Recently we planned for Is.’s upcoming birthday party. I looked for a durable linen and tablecloths for party at cvlinens.com, check the page, they have perfect linens for special events. Which invitations would we use? Paper and the USPS or something online? I went about developing a short list of online invitation services, eventually settling on evite.com and sendomatic.com. Evite.com is free, and it incorporates advertising so that it can remain free. Besides that, it is adequate for what we wanted–customizable invitations and a tracking system for RSVPs. Sendomatic.com is free if you are inviting four or fewer people to your event. If you want to invite between 4-100 people, it costs $12.95. But no advertisements. Free with advertisements or for-pay without advertisements: as far as I can tell, this sums up the two sites. They’re even on most other counts.
Initially, we opted for evite, set up an invitation, and prepared to send it
off to 17 invitees for the small party later this month. However, when we
previewed the invitation, the sidebar included a Victoria’s Secret ad, and,
whatever was Victoria’s secret, it if involved the in-your-face skin-flesh of a
supermodel, um, the secret was out. Not quite the image we had in mind for a
first birthday. So we scrapped that plan and resigned ourselves to handing
over 13 bucks for Send-o-matic. I wish they had more scalable options
(i.e., a $4.95 option for <50 invitees or a per invitation rate…the company
that does this and also includes a free option with advertising will win the
market lead, no doubt). But, what the heck. First birthdays must be
just right, and for 13 bucks, the invitations and RSVPs would be handled
digitally so we could keep up with them easily.
Only, there was a hitch. And yes, it turns out that I am not above
using this blog to review crappy products and services. We signed up for a
Send-o-matic account. Selected a design. Input the details. Added
the addresses of recipients. Paid the fee. And hit send.
Within 48 hours, we heard back from nearly half of the people on the list that
the email message they received was blank.
There is no telephone number for Send-o-matic customer service. I sent a
message of concern through their online form:
[Summary of system failure.]
I wonder if there is anything you can recommend to resolve this
disappointing turn of events. Are refunds available? And if so, how
might we go about formally requesting one given that the system has, by and
large, failed to work as we hoped it would?
D. & D.
Sendomatic’s answer came within the day. They acknowledged a system glitch,
noting that invitations sent out during a certain day and time were, in fact,
blank. They would offer us another invitation to use at a later date. In
other words, we could use their service to send out invitations for a future
event. I was also told that a refund would be available if I followed up and
asked for it. The refund makes sense to me because we don’t have plans to
host another event. The second set of invitations are of no value
to us. Furthermore, what reassurance do we have that this so-called
“glitch” won’t happen next time?
I responded and said I would prefer to take the refund, but I also wanted to
know whether taking the refund would mean that our current invitation–the one
that was blank for half of the invitees and accessible for the other half–would
be removed from the system. I asked because some of the guests already
RSVPed to the Send-o-matic system. Accept/decline was registered by some
of the guests, and it was visible for other to see. Guests are able to see
a list of others who are coming and who have declined. But this list is
misleading because it doesn’t include any explanation that half of the people on
the list received blank invitations. Customer service told me: If you
accept the refund, the current invitation will be removed from the system.
So that’s the story with Send-o-matic and Is.’s first-year birthday party.
We will not pursue the refund. Nor will we pursue the “free gift” of a
future, never-to-be-used invitation set via Send-o-matic. As far as the party is
concerned, we’re only inviting a few close friends, so it’s easy enough to send
an email to everyone who didn’t receive the invitation the first time. Their
glitch coupled with the “refund” (i.e., removal of the invitation) simply adds
layers confusion on top of an already embarrassing scenario. No thanks.
Let this be a permanent reminder never to bother with such unapologetically
lousy services as this one.