Okay, now I’m naming names! Balloon alert!

My last post related the weekend balloon crisis that nearly made Pockets the clown flip her pink wig. I didn’t give specific details until I called the actual company. I firmly believe that if you have a probem with a restaurant, a product or service that you let the seller/owner know and give them a chance to rectify it before you bad-mouth them. Well, here’s the rest of the story.

The balloons I usually purchase come from Factory Card Outlet. I shop the Lockport store and occasionally have to venture out Transit to Maple in a pinch, but the store here is good about ordering things I need. Because I do share the secrets of balloon-twisting with others, I send them to FCO for pumps and balloons as well. After the sad saga of the skimpy balloons, I called the Lockport Store and was told about the switch from Unique brand to Amscan, their new balloon vendor. Since the store branches can only order from the corporate-selected vendors, there wasn’t anything she could do to help. She did, however, listen to my sad tale about balloon twist requirements, suggested I might call the head office and promised to try to tell buyers that the packages did not contain the “standard” twist balloon. They really are helpful at the Lockport Store.

Well, I called corporate FCO yesterday and she took down bar codes, item numbers, etc. to alert their buyers to the frank mislabeling of the product! She also took my contact information to let me know the outcome, if any. I searched the internet for Amscan and found a number to call “…if you have quality control issues with one of our products.” I called Amscan today (the number turned out to be an order line but at least I got someone to switch me to the queue waiting for customer service. When I finally got through, I explained that since they were now supplying my local store, they needed to check with their supplier because the product is NOT what it claims to be. Now, I know that Amscan is just a distributor for thousands of products. They have offices in New York, Canada and England but the little lengths of latex are made in, you guessed it, Mexico! When I told her about the error, she said “What you have to do is take them back to the store and they’ll give you a credit or refund. We don’t deal directly with the public at all.” Huh???

I kept my cool and nicely told her I was aware that the store would make good on my purchase, but the fact that the product is falsely labeled IS a quality control issue and it would save others disappointment or frustration down the line if it could be corrected. I told her I have purchased many Amscan novelty products and knew they would be interested in keeping up their standards. She did decide to ask me the product number but that was all I got out of it. End of call. She didn’t know, or care, who I was or that I was trying to help their business. After all, what’s one part-time clown in the country matter? Well, Miss Customer Service Rep, I DO matter! My fellow clowns, twisters and kids-at-heart matter, too. I’m normally pretty easy-going and understanding about mistakes or errors in products or service because, well, mistakes happen. They happen to all of us. In this case, the mistake was probably a lack of communication or understanding about the requirements of the item. To everyone else, it’s a skinny, wavy balloon but to a “Twister” it is disaster in a bag. So, it was mislabeled. Fix it. That’s a forgiveable mistake. The store chain that ordered bags of “animal twist balloons” had no way of knowing the contents would fall short (there’s that pun again!). Again, they were apologetic and helped as far as they could. Absolutely forgiveable. Now we come to a company that distributes products all over the world, tens of thousands of party products for happy times but… they don’t deal directly with the public at all. Wrong! Who do you think buys all those Amscan products if not the public? Is it so hard to say “Gee, thanks for bringing it to our attention; we’ll try to fix it??”

So, if you find a RED bag of Amscan Balloons, with two pictures of a balloon giraffe and the words “ANIMAL TWIST BALLOONS,” don’t be fooled! The item number is 11024; quantity 20 for $1.99 (at 10 cents each they’re more expensive than professional, high quality latex balloons!) The package lists NO size, but everyone knows the standard animal twist balloon (equivalent to a 260 – 2 inches wide and 60 inches long inflated) is about 11 inches long uninflated. These are barely the length of a doller bill- about 6 inches. Lots of luck with that giraffe!

I don’t know if I’ll boycott all Amscan products when I calm down, but I’ll definitely skip their balloons and I’ll spread the word to my fellow twisters! Come to think of it, maybe that collection of buttons and pins on Pockets’ clown outfit needs a “Ban Amscan” button! This clown may just get the last laugh!

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2 Responses to “Okay, now I’m naming names! Balloon alert!”

  1. Julie Conner Says:

    Hi Julie.
    I read about your issues with the balloons purchased from Factory Card Outlet and decided to introduce myself and see if I could help you out. I’m the entertainer support manager for Pioneer Balloon Company, maker of Qualatex balloons. I’m also the editor of Balloon Magic – The Magazine.

    Since you’ve been twisting for several years and you obviously know the mark of a quality balloon, I’d like to introduce you to one of our Qualatex distributors. You’d be able to order any of our more than 40 colors of entertainer balloons along with all kinds of prints and specialty balloons and never have to worry about the quality again.

    As you’ve found, the balloons available in party stores often don’t live up to your expectations and I know how important the balloons are to your performance and credibility.

    I’d love to talk with you further, so please feel free to give me a call at 1-800-999-5644.

    I look forward to talking with you soon.
    All the best,
    Julie Conner

  2. juliechatterbox Says:

    Thanks for the reply, Julie!
    I LOVE Qualatex balloons for their lovely colors and consistency. Every child in my extended family has received the Qualatex kit with pump, balloons and book under the tree or on birthdays! Truth to tell, I only do twisting for charity and community events and it comes out of my pocket- on a Social Security budget. I was ordering Qualatex from Florida, but by the time shipping costs are added to my small quantities, it adds up. So… I was getting the party store balloons as I needed them, usually at the last minute! Of course, party stores don’t carry the coveted bee bodies or geo blossoms, so for very special occasions I s-t-r-e-t-c-h that budget for a few special things! 🙂 Now, however, it appears that avenue is closed so I’ll have to plan ahead and mail order.
    I applaud Qualatex for their “quality” products and it is my balloon of choice, of course. Balloon creations allow me to share smiles with so many children (and adult children) on my very limited budget! I teach what I know to youth groups, churches and anyone who wants to share the magic! In a gizmo oriented world of technology and bells and whistles, there is a pristeen simplicity in capturing imaginations with a little latex and a lot of love!
    My email is juliechatterbox@msn.com if you have a closer distributor! Thanks again!


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