Sunday, December 13, 2009


See this? It's flannel purchased for my annual PJ flannel factory, which was scheduled to begin production this week.

See that silly little barcode? Apparently it's a new system Hancock Fabrics is using for cut yardage. The clerk cuts your fabric, scans the bolt information into a little handheld device, and out spits a bright yellow proof of purchase barcode.

Supposedly it will be more efficient. After all, the cashier now can scan the barcode and the computer system will recognize the price and yardage sold. I'm guessing it was implemented to help with inventory management.

Except there are a few problems with this system.

First of all, the clerk didn't bother to tell me the price of the fabric as it was being cut, explaining that it will be rung up correctly at the cashier. Ummm, I don't think so. In all my years of shopping at Hancock Fabrics, it has been a rare occasion that everything rang up at the posted sale price.

Secondly, unlike Joann's, you do not receive anything from the cutting table that verifies how much fabric you purchased or what the price is. So I had to trust that everything would ring up correctly. I liked having that slip of paper that showed how much fabric was cut, the regular price and the percent off price.

Thirdly, there is nothing on that barcode sticker that would help me determine which piece of fabric it belongs to if for some reason it would fall off of the fabric.

So why am I frustrated? When I made all of my purchases, there was only one person at the cashier and a huge line of customers behind me. She was doing her best to move fast to keep the line moving. My items were rung up so quickly that I had no time to watch to see if they were correct, so I assumed they were. (Yea, I know, my mistake...) Once home, as I pulled stickers off fabric so it could be prewashed, I went through all the items on my receipt. Sure enough this piece rang up at full price instead of the advertised 40% off.

So now I'm asking myself: Do I drive 25 miles back to the store for my $10? Is it worth my time and gas? If the sale prices have changed since this was purchased will I have the hassle of having to argue my case to the store manager?

I just don't know. I try and shop locally, and that includes Hancock Fabrics. I do so because I want them to stay in business. But I do get tired of having to be so diligent in ensuring the price advertised is the price charged.

In the meantime, they have a loyal but frustrated and irritated customer on their hands.

So tell me, has your local Hancock Fabrics store gone to this barcode system? If so, what has been your experience?

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  1. I wouldn't bother to go back for my refund but you can bet that I would call the store to tell them about it and I would write a letter to HQ.

  2. I would call them for sure. It is poor business practices and seams to me as a rip off. If they do care to stay in business they should make sure that the customers are happy therefore... give you a 10$ credit or something. I hope you got that cashier`s name so she can recall you if you Do get to go back there and save you receipt too. I don`t have this store locally in Miami but I do have a couple of local stores that I have to watch out when I go to shop for fabric . The only worse thing is most of them don`t speak a word of English (and I don`t speak Spanish) so it becomes a REAL hassle for me if I have to prove anything so a couple of them did loos a loyal customer.. but it is bad for them.. I have a looooot to choose from now days
    Good luck I hope they don`t do it to you next time..

  3. I wouldn't go back, but I would call the store and explain. They may make some sort of offer. Also, the next time I went to the store, and every time after I would ask for something written - maybe have the cutter initial a slip you've written. If the cutter complains enough, the management may do something.

  4. I've been in once since our local Hancock's switched to the bar code system...only one fabric purchase, a quick one, so it wasn't a problem, but you can bet I'll keep an eye on it in the future!

    I wasn't happy with the no-documentation label, either. There's no reason why the printer can't be programmed to print out the fabric (e.g. 'poly moleskin'), price and length cut. It should be stored w/the bar code info...

  5. I haven't been to Hancock's to buy fabric for a few weeks, but at that time they still used the written ticket method. I think this is something that corporate will need to be hammered on about, I doubt the cutters can do much other than sympathize. Or get even grumpier, based on some stories about Hancock employees I've read. I most likely wouldn't go back the same day, but I would call the same day. But I would have the fabric back to the store the next day, as the Hancock's I go to is in the same town where I work.
    Thanks for the heads-up, if "my" store goes to that, I'll be trying to remember to check the receipt before leaving the store, or at least the parking lot!

  6. It's not just Hancock's. We recently discovered that our local Rite-Aid was adjusting my husband's prescriptions so that they required a refill every 28 days, instead of the usual 30 or 31 days. This results in one extra refill per year. Think about how much money that might be when multiplied over thousands of customers. I recently read an article that stated that many companies build in "pricing errors" into their retail strategies in order to insure their profits. This is especially true in the current economy. So keep watch whenever you're shopping! Personally, I'd drive back and get my money.

  7. timber729:41 AM

    Oh yeah - frustration! This past
    Saturday I bought fleece at Hancock's and was told to keep my eye on the little yellow tag or keep my finger on it because it didn't stick very well to fleece. Wha?? I have to continue shopping in the store with my finger on a tiny yellow tag.

  8. Frustrating isn't it! For immediate action, I agree - let them know at all levels.
    Also consider that maybe supporting local stores doesn't mean suporting local stores no matter what. I always vote with my dollars. If I am not getting what I need/expect in service, I let them know and move on - very often to online resources because they really work very well.

  9. ... and Hancock is NOT a "local" store. It's a huge national chain. I wouldn't feel to heartbroken to quit going there if I were you. See if there are any "real" fabric stores around your area (e.g. not chains).

  10. I would definitely call the store and see if they can resolve it over the phone using the bar code and the prices, regular and sale, which should be documented in a computer system or brochure. I have always felt it would be difficult to speed up and automate a process where there is custom cutting of hundreds of different fabrics, and I really feel that is what Hancock is trying to do. I have shopped there twice since they got this new system. I think it speeds up check out since the cashiers no longer having to key in the stock numbers, yardage, and prices from hand written pieces of paper. And checking out was the bottleneck when there were multiple cutters, plus customer buying notions. Now the cutter has to key data on a type pad. That seemed to go fairly quickly with the ladies that cut my fabric. Of course wait until the battery on the bar code reader goes dead, or multiple clerks sharing a roll of labels scan the same label. And that may happen because the clerk scanned the label, and put down the scanner, before peeling it off the roll and putting it on the fabric. I do look at the printout of the cut fabric at JoAnne's, but the hand written sheet at Hancock’s was hard to read and the % off was not always written down because the clerk didn't know it for every fabric in the store. How could they really? And I certainly didn't like when they would pull out the current sales brochure and look it up for all the customers in front of me. So at Hancock’s, I always check the register tape before I leave the parking lot.

  11. I always have an issue of some sort when I shop at Hancock's. After several attempts to resolve issues with local store manager, I called the customer service line instead. They sent coupons to make good. I would call customer service to save your time and money on gas.

  12. i like to refer to the length etc i bought later.Especially as i have a stash and dont usually use fabric right away.I also dont like the fact that its a sticker,surely thats not a good idea!

  13. Hancock's went out of business in my area!! I miss them, but I would be very frustrated with this system!!

  14. OK - here's my thinking on this...the next time you're at the shop, take the sticker and the receipt and tell them that it was rung up incorrectly and you need a credit. There shouldn't be a problem with this, but I wouldn't make a special trip.

    I love the way Joann's does this, and I'm out there so often, that I ask to keep the receipt from the cutting table so I have a total record of the sale. But then I use this in my business and it makes life a lot easier for me.

    And the fact that the only convenient Hancock's is miles away, and JoAnn's is so much closer.

    But it is frustrating to do your job (you paid the amount they requested) and have to do their job too!

  15. Anonymous4:57 PM

    I haven't been to my local HF in awhile, so this was new to me! Wow, that's irritating!! I've corrected the cutter when they've written up the slips before, so I can see this being a big problem. I wonder if the price comes up on their scanner at the cutting table? If so, I 'll ask them to verify it for me.

  16. Hancock Fabric is too far from my home. Just like you, I have to drive 25 miles just to get there so I don't bother to shop there that much. I only go there like twice a year. I would not spend gas on going there to make a claim.
    Anyway, I always backup on Joann Fabrics because they are very organize as a store and have a better selection (for my taste). It is also less than 10 miles from my house and they just open a superstore.

  17. I like the new system because it's quicker, but you're right -- we do need some type of printout that show's what's what.

    Call the store and see what they say. Hopefully, they'll be agreeable. If not, I would save everything for the return.

  18. I agree, try calling first and see what can be done.

    Our store hasn't moved to the barcode system yet, but I can only see problems too - my store constantly makes mistakes as well. It's better now that one of their employees has retired......

  19. Yes, and it irritates me for the same dang reasons!! My store notoriously rings things up wrong as well.

  20. I don't have a Hancock near me, but a local fabric chain does the sticker barcode thing, although they include the yardage and either the total price or the price per yard (can't remember) on the sticker, which would resolve some of the problems you had...



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