Customer service is a tricky thing. You want to make sure you take care of your customers but you do not want those same customers to take advantage of you.
As we all know, I order a lot of yarn for various places. Yarn and needles to be precise. Both are tricky to order over the internet. With yarn, the colors in the picture might not be the same in person and this could be a problem. Also, you can not inspect the hank to make sure that there are no knots in it or to ensure that the dye it even or that the twist is to your liking. You are buying it based on reputation of the seller and the brand of yarn. There is a fairly big leap of faith involved here.
It is the same story with needles. When you buy needles in the store you can check out the tips of the needles and make sure that they are in good working order. I have seen needles that are cracked at the tip, rough in places, with bad joins, etc. There are lots of things that can go wrong with the needle that make it difficult to knit with, especially with smaller gauge needles.
All my "good" needles, come from Knit Picks. This is a catalog company. I have had a mixed experience with their customer service. When I purchased a new circ to replace the one I broke, the join was bad. I tried to fix it, to smooth it out, but it just was never as smooth as I would expect it to be. I called to ask to return it and get a different one. That was met with a prompt promise to send it out and that I could keep the bad one. It will pain me, but into the trash it will go.
At the same time I asked to have my cracked double point replaced. It was cracked when I pulled it out of the package. I had purchased them some time ago, but when I had an issue with some yarn having a boat load of knots in it, I was told that KnitPicks stands behind their products and if I ever have a problem with something they will stand by it, even if it has been awhile since it was purchased. So, when I was told that they do not replace double points, because they give you 6, I was pretty much dumb struck. The customer service rep rendered me speechless, and you all know how difficult that is to do.
This is coupled with the fact that I know some of my knitting buddies have complained about cracked double points and had them replaced. I also know that a ton of people on ravelry have complained about issues with needles and had them replaced. Heck, when I complained about the bad join, they replaced it.
I am not trying to get something for nothing. I purchased the 6 pack of needles because if I break one I have a back up. I did not realize it was so that the company had a back up. As I can not inspect the merchandise before I purchase it, I expect that the quality will meet my standards and if it doesn't that it will be dealt with properly. When I broke my circ, I bought another one. I did not call Knit Picks and ask them to replace my circular needle because I snapped it.
But I do expect that the next needle be as high quality at the last 4 I have purchased. I expect that ALL my double points are in good working order when I pull them out of the package. I expect that my yarn not have more than 1 knot per hank. If I can not inspect the items before I buy them, I expect that the catalog company will stand behind their merchandise.
I have complained about this on ravelry, because I was furious. I appreciate the folks over there letting me vent. I also hope that Knit Picks realizes that it isn't hard for us knitters/crocheters to share this information quickly. I hope that I get to go back and share that they did the right thing.