Monday, January 15, 2007

Get the ink blots.

This kind of has to do with knitting, in that it was a knitting issue that started it and knitting blogs that are making me boggle.

Specifically, it's about the Blue Moon Fiber Arts mess they had with their bank (if you heaven't heard yet, click and read, it's been all over the 'net and I'm not doing another recitation). And for a bit of background, I was a bookkeeper for many, many years before I busted up my hand and couldn't hold a pencil for forty hours a week any longer. So I know a good bit about small-business banking and related crap. Plus I'm related to an accountant if I need advice.

Long story short, their bank totally fucked up. I suspect their behavior was legal, strictly speaking, but it was horribly bad business practice. The Blue Moon ladies dealt with it calmly and professionally and to my knowledge are up and running again with a new bank less than a week later. What's interesting, though, is how other knitters are responding to the situation.

First, of course, were the calls for retribution. I was thinking 'give us their e-mail address and let us crash their mainframe' - computer geek that I am, but most of it was a desire to know the bank's name so that complaint letters could be issued. That's a fairly average response, I would say. Someone suggested that everyone should knit a sock and mail it to the bank, which was rather inspired; peaceful and to the point. Ultimately cooler heads prevailed, pointing out that nothing would help the deeds already done, and it was all moot anyway, what with Blue Moon keeping their council. (I don't blame them for not wanting to be responsible for a flood of hate mail, deserved or not. That's just more bad business practice, and right now they're golden, best to keep it that way.)

Then there were the other comments. Somehow the commenter's views got tied to the issue. (Isn't that always the way?) A lot was said about how women in business get treated like shit and this was just another example of it. It got expanded, at least in one case I will not link to, into a huge riff on how this is further trampling on the rights of women, and yadda yadda yadda. How did this get to be women's rights? It's not about women. It's about dumbasses at a bank who can't be bothered to investigate before they make (stupid) policy. I'm sure psychologists would have some term for this, but I call it "Oh, geez, get a grip." (Having done small business accounting stuff in three states, I'm here to tell you, ALL small businesses get treated like shit. Gender doesn't enter in, except in the eye of the beholder.)

THEN, in one case that I know of, there was the "Let's get a laugh out of this" response. January One decided that the best way to help Blue Moon was to get more people addicted to their sock yarn. (Sort of like drug pushers creating addicts, but different.) So she put out a call for "Socks that Rock virgins" on her blog, promising to do a drawing and give away ten hanks of the stuff from her own stash, thereby - according to her - creating ten more customers for Blue Moon. Soon the comments filled up with almost EIGHT HUNDRED often hilarious stories of why people were sock knitting virgins and why they needed that yarn. Blue Moon got wind, read the comments, and had such a laugh that they donated more yarn to give away, and, long story short, THIRTY hanks of Socks That Rock were given away on her blog. Even if she doesn't create thirty sock-knitting addicts, giving the Blue Moon ladies a good laugh was the best possible thing to have done in this situation.

It is fascinating, to me, how different people deal with the same issue.


Anonymous said...

I saw the January one blog and thought about signing up since I"m a STR virgin myself but I can afford to buy my own.
You are correct IMHO in your assessment of the bank and of the treatment of small businesses in general.
My mother and I had a very successful small business in the 70's. At one point we wanted to expand and went to our bank to get a loan. We had the same amount of money we were asking for in our account at that bank but wanted to keep some liquid capital.We presented balance sheets showing our ability to pay back the loan and showing a tidy profit.
The bank told us they would only give us a loan if my father who worked in a local factory and drank up every pay check co-signed!

Amy Lane said...

I was on the 'lets send that bank a sock' bandwagon, myself...but I'm going to cruise your link and check out January One, because it sounds like fun! But I think that's a good observation--you're right--the way people view this issue is a real inkblot test. I tell my students, when they're reading poetry that they don't get to open their own luggage in the middle of someone else's poem--I saw a lot of that on the Yarn Harlot comment bank.

Bells said...

a thoroughly creative response to a ridiculous problem. I love it!

Bells said...

I've now investigated this having not really picked up on it before.

I'm sitting giggling to myself about a supposed yarn scam. What kind of idiots are these people????

Julie said...

What gets me is, the bank can't possibly have investigated it, because if they HAD, they'd have figured out right away that it was legit, because it IS. A google search for "Socks That Rock" will turn up over SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND hits, mostly on blogs of people going 'oooh, I love this stuff'. With photos, for crying out loud.

They just made a half-assed, uninformed decision and wound up taking what was probably mid-five-figures out of Blue Moon's bank account without warning. (A couple hundred people joining the sock club at two hundred plus a pop adds up fast.) Again, this MIGHT have been legal - though I have my doubts - but even if it was, it was insanely bad and stupid business practice.

Netter said...

How did I miss that? Oh right, I've been at home and do most bloggin and reading at work. I'm a total SOTR virgin. I think it's the first thing on my "to buy" list October 1.

Cara said...

Hi Julie! Thanks for the link. Tina, the creator of Socks That Rock, is a great friend of mine and when she called me crying from LAUGHING and told me she thought she'd never laugh again after this mess I knew I had done the right thing.

I was actually kind of shocked by all the retribution talk, to be honest. But then I knew that Blue Moon was taking care of the situation the best way they knew how. I tried to relay that on my blog, but maybe I could've done a better job.

Anyway, thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your views on the situation.