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.