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Friday, July 31, 2009

Costume pickup

Saldenah launch

from Saldenah's website

the headpiece given to masqueraders

When I go to pick up costumes, I always have a bit of a queasy feeling, an uncomfortable sense that things won't go smoothly, or something will be wrong with the costume. Usually, the bra doesn't fit - unfortunately, every year, there's always something.
I try to psych myself up though to be more excited than nervous, & tell myself that everything will be fine, just relax. I make the long drive, sit in traffic, and I'm blasting Soca on my way to the mas camp.

When I went to Saldenah's launch & saw this mohawk headpiece make its way through the crowd, I had a great feeling... then seeing it onstage, I just knew - that was the headpiece for me!!! Different, not the usual, and very full & powerful. I liked the real bra & the not especially skimpy waistband. I try to play in colours I've not played in before, & lately I've wanted to play in orange, so I happily chose Tembu Warriors.
I was told at the mas camp by the section leader Nicholas that there was an issue with the original headpiece feathers and they couldn't get them. The 8 frontlines have that original headpiece though. They said they sent an email to their masqueraders letting them know about the headpiece change. I didn't get an email. I notice that this change to the costume isn't on the Tembu Warriors facebook group either. I did actually make an effort to contact the section leaders, I sent a facebook message on July 12th complimenting the headpiece and asking a question - but I never got a response. This would have been an opportunity to let me know about the headpiece change.
Of course I'm very dissapointed with the smaller size of the headpiece, but I'm displeased about not being told. I don't know what happened there.

I do realize that changes are often made with costumes due to supplier problems, etc. I just wish I knew about the headpiece change. If I knew ahead of time, I wouldn't have been so unhappily surprised when I picked my costume up.
On the positive side, the La Senza bra is perfect, great choice on that guys, and the waistband with the boyshorts cinched up looks good. Nice touch with the orange water bottle.
I understand that this is the first year Nicholas, Janette & Anton are putting out a section, and they are good pleasant people, not annoying to deal with. I asked for, and was given compensation for this. I trust they will work out the kinks, the most important one being inform all customers of their costume changes.

I then made my way over to the Crees of Canada table the pick up Trini-in-Toronto's costume. I was at the end of a line with @6 people ahead of me. I was not acknowledged for at least 10 minutes. I had to wave my yellow receipt to get the attention of the one woman collecting masqueraders money. She asked for my money, and I said sure, I'd like to at least see the costume though, and she told me they collect the cash first. I then stood in front of their table for over an hour waiting. I've never, in 10 years, had to wait so long to pick up a costume. They (4 people including Curtis) were still hot gluing pieces to the male costumes (the vests and shorts).
I was rather snippily told by the woman that if I had paid first I wouldn't have had to wait so long. Um, what!?! The people ahead of me were of course being taken care of first, what kind of craziness are you trying to give me! Steups!! Costumes still being made the afternoon before Caribana is poor organization. AND, turns out, he wasn't given a waistband!!!!!!!! Unacceptable!!
Mas makers, I know your business is designing and making mas, but you've got paid customers who buy your product, so that means you are also in customer service. When you have a wonderful product you are proud of, greeting people and showing them some respect should be easy. If it were not for us masqueraders buying your costumes, who are you making mas for?


Carnival Divaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Karabana, I too am playing with the Tembu Warriors and when I picked up my costume on Tuesday I was also disappointed that the head piece wasn't the same. Not only did the colour change, but the head piece had also seemed to shrink. I also did not receive an email regarding the change, nor did my other 3 friends playing with this section. However, I intend to wear my costume with pride but next year I will be surely be picking my costume more carefully.

Carnival Dreamer

Karabana said...

"you headpiece to back to front?"


So that's 4 other ppl who also didn't get this email. Hmmm. Interesting.

Carnival Dreamer, I hear ya.
C'ya all on de road!!

Anonymous said...

the top of the headpiece is backwards. they did ur feathers wrong too. they would've had to keep that. was urs the only one backwards?

Anonymous said...

Umm yeah me and my friends had a lot of probslems with them this year. Different bras... NO communication re costume pick up and really bad craftmasnship. Amazing people but I think i'll be hrading back to nationz next year:(

FYI I had the same prob with that lady in Crees... she wouldn't let me see anything till I gave her money!

Anonymous said...

I played with CNZ...and costume pick up was as smooth ans honey...it was great all my pieces were there... They took your costume out the bag in front of you and showed you the sizes and compared it to what was on your receipt...then got you to intial it was ok... I know people hate the line up of waiting for the costume but it is always worth it in the end!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah I had problems with mine to. I was pretty much ignored once they got my tab saying I paid in full. And as expected I had a problem with the bra, they had none in my size! I had to settle for something slightly smaller. And not only that they didn't have, they didn't even have my back or shoulder piece ready, even though they said they did. I was told I'd get it at the CNE tomorrow. Well that wasn't true either, whoever didn't get their piece at the mas camp wasn't getting their piece period. Apparently feathers were stolen. There was front liners and section leaders missing their back pieces and shoulder pieces, it was ridiculous. I was lucky enough to get my shoulder piece at the camp. Lots of very angry women that day, I couldn't blame them. It isn't fair, paying 300 dollars for a costume and not getting what you paid for!

Jeanette said...

It is a shame that some had to leave nationz to realize that they should have never left.

Anonymous said...

I was suppose to play with AllSpice band. Got a phone call on Thursday informing me that my costume is ready for pickup. Got to the mas camp. No costume. The section leader "Frey" informing me that the tankini, which I order for my costume is missing, it was not order, and it was coming from Trinidad, so no costume. Isnt this ridiculous. I was told that I can go and buy one at La Senza or some store and they will decorate it for me, and they will deduct the price. That was this simple solution. Mine u, it's after 7pm Caribana Friday night. My question to him, was why wait until the last minute, not even a phone call during the week informing me of this problem. I had a few choice words for "Frey" and it wasnt nice. I simply ask for my refund. My friends stayed with the band. This is unacceptable behavior for any section leader and band leader. Do u really think this happen in Trinidad. This section leader will be nursing some serious blows.
My question is why promise the public this and that and u cannot deliver. Why wait on the 99th hour, to come up with a lie.
All I have to say is beware of AllSpice band, no good, terrible service, rude staff. You cannot even get the chance to talk to someone, they retending they are so busy. They were not to busy to take ur money and make useless promise.

X said...

ALL SPICE had no customer service.
The ones I dealt with were unprofessional & NEVER picked up their phone for the last few days before Caribana.
There needs to be a GOVERNING body for so-called mas camps since ANYONE can make you give them a deposit and you have to wait until the night before Caribana to collect a costume that is -- the wrong size, poorly constructed, different than the website images & with missing pieces! What is the point of playing mas with camps such as this? Caribana should be regulated. It is not just "chippin' down de road"...It's a business transaction at the end of the day & we as customers should be protected. Think about it, if you did not pay for the rest of your costume, they would never give it to you...Thus, mas camps are protected. But customers are stuck with horrible costumes...If you already purchased your tights, purse, make-up, shoes AND you were looking forward to being in the parade --- why would you just cancel playing mas? That is why customers still decide to play & the mas camps get their money.

Karabana said...

Carnival Divaz, I had to look closely to see what you meant, yeah, looks like that's the way they put together the headpieces.

Anonymous 2:34 PM, what section, Crees? $300 & incomplete, I'd be friggin furious too!!

Anonymous 7:02, it's so true, you bought everything & are expecting to play mas, the last part is picking up your costume, most don't want to forfeit deposits & not play. Good for Anonymous 12:20 PM saying to hell with this, it isn't worth it!!

To everyone leaving comments anonymously, can you come up with a name, there are too many "Anonymous" & it's gonna start getting confusing again.


Carnival Diva 7 said...

Hi Kara, I'm Anonymous 2:34 PM. I was playing with Tribal Knights, I was the Golden Pheasant section leader. I registered super early, like a few days after they launched. There really was no excuse for it to turn out like it did.

For example, true story: I wanted to come in on July 23rd to get a full fitting, I spoke with my section leader and everything and we agreed to meet on the 23rd between 5 and 7. I'm from Hamilton so you can imagine it was a long and somewhat expensive trip just to get to Scarborough. I have no car, so I had to train and bus, and bus it. She told me to call when I was on my way.

I had an appointment on the 23rd to...but anyway. Once all was said and done I called her to tell her I was on the train on my way to see her. And guess what, no friggin answer, called her multiple times. I used my bfs cell phone and guess what, an answer! I told her I was on my way, and she told me she couldn't make it. I was pretty upset, because then I knew something would go wrong. Not only that, I wasted money from my last paycheck before the event just to see her. So there I was getting off at Union Station. Lucky I didn't go all the way to Scarborough for nothing.

I didn't want to become a Carnival Zilla, but I couldn't (let alone anyone couldn't and didn't want to) afford a Carnival nightmare. Which happened anyway. This was my first time doing Toronto Caribana and I did what I could for it to go smoothly. I guess no matter what amount of planning you have done, things could still go down the pooper.

Then the horrors of picking up my costume...I was lucky enough to get my shoulder piece and made the best I could out of the situation.

I'll probably be going to a different band next year.

Anonymous said...

its funny how many ppl can comment on the faults of the mas, the colour of feathers, the retrevial time of your costume, your bra not fitting, shrinking size of a head pc.. but if you were in trinidad, and came to a section leader about that non-sense.. they would laugh at you.. and say give back the costume...if you dont want it.. someone else will...you all know, how it goes, standing in a 5 hr line up for a tribe costume,and continuoulsy being disappointed once its in your hand... and little do all these masquaraders know the time and effort and heart that goes into the costume you wear for 8 hrs in one day!.. at least the costume was made by hand, and not sent from China or India.

Kudos to those mas builders who continue to provide costumes, to those who want to particiapate in our culture, and still have the heart to do it again next year.

Jem said...

I played with Saldenah in the Crave section. The only complaint I have is that we were not given the T-shirts that were promised to us. Besides that, my costume fit perfectly and pick up went pretty smooth. I was a Nationz for the last few years and heard real horror stories about them from friends this year. All Spice was even worse. I had friends who only received the panty and wristbands. And had another who actually had to go to the camp to make her costume at the last minute. Otherwise, she would have walked down the road in nothing lol.

Also, I had a few who all paid frontline prices, only to find out Caribanda day that only 6 were made. So they were severely ripped off.

My advice to everyone, don't play with All Spice. Because you definitely do not get what you pay for and they could care less about you once they get your money.

Caribana Posse said...

The Crees of Canada did not have problems with back or shoulder pieces because they did not have any. This is surely a different section you are referring to.

I too played with them and had absolutely no problems. They were courteous and very professional. Sure they wanted money up front, but most bands are like this and I fully understand they need to keep track of the costumes.

Well done Crees.....

Karabana said...

Carnival Diva 7, I felt that sinking sick feeling reading your story :(... how was the road?
(Oh, Carnivalzilla, I like it!)

When I played in Tribe (in '07), the service was good considering, they were organized, everything was ready & there, & my costume was as expected. I know that Trinidad masqueraders certainly take their mas seriously & since they pay a hell of a lot more, they absolutely have a right to complain if everything is not as advertised. True, their customer service is "different" than ours, but I felt they had adopted the North American style when I was there.

I surely know all it takes to make a costume, & don't be fooled anyone - the average costume doesn't cost $100 or even $50 to produce. And many sections in many bands do get some materials from overseas, not everything is local.

For my 1st 3 yrs. playing mas there were major problems with my costumes. It is a wonder I continued to play year after year. But it's because I do love the culture & the incredibly fun road experience.

Michelle, since you were helping the section glue their costumes, you have to admit you have a biased pov. I know what I was told & in what manner, the attitude was unmistakable. To be treated like an annoyance is no way a customer should be treated.

Carnival Diva 7 said...

In response to anon, I'm pretty sure the costumes in Trinidad are way better quality then the stuff we get here in Canada. I'm sure Trinidad is a waaay bigger deal then Canada's Caribana as well. I wouldn't know for sure.

Sure it's hand made and it takes a hell of a lot of work and time and effort out of your day. But if you are not getting what you paid for, paying with the money that you worked countless hours for, and getting ripped, then I think these people have the right to be upset.

The road was pretty crazy Kara, I was surprised at how busy it was lol. But I had a great time. I'll definitely do it again.

Caribana Posse said...

In response to Carnival Diva I must say not all costumes are the same.....Yes I believe there is always ways to improve and I do believe you should voice your thoughts to the section leader so they can get feedback to improve, otherwise if they do not get feedback like this how are they to know how these things affect masqueraders. Like Kara being upset with her perceived treatment, could be a good idea to let the person know just how what they did affected you?

I think we owe it to our fellow mas makers to voice our thoughts abd frustrations to them, and not only on a blog....what do you think?

Karabana said...

Ah yes, I remember now, & since you had no problems picking up your costume Michelle, your experience was different. Like I've said, this is my 10th year playing mas, & I've never experienced what I did on Friday. I always provide feedback, not only on here. Of course some appreciate it, some don't. Not all section leaders are in it to build strong positive relationships with their customers.

Carnival Diva 7 said...

I'm thinking about having a talk with the section leader, but I think it would be pointless as everything is long done and over with. If anything I'd like to get some of the money that I paid for, for the FULL costume back. Not all, just a fraction, as I did not get what I paid in full for. Either that or a discount if I do play with them again next year.

Meh, we'll see. It's over with, just hope things go better next year.

Caribana Posse said...

Well I would say this one final thing, the more we talk to our mas makers about what has the displeased us the better it will be for us in the future.

As not all masqueraders are displeased mas makers may believe all is well..so for those who are displeased it is in your interest to tell them face to face.

And like Kara says not all mas makers are the same and some may not be willing to improve, and I don't know who is and who is not willing but if I am displeased, for sure I am going to express my opinions face to face....see what comes of it.

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