This situation happened before I started blogging, but I thought it was a story worth retelling to the world.
Last winter when I was riding Henry in a mechanical hackamore, I had a bit of a bridle dilemma. None of my bridles went short enough in the cheekpieces to allow the hackamore to sit in the correct spot, and to be honest, after showing in my pretty contoured Mark Todd bridle for years, I was bored with a regular bridle. Unfortunately the Mark Todd is a monocrown, so it wouldn’t work with a hackamore. Off I went scouring the internet looking for a pretty bridle that I could buy with cob or pony size cheekpieces (sadly, I had not yet discovered PS of Sweden or their hackamore bridle would have solved all my problems).
I gave it a valiant effort but I had no luck. I finally did stumble across a thread on a horse forum about a custom maker from India (I know I know) named Royal Sports who would make items from Sedgwick leather for a price upgrade. Several people had ordered from there and their items looked decent. I thought maybe that could work, so I contacted Sudhir, the owner of Royal Sports. He assured me that yes he could easily make just a headstall for me, with the contoured browband and cob cheekpieces, in Sedgwick leather with stainless steel hardware for $60. I thought “awesome, this is the cheap way out!”. Great, right? I placed my order on 2/12.
It finally shipped on 4/5. Both of my emails asking for status updates were ignored until I started getting pushy – then voila tracking number.
On the plus side, it arrived in just a few days. Otherwise, it was a sad sad sack of crap. I know what Sedgwick leather looks/feels like and that was NOT it. It looked like cardboard with the color painted on and it had already started to flake off the edges. Not to mention the padding was ORANGE. Didn’t match the leather color at all, which is what I’d asked for. Also the entire thing was cob sized, not just the cheeks. The throatlatch was so short I couldn’t buckle it, and the ear cut-outs didn’t actually line up with his ears. Details.
I sent him an email on 4/9 saying the following:
I received the bridle. I wanted to let you know about a couple of quality issues.
First, the leather is not Sedgwick. As soon as I removed the bridle from the bag and assembled it, the top coat of the leather started flaking off on the straps. I have other bridles that are Sedgwick leather and when compared to each other you can see a very clear difference in leather quality.
Second, the sizing seemed a bit off. I ordered cob cheekpieces, and those seem correct, but the rest of the bridle was supposed to be horse sized and it seems very small. The browband is tight and the throatlatch is so short I can’t buckle it. This horse wears a horse size bridle in every other brand I’ve had, so I am guessing that the whole bridle was made cob size.
I have attached a couple photos of the flaking so you can see the leather. On the positive side it was packed well and arrived quickly with no issues, and the stitching is well done.
It took until 4/17 before I heard back from him. This was the response:
We just checked with our production team and found that new edge chemical was introduced as trial and applied on your product. It seems that this new edge covering chemical has reacted with leather in bad way and created a problem.
Rest assure the leather is Sedgwick and no issue with leather quality or making of product.
Now they are two ways to resolve this problem.
- First option, we can send you the chemical that was approved and we were regularly using it since long time. You can apply the new coat of paint on it, but before applying the new paint you have to manually pile of the layer of old paint with the help of very thin rubbing paper (we will send ) only on edges and then apply new chemical with help of brush.
- Second option, we request you to sell that bridle in half of the cost to anyone know to you (if possible) and we will send new products in half of the cost.
Please confirm if any the option can be worked out to resolve the issue.
Best of Regards,
Stay with me now, here’s where I got pissed and it got fun.
Thank you for response. I am glad that you have discovered the source of your quality issue with the edging.
I appreciate your attempt to resolve the situation but unfortunately I am displeased with the two options offered to me. The idea of having to pay you again for a product that I have already paid for and did not receive is extremely unfair business practice and unacceptable. The bridle I received is useless and I cannot sell it, nor should I have to. Besides the flaking of the edging I also had issues with the very strange fit (I cannot even put it on my horse, and I have never had a problem with bridles fitting him before) and the very unattractive orange padding color. If the certain chemical used for the edging was a trial for your manufacturing process, it should not have been applied to customer products before it had been fully tested by you. The issue was fully evident to me immediately upon receipt of the bridle, so had it been checked before it left your shop, it should have been immediately evident to you as well. So either it was not checked, which is negligence on your part, or it was checked and sent anyway in the hope that I would not notice, which is even worse. This error is yours, not mine. I should not have to attempt to fix the product that I paid for but was delivered to me in unusable condition, nor should I have to pay you any additional money to get the product that I should have gotten in the first place.
If you would like to have the original bridle back so you can attempt to sell it yourself, I will gladly send it back to you via COD and you can pay the shipping cost. I will not pay my own money to have it shipped back to you and the burden of having to sell it should not be on my shoulders. Nor will I pay you any additional money when I have already paid you for the product and did not receive what I paid for. In my opinion that is unacceptable.
I heard nothing back (shocking!) so on 4/22 I sent this email:
I still have not heard back from you after my last reply. Please let me know what you would like to do, otherwise I plan on protesting the charges to my credit card.
On 5/18… yes… now it’s MAY… I finally got this response (I give up trying to fix the font so whatever):
Please note that we have resolved your problem of side edging coming out by giving the new product free of cost through DHL and we see the same has been deliver at your address.
Please confirm the receipt of the same and we look ahead for your next order soon.
Best of Regards,
Yes they sent me a new one. It only took 3 months, lots of foot stomping, and some threats to get a useable bridle. Sadly, it’s only slightly better and “useable” is probably the best compliment I can give it. The padding is still orange, the leather is still crappy although not quite as bad, and the sizing is still off. At least this time the throatlatch fit (albeit baaaarely). But at this point I figured I had learned my lesson quite well enough and I should leave it at that. Now it serves as my “junker” bridle for my sidepull. As long as you don’t really look at it and don’t mind the top layer flaking off everywhere it’s tolerable.
What’s the moral of the story?
This is why you buy nice things even when they cost more money. If you want to be frugal, buy it used or on sale. But never ever be cheap. Life is too short for crappy bridles and headaches.