I placed an order with Carmina, which was shipped on October 17th. The boots arrived on October 21st. I immediately noticed a few flaws with the boots - the edge trimming was not done to high end shoe standards; the leather on the back of the tongues looked like it was cut with scissors, and was left with 3-4 corners that did not match the shape of the tongue; there was plastic wrapping still wedged into the welt of the boot, where it was difficult to fully remove. Basically, for $500 boots, I expected a near perfect or perfect finish. The fit was also imperfect, but I was willing to keep them had it not been for the visual and finishing issues.
I contacted Betty and told her about these issues. She asked me to send photos, which I did. She then asked me to resend photos because they were "too large to see detail"... OK. I resent the photos to Betty in a smaller format (one would think that larger photos would show the flaws more easily...). I waited for two days for a reply and received nothing, so I e-mailed Betty again.
Her reply was: "These are hand made an artisanal shoes. We not consider these are mistakes , if you want to send back when we receive them we will check if this is for refund."
I asked Betty what method she prefers I send them back, and her reply was: "If you do not like the shoes you should pay for the shipment. "
I did not ask who will be paying, but hoped that she would pick up my return shipping since the shoes were not "first quality" IMO. I told Betty that I did not mind paying for return shipping, but that after handling and owning many pairs of new high end shoes, I have not found flaws such as these. Further, I explained that I chose to try Carmina based on the many glowing review here and from a real life friends whose shoes I have seen and liked.
Betty replied that she is sorry about the inconveniences caused.
I sent the shoes back on November 6th via USPS Priority Int'l. I believe I paid $50 or so. It took exactly 1 MONTH to get to Betty. She received the shoes on December 6th.
She wrote me an e-mail stating the she doesn't consider any of the faults I mentioned to be faults. I guess the customer is not always right. She then went on to say - without my prompting or agreeing - that she will send the shoes back to the factory for "finish control" and will send me the same shoes - this is not at all what I wanted at this point, so I asked her to please just refund me. She also mentioned that I needed to balance the price of the Carminas with the other brands I mentioned (Vass, EG, etc.) when comparing quality. I thought this was an odd comment... if I am paying $500 for shoes, I don't want them to be "somewhat OK" in quality when comparing them to higher priced shoes. Just an odd comment to hear...
After my e-mail back to her explaining that I just wanted my money back at this point, she wrote this: "We will make a refund however you are not right at all , the boots completely reached the standard quality." I found this kind of funny, after she said all of the other things, and said she would send the boots back for quality control... why send them back for finishing if they reached the "standard of quality"? It was also kind of rude to tell me that I am not right at all as if I were fabricating the faults of the shoes myself.
My refund, for only the price of the shoes - not the shipping to me, or the shipping back, was issued yesterday. I don't know what took so long.
tl;dr - I won't be buying Carmina direct (or at all, I don't think). YMMV.
EDIT: Oh, and one more thing. The refund was made as a payment back to me from Carmina via PayPal, so I had to pay $20-25 in fees. I am certain I won't be getting that money back, either.
Edited by Mr. Moo - 12/20/12 at 12:16pm