I choose not to waste my time or money by sending it back. And I've also noticed that his reply emails are a bit rude but I just thought I was being overly sensitive. Thanks for this post. Your blog is seen by a lot of people (you are SO talented) and I hope it helps to know you are not alone.

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    1. Hello Beth,
      Thank you for sharing your experience and adding it to the list of Swan House disappointments. I am so sorry that you were victimized, too. I guess the guy thinks he's a personal shopper. You were probably better off to keep the painting, or he might have claimed not to have received it back.
      He seems to put his claws out when backed into the corner of his own making. Maybe he didn't get hugged enough when he was little. :O)
      Thank you for your kind words and support! With such wonderful people like those in our mini community, we are never alone!

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    2. My father, who was in the US Navy during WWII used to tell me the difference between a boat and a ship. "A boat is something you can put on a ship" he said emphatically! I ordered a ship. From Swan House I got a boat.😀

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  20. This is so helpful!
    Thanks ladies!

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  21. Thank you so much for sharing this Jodi and I am really sorry for your troubles. This kind of thing can be so upsetting, not just about the loss of hard earned money but the feeling that someone is ripping us off and not feeling the slightest bit guilty or sorry.

    I have often looked at the Swan Miniatures website and felt there was something 'off' about it. I remember looking for a specific item from a specific vendor whose Etsy shop was closed while she battled cancer. He had a number of her items for sale on his site which I thought was strange. Her items sold quickly from her Etsy shop so where did he get them from? I suspect now that he never had them at all!

    You have done everyone in miniature world a service by raising this issue. Thank you again. Carol

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    1. Thank you Carol! I am so glad that inner voice saved you from potential disappointment!
      What shocks me is that he continues to do dishonest things with no worry about potential repercussions. I guess because he knows how to manipulate the system, he does. But the road for him will end eventually, and hopefully, by warning others, that road might end sooner with less victims.
      P.S. Your embroidery makes my heart flutter! Amazing work! <3

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  22. I am so sorry for your plight, but not the least bit surprised.....This has been going on for years, as you are seeing from all the comments. You want to say "Sick freak who does that?" But the answer is always Swan House.........

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    1. Thank you, Linda! As a person who knows many artisans, and has been involved the miniatures art scene for years, yours is an important observation and opinion. Why? Why do artisans continue to sell to him?

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  23. Dear Jodi, Yours was an important post. Well written and well documented. I have also lusted after products on the “Swan” site but I have always been hesitant to buy online.
    It would be wonderful if it could be resolved but I see you have almost given up hope.
    All the best.
    Regards Janine

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments and support, Janine! It is such a shame that so many great items are available only through Swan House. If these items were offered by other reputable businesses, more of us would be snapping them up!
      I never give up hope. Through our discussion, so much more than $135 is being gained in collective awareness. Outing this guy is priceless!

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  24. This is outrageous! I am sorry for what you have gone through. Good on you on not letting this disgusting seller get away with it! I hope it will resolve soon and you can have the items or your money back. Although nothing is worth of a situation like this.

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    1. Thank you Alex! I am just happy that we have so many social media resources out there now to warn others to be careful. And, I always believe that things will be exactly as they are meant to be, so this bad thing needed to happen so that other good things could.

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  25. I dropped over from Elizabeth's blog to learn about this terrible mess you have to deal with… This is unbelievable in every way (I can't get over the "hell it was delivered" remark!)- especially when finding out now how many other people were affected too. Thank you for spreading the news about this, all the comments show well how important this information is. I'm glad that I was not affected myself - although I know this website I'm happy never to have ordered there. But I would never have expected this site not to be reliable. The fact that they're offering miniatures from outstanding, well-known miniature artists made me think they would be trustworthy…

    I'm feeling very sorry for you - for all the trouble, the effort, the wasted time and the lost money. Fingers crossed that there will be an unexpected happy ending for you.

    Greetings from Germany
    Birgit (who thinks even bad things can have nice side effects - at least for me because this made me find your blog and become a follower… your work with the cottage is awesome!)

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    1. Thank you for coming over Birgit, and for your kind words of support! I also believe that good things come from bad, and am so happy to have you following! Hopefully soon, I can get back to concentrating on creative things that make me happy! :O)

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  26. Hi Jodi,

    Regrettably, I, too am one of the community who has been disappointed (to put it mildly) by Swan House and Greg Madl, being sent damaged items and receiving no reparation. I put it behind me and (partly) blamed myself, because I had heard some stories in the past but chose to order anyway.

    That aside, in the interests of telling it like it is (as Marilyn said), I think it is important to state plainly the Greg Madl and his Swan House business are responsible for The Miniature Show held in Chicago concurrently with the Tom Bishop and Three Blind Mice Shows. He does invite other vendors, and it is a good selling opportunity for them, so I can't suggest a sweeping boycott of his show, but everyone who does patronize The Miniature Show should know they are doing business with him. I did attend it the first year (2016) and found his offerings were never priced, his tables weren't manned and promises made to advance ticket purchasers were not kept.

    Apparently, his business model is to purchase items from miniatures artisans (I assume at whatever discount from retail they each arrange with him) and resell at whatever retail price he chooses. There may be no relation to his cost, or to the artisan's retail price. In many cases, the artisans he buys from may not have any other wide distribution outlet and so they continue to sell to him, perhaps not knowing his reputation.

    So, not to put too fine a point on it, he is still in business because we who buy artisan miniatures have no one other good, single source for a wide variety of quality work. He doesn't have any competition.

    If anyone knows anyone looking for a business opportunity . . .

    Thanks, Jodi, for helping raise awareness of the problems here. If anyone reading this knows any of the artisans Swan House represents, perhaps they could do a little detective work to learn more about the business from the artisan's perspective.

    Fran Casselman

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    1. Thank you for your input and valuable information, Fran! If I had a billion dollars, I'd happily volunteer to create a safe and reliable place where artisans and enthusiasts could exchange. It is really a shame that there are not more reliable resources, because so many of us would be more supportive of the artisans. Fortunately, through Instagram, I have found many newcomers selling through Etsy. Maybe the tide is about to change...

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    2. Fran Casselman, there is another vendor who I have happily dealt with for several years. Karon is very responsive and her gallery is full of wonderful things. Here is her website (she is also on FB) https://www.karoncunningham.com/

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  27. It's good that you have put this here on your blog, so people are warned! It's the same in the 1/6 scale doll world with shady sellers, I've had so many bad experiences that I'm afraid to buy online by now!

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  28. Please contact the Attorney General of IL also as well as the Better Business Bureau. You should also contact the BBB for the USA. The people mentioned can keep him from doing business in the USA. He should be reported the people over the miniatures show especially if he goes to one or more. You might contact the Miniatures Guild in ME. The may have others you can contact. As a last resort I would contact a TV station near him that resolves consumer issues. That should get his attention. So sorry you have to deal with these issues. You expect they would be honest. You can always Google them. The complaints will show up. I would do the search in front of them but I enjoy putting scuzzy people on the spot. I hope you get your items. I would check with Customs at your local airport or post office to see if they have a package with your name. People do return things that aren't theirs.

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    1. Hi Sharon,

      I have submitted complaints with both the WA state and MI state AG's offices, as well as initiated a USPS Mail Fraud complaint. Since the store address is in MI, and I have conducted no business with him in IL, I don't think I can complain in that state. The BBB is a great idea, as is leaving bad reviews wherever it is possible to do so. As far as contacting a TV station in his area, I would encourage that for someone who lost more than I did. I was just contacted today about an artisan named Natasha Beshenkovsky who was also not paid for items he purchased from her. Anyone can read that post on her Facebook page. The post was on 6/8/18:

      https://www.facebook.com/natasha.beshenkovsky?hc_ref=ARRGcT-UvNYY3S2JoFPEcFt9wcrXiyo-lVNXpYHkrI8Mxyr8qrYnlVyHFQORDKpaV9c&fref=nf

      Thanks for commenting with some great ideas on fighting back!

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  29. Hi Jodi
    I too had an issue once with Swan House several years ago and have never ordered since. I ordered a flower kit and was sent a different color than I ordered. It was supposed to be pink but it was clearly white. When I emailed him I received a rude reply telling me it was pink so I just dropped it and made note to not deal with him again. I was at the Chicago show this year and thought his tables looked really junky and a lot poor quality items. I've seen him around for years and the quality has declined. Sorry you have had to deal with this but thank you so much for warning and sharing this information with everyone!!!

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    1. Hi Mary - Thanks for your contribution to the ongoing bad service saga! Fran's comment above points to a disappointing show experience. I hope and pray that all of this can save a few people some heartache.

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  30. Hi Jodi,
    This is a very eye-opening conversation you have going here; and it's about time. I'm sorry for your experience and that you, also, are a casualty of Greg's deceit.
    I am an artisan in the miniature world and exhibit at the larger shows like the Chicago International and Kensington Dollshouse Festival. I have had first-hand experience with Greg and will never (and I mean NEVER) do business with him. I think he is toxic to the miniatures community and very underhanded in his business practices.

    But, I think I can explain why some artists do sell to him ...
    When he goes shopping at a show he will buy a lot of items from the artists whose work he knows he can sell on his website (for 2-4 times what you can buy the same piece from the artist for). This "makes" the show for most of them and they are thrilled. Since they are trying to earn a living making miniatures, this is a big deal to them. BUT, then he says, "There I've just spent $4,000, now you have to do my Chicago show or I won't buy from you anymore." Most of them will overlook the stories, if they've heard any, and figure since he's nice to me, I'll go along with it. He can be very nice when he wants to be.

    One thing I would like to point out to any artist thinking of doing Greg's show is that the show promoter (that would be him) should not be your biggest competition in the room. It is unethical for the show promoter to even have a sales table. Greg's Swan House miniatures occupies more than half of the tables in the room at his show, though he has other people working those tables. The competition for the money spent in the room is at least 50/50 in favor of his own merchandise.

    The only way to stop this (unless he gets arrested for fraud) is for people not to buy from him, but to seek out the artists whose work you love and ask to buy from them directly. They will be thrilled. If customers keep the artists busy, no one will need Greg.

    Unfortunately, another thing he does is goes around the shows buying the One-of-a-kind pieces to put on his website at exorbitant prices. If a collector wants those pieces they would do better to go to the shows and support the artists there. That's where they display those pieces. Even though it's a bit expensive with the travel and all, that's how you get great pieces without the middle-man. At the prices Greg puts on these pieces on his website, for the same money, you could have paid for the trip, had a wonderful time, met some very talented people AND bought the piece of your dreams!

    The other thing to do is to encourage the artists you like to do one of the other Chicago shows and attend those instead (they are really wonderful). Tell the artists who do Greg's show that you simply won't pay the entrance fee to his show because you don't want to support his horrible business practices, (tell them your story) but that you do want to support the artists. Some of my favorite artists have signed up for Greg's show and it breaks my heart, because I simply won't walk through Greg's door.

    I wish you all the best in your challenge and thank you for rising to it.


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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to post your comment. I am so sorry to hear that you have also experienced such negative dealings with this person. In a community where there is generally such great support for artisans, and encouragement among fellow enthusiasts, it’s even more disheartening to see the causalities continue to pile up.

      The reasons you’ve explained for why artisans continue to sell to Swan House and participate in his show make sense. It is only by shedding light on something that we can begin to change it. I hope that all these experiences and the dialog started because of them will be one way to begin that change. If we really understand the challenges for both the artisans and the consumers, we can move toward finding better ways to connect them.

      I know that the expense of getting to a show is a major factor for a lot of folks. There are also other challenges, such as career and family constraints or physical handicaps that make going to shows impossible. If there were more reliable online sellers, it would be a great thing for everyone.

      Thanks again for your valuable information! I know it will help all of us come to a better understanding so that we can get back to enjoying what we all love—minis!

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  31. I am so sorry for the deleted posts above. I had a horrible experience with a seller but afraid to post it as it may come back to bite me the butt. Maybe it was just me anyway .........thanks
    Cheryl

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    1. That is okay Cheryl - I am always very hesitant to out a bad seller or experience because I like to give many benefits of doubt. I am sorry you had a bad experience, too, and hope maybe shedding light on bad or shady service will benefit us all. Thanks for posting!

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  32. Sadly your situation is not unique, Jodi, as you are realizing with all the comments. I hope you will get this mess resolved. As I recommended to Fran (Casselman) above, this vendor is honorable and responsive: https://www.karoncunningham.com/
    Good luck, sweetie. Adrienne

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    1. Thank you Adrienne! What a lovely site with unique and interesting minis! I have it bookmarked for my next shopping splurge! :O)

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    2. You are quite welcome. Karon is a really nice person.

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  33. There were a lot of negative comments in the international miniature community when he decided to put on his own show in Chicago. I will NEVER order anything from him or buy anything through him, especially now that I have read all the very negative experiences here on you blog. Thank you for making this public.

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    1. Thank you for your input! I hope we have saved some heartache for the wonderful people in out community!

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  34. Wow. I have read the posts above and am shocked at how much this person gets away with. Unfortunately, as a miniature retailer who sells online, his horrible service dissuades some people from ordering online. I too have heard horror stories about this man. Luckily, I have never dealt with him personally, and never will. Jodi.........I do have some artisan items that I acquired by purchasing an estate sale. I would like to offer to send you an exciting "surprise" item free of charge to show you that not all online retailers are bad. I pride myself in honesty and granting exceptional customer service. Anyone who knows me will attest to that. I did have some personal problems in the spring which made my shipping very tardy. I explained the situation to all of my customers and they were all so gracious in giving me the time I needed to deal with my own issues before I could send their orders (keep in mind that these orders WERE NOT paid until I shipped them). So, please contact me privately and give me your shipping address. I have been blessed lately and would like to Pay if Forward to you. Hugs in mini friendship, Liz

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    1. Hi Liz! I am so happy that you posted this comment to represent the numerous online retailers that really care about their customers, and the miniature hobby! I am fortunate that the vast majority of my experiences with retailers like you have been positive ones!
      I have been "window shopping" on your site a few times before, and love the range and selection you have. I truly appreciate your very kind and generous offer, but it is truly not necessary - I will definitely shop from Grandpa's Dollhouse in the future with no hesitation! You come highly recommended by Katrina of Kitty & Kat Miniatures, too!
      I think most reasonable people know that from time to time life springs surprises on us that cause our normal MO to derail a bit. I think it's admirable that you were upfront with your customers during your recent troubles, and I bet they were very understanding.
      Thank you again so much for reaching out and for your generous offer! I will gladly accept the hug and the mini friendship! <3

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  35. I am so sorry to hear about your troubles with Greg / Swan House Miniatures. He is notorious for the sort of thing you experienced. People have had all sorts of problems with him. Sellers as well as buyers. As a seller, I had trouble with him shorting me via a check for things he sold for me.

    I have also heard he has sent things that had damage.

    It is so sad that he refuses to do straight forward/ honest deals. Swan House Miniatures has this fantastic reputation for carrying some of  the best miniatures in the world. I am sure many more artisans would sell their work through him if he was trustworthy. 

    I believe he does buy things on Ebay and sell them on his SHM site. I have seen listings for things made by miniaturists that passed away many years ago. 

    There is plenty of negative information online about Greg. In my blog I had a post about his deceptive claims for his first miniature show in Chicago. You might want to have a look. http://kilmouskiandme.blogspot.com/2016/01/its-matter-of-interpretation-miniature.html

    Wishing you all the best! Catherine XXX

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    1. Hi Catherine!
      Thanks for posting and for the link to your post about misleading vendor attendance. You would think that with the volume of business that he apparently does, there would be no need for dishonesty and greed. But I suppose the world needs to show us a few bad examples so we are sure to notice all of the good ones. :O)

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  36. I find his practices baffling. For someone who has been in business for so many years it is really pretty stupid. Your reputation is everything! Once that is gone, you really can't get it back. Miniature collectors, artisans and sellers are too well connected via the internet. Bad news travels around the world in the blink of an eye.

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    1. I found them baffling, too. With such blatant disregard, I felt I had some responsibility to report my experience, and hopefully in the process, save others the heartache. It is truly unfortunate, though, because I had plans on purchasing many other treasures listed on his site. I scour other reputable online retailer's sites for unique artisan miniatures, but one-of-a-kind means just what it says. Fortunately, I have found and purchased many other lovely pieces and will continue to do so, just never from SH again!

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  37. Hello Jodi,
    I am so sorry to read about your ordeal. I cannot believe all the trouble you have had to go through. I do hope it will be resolved.
    Big hug,
    Giac

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    1. Thank you Giac! Fortunately, USPS insurance came through on the damaged/missing items, and a valuable lesson was learned. The only thing to do with a problem is to see the opportunities in them. It was a great opportunity to connect with other mini collectors, warn others, and take steps to protect myself. So all is well that ends well, and my gratitude for so many wonderful artisans and retailers remains in tact!

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    2. For all of you who have dealt with Greg Madl at Swan House and have been scammed; I’m very sorry!!! He is a very crooked person and a social psychopath as deemed by DHS.He has repeatedly committed fraud with my family and we were in lawsuits for 4 years. The attorneys said that he should be in prison and he has also cheated the IRS too and was being investigated. By the way, he is also very dangerous and will do anything to get away with fraud!! Hopefully he will get what is coming to him!!!

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    3. Judy I am so very sorry to hear that things have gone so far in your dealings with this person. We are taught to be good and do right and our paths will be made straight. And that bad guys lose and are poisoned by their own medicine. It's so sad when that is not the case, or that they repeatedly compound their dirty deeds to keep escaping justice. I hope that you are now able to move forward and leave all of this far, far behind you.

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