Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Storybook Cottage - A New Chapter

Okay, enough with the rotten side of life. I'm going to focus on the joy! I will update the Buyer Beware post as new information surfaces...

I am really looking forward to starting on the exterior of the Storybook Cottage. So, in order to get there, I needed to get the rest of the walls erected, then finish off the interior trim work. Before I could attach the stairwell wall, the stairwell needed to be completely finished off, decor and all. There will be extremely limited access once the wall and roof are attached.

I finished the display shelf trim, then using mass produced roses and leftover buds and leaf stems from the vanity project, I made up a vase of flowers. The basket and smaller vases did a nice job of completing the space.

Here's the view looking up the stairs to the landing where the dormer window will let in some light.

I centered the vase to be seen through the upper arched stairwell window...

And the clock face in the lower...

Here's a view of the front of the cottage to re-orient you with where those peek-a-boo windows are situated. They are the two small windows going up the stairwell wall.

I made a lot of trim work for myself with all the changes I made to the kit. It was slow going cutting and fitting all those angles. They say the camera adds ten pounds. Well, it also adds cracks and flaws to all your finish work. I see some areas now that still need a little attention. But overall, I am happy with how things are looking.

Above is the stairwell landing with the built in bookshelf and added dormer window, and below is the bedroom space. The bathroom door has the same frieze application of the potted tea plant to match the doors downstairs.

And here is the bathroom with the built in cabinet and beadboard tub surround. The trim work I did on this dormer isn't as nice as I had hoped, but will fade off into the background with everything else going on in here.

And here's how the back opening looks, so far. Once I touch up all the trims inside, I can attach the back finish pieces and the shed dormer upstairs. Then, begin on the exterior.

It's looking like a happy place, and one I'd love to spend some time in. That's a good enough feeling for me, and I really do love it!

Thank you all so much for being on this Storybook adventure with me!

xo xo,

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.

*** 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.
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!


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

Friday, June 8, 2018

Storybook Cottage - Second Story

As happens in every mini build, I have reached the Chicken or Egg conundrum. What makes the most sense to do next? What order do I want to finish things? I affixed the center wall, finished the trim work on it, then decided that before I really attach the kitchen sink wall, there were other things I better do first. Like the second floor. It will be easier to install the floor first, and then the sink wall. Trust me - I've practiced! But first, there was a lot of work to do on that piece, floor and ceiling.

On the side that would be the first floor ceiling, I drew around the center wall with pencil so I'd know where to apply the ceiling beams. I got all the 1/4" x 1/4" beams cut, and drew around them so that I could score faux boards into the sections in between them. I tested the fit, then gave it three good coats of paint.

For the second floor's flooring, I decided to do tiles in the bathroom and more of the same wood floor in the bedroom. I had purchased a tile wallpaper sheet made by Itsy Bitsy Mini. I thought it was going to be perfect. So, I applied it to illustration art board with wallpaper paste, then cut it into tiles like the kitchen floor.

I laid it on the diagonal again, got it all glued down and grouted (over two evenings), then hated it. The tile pattern itself does not lend itself to being laid like that, so it just looks crooked. Also, because I worked so late, my lines got wonky and I didn't notice until it was too late or I didn't care anymore.

So, rather than rip them all off, I did the only other thing I could do: I painted over them.

These will not be grouted, as after I did the third grout and repaint session, I didn't like the grout. So, they are what they are and they are not terrible so this is how they shall remain.

Meanwhile, during endless drying times, I worked on the stairs and another little art project for the stairwell. The stairs got their treads decoupaged in shabby rug patterns found mostly on Pinterest, and then were edged in "lace"...

And then for fun the risers got words associated with teas decoupaged onto them.

The art hanging is comprised of a clock, sign and three hanging photo frames. I made something like this for my real life house back in 2009 and I really like it.

A cabochon frame holds the printed clock face with teapots for the numbers. I attached tiny watch hands and then encased the face and hands in Glossy Accents. The one thing I will do in the future is seal the clock face before applying the Glossy Accents - it seems to have blurred the ink a bit. The frames are the unfinished metal kind you find on eBay, and the sign part is 1/16" thick basswood with wainscot trim added to the top and bottom. My printer and graphics program are coming in very handy for this project!

Here's the sign in the stairwell. Once the wall is up, you'll only be able to see it through the windows.

Hopefully the next few steps will go much smoother than the bathroom tiles did. I hope to be back in a couple days with erected walls to share!

It has been pretty lonely here, mostly at night, but I am grateful to have three sweet doggies to keep me company. Russ will be home Sunday, but then back up north to work again for the week Monday morning. Keeping very busy is the only saving grace!

Have a great weekend!

xo xo,