“ Category: Fashion / Clothing „
I have ordered from Cotton Traders on three occasions over the last year. Once I ordered ten pairs of trousers- all the same style- two pairs were a sixe tto small even thought they were siad to be the right size on the label. A second order for shorts for a holiday took over two weeks to arive by which time I was on the ebach! The third time I ordered from stock a Blazer, a pair of trousers and a shirt. The shirt was out of stock even though the website had siad there were plenty available and the Blazer was still missing a week later so that i did not have it for the funeral I was planning to attend. Their complaints system is also not fit for purpose- requiring complaints to be in writing only; when I did get through to head office on the phone I was assured that I would be called back by customer services but this took four days before I was able to request a re-despatch by 24 hour courier which they refused. They suggested that I should have ordered earlier and I apologised for the fact that my relative had not died earlier to allow time for their delivery system.
I'm an electrician & I used to use this company a lot especially for work clothes. I now have to be very selective on my purchase as much of their goods is now of poor quality.I bought a smart styled jacket recently on to find it had a number of flaws relating to poor finish but my major issue was that the sleeves were over 6" too long & I take a long sleeve.I left a review much the same as I've detailed above on their website only to find out that it wasn't posted!! When I questioned this I was told that they would rather sort the issues out on a personal basis!!What is the point of customer reviews if they only show the positive ones?
My daughter and I visited cotton traders store in Huntingdon where she was interested in some cotton tops they had in various colours. Above the stand there was a sign saying 'reduced to £15' (or thereabouts) with a picture of two ladies wearing two different coloured tops. My daughter took four identical but different coloured tops to try on. She came out saying she would have all four. However, when she came to pay she was informed that several of the tops she had chosen were not reduced at all and that only the two colourways shown in the picture were on offer. There was no mention of this on the stand.
How unethical!! This surely is a con trick. I was absolutely disgusted and told the assistants so, whereupon I was informed that originally the colours were separated into sale items and non-sale items but that the manager had told them to 'put them altogether'. I was furious and if it had been me buying the tops I would have walked out. However, my daughter still decided to buy the top that was on offer, together with two of a different style. More fool her!!
What a rip off!!! My first and last order with COTTON TRADERS.I returned my first order as the clothes were a very bad fit. I would'nt say their clothes were exactly flattering! The order came to £56.52 inc. P&P of £3.99 +38p.insurance (£4.37)It cost me £7.06 to return. Not their fault I agree. I emailed the company and complained about the £11.43 that it had cost me in postage charges. They sent an automated email that inferred that I was a rare customer that had sent their goods back and was unusual for this to happen. Most customers were very happy. Yeah...OK.When I received my refund it was short by £4.37. I telephoned and was told that they do not refund their original P&P which was £3.99 plus 38p insurance. Add all this up and it comes to £15.42..£15.42 FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!!BUYER BEWARE!!!!
Cotton Traders (CT) has become a staple source of clothes for me. In my darkest days, pushing almost 25 stone, it was my only mainstream source of reasonably priced, outsized clothes that did not carry the psychological baggage inherent in "Big & Tall" and "High & Mighty" type shops. With sizes up to 5XL for T-shirts and polo shirts, and waist sizes up to 52 inches, it was a godsend.
The only downside was that ordering from them helped perpetuate the illusion that my size was OK. In fact, it was when I started struggling to get into CT's biggest clothes that the penny finally dropped and I took decisive action to manage my health.
The good news, for readers at least, is that I have ordered clothes from CT for going on three years, in various sizes, and have built up enough experience - both good and bad - to be able to write an objective review on their offerings. They are serving me just as well now - in "normal" sizes - as they did in my larger days.
CT THREE WAYS
Apologies for making the title of this section sound like a Chinese menu item, but what I'm getting at is where and how you can buy their products. CT, which was founded by two ex-rugby players, started out as a mail order company selling rugby shirts, and it still does a bulk of its business in this way.
However, in parallel, they have a comprehensive and easy to navigate web site from which you can order direct (www.cottontraders.co.uk). This is my primary method of buying CT clothes. They also have - at last count - 75 shops, which vary in location from high street retail units, garden centres (yes, you read that right) to various "factory outlet" type shopping centres.
STOCK IN TRADE
I primarily use CT for wardrobe staples like T-shirts, polo shirts, rugger shirts and chinos, but have bought boat shoes, jumpers, fleeces and jackets from them as well. A lot of their catalogue is unisex, but there are speciality items for both men and women. They also do a good line in shoes, swimwear and Guinness-branded merchandise, as well as some limited accessories such as belts, bags, socks, watches and scarves.
Granted, you're not going to find the latest Paris fashions on there, but they do sell good quality basic gear at really good prices. There is a very broad range of sizes, from the new Petite (for women under 5'3") to mens 5XL (60" to 62" chest), but these are not available in all ranges. Helpfully, the web site offers a tab on the home page, so you can go straight to the catalogue items that are available in larger (and very small) sizes, saving you the hassle of going to each item individually.
My comments are confined to their web site, which is intuitive to use and well laid out. I have never ordered via mail from the CT catalogue, however, if you prefer to do your shopping off-line, you can order a catalogue from the web site or by telephone, and then order by mail or call your order in.
The first time you order from the web site, you have to register your details - including payment details which are stored securely - after which you are sent a confirmation e-mail with your log-in and password and your unique customer number. Once you log-in, you are able to add and save items to the shopping basket. There is an option to enter promotional "media" codes which can vary from free gifts, money off your order, free delivery, to specially reduced items (more about this later).
When you find the item you want, you are given the size and colour options on a table and click on the one you want to place it in the basket. The table is colour-coded either blue (in stock in quantity), red (available but low stock) or will have a number, identifying it as out of stock with an estimate of the number of weeks anticipated before it is available again. These indicators are usually pretty accurate, and allow you to pre-order stuff at special offer prices if you are willing to wait.
An "X" against the item means it is no longer stocked in that variant. The stock levels on the site are not in real-time, so if you order something "red" you won't know if its available for sure until you get an order confirmation. Items with long lead times may become available sooner, but estimates are likely to change, but any delay to delivery is notified promptly by e-mail, and you are always given the option to cancel.
PAYMENT & CHARGES
The usual payment cards are accepted (Visa, MasterCard, Amex and debit cards) but there is no provision for PayPal or anything else. Your credit card address must match your delivery address for the first order. You can specify delivery to an alternate address for any subsequent orders. You can opt for your details to be "remembered" by the site to expedite future orders. You pay from the date of order - not delivery - so keep this in mind if you have ordered out of stock items with long lead times.
There is a flat delivery charge of £3.99 per order, plus optional postal insurance of 0.38p. I have never used the latter, but it will offer peace of mind for some. If your order contains items that are not immediately available, they will follow on later as and when they come back in stock, but you will not be charged again for delivery.
Delivery is advertised at around three to four working days after your order is submitted, but I have found this can vary considerably. Most times you get it quicker, but sometimes slower. That said, their e-mail comms are excellent, as you get an order confirmation, notice of dispatch, and thank you note once delivery is completed. You can check the progress of your order, as well as your history of completed orders when you log in.
The delivery is usually made by courier, but you will not be given any warning of their arrival. I have had deliveries as early as 8:30am and as late as 6pm. If you are not at home, they will leave a card with instructions on how to re-arrange delivery. On occasion, packages have been left inside my porch, but this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
VALUE FOR MONEY
In a word? Excellent - but in context. If you want high quality materials and exquisite, fitted tailoring with the best fabrics and accoutrements, you are not going to find it here, but for what they charge, you would not expect to. The best value for money is in the multibuy options. For example, polo shirts are £12.99 each, which, all things considered, is a pretty good deal, but it gets better if you buy three, as they knock £12 off the total price, meaning that essentially, you buy two and get one free.
They offer the same for most staples. Recent ongoing offers include two elasticated waist trousers for £30 (a saving of £10) and three v-neck t-shirts for £18 (a saving of £9). By comparison, my previous source for over 50" waist trousers was charging over £40 for each one, with no appreciable difference in quality.
In addition to the many special multibuy offers mentioned above, a brief surf of the interweb chucks up dozens of valid CT vouchers, usually cadged off the e-mails they send to customers. These turn up with metronomic regularity, so its always worth checking out before you submit your order.
The only catch is that offers tend to be mutually exclusive rather than cumulative, so you can only use one at a time. For instance, you're better off with 10% off an order over £50 rather than free delivery (at around £4), provided of course that you don't pressure yourself into buying an unnecessary extra item to qualify for the discount.
Sometimes, instead of money off, CT run promotions offering free gifts. These are invariably cheap, relatively low quality items with CT-branding on them, although occasionally, they do manage to be something useful. In the past, I have received a CT-branded clock radio which fell apart in a week, some decent melamine picnic cutlery and plates, a picnic blanket and an umbrella, the last of which lasted for two and a half rainstorms. I fail to see the point of these frankly, as if I wanted picnic stuff, I wouldn't be visiting a clothing mail order company.
The goods arrive in a large heavy duty grey plastic bag with the CT brand emblazoned on it. The package includes your clothes, an invoice, return instructions, a catalogue and various other junk advertising. Each item is individually packaged and labelled in its own plastic bag, with CT-branded tissue paper to help it keep its shape. I have never had an issue with damaged goods.
QUALITY & FIT
The construction and durability of most items is usually pretty good, but there have been one or two annoying exceptions. Firstly, consistency of fit can sometimes be a problem. I have bought different colours of the same polo shirt only to find that either: (a) the material on one is not as thick, or is slightly different, from the other; or (b) that the fit is not the same.
I now make sure I try on each and every item I order, to make sure they all fit comfortably. This can be particularly irritating with their elasticated waist trousers, when one pair will fit perfectly, but the other is too tight. I won't labour the point more than I have, but I should point out that this seems to have become less of a problem in the last year or so.
The web-site has a size chart and measuring guidelines so you know how big or small XS or XXL actually is. At the moment, you have to navigate away from he page you were on to view it. I would have preferred a separate pop-out window so that both pages could be viewed side by side, but that's really a minor niggle.
Secondly, especially with the chinos and the pique polo shirts, you need to wash them at low temperatures and air dry them. I have found that leaving them for the tumble dryer often results in considerable shrinkage (especially in length). They do hold their colour quite well though, with darker colours - as would be expected - tending to lose their vibrancy after repeated washes (navy, black and dark green seem especially prone to this).
RETURNS & RETURN POLICY
Given one or two fit issues mentioned above, I have had to return items twice and it has proved to be a fairly painless process - including a recently ordered pair of sandals which my wife had to return because one strap was inexplicably longer than the other. All of the details are clearly provided in the package the items are delivered in.
It's a three step process: (a) fill in the returns form provided, entering the correct code for the reason (ex. faulty, not liked, wrong size, incorrect item, arrived too late); (b) affix the label to the parcel (it is NOT freepost); and (c) post it.
The basic rule of thumb is that if you chose unwisely and there is nothing inherently wrong with the product, you pay for return postage and CT will offer a full refund of the item only, or a replacement free of charge.
However, if it is faulty, or they sent you the wrong item, then they will refund your postage as well. Refunds are processed within three days of return receipt, so allow around a week for it to show up on the card or account you paid from.
I have called their UK-based customer service helpline (0844 844 7777) on a few occasions for various queries and found their staff to be courteous, helpful, efficient and knowledgeable. The call centre is open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Thursday, and 8am to 6pm on Friday and the weekend. You can also submit queries via the website, and I find they usually respond within one working day.
E-MAIL NEWSLETTER & PRIORITY CLUB
If you sign up for their e-mail newsletter you are given 10% off your first order straight away (new customers only). After that, you will be sent periodic e-mails - averaging around one a week, with special offers, promotional codes and product announcements. Two recent examples were the announcement of the British Lions rugby tour (and associated merchandise of course) and a timely offer on shorts, reduced from £16.99 to £7.49 (less than half price and just in time for my summer holidays).
CT also run an invitation only Priority Club for their most frequent customers. Despite the fact that I spend around £250 a year with them, I haven't qualified, so I imagine most "ordinary" punters wouldn't either. You have to be in the top 3% of orderers to qualify, which, given their claim of 2 million customers nationally, looks rather exclusive to me.
CT is a solid, dependable, if relatively unexciting clothing company which provides good value for money merchandise. Some minor niggles about consistency of fit aside, I would have no trouble recommending their products.
© Hishyeness 2009 - Previously published on ciao.co.uk under the same username.
Placed order 29 December 08 - now 5 February no delivery and order showing "awaiting despatch". It has been marked "awaiting despatch" since 29 December. No response to some emails - stock answer to some saying it was warehouse reconfiguration which has caused delay. I tried to cancel and get a refund but they say they cannot do that because my order is "awaiting despatch". My credit card was debited quickly enough on 29 December but I cannot see a way to get a refund until I receive my order - which looks very unlikely now.
Does anyone have a clue as to how I get a refund from Cotton Traders for non delivered goods? I am sure that I am not the only customer affected by their disgusting customer service. I would write to the owner of Cotton Traders, Fran Cotton, but I cannot find an address. Any help gratefully received.
The customer Service of this Company "Cotton Traders" has still not improved from 2006 and since we are now in 2009 is not likely to. It appears to be fine when things go right - but if things go wrong and you expect some "service" forget it!!!
I placed my first and last order last Monday, the goods arrived to my delighted surprise Friday, however, on checking sizes it became apparent one item was too big and so I quite happily telephoned 0844 (10p per minute and first two minutes you are kept waiting while they clock it up) to exchange as the delivery note told me.
The only problem was that (a) I could not exchange, I had to reorder (could have done this on a much quicker 0844 number) and if that was not bad enough - Charlie managed to input my credit card details twice and then tell me both times had been rejected.
I obviously panicked - rang the bank to find nothing wrong - I had been debited two lots of money to Cotton Trader and told by my Bank to ring them to re-credit my account.
Guess what neither the operators nor the supervisors were interested in either ringing me back about this or indeed when I finally got hold of a supervisor in giving me my money back. Told to take it up with my Bank. Where was Fran Cotton today ?
I was looking on the internet for some t-shirts, jeans and a new coat for my holiday this year and wasn't having much luck. I love to go boating so my holiday clothes need to be hard wearing, comfortable, flexible and easy care. Many shopping sites such as Next, M&S, etc were expensive and didn't have what I was looking for. Then I had the idea of looking on the Cotton Traders website.
Using their search facility I quickly found what I was looking for. They had exactly the right size and colours in stock plus the items were in the sale.
Their delivery time is excellent, I placed the order on the Sunday night and I received my goods on Wednesday afternoon. There is order tracking on the site so you know when your stuff has been despatched. Everything I had ordered was there and all the items fitted perfectly. So a thumbs up for their sizing guide.
Now I am a registed customer with a Cotton Traders login I can preview forthcoming clothing and shoes from their next catalogue. In fact their site is just like browsing the catalogues which come through the door which makes navigating the site simple.
On the down side, they do not offer free returns but Cotton Traders do say, "Customers frequently ask us why we don't offer free returns. If we did, the cost would have to be absorbed into the prices we charge for our products. However, if you return an item for an exchange we will pay the cost of delivery of the replacement." I guess that's fair.
I had looked over their website as my hubby and I decided that walking was the best exercise for us and he had seen some nice stuff on their site. He ordred a pair of walking boots (17.49) from them and i ordered a coat (24.99) at the same time.
On their website at order conformation it said between 7 - 10 working days. This order was plced on the 6th january 08. Fair enough i thought - I work in mail order and we quote between 3 - 10 days so it was about average.
After 10 working days - still nothing so I called them - the money had been deducted but as not recieved or heard anything I just wanted a progress report. This is where things broke down! They told me that the coat had been dispatched but the boots were out of stock and they had no idea when they would be in again. I asked why I wasnt told and why had they taken the money - the response i got was it was how they placed the orders.
Ok - I wasnt happy but hubby decided ok will cancel that order and order another pair of boots with them in a different style but same price. They then had to refund the original boots and charge me again for the newly ordered boots. This refund and charge was done the same day (19th Jan) and showed in my bank on the 21st Jan!
Called them again after a couple of days chasing the coat only to be told that it was delivered on the 11th January and left in a safe place. I live on a main road - there is no safe place to leave it!!!! Why didnt they tell me this on the 19th when I had called them??? They had just said it was dispatched.
I also asked why delivered to my home address when we requested delivery to work as we both work full time and no - one is in - it was only at this point 2 weeks after we placed the order we were told that we couldnt have delivery to another address as this was our first (and last) order!
Anyway decided to cancel he coat ended up having to buy one elsewhere - took them at least another FULL week to refund that! Funny how they can refund and take payment for a sale within a day - but a refund takes over a week!!!!!
2 days later - I get 2 cards through my door for attempted delivery - both of them saying the same thing - 'Parcel left in black bin' - both at different times of the day. checked the black bin - NOTHING!!!! My black bin gets emptied the following day so it was full so dont know where they could leave it.
Called them again and spoke to a lovely chap who agreed that they should not leave parcels in the bin - or without a signature and that he would call the courier as they had even left their name and number on the card - and they would get back in touch with me. Asked him to cancel the order which he said he would once they located the parcel.
End of it I thought - would get a refund - EVENTUALLY I did - last week! and that was after I had sent them 2 e-mails chasing it (which by the way they have not even responded to) - I am most upset by the lack of acknowledgement after they have had my money for almost a month and messed me around with delivery!
I am very surprised to read the current reviews (although I note they are about a year old). My experience with Cotton Traders has been exemplary both with ordering by post from the catalogue and online. Fingers crossed as I am about to proceed with my next order! TrudyQ
Apalling Customer service and conflicting information
I ordered two pairs of walk shorts for my wife and a pair of beach shorts for me wayback in November 2006. The order was placed from the Preview catalogue which I was told would not be delivered until early January. This I accepted, during the second week of Jan I contacted the customer services who informed me that my order would be sent out before the end of January. The inference I got from the opertor was that the items were in and were in the process of being packaged up. At the end January I contacted them again only to be told that the order would be with me in early Feb. I have just phoned them this evening 7th Feb to be told that they would not be received in their stores until the end of February. I took the opportunity to cancel letting the Customer service female that I no longer wished to receive their mail and that I considered their organisation to be untruthful
I ordered a Check Jacket two weeks ago and although my money was taken out straightaway my order hasn't even been processed. I think this is disgraceful as I am losing interest on it. It seems to be that since the P&P was increased the customer seems to have suffered. They aren't the easiest of people to get hold of either as I have been kept hanging on the phone on numerous occasions. Just before Christmas I ordered a top with a free hat & scarf set which didn't arrive and so this had to be reordered(fortunately they had my size in)but they didn't apologise. On occasion I have had to complain to them by email or i n writing a letter with no response. Therefore I feel that all this dosen't do their reputation any good and that they aren't doing themselves any favours.
I've shopped with this company once and I won't be doing so again. Two weeks after they took the money from my credit card the goods are still awaiting despatch - despite being shown as "in stock". My advice would be to avoid this cowboy outfit at all costs.
I've used Cotton Traders for a few years now, their despatch has always been on the slow side but the quality of their products has always been pretty good.
This Summer 06 has been less of a happy experience. They do take your money up front. I placed my order July 22nd and here we are on Sept. 9th and nothing has arrived. 28 days is pretty unacceptable for an eTrading company - 47 days without so much of an email to let you know there are problems is totally unacceptable.
Initially their excuse on the site was the annual stock take; currently the excuse given is that they're perfomring a radical overhaul of their eTrading systems.
I too ordered for the Summer holiday and had to buy elsewhere - I should have cancelled the order there and then.
Their customer service when they answer are good but there is little they can do except apologise. For some reason they sent the order in bits over a few days and most have yet to arrive. I have asked for a full refund and they're looking into it.
I may change my view in time but right now I jufst reflect that its a shame when a great company goes to see and takes its loyal customers for granted.