Above And Beyond: Smartbargains.com Helps You Sleep Well At Night

Stephanie was dissatisfied with a set of 1200 thread count sateen sheets she purchased from smartbargains.com. After “a few” washes, they felt more like a set of 800 thread count sheets she owned. Stephanie wondered if perhaps she had received the wrong sheet set, one with a lower thread count. She wasn’t sure, so she wrote smartbargains.com a letter.

The letter and the response, inside…

(Photo: Lewisisms)


Stephanie’s email to smartbargains.com:
I ordered a set of sheets from you in February and I believe them not to be the thread count they are suppose to be. In fact, after a few washes they are piling up and are not even as soft as the 800tc sheets I own. I believe they are not the thread count they are suppose to be or perhaps just a bad set. I need to figure out how to return them either to you or the manufacturer as I am so disappointed with the quality. I am very surprised that I received such a poor quality item as i have shopped at Loehmann’s before and have never in my life paid so much for so little. This has essentially been a disastrous purchase for me and I hope there is some way to make this right.

Less than ten hours later, smartbargains.com responded.

We sincerely appreciate your contacting the Corporate Office of SmartBargains.com. Ben Fischman, our CEO, has asked that I reply on his behalf. At SmartBargains.com, our goal is to exceed your expectations every day.

We’re truly sorry to hear that the Luxury 1200 TC Sateen Sheet Set, from Order Number ******, has not met your expectations. This 1200 thread count bedding features 300 three- and four-ply yarns per square inch. Multi-ply yarn is created from several threads twisted together for durability while thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric. We highly recommend that the set be laundered per the manufacturer’s instructions. It has been our experience that this sheet set will continue to soften up over time and with normal use. Please note that pilling is the result of abrasion, and should not be construed as a defect.

I’ve contacted our Buyer with your comments. She’s suggested that our higher thread count, single-ply sheet sets may be a better alternative for you. Single-ply sheets are generally softer than their more durable multi-ply counterparts. She’s even provided the names of three sheet sets you may wish to consider:

Royal Hotel Premium 1000 TC
Single-Ply Sheet Set Spa Collection Premium 800 TC
Single-Ply Sheet Set Luxury 600 TC
Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set

Ms ***, your new business is very important to us. We want you to know that we sell only the finest quality merchandise and we stand behind what we sell. Unfortunately, because the sheet set has been laundered, we are unable to accept it as a return in our warehouse. We have, however, issued a merchandise credit for the full cost of the sheet set. A SmartBargains.com eGift Card will arrive via email, and may be used towards your next SmartBargains.com purchase.

Once again, we appreciate your taking the time to let us know about your experience. We look forward to the opportunity of serving you again soon. Please do not hesitate to contact me at ***@smartbargains.com if I can further assist you.

We are impressed with the comprehensive response, as well as the gift card offer. Stephanie is understandably happy: “Needless to say, it was awesome! I’ll be shopping there again!” — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Comments

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  1. FishingCrue says:

    Upon reading the above the first thing that popped into my mind wasn’t the excellent customer service but the quality of the reply. It’s nice to see that the literate still have a place in customer service.

  2. mantari says:

    What the…! Sounds like this company has customer service licked! (Until someone decides to abuse the smurf out of them.)

  3. hhaber says:

    What Stephanie-and in fact most people-should know about sheets, is that thread count doesn’t have as much to do with softness and durability as the TYPE of cotton. In other words, you could buy 600 thread count sheets made of mediocre fibre that don’t feel nearly as nice as 300 TC ones made of Egyptian cotton. Furthermore, even when the quality is decent, you aren’t gonna feel much difference between 600 and 1200. It’s just a gimmick, kind of like SPF 50 (which isn’t more effective than SF 30). So maybe that’s why her super-high threadcount sheets were no better than her medium ones.

  4. erockO says:

    Thread count does not dictate “softness.” Buyer beware :)

  5. erockO says:

    Good customer service though. gratz

  6. Skeptic says:

    A fairly impressive reply.

    I’d say part of the problem is the obsession with thread count by marketers and by customers. Thread counts are an easy way to quantify a type of quality, but a higher thread count doesn’t necessarily mean softer, or “better,” for that matter.

    As to pilling, resistance to pilling is a variable quality in different kinds of fabrics. Some fabrics pill much more than others. I don’t know if I would call that a “defect” but pilling under normal use is definately a quality-or “defect”-of the fabric design rather than user error. The comment that it is caused by “abrasion” is a subtle attempt to blame the user for the pilling rather than accept that the fabric pills.

  7. John says:

    Wow! I’ve never used SmartBargains before. I’ve bookmarked them and plan to try them out as soon as I need something.

  8. cheesyfru says:

    Anything with a thread count that high is just marketing. They’re right: it’s not actually a tighter weave, they use a different kind of multi-strand thread that lets them artifically inflate the count.

    They definitely went out of their way to correct something that wasn’t broken, though. Kudos to them!

  9. Awesome. As FishingCrue says, the quality of the reply is fantastic. The person writing it clearly had their entire attention on the situation. It’s always fun to get a reply back from a support rep who clearly misses the point of your complaint.

    Really encouraging to see this commitment to the customer still exists… somewhere.

  10. AT203 says:

    Wow. For a wholesaler to be able to access that level of detailed information about one of their many products has me FLOORED! Nevermind that they did so in such quick time.

    Treat good companies good, and treat bad companies bad. Vote with your dollars. It just so happens that I lost a pillowcase on a set of taupe 800TC sateen sheets, and was thinking about buying another set. I am totally going to look into giving smartbargains my business.

  11. lore says:

    Wow, I don’t think I could even tell the difference between 1200 and 800 threadcount!

  12. Citron says:

    @lore: Me neither — but that is some good customer servicing.

  13. RST1123 says:

    That cat is definitely isn’t sleeping at night, you can clearly see the light rays coming in through the window. Smartbargins.com helps kittens sleep by day.

  14. Bradley says:

    I am very interested in what email address you used to get the attention of the CEO. I have been dealing with SmartBargains for the past 2 months and have yet to receive a remedy. I just finished constructing a Word.doc that literally has 35 emails that have gone back and forth without resolution. ITS ALL OVER $30!!! They say that they made the credit to Amazon and that I need to call Amazon and deal with them concerning why the credit never made it back on my card. I maintain that I paid them and dealt with them and they owe me a duty to process my payment and credit effectively.

    I have gotten 2 responses from SmartBargains that promise my issue is being forwarded to the “corporate office” and one promising it will be forwarded to (and I quote) “the higher ups that can fix your problem”. All three emails promised a response within 3 days. I have yet to hear back from any of them.

    To make matters worse, this is all after I ordered a package that was turned around mid-shipment (per the UPS tracking info) for no reason at all. After daily calling, it took SmartBargains 2 weeks just for their system to show that the sheets were back in their warehouse (2 weeks after my UPS tracking notice and [get this] *an email confirmation from SmartBargains stating that the shipment had been received back in their warehouse showed such a status).

    Then I had to fight with them to get back my $7 “restocking fee”….AND THEY STILL COULDN’T EVEN TELL ME WHY THE PACKAGE WAS TURNED AROUND MIDSHIPMENT!!!

    Summarily, I visit Consumerist multiple times a day and am usually happy with what I read, but the fact that somebody has had such great service concerning a company- when I am a day from turning a WORD.doc of 35 emails over to the BBB- just plain confuses me.

    The frustrating part is that 1. I have thought of joining Consumerist to post on this particular matter for the past month. 2. I am usually very effective with customer service departments and getting issues sorted out 3. I’m in law school and not only do I know I’m correct in what I want, but I’m not that bad of a writer either.

    What a great opportunity to pop my proverbial “consumerist cherry”.

    *The worst part is that I let them talk me into reordering the sheets about a month ago for another payment (Which worked out fine. But had I known this would still be unresolved, I would have never done business with them again)

    I look forward to hearing what email address was used or what key phrase you think might have gotten you such exceptional service. Thanks. 

    (Please excuse the overuse of CAPS. Rather than a loud tone, I traditionally use them as a moderately elevated volume indicator)

  15. thethresh says:

    My favorite sentence was “your new business is very important to us”. It was simple, straight and engaging. If I could train my staff to be those three things every time I would be so happy.

    Part of her problem, the piling, can come from drying your sheets too hot. When I reduced my heat and lengthened the cycle time I noticed my sheets were much softer and the “piling” (little tiny beads) was non-existent.

  16. TimDub says:

    count me in as a potential new SmartBargains customer. that right there is true customer service.

  17. Jon Parker says:

    Any chance of getting SmartBargains to take over Comcast?

  18. maggie says:

    While this was a terrific reply by Smartbargains, my own experience was less inspiring. I bought two pairs of Michael Kors corduroy pants, pants identical to a pair I had bought at a brick and mortar store. While the design had a certain “distressed” quality, I was very distressed to discover that the cords were just coming apart in those “distressed” areas after regular wear and appropriate care! They came apart at the seams! There was no way to mend them as the fabric had essentially disintegrated in these places. My own literate complaint to the store was met with complete resistance (it was past the 30 day return period). After MUCH back and forth, the most they offered was 10% off my next purchase. This was my first purchase, at $49.99 per pair, and my last. My basis for comparison was whether I would have expected satisfaction from a brick and mortar store even after 30 days: when the merchandise disintegrates, I expect to be able to return it, even after 35 days.

  19. homerjay says:

    @maggie: Wow, way to bring down the room……

  20. suprthug8d says:

    I don’t want to ‘bring down the room’, but I highly doubt a CEO would respond to a small issue such as this. It seems to be more a marketing ploy to get more people to visit their site after consumers read about their ‘superior’ customer service.

    Anyone could’ve pretended to be Stephanie (including smartbargains.com) and sent in an email praising their customer service.

    Is theconsumerist.com selling out to have these articles written? I hope not.

    I will most likely be harassed for my comments.

  21. Dustbunny says:

    I’m in ur bed sheddin’ cat hair on your 1200 thread-count sheets.

  22. Keter says:

    IMO, high threadcount sheets are the biggest ripoff out there. First, they are exactly as described by the SmartBargains representative: thick twists of fiber woven together. The effect is canvas-like. Not soft, and not likely to become soft later, despite claims to the contrary. The material simply is coarse to begin with.

    Second, higher threadcount equals greater thickness and less air permeability. This may be fine in the winter, but not in the summer or in more temperate climates, when lighter, more breathable sheets are desirable. Same for people who tend to perspire at night: high threadcount for them = sauna.

    The thing that bothers me is how retailers sell these “high threadcount” sheets as superior and at greatly inflated prices, misleading consumers to think they are buying a top-of-the-line luxury product when customer complaint after customer complaint cites the same problems: scratchiness and pilling. (I analyzed customer reviews for major online retailers who sold these and I saw nothing but complaints and grief over having spent so much money for something completely unusable.)

    Kudos to SmartBargains/Loehmann’s for promptly issuing the refund, but I’m guessing someone knew the product was inferior to begin with, and they were ready to deal with any complaints about it. The sad thing is that even knowing this, they are probably still selling them. :o(

  23. Dustbunny says:

    So if the high thread count sheets are crap, what *are* the best sheets to buy? I need some new ones and I’m thinking of buying them from Land’s End. I figure if they’re the same high quality as their clothing, they should be great. I noticed the highest thread-count LE sells is 400.

  24. Snakeophelia says:

    I highly recommend the Land’s End high thread count sheets. One tip – the colors that don’t tend to sell as well will sometimes be on sale as overstock at a terrific discount. We have a set of their 400-count sheets that feel just amazing. They were on sale because, although the color is listed as “salmon,” they are an odd shade of electric deep peach/orange that you can practically see in the dark. But they were 75% off, so who cares?

  25. legotech says:

    I stick with Overstock.com my mom found some items on Smartbargains she liked and printed out the pages, then asked me if I wanted anything and to go ahead and order her stuff too…the prices I found on the items she had printed out were much higher. Like by $5 in a couple of cases and this was only like 1/2 hr later. They were offering her better prices, so if you are going to buy check out the site on a couple of computers to find the best price.

  26. Bradley says:

    I am very interested in what email address you used to get the attention of the CEO. I have been dealing with SmartBargains for the past 2 months and have yet to receive a remedy. I just finished constructing a Word.doc that literally has 35 emails that have gone back and forth without resolution. ITS ALL OVER $30!!! They say that they made the credit to Amazon and that I need to call Amazon and deal with them concerning why the credit never made it back on my card. I maintain that I paid them and dealt with them and they owe me a duty to process my payment and credit effectively.

    I have gotten 2 responses from SmartBargains that promise my issue is being forwarded to the “corporate office” and one promising it will be forwarded to (and I quote) “the higher ups that can fix your problem”. All three emails promised a response within 3 days. I have yet to hear back from any of them.

    To make matters worse, this is all after I ordered a package that was turned around mid-shipment (per the UPS tracking info) for no reason at all. After daily calling, it took SmartBargains 2 weeks just for their system to show that the sheets were back in their warehouse (2 weeks after my UPS tracking notice and [get this] *an email confirmation from SmartBargains stating that the shipment had been received back in their warehouse showed such a status).

    Then I had to fight with them to get back my $7 “restocking fee”….AND THEY STILL COULDN’T EVEN TELL ME WHY THE PACKAGE WAS TURNED AROUND MIDSHIPMENT!!!

    Summarily, I visit Consumerist multiple times a day and am usually happy with what I read, but the fact that somebody has had such great service concerning a company- when I am a day from turning a WORD.doc of 35 emails over to the BBB- just plain confuses me.

    The frustrating part is that 1. I have thought of joining Consumerist to post on this particular matter for the past month. 2. I am usually very effective with customer service departments and getting issues sorted out 3. I’m in law school and not only do I know I’m correct in what I want, but I’m not that bad of a writer either.

    What a great opportunity to pop my proverbial “consumerist cherry”.

    *The worst part is that I let them talk me into reordering the sheets about a month ago for another payment (Which worked out fine. But had I known this would still be unresolved, I would have never done business with them again)

    I look forward to hearing what email address was used or what key phrase you think might have gotten you such exceptional service. Thanks. 

    (Please excuse the overuse of CAPS. Rather than a loud tone, I traditionally use them as a moderately elevated volume indicator with a slight tone of aggravation)

  27. OnoSideboard says:

    I think this is the most I’ve ever learned from one Consumerist post. Sheet quality is a huge issue for me, as a hot-natured person living in a hot climate. In fact, the only sheets I’ve found soft and cool enough to make me happy are my mom’s old sheets from the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t know if it’s the way they are made or the fact they’ve been washed hundreds of times.

    So I pose a question to you sheet experts: is the CSR correct in recommending high thread-count, single-ply sheets? I’ve never known how to shop for sheets and that would be a great tip if true.

  28. suprthug8d says:

    I hate to be the one to “bring down the room”, but how is this worthy of a story?

    I highly doubt the CEO would take the time to respond to such a little issue. I see this as a marketing ploy to get consumers to visit smartbargains.com after reading about their “superior” customer service.

    Anyone can be Stephanie (including smartbargains.com ) and submit this story.

    Is the consumerist.com selling out? I hope not.

    My last comment was censored, so I’ve taken a screenshot.

  29. Dustbunny says:

    @Snakeophelia:

    Electric-orange colored sheets would probably give me insomnia or nightmares ;-) But I’ll try the Lands End 400 ct. sheets…in more subdued colors.

  30. suprthug8d says:

    How is this worthy of an article? How many people decided to visit smartbargains.com after reading this article? marketing ploy.

  31. phelander says:

    This princess sounds like she slept on a pea.

  32. quiksilver says:

    @Jon Parker:
    Man, I hope they do take over Comcast! That would be amazing!

    This is great to hear! I have shopped at Smartbargains before and they are very prompt about shipping things and everything comes as expected. I’ll be shopping there again!

  33. thepassenger says:

    legotech:

    SmartBargains used to have “lunchtime specials” (not sure if they still do it or not) to capture shoppers who were cruising the web while eating lunch at their desks at midday. The prices of certain items would be lowered for only a couple of hours, so this might be what happened in your situation.

  34. the cultural icon says:

    I am Stephanie and yes I was just as shocked as you when I got a response from the CEO’s office. I am the same person who had a fit on Motorola behind HORRIBLE customer service.

    I sent my complaint to both the normal customer service email address and the CEO address which is on the same page. CEO@SmartBargains.com that address should get you a response and apparently they’ll do whatever they can to help. So no, it’s not a fake and I IM’d Ben before I sent it to the consumerist tips email.

    To conclude, it’s not a fake and I have since gotten the gift card and ordered the single ply sheets.

  35. the cultural icon says:

    @bradley71: CEO@SmartBargains.com thats the email address, I hope that helps

  36. Bradley says:

    Thanks Stephanie.

    I wanted to post a quick update.
    I havent emailed the CEO address yet, but I made another phone call yesterday and they admitted that their IT dept has been having a lot of issues with returns not being credited.

    They didnt have a remedy for me but they did give me another telephone number that I called and left a message on. Hopefully Ill get a call back. I find it interesting that they arent notifying people that their money has not been returned to them. I would think that at a minimum they would return emails for somebody who has sent them over…i dont know…lets throw out a number…mayb 30.

    Ill keep yall up to date.