GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) — Alitzah Stinson established Ivory Paper Co. in October of 2018. But the company didn’t sell much until December of the following year, right before the start of the pandemic.
“We thought we were super prepared moving into it, but then, COVID changes everything,” said Stinson, founder and CEO of Ivory Paper Co.
After a quiet year, Stinson started preparing for a New Year’s sales spike in December of 2020 by hiring seasonal help, which came with its own challenges.
“When you’re hiring seasonal workers for such a short period of time, you have really high rates of turnover,” she said. “But then, also the training and just the learning curve of getting quality to where we need it to be was difficult.”
During that same period, on Dec. 31 to be exact, Dublin resident Brooke Phelps placed an order with Ivory Paper Co.
“I never received notification of shipping in the timeframe that they advertised on their website, which was 5 to 9 business days,” Phelps said.
But nine business days turned into nine weeks, still waiting for the products Phelps ordered.
After multiple emails, requests for refunds that were refused, and requests to cancel, Phelps got what she paid for on March 3, 2021.
“I did not open it. I refused delivery, took it back to the post office to be shipped back,” said Phelps. “But to date, I do not have a refund.”
Phelps said the company told her it does not allow cancellations or provide refunds.
“When there’s orders on the floor, like right now, if you were to cancel, I have no idea where your order is,” Stinson said. “We’re such a new business that we don’t have the automation to know exactly where in the production system an order is. We want to be able to open up our refund and return policy as we grow, but just being 12 months consecutively selling planners, we don’t have the cash reserves to be able to eat the losses on that just yet.”
As for the shipping delay, and other frustrations that customers have expressed, Stinson takes full responsibility. That’s something Phelps has wanted all along.
“I would like to see an apology, and just an admission,” she said.
“As the owner and the CEO of this company, it’s my job to do a better job anticipating these spikes,” Stinson said. “And that’s really difficult to do, not only in a pandemic, but still, that’s my job and that’s where we dropped the ball here. That is a failure on my part, that I take so seriously, and I’m sorry. There is no excuse for that. These are lessons that we’ve learned, and I am hopeful that I can take all that I’ve learned from this crazy period of time and apply that to the business moving forward.”
Stinson said she’s very aware of customer complaints on social media, with the Better Business Bureau, and with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and is working to resolve those.
Stinson also said the company is in the process of receiving and setting up new equipment to scale up production and quality, and to catch up on backlogged orders.