Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Breech of Trust......

Anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes working a horse in an English saddle knows that it is essential to wear breeches when riding.
Anyone who has ever shopped for a pair of breeches soon discovers that they are the single most unflattering piece of clothing they will ever own. Those tall slender people who can wear anything right off the rack may do okay breech shopping. But if you're anything close to a plus size, things get ugly fast. Being a short fat woman I've learned this quickly. I need something that, while maybe not my best wardrobe piece, at least looks Not Bad. Something that allows freedom in the saddle, doesn't scare the horses, give me more dimples than a 5 pound tub of cottage cheese, or let me jiggle more than Jello.

Then I discovered Aanstadt Das breeches. Made by a woman named Sonya who realizes riders come in all shapes and sizes. A design that flatters and fits, and no more camel toes. A genuine deerskin leather seat, and priced less than the higher end manufacturers fake leather seats. Sizing to fit everyone, and if you still couldn't find your size in her generous range of choices, she'd custom make them for you. Classic and fun colors. Even better, she had a "recycling" program. When your breeches wore out, you could send them in and she'd take the seat off and put them on a new pair, at a reduced price. Alterations and repairs were reasonable. I was in heaven and a loyal customer for many years.
Several years ago, I mailed in a pair of breeches for recycling with a check to cover the cost plus postage. My breeches were received and the check was cashed. A few months later I got a call from an employee to "tell our preferred customers about our specials." I ordered 2 new pair, paid with a credit card and told her to just send them with the recycled breeches when they were done.
Over the next several months I made several phone calls to find out where the hell my breeches were. And I always got a new employee, and was told that the last person I spoke to was "fired for stealing." Too late to have my bank or credit card company help me, I tried a threatening letter and the police. And more than 7 years later I'm still out my money and my breeches.

Unfortunately, as I have found out, my experience with this company isn't unique. Look up "Aanstadt Das" on any horse message board and you'll find a ton of people who were similarly taken. There's always some excuse why Sonya can't deliver your breeches. Personal problems. Bad business partners. Thieving employees. Always a promise to deliver the breeches, never an offer of a refund. Second verse, same as the first.

A couple of years ago, Sonya and Aanstadt Das resurfaced with an ebay store. She listed a used pair of her breeches, worn by a well known Mrs. Clinician at an exorbitant price. Those who have met her thought the cheese had finally slid off the cracker. But it was a brilliant business move, and her ebay store has done well. Burned former customers felt safe since the purchase fell under the rules of ebay.And it seemed okay for awhile. The negative feedback is the same old story. Currently, the store is empty.

Sonya's taking her stuff to the trade shows and has a booth at the Horse Expo. I was recently made aware of someone who took some breeches to be repaired at the Expo, and she ordered some more while she was there. 7 months later, she's out her money and her breeches. The name of the company that her card was run on was not Aanstadt Das. The last known address for Aanstadt Das is not the correct one, and hasn't been since April of 2010, according to the Better Business Bureau, who unsurprisingly has given this business a rating of F. Yet she can still get a booth at the Horse Expo.
So, if you absolutely must have a pair of Aanstadt Das breeches (and I totally get it, the damned things are like crack), only purchase what is there on hand. Do not leave any repairs there, and definitely do not make a prepaid order. If you get sucked in and order anyway, be aware of the time limit for a chargeback, and make sure you take care of it before your money is lost. Don't fall for empty promises that don't deliver.
If you get ripped off by any vendor at a trade show, be sure and make the trade show organizers aware of the issue you're having. They need to be made aware of the kind of people they're selling booth space to.

If you're looking for breeches of similar design and quality, try Equissentials. I ordered a custom pair of breeches from them at a trade show and got my breeches in the time they promised them. Hot Damn, what a concept!. They also offer a recycling program, even with breeches from another company. This company is a class act.

*Note: I do not, and have never, been an employee of either company mentioned here. But I've been a customer of both.

1 comment:

  1. years ago I ordered a pair of breeches from Sonya. I chased after her for a year, then her number and email were invalid. A friend saw her at a trade show and got a new number for her, I also found out she lived less then 20 minutes away from me in upstate ny. I called and let her know if I did not get my breeches I would be at her house with the police. I did get the breeches, not what I had ordered and I have never worn them but I got something for my $. I order from Equissentials now, love the pants and service!!!