Customer Rights

What can the customer do if they are not happy with a machine quilting service?

I wrote this article in response to an agenda item which was discussed at the Australian Council of Quilters in 2000. It has subsequently been published in “Patches” the South Australian Patchwork Guild Newsletter & “The Template” the NSW Patchwork Guild Newsletter.

The Agenda item raised the following points “……There are now reports of dissatisfied customers who have no complaint procedures. What redress does the customer have if (a). The quilt is quilted badly. (b). The quilt is damaged during quilting. 
How do we promote technical improvement in this process so that the quilting at least equals the quality of the quilt top…..”

I would actively encourage the patchworker who has been dissatisfied with the work of a machine quilter to discuss this with the quilter in the same way that she would “return” any other product.

a) Describe the problem that is causing her dissatisfaction.

b) Discuss how she would like this to be fixed.

c) Negotiate an acceptable “fix” for both parties.

To help prevent this situation occurring in the first place the patchworker should:

a) Ask to see examples of the quilter’s work or choose a quilter from a friend’s referral. 

b) Ask the quilter about the style of quilting she would recommend for the particular quilt.

c) Before leaving, or accepting the quote by mail, be fully aware of the type of quilting that will be used on her quilt ie: patterns, thread colour, spacing, wadding, marking of quilts etc.

d) Be aware that if she has not made these decisions and has said “Oh, I will leave the quilting up to you”  that she has left all those decisions to someone else.

The Machine Quilter should protect herself from these situations by:

a) Not taking outside jobs until she is satisfied that her quilting is of an acceptable standard.

b) Discuss the customer’s expectations for the quilt and clearly understand what she wants.

c) If she does not feel comfortable quilting the particular technique that the customer is asking for, clearly state this and suggest an alternate style. (It is better to lose one job than to lose your reputation!)

d) Examine the quilt carefully with the customer and tactfully point out problem areas – wavy borders, tented blocks etc that may result in a less than perfect finish. Explain how you may have to “fix” these problems and offer them some choices.  (This is hard to do but worth learning as it means less dissatisfied customers if they know the problems up front.)

e) Formally record  a “quilting plan” and have the customer sign this plan. Include pattern choice, thread choice and any other pertinent items.

I have long suspected that patchworkers who have not been happy with the quilting are not going back to the quilter instead they are complaining to another quilter, or their friends. By not going back to the original quilter they are allowing the situation to perpetuate as the quilter is unaware of the problem and will continue to work in the same way.

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