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Oriental Trading Company: Delivering Crap Worldwide

on August 7, 2008 - 6:55pm

Black fake treePretty, isn't it? I mean, not beautiful, but not bad either. That's the image of the tree on the Oriental Trading Company website (don't look for a link. You won't find one here).

The description reads "Black Leaves Tree. Set an eerie Halloween scene with this painted wooden tree! Featuring silky, midnight black leaves, this elegant yet spooky tree makes a ghostly decoration for a haunted house."

Now, I know it's going to be cheesy looking (anything with fake leaves usually is) but I've jazzed up cheesy before. And since it was marked down about 40% off the original price, I won't care if it's a bit corny.

Keep in mind they used the words 'painted' and 'elegant' to describe the tree. The adjectives should have been 'splintered' and 'craptastic'. But I'm jumping ahead.

I was miffed with the purchasing process since they use Borderfree, which provides 'hassle free cross boarding shopping for Canadians' but they don't have transparent charges so you just get a second lump sum on top of ridiculous shipping fees for my 'convenience'. After a couple of rants, I got over it.

The shipping was quicker than the possible 20 business days they said it might take (FYI their minimum shipping cost through Borderfree would have bought me a 3 day promise from some other stores in the U.S.).

I opened the package and all was forgiven (for the moment). There were the moulds I wanted (great!), the chattering fangs (how cute!), the barbed wire (yeah!) and another box. This must be the tree. I was excited. And actually feeling a bit guilty for my anger over the Borderfree thing, and for my irritation with the fact that I'd emailed Oriental Trading to ask questions and they never replied.

I scanned the top section of the tree, thinking 'Hey, the leaves aren't quite as cheap looking as I thought they'd be'. But when I went to separate them, I found a lot of them were glued to each other.

tree trunk split 6 inches up Then I looked at the trunk of the leafy middle section of the tree to examine the hole where you slide one section onto the peg of the trunk section below. It was completely split on both sides; a split running 7 inches up the trunk!

I looked down into the box and saw the two (elegant) crudely chopped pieces of wood that are supposed to be the stand. I fit them together, mindful of the splinters coming off in my hand (the inside cuts were completely unpainted and unfinished), and was dumbfounded by the amount of paint that was scraped from the sides.

A collage of all the terrible images described in the articleThe stand has 4 bolts as stoppers on the bottom of them to keep it steady, but the square of metal in the middle sticks out further than all of them, rendering the balancing technology useless (or perhaps the wooden pieces are warped).

The base section of the trunk that connects to the stand and the leafy middle section was also scratched up, and the hole drilled to fit on the stand's peg was off centre and too small, so you can't actually get the two parts to meet.

poorly constructed product

I turned my attention to the very top section of the tree. I slipped it into place and couldn't believe how poorly it was designed. You couldn't ever hide the connecting section with the small amount of branches.

I'm ok with cheesy. I can take cheaply made. But broken? No. Even if you buy something on sale, it shouldn't be broken.

I can fix terrible paint jobs pretty easy, but the trunk might be beyond repair.

I will be writing the Oriental Trading Company and sending them a link to this blog so they can see the pictures. I have no intention of paying to ship this back to them, so I will be curious what - if anything - they will offer me in compensation.

I can't imagine I will order from them again.

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