The Ongoing Saga of MB and JC Penney Custom Decorating

[NOTE: I don’t usually post service reviews on my blog. But since I have recommended JC Penney Custom Decorating to several clients, based on my past satisfaction with their services, I thought it was important to update you all with this new information.]

13 years ago I had JC Penney Custom Decorating make the draperies for my new house.  I was skeptical, not having shopped at JC Penney since I was a kid. But they did a great job.  So when it was time to replace my window treatments, I called them again.

It didn’t go so well this time.  To put it mildly.

The early problems were garden variety, but enough that I should have heard the foreboding music.  The web site scheduled me for a consultation date that the decorator couldn’t actually make.  During the appointment that was finally scheduled, the decorator — who has been awesome through all of this — got an absurd run-around on the phone trying to set me up on the JPC credit card.

It was clear to me that this system had problems.  But I had no idea at that point how incredibly bad those problems would become.

The order was placed on October 9th.  In my naiveté, thought it was actually PLACED on that day, with the process of ordering fabric, etc. actually beginning to happen. But no — several days later I was told that I now had to schedule an installer to come out and re-measure the windows that the decorator had already measured. I had to wait TWO WEEKS for that to happen. Two weeks that the order was stalled, the paperwork apparently sitting around somewhere, with no fabric being ordered, nothing moving forward in any way.

Annoying, I know, but not tragic. But it gets worse:

I was given the total cost of the draperies, in writing, when I placed the order. And then, despite the fact that I had received exactly zero actual draperies, I was billed for the entire amount of the order three weeks later, around November 4th.  No “half now, half when it’s finished.”  The entire finished order price.  On the JCP “zero interest for 18 months unless you screw up once and then we’ll demand all of your back interest” credit card, but still entirely my debt to pay — to Sychrony Bank, not JCP, who presumably has already collected the money from the credit card processor.

I received the first part of the order, the dining room panels, on November 6th, and was really excited that maybe they could be in my actual dining room before Thanksgiving.  But I called and was told not to open the box, and that the installer would open it after the rest of the order was delivered and he came out to install everything.  Which (foreshadowing) turned out to be a full SIX WEEKS later.  So instead of seeing my new panels on my windows, I had to trip over the box containing them for a month and a half.

Here’s where things really started to fall apart:

Three boxes containing my living room draperies were finally delivered on December 5th.  THEN I had to schedule installation.  When I called, Call Center Person told me that I owed an additional $158 dollars, and that they would not install the draperies until I paid outstanding balance.  I asked why the total cost given when I placed the order was not indeed the total cost of the product, and why I was not informed about this additional cost until now, after the deed was done and the product was finished and delivered, and what would happen if I couldn’t afford that additional amount? To all these questions, Call Center Person simply said “I don’t know. It just says here you owe us $158.” And she refused to schedule installation until that additional amount was paid. 

Apparently, according to my decorator, the second measurement revealed that they needed more fabric.  I was supposed to be informed of this ahead of time, and to be asked if I could indeed afford the extra and if I still wanted to go ahead with the order, before work began.  But nobody saw fit to do that. And so they finished and delivered the work, and then demanded the extra money, when it was too late to do anything about it.

After I paid up, was told that the soonest they could get someone out was December 19th, again two weeks later.  So I scheduled it.  Then a conflict came up in my schedule, so I had to call to re-schedule the installation. I was thinking that the new appointment date would obviously be sometime after the 20th, at least.  But no, I was told that the entire day of December 10th was wide open.  Wide open! So, actually momentarily pleased, I scheduled the 10th. The arrival window was 1:30 to 5:30 pm.  

I took the afternoon of the 10th off work, excited to finally see my new draperies. I sat at home. And sat. And sat. Nobody showed up. At all. Ever. That evening, furious at the waste of my day, I found an old email with a survey request from JCP. I logged in there at 7 pm and submitted the survey, explaining what happened with the installation appointment. I got a call from my decorator the next day. She heard about the situation from her supervisor, and was embarrassed and baffled at what could have happened.  She was trying to schedule a new install date for me. But alas, apparently decorators are not allowed to schedule installations for clients, so I once again had to work through Call Center Person or one of her cohorts.

(NOTE: The installer later told me that nobody was WORKING on Monday the 10th. Which is apparently why the entire schedule was open. A fact that Call Center Person was apparently unaware of. Call Center Person, whose ONE JOB is to know when installers are available and schedule their appointments, nevertheless scheduled an installation on a day that ALL of the installers were off work. And the system apparently allowed it, without so much as notifying any of the actual installers.)

So installation was somehow rescheduled for Saturday the 15th.  Installer actually showed up (an hour earlier than the window I was given, but at this point I was just glad to see him, as I thought this was finally the end — I was anxious to see my new draperies and have this whole debacle behind me). He got the dining room panels up and then told me “there’s a problem.” The living room draperies, which had been sitting in my house in three boxes I wasn’t allowed to open for the better part of two weeks, were not actually finished. There was no pleat in them.  They were just flat fabric, sewn together at the top but without pleats running down the length of the panel.  Which is not in fact a drapery at all.

This entire order of unfinished fabric-that-isn’t-draperies made it clear through their workroom, past every person who carried any responsibility for it, and packed into multiple boxes that were labeled and shipped across the country to me. 

So much for quality control.

And, so much for the Holiday Open House I was planning to hold for my clients to show off my newly redecorated house. The one I postponed until after Christmas to accommodate this ridiculously extended installation schedule. 

Now, on December 15th, I have been told that, because of this latest in a long, long line of screwups, I’m looking at another 2-3 weeks to even RECEIVE the hopefully-done-correctly-but-I’m-not-holding-my-breath product.  And after that, I’ll have to once again schedule installation.  Which, in my remarkably extensive experience for someone with so few actual draperies installed, has consistently run on a two week delay. The installer, bless his naive soul, told me to call my decorator and she could schedule a rush install.  

Been there, tried that. Hello, Call Center Person.

And so, we are now likely looking at somewhere in mid January, or longer, before the product that was ordered in early October and delivered in early December will be installed.  And that’s only if I’m lucky and nothing else goes wrong. Which, based on past performance, doesn’t seem likely.

And, I just noticed two large dark smudges on the white dining room panels.

You seriously can’t make this stuff up. 

I am so far beyond furious at this point.  Again, my decorator and installer have been wonderful.  But this system is broke, broke, broke, and nobody with any power seems to care. If I had known what an ordeal this would be, I would never have begun working with them.  I would have run screaming in the other direction.  

At this point, I would strongly advise you to do the same.f