Failures in frugality

August 28, 2015 | My Jottings

I don’t think I would label myself as truly frugal, but I love alliteration and “Failures in frugality” sort of fits what I’m going to share about, so I went with it. I’m careful with money and I like to save, but I will also not think twice about spending or giving a large amount if I feel the cause is right. So frugal might be a bit too strong a word. Anyway…

Ever since I started using a CPAP machine on April 13th of this year, I’ve apparently been doing damage to the inside of my mouth. Since I have to sleep with my mouth closed now (I have a CPAP with nasal pillows), I’m inadvertently pushing my lower jaw out and chewing on my inside cheeks, to the point where I have discolored lesions that could lead eventually to serious things. Gah! So I went to the dentist and thought I would get a simple mouth guard to keep me from this destructive somnolent nocturnal activity. Here’s what it looks like:


It’s made of very hard plastic, and I was expecting something a little softer. The little turquoise bands are supposed to keep my lower jaw from extending out past my upper jaw while I sleep, and prevent me from chewing on the inside of my mouth. There’s only one problem. One night with this instrument of torture was, well, torture. Every single one of my upper teeth ached as if they’d been hit. My jaw ached for so long the next day I thought I had the start of TMJ, which I’ve never had. According to my dentist, all that’s needed is for me to let them file down the upper tooth sections, a little bit at a time, so that I can try the mouth guard every night until it doesn’t hurt anymore. While going into the dentist repeatedly for these small adjustments until I finally have a better night’s sleep.

So in a nutshell, after Michael died I was having serious sleeping problems, had a sleep study that showed I was getting absolutely no Stage 3 sleep (the kind of deep sleep that enables your brain to catalog and store all your memories from the day before), got a CPAP that I’m tethered to until the Twelfth of Never, started unconsciously chewing on the inside of my mouth, and paid almost $500 for a mouth guard that fits me perfectly but pains me intensely and can never be used or returned. It sits in its little plastic container in my medicine cabinet, but I feel like I should attach some fishing line to it and hang it on the Christmas tree this December. At least I could get some use out of it. Ha. Ha. Ha.

My next money fail came when I ordered a dress from an online company I’d never dealt with before. I buy most of my clothes online because A. I’m overweight, B. I’m pretty tall, C. It’s less traumatic to try things on at home, keep one or two items and send the ones I don’t like back. I am taking my two foster gals on an Alaskan cruise soon, and if any of you have cruised before, you know there are usually one or two “formal nights” for dinner. Men are required to wear tuxes or suits and ties and women are encouraged to wear dressy, “cocktail” outfits. I didn’t have anything that fit the bill and neither did my fosters, so we each bought an appropriate outfit. They look adorable in theirs and are so happy with what we found. I searched and searched online for my dress/pantsuit, and the things I found that I liked were either too short, too brightly colored, or already sold out in my size. Or more than I wanted to spend. So I finally found an online company with many lovely “mother of the bride” type outfits, and I ordered a black, chiffony dress with a beaded black jacket to wear over it. Understated, pretty, and just right. I thought.

Oh my gosh. I have never experienced with any other clothes company what I’ve gone through with them.

My first red flag was when the dress arrived in a box with an unreadable return address from China. I tried the dress on right away and laughed when I looked in the mirror and saw how short it was. The jacket was too short, the dress wasn’t nearly as long as the photos of the tall women in the catalog represented, so I folded it neatly and looked inside for a return slip. No. There was no return slip. No paperwork inside the package of any kind.

So I went to the website and found the customer service email and wrote to them right away. I said that the dress had arrived, was too short for me, and would they please tell me where to return it so I could get a refund? I had to write to them twice before they responded. Two days later I finally heard back from them, and thus began a series of seventeen emails between us, that ended in their refusal to give me an address to return the dress to them, and me contacting my credit card company, who issued me a “provisional” refund while they investigate the company.

Here are exact samples of some of the emails I received from this company:

Dear customer,

We are sorry to hear that. We made the dress according to your order information. Would you please check with our size chart to see whether you chose a wrong size? If the size is correct, could you please send us some picture to show your measurements of your bust, waist and hip size so we can confirm the size problem? Thanks.

Best Regards,

I wrote back and kindly told them that I had ordered the correct size, but the dress and jacket were too short. They wrote again asking me to send them detailed photos of myself wearing the dress, centering in on my “bust, waist and hip,” so they could determine if they had made a mistake.

Dear customer,

Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you. We made the dress in the size  you chose. If you think we made wrong size for you, please offer us clear pictures of your own measurements with tape (bust, waist, hip). And send us pictures to show the dress on you (or pictures showing that you can not put the dress on). Then we will confirm with our factory if we have made you wrong dress. We will try our best to help you before you return it, we will need to check the problem first. Or we will not accept the return. Thanks for your cooperation in advance. Please check the attached picture to see how to take measurements pictures.


I wrote back and told them I bought most of my clothes online, and that every single company always takes the clothing back if they don’t fit or if I don’t care for them, and I told them I was not going to take pictures of my bust, waist and hip with the dress on and send them to them, and that I wanted them to please send me the necessary information on how to return the dress, and that it fit okay, but was just much too short. I told them (all very respectfully but more firmly now) that I needed return information from them within 24 hours or I would be contacting my credit card company.

Dear customer,

Please note that we made the dress in the standard size you chose according to our size chart on the website. Before we sent the dress out, we will put it on the model to check the size. Only passed the quality-check can the dress be sent out. So there is no problem about the size. Hope you can understand that. If you chose a incorrect size, you can go to a local tailor’s shop to make adjustments. Because we always leave a little space on our dresses in case there a change to make. Because we made the dress for you after you placed the order. It can not be sold again. Hope you will not let credit card company to involve in this. Because once they step in this, it will take several months to get a result. Thanks for your cooperation in advance.


Many emails exchanged. Finally, I sent back a short note: “The dress is the right size, it is just too short. I am contacting my credit card company. Sincerely, Julie B.”

Dear customer,

Please note that you chose standard size. Then the dress’s length is also made in the standard size. If your height is same as the model’s. When you wear the dress, it will get same effect. If you were taller than her, the dress will be a little short for you. The dress is so beautiful. If you really do not like it, you can resell it or give it to your friends as a gift. Then we will offer you $10 compensation.


The dress cost $171, more than I have ever paid for any garment in my life. And they’re offering me $10 and thinking I might like to give it to my friends as a gift.

I did not respond to that email but instead contacted Visa.

A couple days later:

Dear customer,

Here we heard that you not satisfied your this order and we want to help you out, but you not reply us.

So if you have any question or also need help, please contact us back, then we will help you out timely,

Your understand will appreciate

Best Regards

And after sixteen emails, here was my final one to them:


I will try to state things as clearly as possible.

1. I ordered a dress in good faith from you. I ordered the correct size.

2.  The dress is too short. I am very tall, and the sleeves on the jacket are too short, and the jacket is too short.

3. It isn’t the wrong size, it is the length. It doesn’t look good at all.

4. I have ordered from online catalogs many times. Sometimes things fit well, sometimes they don’t. Whenever I send something back that doesn’t fit, the other companies gladly refund my money and take the item back.

5. You are the only company who has ever given me trouble about returning an item.

6.  I will ask you one final time. Please send me the address where I can return this dress. And please refund my money.

7.  There is nothing more to be said. You should do what every other dress company does, and take care of your customers.

This is my final email to you.

Thank you,

Julie B.


So Visa requested copies of all seventeen emails, which I mailed to them this week. They’ll do an investigation and determine if the company should take their dress back and refund my money. If not, I will have wasted $171, and like my mouth guard, the dress will never be used. Unless I can give it as gift to my friends. 🙂 (By the way, the fine print on their website doesn’t reveal any of these policies, but I blame only myself for buying from someone I wasn’t familiar with.) Of course a google search of this company, after the fact, revealed dozens of warnings from other customers with headings like “DO NOT BUY!” and “They ripped me off!” Sigh…this was a lesson learned.

I finally did find something to wear for formal nights on our cruise. It’s this pants suit:


And I’ve found a way to protect the inside of my mouth too — I’m just wearing soft teeth bleaching trays over my teeth at night. This has seemed to help and the little chewed spots are healing.

I hope we see some whales on this cruise to Alaska. Something like this would be excellent.


  1. Mariah says:

    Oh, my gosh! I feel ya! We splurged and bought a very expensive blue tooth sound system for our car. My husband is a very tech-y guy (not only is he a pastor he’s an IT professional) but he needed added tech support for some issues with this system. He called the number provided and could not get a response. Emails, calls, no response, eventually the company went out of business but pretended that they hadn’t, yada yada yada. Long story short, we felt that the company we purchased from was mis-representing their merchandise and tech support and we contacted our credit card company. After an investigation that, yes, took months, we received our full refund of over a thousand dollars. These disreputable businesses give online shopping a very bad name! It does seem that most businesses are legitimate and easy to deal with though, which is fortunate because the world is quickly moving away from bricks and mortar to online and electronic! A cashless society is just around the corner as is biblically prophesied! Anyway, I hope you get your refund! I expect you will…credit card companies seem to be fairly reasonable in this regard after they complete their investigations.

  2. Just Julie says:

    You’ve experienced this too, Mariah! There are so many things around the corner, as you mentioned. Sobering times. I am hopeful about my refund, but will have learned a good lesson if it doesn’t go my way. And I’ll have a dress to give to my friends. Ha.

  3. L. says:

    Oh, my. How frustrating. Online shopping can be tricky. You could always try to recoup a little of your money by selling on ebay, but I hope you get a full refund.

  4. Just Julie says:

    I have never sold anything on ebay, so that didn’t even enter my mind, Leah. Thank you! I just might try that if at the end of all this, I’m not allowed to return the dress for a refund. Reading anything good lately? 😉 xoxo

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