About a month ago, Ryan showed me an ad for a site that takes photos of your pets and turns them into printed regal looking portraits. My friend Michelle’s birthday was coming up in the next month, so I thought I’d try it out and order a portrait of her cat, Penny.
The site has lots of great options, with the different portrait types split by gender. Counts, Colonels, Dukes and Heiresses, oh my! I perused the sample photos and decided on the “The Ambassador“, mostly because there were a lot of cat examples in the sample photos, so I had an idea of how it would turn out. I thought Penny would look particularly dashing in this simple choice.
It’s pretty simple: you upload a photo, select the size, and then move on to checkout. Unfortunately, you can’t see a mock up of the finished item. You just have to hope that it looks okay. Frankly for the prices they’re asking – $60 – $100, I wish they could email you a proof of the item. I mean, Minted does it.
I’ve catsat Penny a few times back when Michelle was living in SF, but I didn’t have any great photos of him. So I scrolled back through Michelle’s Instagram feed, ohhhhh about 5 years or so.
I screenshot this photo, which follows the suggested Crown & Paw guidelines of having the animal facing either to the left or right, looking away from the camera. There were a few other photos that I wanted to use, but the photo guide said that the animal’s entire head had to be visible. The photo I originally wanted showed his beautiful orange markings well, but it cut out half his ear. Damn.
So choosing and uploading was fun. Then the experience got complicated.
I entered Michelle’s shipping information, and my billing information. Three times I tried to checkout. Three times I got a screen with an infinite spinner of death 0_0. Eventually I had to close out the browser tab each time. I started to get worried, did I just buy three cat portraits????
Two days later on May 27th I shot Crown & Paw support an email. In these screenshots I’ve removed names & order numbers, and replaced our addresses with fakes that still illustrate the issue.
OK, it didn’t go through, confirmed that on the 28.
I tried again to purchase the portrait, with the same spinner of death plaguing me on checkout. Finally, I tried something different. I went through checkout paying via my Paypal account instead. It worked! Yay!
I got a confirmation email and thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until about a week later that I decided to check on the status of the item via a link sent in my confirmation email. There was an unidentified problem, so I looked back again at my confirmation email. The shipping address and the billing address were both addressed to Michelle, using an address that was a mash-up of both of our addresses!!!! It had her full name and Portland street address, and my San Francisco city, state and postal code. What??? Come on, this e-commerce system is buggy.
I sent another email to customer service on June 6.
I got an instantaneous auto-reply from a dog customer service bot.
Ummm, that’s really cute, but let’s talk to a human about this. Also, I’m not Michelle. Sigh.
Ok, I realize now looking back at this that maybe the person did not understand. They never say in the email THAT THEY ARE CHANGING IT TO THE CORRECT ADDRESS. I thought that it was clear what was going on from my initial correction email, but it was not, as you will soon see.
The next day I went to check the order screen again, and it said that my order was printing and shipping! I would receive a shipping notification soon. Ok I thought, they must have fixed the address issue. Cool.
I checked in again 9 days later on June 17, and shit, the addresses under shipping and billing are still the incorrect nonexistent address. I write back again:
The next day at 1:34pm I get an email that my order is on the way!
One minute later at 1:35 I get a delivery update:
Also at 1:35 a second delivery update:
At 1:37 I get an email response to my email from the previous day.
Goddamn it. This is annoying. Also, I’m not Michelle. I write back:
At this point I am a bit flustered and angry. My friend’s birthday has come and gone by several days. Based on the timing, Crown & Paw are within their delivery estimates, but this extra BS adds several days to get the present to her.
I call UPS, argue with them about the mixup, then take a Lyft to UPS pickup, argue there, and finally get the package. Wednesday morning I relabel the package and mail it via USPS. I receive an email response to my previous email expressing disappointment.
Damn it, I’m not Michelle. I’m Tracy, ugh. So this email is basically like hey, it was picked up. “I hope everythings good now.”
NO KATHLEEN EVERYTHING IS NOT GOOD NOW.
Maybe I’m spoiled by Amazon or Wayfair, but how about saying a real sorry for the mixup, not “our apologies for the inconvenience.” That phrasing is a non-apology apology. Hate that.
How about some empathy? Around the same time, I lost my Ally debit card. I called Ally, and the customer service rep was sorry that I lost my card, but he was gonna get me another one right away. I almost did a double take when I heard that – what, good customer service? It still exists?
Oh, and also, Crown & Paw, how about offering solutions to FIX the problem??? Jeeez. If this were Wayfair, they would have already printed that portrait out again and sent it express to my friend’s house. Is $80 really worth pissing someone off?
I fire back:
They write back a whopper, once again confusing the issue.
Let’s look at the circled part closer…
Once your item is with the courier we no longer have a control over it and we can only base as well the whereabouts of your package through the tracking information that is provided as well with the courier. I also see here that the courier was also making sure they deliver it to the address that was provided. So I think initially Michelle should have address this package to your address instead of her’s to avoid certain issue like this to happen or delays to happen.
Michelle should have addressed the package that was a surprise present that I bought for HER to MY address in San Francisco, instead of hers in Portland, so that this would not have happened? WTF. That makes no sense.
At this point I’m laughing hard. I realize that I’m never going to get the real apology that I want, nor am I going to get any sort of reimbursement for my time and shipping costs. This person just doesn’t get it. And they’re still blaming me for this mixup. I write back:
Did you see the little dig at the end? Just some advice, double check your info.
FUCKKKKKK YOUUUUUUU CROWN AND PAW.
EAT A DICK.
I FUCKING HATE YOU.
Anyways, that’s what I’ve spent the past few weeks doing. Moving, and emailing Crown & Paw to correct what was most likely a database error. To be honest, I’m really really shocked that they didn’t offer me ANYTHING to make this experience better, no promo code, no comped order, nada. They just kept writing me sassy clueless emails where they blame me for their fuck up.
After showing all my friends and having a good laugh, we’ve decided that based on the reading comprehension, Crown & Paw must outsource their customer service to somewhere where English is not the primary language. Also it’s been suggested that perhaps it’s not “Kathleen” responding to me each time, but a different rep. That would explain the lack of context and the cluelessness about the situation. But who knows, who cares. I’m done with this company.
Oh, and before I end this review, the actual product is great. My friend Michelle is very happy. Penny was not amused.
I will scream to the heavens however that no one I know should use this service, just on principle. God forbid there are any errors with your order, even if they’re not your fault. This company does not care. There are so many other pet portrait options, just google “royal pet portrait.” Here’s some on Etsy, here’s some place called Renaissance Pet.