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North Aware Smart Parka Review – My Not So Smart Buy

Long rant because wtf North Aware you are driving me crazy and I feel really stupid with my recent purchase. Also because North Aware, you did not keep to your words and this is dishonesty and I feel terribly deceived!

11 months ago, I bought a Smart Parka from Kickstarter.

Ok first… why did I choose to pay $325 and wait for a winter coat when I could get one in store easily?
Impulsion

This was definitely a case of impulsiveness.

The built-in functionality

As a minimalistic slob, I also really like the idea of not having to bring a bag whenever I leave the house. The jacket was also advertised as being water-resistant and to come with a built-in scarf which I thought would be very convenient.  Look how promising it was! It was like a dream winter coat came true.

 

 

Shortly after, they started going back on their promise.

  1. The jacket will be produced in China instead of Canada
  2. It will be filled with synthetic down instead of real down as promised
  3.  The actual production timeline is totally way off than the estimate

I just googled. The changes they made actually created quite a commotion in the media!

CBC – Canadian parka company giving them the cold shoulder, customers say

BlogTo – Toronto crowdfunded startup embroiled in controversy

Throughout the whole process, I did not think of a refund because it was June / July – ish when they announced the change and the shipping estimate was August. Besides, there was also no mention of refund from their end, so I thought that refund wasn’t an option and the jacket must have already been produced.

But they were very very wrong with their shipping estimate and I was very very wrong to have trusted them.

The Estimated Timeline according to North Aware

So initially it was August 2016 and in June-ish, I received an email that October 25, 2016, would be the furthest (I am assuming the latest) delivery date.

They even said everything was on schedule

 

But guess what, it was not and I finally received the jacket on December 29. Wtf? So much for anticipating it in August?! And lots of love? Or lots of lie, North Aware?

Dec 29, 2016 

Finally, the jacket arrived in a huge white mailer/envelope.

Finally, my long, awaited jacket…

Phew, really finally. I was really really excited. How can I not? I waited 11 months for it! LOL never in my dear life have I waited for a purchase this long. 

Here’s my take on the Smart Parka (a break from my complaint):

What I really love about the jacket:

The Outer Shell

The outer shell of the coat is soft and as promised, waterproof. The jacket makes you want to snuggle in it for a long time. In fact, I am actually impressed with the quality! Yes, I guess I am guilty of judging a made-in-china product way too soon.

Pockets 

There are pockets everywhere! Pockets for your iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Gloves, Winter Hat. What I find amazing is that stuffing additional items to the jacket did not make it any bulkier.

Built-in Glove Pockets

They call it “Built-In Gloves” but it is actually a pocket that’s added to the sleeves.

And I think it is a superb idea especially for someone (me) who constantly forgets how cold the weather can be during winter!

Ok. Back to ranting. 

However, despite all the good stuff I’ve just mentioned, there are things about the jacket that I really, really, cannot compromise:

The Warmth Factor

I haven’t tried wearing it out since I am planning to return it. However, I did compare it with my Eddie Bauer Down Jacket and realized that my Smarka is as not as warm. My Eddie Down has gone miles with me from Sunny Los Angeles to Bitter Cold Yukon. While I was in Yukon, even with my Eddie Down, I was still shivering (feel like I was about to freeze to death). So if my Eddie Down is warmer than my Smarka, I am assuming I’ll still be freezing with my Smarka.

Buttons

The buttons were not tightly sewed to the coat. Unbuttoning them took a while because I had to be extra careful lest I drop a button! I foresee myself either losing buttons from this coat because they are flimsy and poorly sewed or having my coat forever unbuttoned.

Zippers

Zippers do not zip up smoothly. The front zipper got stuck half way (the coat lining got in the way of the zip-in liner and the zipper) so I had to be really careful when unzipping.

Gloves

The gloves in XS, are too tight for my petite hands. I seriously thought my hands are pretty tiny and I actually remember measuring my hands briefly prior to choosing my glove size. If I try hard enough, the gloves could actually fit but damn it, fat hands.

So, ya. I am definitely returning it.

You’d think getting the product was a crazy, long wait process but guess what, returning it is way worse. It is a bloody chore and it’s like talking to a brick wall – no one has responded to my email when I was told that they’d get back to me within 48 hours. 

Damn it, North Aware, I am feeling really scammed because of your dishonest business practice.

You lulled backers (like me) into believing that our jackets will be arriving on time and everything is on schedule but they were not – they were terribly delayed and winter is almost ending. 

(See Timeline above) I backed this up in March because you promised this jacket for Winter. It arrives in time for 2017 with Winter almost ending. Wtf.

You never once mentioned that we could get a refund

We could return the item once we’ve received it – yes but what about getting a refund prior to us receiving it?

If you could change your decision half-way while trying to invent this “Smart Parka”, why can’t we also have the option to change our decision to support you?!

Retail price for the jacket is way cheaper than estimated

Explain this to me, please? You said the estimated retail price was $725!

 

You promised it’d be made in Canada (if you have over 7,000 backers) and the jacket will be filled with duck down.

You broke your promise. If you’ve marketed the jacket as being manufactured in Asia (as in China) and filled with synthetic fiber, I will not have made the purchase.

Ok. North Aware, if you are reading this, please don’t try to comfort me by saying:

We are trying our best to accommodate everyone’s needs but there are only so many of us for so many of you… 

Yadayadayada. If you think you cannot handle all the complaints, then hire a new person, or be consistently active on Social Media or you know what, send an email to comfort us and tell dissatisfied customers like me (pretty sure I am not the only one) what the next best solution is. Plus if you are unable to respond within 48 hours, don’t make such promises. If you can constantly update us on the production process, you should be able to actively respond to our woes. Plus, this will not have happened if you did not break your promise.

We believe in ethical and responsible business practices

If so, why did you initially promise the jacket as filled with DUCK DOWN? So, prior to envisioning the Smart Parka, you have not the slightest clue that animals (like ducks) will be killed for your project?

Isn’t it obvious that when you mention DUCK DOWN, there is definitely a duck involved? I mean, I don’t make parka but when I buy a down coat, I know my purchase doesn’t make any animal rights activists happy.

Therefore, I do not believe this bullshit at all.

If you cannot turn a blind eye, it breaks your heart to see animals getting killed for your cause, then go all in, don’t even let early-bird buyers pick between fake or real fur and make sure that this project is cruelty-free. So animals did get killed for this project – lesser animals, but animals still died – the only difference is that you are probably profiting more from the lower manufacturing fees.

Also, the way you handle complaints show how irresponsible you are. Funny how you are responding to my tweets but not my emails. I am assuming my tweets make you look really bad on social media.

You can always return the jacket and get a refund

Yes, this is what I’ve been trying to do but no one has responded to my email. Also, guess what, I even have to pay shipping fees to return this jacket to you – What kind of sorcery is this…seriously.

OK. I don’t care what other excuses you have but please kindly return me my $$$ and stop scamming others and make it so difficult to process a refund.  This is not cool and definitely not a way to demonstrate ethic and integrity in your business! Also how to love this supposedly “Smart” Parka when you treat your customers in this manner?

Ya ya. I am one of those indoor people who stay home all day, purchase things online (Recently just bought a pack of toilet rolls from Amazon) and from time to time get enthralled (right now, scammed) by e-commerce stores promising one-of-a-kind, unique products.

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Backers / North Aware Smart Parka Buyers reading this… how are you liking the jacket / the company? Am I the only one feeling so irritated and vexed?

Click here to read my refund experience.

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33 Comments

  • Reply Joy

    I still haven’t heard from them, and am waiting for my 2 parkas (one for me and one for my husband). I ended up ordering an oros jacket. You should look into it and they’ll come as expected…on time.

    January 6, 2017 at 6:40 am
    • Reply thinkspacerides

      thank you for the recommendation! I guess my first experience with Kickstarter has made me really wary now…

      January 6, 2017 at 7:36 am
  • Reply Anne Aarons

    Before you think I am going to complain, I will not. I am a backer from Denver but living in NYC. I received my new vogue parka yesterday and I have to say that I absolutely love it! I thought the packaging that they sent it in was really cute and unique. Then when I opened up my parka, I couldn’t believe how great the finishing details like the zipper and logo really make it look so elegant. I decided to go for a walk today and test it out and the quality is unbeatable, it’s so warm and comfortable yet so lightweight. I was extremely warm and had no issues on my 20 minute walk. I think that since there were delays with the shipments, people are just trying to find issues at this point which is sad. I am completely satisfied and it was more than I expected. I recommend to anyone out there looking for a great jacket to go ahead and invest in one of North Aware’s smart parkas.

    January 8, 2017 at 12:45 am
    • Reply thinkspacerides

      Hi Anne,

      Everyone is entitled to his own opinions and I am glad you love your parka. I’m also glad that your packaging is cute and unique. Unfortunately, mine came in a white envelope and there was no uniqueness or adorability in the package – could you please show me how cute your package it just as a comparison? I am so curious! Also, if you enjoy yours, go ahead and keep it.

      More than the delays with the shipments, what angered me most is how they respond to their customers. I understand this must be a busy time for them but surely, they could process my refund soon (it’s been a week plus)- they did it for my friend who emailed them way later than I did.

      Plus, their jacket is not on par with my other jackets. I have mentioned the good and bad points of this jacket and eventually, for me personally, as much as I’d love to keep it, the bad outweighs the good.

      Imo, the jacket is not worth the investment with all the hassle I have to go through, the money wasted and after all the misleading information from them.

      January 8, 2017 at 12:58 am
  • Reply Joseph Green

    This might be the worst written review I’ve ever read. You give the company no credit for creating an apparel line in under a calendar year. Sure, there are delays, and better communication would have been helpful and calm down people more, but seriously, this is terrible. From my understanding, the customer service team JUST got a new resource. The team was ONE person for a customer base of 20,000 people. Seems to me that you simply have a lack of understanding of retail, Kickstarter, or the ability to comprehend how difficult it is to manage a consumer base of 20,000+ people for just a team of 2. I’d take this down if I were you unless you have some sort of understanding as to how hard this must have been for them.

    January 9, 2017 at 2:55 pm
    • Reply thinkspacerides

      Hi Joseph Green, I assume your name is a pseudonym and I don’t think you even read this review carefully.

      First, if I DONT understand that it is a team of one person, I would have emailed them regarding this in December. I would have made a fuss about it some time in August because they promised to deliver what they said they would. I DID NOT. I waited until the last minute before getting really frustrated.

      Funny how I was actually talking to North Aware on Facebook regarding my refund and this comment also appeared at the same time?

      Why would I take this down when I did mention the good points of the jacket and this is a review of my complete disastisfaction towards a product. If you are a reader who dislike my review, then don’t read it!

      If it’s hard for them, why don’t they hire more people to manage these 20,000 people. They raised $3.5 million and even have the cost cut down significantly I bet when they decided to produce the jacket in China.

      Look the frustration with this purchase is their failures to deliver what they promised and poor customer service. Being in a kickstarter or not, it is obvious that these 2 factors are vital for a business to succeed.

      Unfortunately, you are not me and ya, I won’t take the review down.

      January 9, 2017 at 3:09 pm
      • Reply Sam Bean

        Hello Thinkspacerides, you are very astute woman. The founder of Kickstarter is a single person who has worked his whole adult life in online marketing. In fact, it would not surprise me if he has more people working on online presence than he does in customer service, and he is certainly not above lying. They are currently paying for native marketing in multiple languages (see current Twitter hits for smartparka). So yes, you will get response from social media posting well before calls or emails. He’s also pretty petty, so it wouldn’t surprise me if you are not hearing back *because* of your online complaints. Hang onto all proof that you attempted a return within the appropriate timeframe.

        January 14, 2017 at 2:18 am
        • Reply thinkspacerides

          I know! I just sent in my jacket for a refund. Hopefully I get it soon. It is so vexing how easily he takes backers’ $$ and how difficult for us to reach him after.

          January 14, 2017 at 5:07 am
          • Sam Bean

            It’s actually not the worst of it. He had a girlfriend helping him build the whole thing and then just before launching he up and left her with thousands in debt. But nobody is talking about that :/

            January 15, 2017 at 5:26 pm
        • Reply Julie

          I’m a bit confused by your post. Do you meant the founder of North Aware rather than the founder of Kickstarter?

          February 8, 2017 at 12:17 pm
    • Reply Adrian

      They knew the demand. They should’ve staffed accordingly. Of course people will not be understanding of terrible customer service; Especially if they’re not delivering the product as advertised (I.e down vs synthetic)

      March 11, 2017 at 5:56 pm
  • Reply Kasia

    I am dissatisfied with my coat! I emailed twice for a refund and have left two voicemails and absolutely no response. I am extremely frustrated.

    January 10, 2017 at 6:21 pm
    • Reply thinkspacerides

      I know how you feel! Refunding should as be as easy as paying for it. Try social media, tweet and send them a Facebook message. I hope you get your refund asap!

      January 11, 2017 at 4:05 am
  • Reply Julie

    I could have written your post… my experience with them is almost exactly the same. E.g., I too have small hands and could not get the gloves on…. I shipped it back to them on January 24, which cost me $52.25 because they insisted I had to return it to Canada (even though it was shipped to me from New York… I’m in CT). I’m expecting a full refund of $369US plus the shipping, but of course, not a peep from them. Never again … no more kickstarter or the like for me.

    February 7, 2017 at 7:49 pm
    • Reply thinkspacerides

      wow that is so frustrating!! I really feel you. What they did is totally not right and me too, I’m really wary about getting things from kickstarter after this experience. Although I have friends who bought stuff from there and love it… It’s unfortunate what we have to experience.

      February 8, 2017 at 4:36 am
  • Reply Julie

    Was Sam Bean above talking about the founder of North Aware rather than the founder of Kickstarter? I’m a bit confused.

    February 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm
    • Reply thinkspacerides

      Hi Julie, I am not sure but I am thinking Sam Bean might be referring to the founder of North Aware…

      February 9, 2017 at 4:34 am
  • Reply Michael

    Info for North Aware Smart Parka backers in Germany:

    Complete North Aware Order container at FRA airport held back by german customs because of possible tax fraud (North Aware or the chinese shipping company declared 22 USD as item value).

    Deadline before the whole container contents will be destroyed by german customs and North Aware will be charged a fine plus the real import tax plus the cost of the destroying of the container contents is Feb 28th 2017.

    I assume anyone trying to get a refund in Germany (600 USD in my case) will have to file a law suit against North Aware as sending back items you have never received is kind of tricky.

    February 13, 2017 at 2:39 pm
    • Reply thinkspacerides

      Wow Michael. I am sorry to hear. That is really cumbersome. What they are doing is totally unacceptable.

      February 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm
  • Reply ANNA

    Omg.finally I’m not the only one experiencing this! I thought it was just me. Guess not. So happy to find more people that I can relate to.

    I sent in my return on January 13th and I haven’t recieved my refund yet. I emailed them numerous times and they take FOREVER to reply back. On top of that, i was having some issues with canada post (I’m from toronto) with the tracking and the delivery status. If the shipping warehouse is in NORTH YORK, IT SHOULDN’T TAKE THAT LONG TO DELIVER!! I emailed north aware on FEBRUARY 7TH asking if they recieved my jackets, and they said no and to contact canada post. So I did. Once I contacted canada post they said they had delivered it on JANUARY 17TH. So I emailed north aware once again on FEBRUARY 16th stating that canada post did indeed deliver it and the day now is FEBRUARY 21st. NO REPLY STILL. I am getting so frustrated because not only am I waiting for the refund of one jacket, I actually had bought a jacket for my sister so that’s TWO JACKETS that I’m waiting for a refund for.

    north aware customer service sucks! They don’t even want to deal with our calls because they used to have a number to call for refunds and they took it out completely so we can’t even call to speed up the process.

    Can somebody please reply back to this if you are having a similar problem and if your problem ever got resolved???

    DO NOT BUY FROM THIS “COMPANY”!!!

    February 21, 2017 at 3:47 pm
    • Reply Julie

      I shipped mine back to them January 24, and I was finally notified the other day that they received the return. I now communicate with them solely through their Facebook page because that seems to be the only way that works. They assure me they will process my refund “soon,” but they won’t refund the $52.25 I had to pay to ship it to Toronto from Connecticut, even though I sent the piece of shit back because it was a piece of shit. What a truly terrible company… I wonder how they sleep at night

      February 21, 2017 at 3:54 pm
    • Reply Adrian

      Why is people returning the product so much? I saw the gloves size being an issue and also the duck down change. Those 2 are already bad enough; Any other common issues?

      I was really eager to buy this for next winter but after reading you all, not so much. Hope you guys get your refunds (or receive good products) soon!

      March 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm
  • Reply Justin S

    I COULD NOT AGREE WITH THIS BLOGGER MORE!!! North Aware is nothing but a bait and switch. I too was given fake tracking numbers to stall on their delays. Then magically, when I threatened to call my credit card company, the coats got shipped. They are not high quality:
    – they are EXTREMELY HEAVY (4.5 pounds) as they lied about it being down filled.
    – zippers are difficult to align; buttons are sewn on poorly and tough to button up
    – the fake fur is cheap (they had promised real fur initially) and the hood is ENORMOUS which makes it hard to see
    – the gloves look like extremely cheap vinyl from even far away

    Google Maps have reviews. A week ago, there were lots of BAD reviews on it. North Aware contacted Google and had their address and reviews removed. They also conveniently removed their address from their own website.

    Now, I am waiting for a reply regarding a refund but no one is replying. I doubt I will ever get a reply.

    February 21, 2017 at 9:27 pm
  • Reply THINK SPACE RIDES - THINK SPACE RIDES - My Smart Parka Return Experience

    […] I really didn’t expect my post on my stupid buy to receive so many comments and interactions. For those who feel the way I do, sorry to hear and I […]

    February 22, 2017 at 5:50 am
  • Reply Eric

    Here’s my $0.02.
    My wife and I both got our parkas on Dec 22. Both were the right colour, and both were EXTREMELY warm. Finally, we had the winter coats we had been looking for for years!
    Fast forward 1 month. Mid-January – my wife is out for dinner with friends and a clumsy waiter spills sour cream on the extension piece of her red Expedition parka. No problem, let’s FOLLOW THE LABEL ON THE COAT AND HAVE IT DRYCLEANED!!
    We bring it to the most reputable dry cleaners in Eastern Ontario… one which cleans Canada Goose and MooseKnuckle jackets daily. We get the coat back, and the black microfleece scarf, and black microfleece picket liners, have bled BLACK dye into her RED jacket.
    It looks freaking terrible!
    In addition, the buttons are all chipping and zipper paint is also chipping.
    All from FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS provided by North Aware on their product labelling.

    So, we contact North Aware (through FB Messenger, as they’ve been responsive there in the past)…
    I explain the exact situation above.
    I’m told “The best we can do is offer you a new coat at 50% off”.

    Excuse me? You said “the black microfleece and all other materials are colorfast, so this is not a jacket issue.”

    I call them on their bullshit.

    They then say “Sorry, we cannot exchange an item that is damaged.”

    EXCUSE ME?! It’s damaged from FOLLOWING YOUR DIRECTIONS.

    I then say I’m officially making a warranty claim against their 10-year warranty, which sounds all great and well on their website.

    I now have not heard back from them in 3 days.

    Officially 100% freaking pissed off. Does anyone know what type of recourse I may have to at least get the money back, so I can go buy a coat made by a real company and not a bunch of scam artists?

    February 27, 2017 at 3:44 pm
  • Reply Melinda Belcher

    Ugh at least I’m not the only one experiencing this.They charged me twice, kept the charge on the wrong card, then forgot to ship to me. The coat I finally got was the wrong color and I had to pay $60 for the privilege of shipping it back to Canada.

    Also, it was ugly as hell.

    I’m in the US, can we alert the Better Business Bureau or something?

    February 28, 2017 at 7:42 pm
    • Reply Julie

      After two months of bullshit, I finally received a refund of $329 from this unconscionable company. It cost me $52.25 to ship the piece of crap back to them, so they still owe me $92.25. Who thinks I’m ever going to see that money? Yeah, me neither.

      March 4, 2017 at 1:16 pm
  • Reply Julie

    P.s. I originally paid $369

    March 4, 2017 at 1:17 pm
  • Reply Perturbed customer

    Wow, I could’ve written the same review. Not only that, when I attempted to return the coat, I ran into a new problem. Despite them confirming on FB that my jacket was received and they would be processing a refund, guess what showed up in my mailbox today?

    The coat. That was mailed to North Aware from overseas APO in Germany. Marked as “REFUSED” by North Aware and sent back to me. I now have the coat and gloves back in my possession. The ones that were sent at a cost of $40 so they could supposedly process an exchange.

    At this point, I’m ready to file some claims. They won’t accept my return? And they won’t refund my money, despite the returns policy. I’m calling an all out social media blitz until it’s resolved. I got allllll the time in the world…

    I want to return the item for a refund, and now I want the BOTH sets of return shipping costs refunded to me as well. I want a Return Merchandise Authorization number to associate with my return. Please respond with your information and expedite processing this return.

    March 10, 2017 at 1:08 pm
  • Reply Louisa

    Hubby and I could have written the same post exactly, we were so disappointed with our jackets after waiting far too long for them to arrive after our winter holiday in Canada, (living in Japan). We returned them almost immediately, paying over $50 dollars CND and then we were sent a import tax bill from FedEX for an additional $70 CND which they are saying we have to pay even though we have already returned them. Still waiting for the refund and it has been almost two months since we sent them back to Canada. Feeling very sad and scared that we’ll never get our refund. This company should be investigated and shut down.

    March 14, 2017 at 2:59 am
  • Reply Jessica Arendas

    Our sentiments exactly. They should be shut down and everyone should get their money back! We’ve been awaiting our refund for over 2 months now.

    March 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm
  • Reply Danny

    Thanks for posting this. Seeing one of the clips on FB and then visiting their site, I was really enticed to buy one. Good thing I like to try and research the crap out of something and look at multiple sources to make an informed decision before I purchase…because I tend to be pretty impulsive. However, try not to let this deter you from future Kickstarter projects. Sometimes it is a gamble, but when it works out, you were able to support a company who may have not had the resources to fully launch on their own and now they are able to.

    March 15, 2017 at 4:29 am
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