I recently read a post at Citystreams about a color guard uniform order gone wrong. It was an all-too-familiar account that I know many dance studios face year after year as recitals approach. Costume companies are a hot topic on dance message boards each spring.
Humans all make mistakes. However, if a costume company has made a mistake and customer service has failed to recognize or meet your needs when time is of the essence, it is hard to know what to do. Interestingly enough, a reader at Citystreams (who also happens to be a Customer Relations Manager) posted some great advice for dealing with problems of this kind.
Please read her entire response here. Below is my paraphrasing of her advice.
- Call the company and demand to speak with the manager (or higher). Do not hang up until your request is granted or, if you must end the call, be persistent and continue to call back.
- Write a letter that clearly states your problem and overnight it to the attention of the company president (be sure to keep a copy). Add photos of your students wearing the costumes if they don’t fit. You could probably also include photos of poorly constructed or damaged costumes if this suits your case.
- Keep all documentation of the order, shipping details, and keep a record of each interaction with company representatives (don’t forget to get names).
- Suggest that the company take care of your problem by the performance date or you will take legal action. Make sure you follow through on any threats, however.
- Do what you have to make sure your dancers are costumed for their performance. If you need to have the costumes altered or if you’ve had to find replacements in a hurry, keep all receipts.
- Spread the word that you’ve had problems with this company, particularly if your issue is not resolved. Report them to the Better Business Bureau.
I think some key points here are that studio owners must stay organized when dealing with costume companies. Most studios order from multiple companies. It is easy to make mistakes or misread catalogs and information can get lost in the shuffle. It can be very confusing when you’re also preparing other aspects of a performance so keep excellent records for each costume ordered. Don’t wait until something goes wrong to make sure you have all the documentation needed to support your case.
Do any of you have suggestions to add that may help others when facing a costume crisis?
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.