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Who NOT to buy from...

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I really try to be completely fair with vendors. Being in the wholesale business I understand that things happen that no matter how hard you try aren't going to come out right.

As far as I'm concerned, the fair measure of a supplier isn't in them never letting you down, but in what they do to make it right when something goes wrong.

I also give praise when it's due so I don't feel at all self conscious when I say that I'm done with Zack White.

I order my needles from them because I know they have what I'm looking for and it's easy. I also needed some 346 and 277 thread so I put together an order and rang them up.

My account with them is COD which is fine with me because it's simple to pay for what comes in and whatever is in the shop belongs to me. Bookkeeping is much simpler that way.

The product arrived, I have no complaint with them shipping, that's easy. It's what arrived that's frustrating.

The spools of thread are all in loose plastic bags to keep them clean, a nice touch for storage, but when you toss those spools into a box, tape it up and ship it, the spools tend to bounce around a bit which isn't good for the thread as it slips loose from the plastic "bobbin" and forms a very nice rat nest in the plastic bag.

In order to use ANY of the thread you have to spend time untangling the rat nest from the spool and in the process toss about 1/3rd of the thread you just bought into the trash as it's not worth the time to untangle it for use on the machine.

I called and complained, this is the second time this has happened with me being told the first time that they have NEVER heard of such a thing happening. I ate the loss the first time but insisted this time that they make good on it, so they're going to be sending me one spool to replace the lost thread.

That would be fine and we wouldn't be discussing this if that were the end of the story...

I went to use that thread and discovered that it is SATURATED in oil, not sorta oily, dripping with oil.

I'm not an expert, but if I recall correctly, the old machines had oilers on them to lubricate the thread and it wasn't Nylon it was cotton.

The PRODUCT I ORDERED was "White Bonded Nylon Machine Thread", nowhere does it say pre-oiled or lubricated or "dripping with oil so you don't need to ever oil you machine" or "Lubricated for your sewing pleasure" or even "dunked in 3 in 1 for your convenience".

What adds to this issue is that the thread unravels in the needle as you sew with it forming huge clumps of oily nylon strands to drip the oil in it on your work so instead of a neat stitch line you get a wadded up mess on the sheath with a row of neatly spaced holes and intermittent oil splotches.

I guess if I wanted to market my sheaths to the 3 year old market or make stuff like one of my competitors that would be acceptable, but that's not what I'm about.

I called them again to complain and was first told that they order thread unoiled but sometimes it just comes like that. That answer doesn't do me much good as I sit looking at a hand cut prototype that needs to be done ASAP that I now need to remake.

I pushed the issue and was them told that nobody else ever complained about that problem.... gee where did I hear that before? Oh yeah, when we talked about the rat nest I received from them.

We ultimately came to them agreeing that if I ship the thread back to them, they will send me a check.

Know what, I'm now angry enough that I don't feel like being reasonable. I'm out a bunch of money for the wasted sheath, both materials and time. I'm out the money for the lost production time as I messed around with fixing the rat nest and then I'm going to be out the money for the time in packing up their defective product to return it.

I get to lose all of that just for the opportunity to be made whole. BUT!!! They don't give me terms when I buy from them.... I pay up front or I don't receive the product. They have my money and essentially they're expecting me to give them TERMS.

They refused to provide me with a credit application and wouldn't accept the package COD.

I'm ticked off....


I won't treat my customers like that.... I made some sheaths for one client and we discovered that there was a mistake in how something was put together.... he didn't find it, I did.

I called him and told him to throw the sheaths he received out that replacements were on the way and I sat on the check until he had them in hand.

I guarantee I'm a bunch smaller than Zack White, so much so that the $88 I spent on thread from them is something to me and having them hold MY MONEY is a slight issue.

That's fine with me, I ordered thread from someone else and plan to toss this thread in the dumpster, it looks like two $44 bills to me now and that's cheap tuition for the Never Buy From Zack White Class I just graduated from.

I hope that $88 makes a huge difference to them because it's the last penny they'll ever receive from anyone who will listen to me.

We all make mistakes, we all even make mistakes in handling customer service issues but there is a finite limit to how far you can ride the Excuse Express and for me, they hit the end of the line HARD.

Sorry about the rant, then again maybe not... maybe I should go back to one of my prior lives and say... "Class Dismissed."

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I can't help with Zack White. I get my Linhanyl nylon from Artisan, Linhanyl works very well in the smaller (138 and under) size threads. I understand Linhanyl occasionally goes wonky, but I don't get any of that from Jerry, they sort out and send the crap back to Linhanyl. I get Coats poly (I use it for 207 and up) from Ferdco, again no problems there either. I get Barbour's Linen from Campbell (also some Eddington) and again not a problem. I like Schmetz needles and get them from Campbell or Artisan.

In the garment industry where they run machines FAST, they throw one lb spools in silicone oil for 10 minutes or more before mounting it on the machine, never seen it come pretreated though.


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I commiserate with you, the things you have gone through are NOT limited to ZW. Poor service, shoddy packing, unreasonable individuals, poor business practices and the list goes on and on, are prevalent across the board in every industry in the US. With the advent of the computer age, most employees have lost the ability to treat customers right, they just can't be bothered, they have more important work to do. Most jobs that required physical and mental skills, had status and personal pride attached to them, have all but disappeared, or don't pay worth a dang anymore. So it is no wonder business in America is in the crapper. Employees from the top exec. down have lost sight of who pays the bills. And the kicker is they don't really care anymore. Just interjecting my 2 cents not ment to insult anyone or any business in particular just voicing my frustration, as today has not been so swell for me neither.

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Instead of throwing the thread away, box it up and ship it back, and get your refund. Most companies expect that returns are shipped at the customer's expense. You're out time, sheath leather, and the cost of return shipping. I hate when this happens, too, but have learned to accept it will happen sometimes.

For thread, stick with the brands and suppliers Art mentions. Do you know what brand of thread you purchased? I think this unraveling may happen with certain brands. For me it has happened only with American & Efird bonded poly.

A recent ZW shipment was missing some items, but I can't complain, as ZW is going to send me three sides of bridle leather split to my specifications at the tannery and no additional expense to me. I don't think anyone else in the industry will do this gratis.


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Well, here's my half pennys worth.

Zack's is my local supplier. I make the 1 hr round trip weekly to biweekly. I paw over the stuff like I did many moons ago when Boston had a leather district. He has quite the inventory in leathers, and an amzing hardware selection. Most of the tools and misc. are of the Tandy quality, but he has them in stock, and most of the things like thread, are not top of the line. He has personally told me he would like to upgrade many things, but his business, like others, hasn't grown enough in these times. I am using one of those "oily" threads right now in my Artisan 3000 with no problems (only cause I ran out of my good stuff). He carries a small line of this basic thread. 3 colors 3 sizes. I only buy it in emergencies.

Tim is the owner, with his wife working the books. He has one lady for order taking and misc. (probably the most frazzling job there). He has two or three kids to help out in making things, and helping customers. Only one has been there more than a year. That's it. Although the store is a fair size, this ain't the Macy's of Leather.

As far as I can tell, they are all doing the best they can. I know when I come in, I get all the service I need and more.

I've made this offer before, I'll repeat. If there is anything any of you want me to check out there, before you purchase, let me know, I will, and I will give you my opinion.

Personally, I like the guy, and the convenience of his store. And I hope he stays in business for my own convenience. I have had my problems also, as in not having something in inventory when I need it. Then, one day there's a ton of stuff. Suppliers are not doing their job, I suspect.

You may not like the thread, but there should be no problem in getting your money back. Personally, I think Tim is the only person who knows the leather and stuff, and talk only with him when I want to be sure of something. He has been very accomodating to me, and I only spend a few hundred there once in awhile.

No one likes to have their business interrupted with supply problems. Especially, if you feel like you are not getting proper care and attention from them. For me, I get good service from other suppliers, but they are generally the ones that cost me much more money per product. But like Jordan said, it's a pervasive problem in America today. I would advise you to not burn your bridges to ANY of the very FEW remaining sources we have in our industry today. Make the telephone calls to your vendors, take note of the good things, and use them when you can.

Good luck.

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I've worked retail for close to 20 years. When a customer complains, he is doing the business a favor. We can address the problem to make things right, and hopefully, prevent the problem from happening to another customer. When you do need to complain, follow a couple of steps to make it easier for the retailer to help you:

1. Describe the problem, leave the emotion out of it.

2. Let the manager know what you expect him to do to make things right again.

3. If he can't accommodate your request, see if his alternative would be acceptable.

4. Once it's resolved, tell your friends.

But until you formally let the boss/owner know what upset you, you can't expect satisfaction. If you don't tell him what went wrong, he can't improve the experience for you or the next person. When we ship it out, and don't hear anything, we assume everything is just fine.

I wish the ownder of ZW were here to put in his two cents, or at least respond to your frustration. A good businessman would try to make it right. One happy customers tells 4 people. An unhappy one tells eleven.


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I did share my displeasure and as I stated at the onset, I am not shy about praising publicly as well.

I gave them an opportunity to make it right. My expectation is a bit beyond what they want to do but I am the customer.

I don't accept it when a business tries to blow smoke at me instead of giving me a straight answer. Telling me that nobody has ever complained about thread piling off the spool in shipping when I know that I complained several months ago is an outright lie... sorry, that's intolerable.

They lied again about oil being acceptable on thread, I've asked several people today and NOBODY concurred with their position.

I told them... I want a refund, send me a pickup ticket and a check for the amount I paid for the thread.

I'm not a new account... I'm not a hobby leatherworker... I don't call and order one buckle or one shoulder...

I make 500 sheaths a WEEK and buy accordingly. They know who I am.

For me to expect an immediate refund, while not the way they like to do it isn't an outrageous request. They don't extend me credit, I don't receive product from Zack White until I pay for it. Why is Zack White entitled to credit from me?

We're both professional businesses. I have a tax ID and I used to spend money with them.

From my perspective, sending the refund along with the check would have been the right call because it shows faith in a customer and indicates a measure of the value they place on me as a customer.

As it stands, I'm NOT worth risking $88 to keep. That's $88 against 4 spools of product that he doesn't have $88 in.

We're all entitled to make a profit, that's how we all eat. I never asked for a discount, the price is the price, but I expect to get what I pay for.

I'm not sending the thread back, I'm keeping it as a reminder of how to never treat a customer. I see it as four $22 bills; maybe someday the mint will start printing $22 bills and then the thread will be worth something.

I hope they keep the $88 and use it in good health as it's the last they'll get from me, obviously all of my business is worth the profit on those spools to them so it's time we parted ways.

At this point, there's nothing they can do to "make it right, " A demanded apology is meaningless and empty. Sending a check to me at this point isn't a matter of doing the right thing, it's hush money to repair a damaged image. I stayed on the phone for 20 minutes giving them many opportunities to do the right thing; I worked too damn hard to remain a customer when I know full well that my money is green everywhere and I'm an easy customer.

I say thank you, I seldom demand anything and when someone does a good job I let them know how much I appreciate it.

I have emailed a link to this thread to Zack White... I WANT them to know about what I'm saying and I want them to know how I feel about how this was handled.

Joanna is right.... this is my parting gift to them, they can do what they want with it.

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I ordered some of ZWs black oil dye. They sent me a quart of Fiebings instead. I called them & complained. They said keep the Fiebings for free. Two days later I get a quart of ZWs oil dye. Cool with me.

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Hi Sharpshooter

I am sorry to hear that you had such a difficult time with your order. Mistakes and misunderstanding do happen as we all know, in our dailey lives and in business transactions. I do not know what was said on the phone besides that is a priviate matter between you and ZW.

But here is what I do know.

I have delt with Zack White for over five years now and this situation is not the norm. I know Tim and Rhonda personnaly both as a business associate and as a friend and I can honestly say that what has happend is not the way they do or want to do business. What dealings I know of when they do have complaints or problems with orders, and we all know that does happen, they have always to the best of my knowledge given the customer satisfaction in some way or another. They often go out of there way to see customers get what they ordered in a resonable amount of time.

I am positive that this event is not what they want to hear or see. I am also sure that if you were to discuss this matter again with them they will as I say go out of there way to see you get what you ordered or whatever you feel is neccessary to remedy the situation.

Yes I am a friend and a business associate but I also know the people personnaly and know that this is not how they do business.

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Reply to Sharpshooter regarding complaint.

We at ZackWhite are very concerned with customer satisfaction... while we have been in business for over 55 years, we are still a small company and value greatly our customers.. weather they are small or large. Sometimes however, your best effort is still not enough... I feel this is one of those times, therefore I would like the opportunity to express our "side" of the story". We carry thread by Eddington and for the most part have had good success with their product. Sometimes their thread has come into us with oil and we have returned it... Our last shipment from Eddington was for 48 lbs of thread, of which 37 lbs had been sold when Sharpshooter placed his order. His order was for 2 rolls of #277 and 2 rolls of #346 thread. A couple days ago, Sharpshooter called to say the two rolls of #277 were "damaged in shipping... the thread was loose from the spool". We apologized and shipped him out TWO new rolls of #277 at no charge the same day... he was told to keep the "damaged" thread. All rolls of thread are enclosed in plastic, but they should also be wrapped securely when shiped.. it seems that in this case, they were not. Yesterday we received another call from Sharpshooter complaining about oil on the #346 thread (from the same shipment). He seemed very upset and went on and on about how much time he has lost on his production. We do production work here and I know first hand how stressful it can be when things don't go smoothly when one is on a deadline.. so I can understand him being upset. He was told that we would again replace his thread, but this time he did not want a replacement... he wanted his money back... which is fine if the product is indeed defective. Since we had sold 37 rolls of the same thread to other customers with no complaint, we told Sharpshooter that we would send a call tag for his thread and issue him a credit or mail him a check.. whichever he wanted. The problem arose when Sharpshooter insisted on us sending him a check BEFORE the thread was returned. This is highly unusual... We offered to take back any defective product and give a full refund.. and we offered to pay for the return shipping (by sending a call tag via UPS). We had already given him two free pound rolls of thread and was offering to refund the difference for the other... but we wanted to see for ourselves the oil that was on the thread... because we could then return it to Eddington. I feel that our response was reasonable, but I regret the hard feelings that Sharpshooter obviously feels because of this matter. We are a small company who is struggling in today's economy... we maintain a 2 million dollar inventory and try to serve our customers to the best of our ability... On this one, we missed the mark. To Sharpshooter, I sincerely regret you feel you were mistreated.... but from our standpoint, we replaced half your order at no charge and offered to exchange or refund you for the remainder... I don't know what else we could have done. Hopefully we can put this behind us and continue to do business.

Tim /Zackwhite Leather Co.

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I probably shouldn't be sticking my nose in here, but what else is the forum for if not participation.

The way I am seeing things is that sharpshooter simply wanted a show of good faith from Zack about the mix up.

I would be pretty annoyed myself and have a bit of experience on having to wait for other people/companies to get their act together before work could be continued. But I was always the employee not the owner of the company...Several days without being able to stitch whats required is indeed a large drop in cash returns.

It's also fairly clear that sharp is not intending on continuing to do business with zack. Which leaves there little to say really...

But I am glad to see this thread get handled so well by both zack and sharp (thus far) and not turn into a flame war like I have seen on so many other forums.

I hope that both zack and sharp are treated as they deserve to be. Which ever way that is...

Just my thoughts.

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As a long time customer of Zack White's and an avid online/mailorder shopper I have to say that I believe ZW handled the situation with what is customary in the world we live in today. When I have to return a product whether it be because of a defect or because I just didn't like it once I received it I have never been given a refund until the product was returned to the vendor and I guess examined for use or defects. They don't know me from Adam. That is standard practice and to assume one would get money back for a product before it was returned and then go on and on about it is pretty lame in my book. The fact that ZW let sharpshooter pay by COD and not credit card says volumes to me. It was not mentioned if sharpshooter wrote a personal or company check or was paid by money order. That would also speak for itself on trust issues.

Zack White is run by actual human beings and yes they are prone to mistake as we all are, but it sounds to me like they were willing to take care of this in what I call a satisfactory manner. They had already sent out a replacement order for some of the thread? Why didn't you complain about the oil issue when you called about the "rats nest"? If it was as soaked as you said it was it would have been pretty noticable. To me Zack White did what was acceptable and shouldn't have to defend themselves.

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8thsinner makes a good point here. It is good to see a good solid discussion with both sides voicing there views and not resorting to Flame wars. I only wish that it would have been more positive for both sides.

And it is also good to see Zack White here at the boards. It says volumes for them as far as credibility goes to be here to ansewer questions from all the leathercrafters out there. Only next post I hope it to be in a more positive manner

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Let's get the story right, without the spin and then I'm done here on this matter.

You replaced two rolls of product that are not usable...... piled off the spool in shipping. The reason they weren't to be returned was YOUR decision that it wasn't worth the price of return shipping.

"We had already given him two free pound rolls of thread..." which ones are they, the defective rolls you don't want or the replacements for the defective rolls I paid for? By the way, just to ensure that you don't feel taken advantage of... it was me who called earlier today to have you send a call tag for the box that arrived this morning. It will come back to you unopened as I don't want anything for free.... It was also me who sent you an e-mail through your site to make you aware of this thread. I have a problem with your business practices but I will not compromise my ethics.

Tell me, why is it a problem for you to send the refund before I send the defective product to you? The ONLY answer is you questioning a customer's integrity.

If the thread wasn't defective, you have your product to sell to someone else and everyone is whole.

If the thread was defective, you could return it to the manufacturer and be credited for the defective product, again you're whole.

The ONLY real concern you would have would be that I could beat you out of the thread by not returning it.

You carry a two million dollar inventory, and buy the thread for significantly less than you sold it to me for, again, that's the way it should be. Your concern was over the wholesale cost of the thread. You placed the value of me as a customer at the wholesale cost of the thread with the huge assumption that I wouldn't have put the spools of defective thread in a box, placed the label I asked you to provide on the box and handed ot to the UPS driver.

I asked to be made whole, I don't carry 2 million dollars in inventory, I struggle to take great care of my customers and try not to worry about how much it costs me to make them happy. I buy supplies as I need them, enough to cover the next few jobs so I don't have inventory dollars tied up any more than necessary. Four spools of thread is about a three week supply. The business model is called "Just in Time" and is quite effective so long as your suppliers hold up their end.

You sitting on my money makes no sense. Since you don't extend me credit, why am I obligated to do so for you? I'm not the one who shipped out a defective product and I'm not the one who stands to profit from the sale... you are.

I'm not a new customer nor am I a featherweight, not that it should matter. I have spent a respectable sum of money with you over the past 18+ months, enough that I would have thought my worth was more than those spools of defective thread.

There won't be a flame war, it's never worth it.

You're not going to send the check with the UPS call tag, to quote you directly... "That's never going to happen" and I take you at your word in spite of the fact that you made it quite obvious both on the phone yesterday and here today that you don't much value mine.

These words keep coming back to me....

"if the product is indeed defective."

"sold 37 rolls of the same thread to other customers with no complaint"

" We had already given him two free pound rolls of thread"

" but we wanted to see for ourselves the oil that was on the thread"

Tim, it's not what you're saying as much as what you aren't saying. It's about deeds, not words. You don't trust me, that's your prerogative, just as it's mine to consider who I'm dealing with. Not only don't you trust me, but you also lack the moral courage to openly tell me so.

You came on here, not to attempt to rectify the situation but to speak your piece. I'm glad you did as our stories pretty much match and your position has remained unchanged, convincing me that I made the right decision.

To paraphrase what Joanna said earlier, I'm doing you a huge favor here, one that you can never repay as we won't be doing business again.

"That's never going to happen" might just as well have been "Go away, I don't want your business." The message was the same and I received it loud and clear.

Enjoy the $88 you charged me for some defective thread, but I admonish you to spend it wisely as it's the last you'll ever see from me.

Maybe the next time a customer calls, you'll consider the value of a customer vs. what he is asking you to do to resolve what he perceives to be your fault. Maybe you'll consider that the wrong answer will cost you and maybe then you'll do the right thing and realize that customers can find whatever you sell elsewhere and by purchasing it from you are demonstrating trust in you.

Maybe you'll make a different decision, or select different words. Regardless, maybe you'll think about the guy you took for $88 and how he wished you happiness and success and wonder why.

I wish you much happiness and success Tim but it's highly likely that we're not going to do business again.


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This forum is not the place for flame wars. :rules:

It sounds to me that the customer was not happy, the retailer tried to make it right, customer still not happy. I give Tim, the owner of Zack White, a lot of credit for coming on here and attempting to resolve this dispute, which never should have been made public like this, but I'm leaving it, because it shows the lengths ZW will go to satisfy their customers.

This thread is now closed. I don't like the spirit it was started in, and I wish members would refrain from running with scissors.


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