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Akpo Uyeh: Let’s Talk About Nigerian Tailors & Poor Customer Service

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Looking at the picture of the model in the magazine, I imagined how the outfit she was wearing would look on me-extremely perfect! I visualised the cloth on my body as it was on the model’s. What was left of me was to get the fabric and I would be off to the tailor. So I wasted no time in getting the fabric.

Next thing was to decide on the tailor to go to. I had three in mind. The first always delayed, even though she was quite good. She would leave your work and do others, pushing somebody till the person got fed up. She was never remorseful. It was as if she was doing you a favour on top your own money. Imagine, patronising someone but the person does no ‘send’ you at all. I think it is because she has so many customers that is why she did not know the value of losing one.
The rule of customer first, never applied to this woman. If you are bent on letting her sew your cloth, be prepared for disappointments. It was pointless to tell her when you need the cloth, and if she gives you a day to collect your cloth, that was not even certain as well. I was not prepared for someone to spoil my mood, neither did I want delay so I had to seek another alternative.

The second tailor in mind was very expensive and it appeared she used to steal material. Her handwork was usually too tight and she always complained that the material was not enough. Every time she made an outfit, I would always complain of it being too tight. One would wonder that she took the measurements quite alright. So how come? This wa the same question I asked every time I patronised her. I just had to conclude that she was either stealing the material or she was not judicious enough when cutting the fabric? This time around I was not prepared for this risk so I moved to the third option.

Now, the third tailor stayed close by. She was young, trendy and her last work for me was the bomb. Finally, I settled for the third option. Before going to meet her, I actually prayed seriously as I felt the need in my heart. Besides some tailors could be very wicked – recounting previous experiences and how they have used me to do yeye in time past, I had to take it to the spiritual level.

Having prayed and done all the needful, I  went to the shop of my third tailor and showed her what I wanted. I negotiated the price, and the date was set for me to collect the cloth. As day approached for collection, somehow I was not at peace. I still carried on and looked forward to rocking my new dress.

Just as I feared, the tailor made a mess of my cloth. It was obvious she gave her apprentice to do the sewing. I really did not know what to do. I was just venting and venting, then kept quiet when I saw I was the only one talking. So, this wicked tailor decided to do some amendments and that didn’t solve any issue. In fact it spoiled the whole material. The excitement derived from the day I sighted the outfit on the model and my hopes of rocking the outfit were dashed. There I was, angered and helpless. The fabric was quite expensive and was destroyed now.

I thought I was the only one who had been unlucky with tailors, but speaking with colleagues I was quick to draw out that it is a customer service dysfunction. One said that she usually tells the tailor to sew what she wants, instead of what the tailor is told to do. Even social media actually showed that tailors could be a pain in the neck.  I recall seeing a meme that read:

‘Are you good are frustrating people? Do you like people begging you for their own things? then you should be a Nigerian tailor!’ This goes to show the level of frustration that some tailors have meted out to their innocent customers.

As I speak, the destroyed outfit is lying in my closet and I look at what could have be, compared to what it is  now. Imagine the money wasted, time wasted, energy wasted all because of one tailor… Phew!

I’m terribly hurting but had to cool down when I got to know that many people encountered such problems in the hands of artisans. For now, I  might just go for ready made clothes and give tailors a break. Another alternative would be to learn the skill of sewing, because I have not been lucky with tailors so far.

What has been your experience with artisans? Particularly tailors.  Let’s get it off our chest.

Photo Credit: Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com

Akpo Patricia Uyeh is a witty Blogger| Freelance writer| Geo-Journalist. A Sunshine lover. Music enthusiast. She blogs via Òmòté Rò Dhé

44 Comments

  1. Ivory

    January 16, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    *sigh* *singing* if i start to talk! the thing wey naija tailors don do me e no go end, my sister e no go enddd! lool!
    For a long time, i stopped patronizing tailors because of their wahala – not sticking to timelines without remorse, unapologetically arguing with you especially when they mess up the style of your dress, etc. However, I recently started giving some a shot, to be precise, last year. These ones i met on IG – wannifuga, fablanebyderin and jayke_closet. They haven’t disappointed me so far and they have good customer service. Most importantly, they have kept to their deadlines. I also met an elderly woman through a colleague who try small (even though the cloth wasn’t ready the date we agreed but i got it same day sha without much stress). i will probably give her another shot.

    • Debbie

      January 16, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      Fablane is truly fab! I can’t just fault them.

      Don’t get me started on Adey Soile and the rudeness. Then the clothes come out as basic as white rice without stew.
      The worst of it is when they make you feel like they’ve done you a favor. I also love me some Toju Foyeh. Always classy tailoring.

  2. Debra

    January 16, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I remembered giving tailor just one material to sow a skirt and blouse I was to use for my birthday but I tell you I got that cloth three months after my birthday and it’s not as if he was not doing that of others. I was so pissed off that when I decided to get the material from him, he had already cut it to pieces. He just dumped it among piles of other clothes and even when I got this cloth three months after, it was dirty, it wasn’t the style I chose. It was just frustrating. I understand how you feel and I wish there could be a law that can just make these guys return to their senses. They don’t even care about how you feel as long as you are not the only customer and you would still pay them for their services. Actually my mum won’t pay once she notices the cloth is bad and they could go to blazes.

  3. Madam

    January 16, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    It’s not just tailors, it’s general terrible customer service in this country. They think they are doing you a favour from the tailors to the makeup artists to the pepper sellers etc.

    Tailors are the worst! Its so upsetting. The ones that are good and sane are expensive.

    The worst of them all is t16 world of fashion. That babe is cray cray.

    Bellanaija may not post this coz I name dropped and she makes clothes for ink but it’s the truth.

    • nene

      January 17, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      gbam

  4. Grace

    January 16, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    LMAO @” recounting previous experiences and how they have used me to do yeye in time past, I had to take it to the spiritual level.”SMH.

  5. Same Girl

    January 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Some Nigerian tailors are horrible!!! I actually have a case with one now, rude and annoying. I gave her two materials to make since Nov 2016 up till now its one excuse or the other. I went to her shop to shout on her, only for someone to tell me she had the same experience with her and had to pick her clothes in pieces from her shop. I feel do sad those material are expensive ( I actually bought them myself not aso ebi) I dont even feel like wearing them any more. She not my regular tailor I went to her cos some girls patronize her in my office now I regret that action.

  6. Awiase

    January 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    It should be titled:’African tailors and seamstress instead’.They are almost every where in Africa or at least West Africa if I should say.I know one who charges cut throat price but has never dissatisfied or dissapointed me before.The rest……hmmm.One did not only fail to meet the deadline but misplaced the fabric too.

  7. Nnenna

    January 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    I have also had some experiences in the past, some nasty and others really nasty until I met Chenkayfashions (IG & FB same name) in Lekki, she’s quite good and affordable and most importantly very fast with an eye on details . I pray she sustains it shaa

  8. i must talk

    January 16, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Some of these tailors will do better as carpenters! on several occasions, i have had to ask them to pay for the damage or just dump my cloths with them and walk away. keeping them in your closets can guarantee you a visa to the morgue jare. Some are professional ‘obioma’

  9. Sarah

    January 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    My dear you are not alone. After several dissapointments I finally gave up on them and picked up the skill myself. Though I’m not have’nt mastered all the styles which means I still have to patronize them till I find the good one. My tip though is to go for cheap materials in testing them and find tailors based on referrals dont just approach those random ones. It does not always end well. Though there are some good ones and sadly I’ve only met one in my life, I miss her. Shoutout to you Cece in Calabar for always delivering on time and at such an affordable rate.

  10. Mide

    January 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Ok let me help you out as a good tailor that I am.
    Mistakes are inevitable in any field, the goal is to ensure it’s to an absolutely minimal level and have good crisis management to make amends…. Few things are true bout our tailors:

    1.) The saying you get what you pay for is almost always true with the average naija tailor….if I come into your local tailors shop and offer to pay more than you, chances are your work will be put on hold. Unless it’s a business with sense that operates sensible policies. But I find Nigerians don’t like policies either. There are different dimensions to this point but I can’t divulge cos it keeps me in business. Just be aware you get what you pay for!
    2.) Very true a few over priced ones deliver rubbish…so last last…shine ya eye…
    3.) Many lovely tailors exist….they just won’t collect 5-8k to sew a dress…..it’s not by force… if you want it that cheap go learn and master the skill first.
    4.) On behalf of the good ones my sincere apologies to everyone suffering poor service…it’s good you suffer so you appreciate the good ones and not be pricing anyhow. I can explain why many delays happen but I have hinted at it already in point 1 and will leave it at that.
    A common mentality is that cheap fabric should equal cheap tailoring….lie from hell! The fact that a fabric is cheap doesn’t mean the service to produce a clean garment should be as cheap, if in doubt keep using your disappointment tailors…

    This syndrome is not limited to tailors…. it’s more a problem of the Nigerian POOR service culture see MTN na….I keep insisting more than 50% nigerian employees deserve sack letter, many bosses are just managing and smiling with dull employees…… chances are, if I scrutinise you writer at your job, you could be found wanting… so yes call out the bad eggs all round and hopefully we become more mindful as a people.

    Cheers!

    1
    • yinka

      January 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      “its good you suffer”.Some nerve you have!

    • Mide

      January 16, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      As BN has gulped my earlier comment… summary was… Yup, nerve derived from every occasion of unappreciated good service offered by good quality & hardworking creators I know.
      @Abominable snow girl has mentioned some customers’ misbehaviour….. it’s like you hear ‘customer is king’ and suddenly common sense leaves the room. Kilode?! I am still thankful I have less of these uncaring customers than many of my colleagues who I know to be good at what they do and how they do it. Treat people who serve you with decency…it’s not too much.

      You see samples of good quality work and be damn well near cussing the creator for charging accordingly… berating them to their faces cos they refuse to price as you please; then you still cuss mediocre ones for being what you expect… pick a side and back it up with action. I use the term creators for friends who are innovative bakers, designers, furniture makers etc…. o yessssss I will have the nerve cos the learning wasn’t done in one day!!!!

      1
    • Iris

      January 17, 2017 at 3:42 am

      What about when you pay Nigerian ‘designers’ money in the tens of thousands to over hundred thousands and they still mess you up? We have also heard those stories.
      It isn’t just about pricing and people trying to be cheap. Customer service is a problem across multiple service industries in Nigeria. Honestly if you think the price is too low don’t take the job. The point is you’ve given your word and you’ve accepted the job. To be honest if you’re very proud of your craft I don’t think you won’t want to do something mediocre. If you are going to justify your prices, do so and accept nothing less. It is better than collecting money and not bothering to deliver because it wasn’t high enough.

    • Mide

      January 17, 2017 at 9:56 am

      And I agree with everything you have said. I operate with this mentality…but people occasionally accuse you of ‘feeling yourself’…. even if I shut up and just show u samples… trust me there are level headed people who will just agree it’s not their cup of tea and that’s fine, it’s part of life….others will insist on insulting you. Haba…
      I used price cos many similar articles draw comparison btw price and quality…. the issues are much more…. Imagine being midway through a Job and someone wants a different style…in fact insists on it…sometimes it might be inconveniencing, but if it’s possible I can try…other times its just not possible, and you still get d blame. Abi you decline an order cos you know you can’t meet that timeline/budget with those specs and you will hear ‘you like forming’…’who you think you are’…. Or you try to get some to stick to an appointment, then its translated as ‘you’re feeling too important’ after all they should be able to wake u up at 6am or 10pm for a delivery and you shld be available..even though you made them aware of your operating hrs… I am telling you my own experiences and this last one of timing and hours, my mentor also complained same…

      Wo, issorai o jare. Enjoy your day customer is king la wa.

    • nonye

      January 17, 2017 at 4:35 am

      What about when you don’t ‘price’, you pay the requested sum and you still don’t get your clothes for months?

    • Mide

      January 17, 2017 at 8:57 am

      See my no 2 point in my first comment. Thanks.

    • nonye

      January 17, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Seen. And thank you for acknowledging it. I think I may have some of the comments re “getting what you paid for”and “suffering so that you appreciate good tailors”… in my subsconscious. I had hoped that paying the requested sum without haggling and paying on time too for simple designs that she suggested herself would make the difference. She had actually said that she likes clients like me because picking designs wasn’t a challenge with me. Sadly i didn’t get reciprocity. Almost seems like tailors prefer customers who come with drama. Maybe if I hadn’t paid in full, or had been calling every day screaming and issuing threats and sending hundreds of messages; just maybe I would have my clothes by now. Oh well… cést la vie

    • heelsaffairs

      January 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Thank you for this analogy and painting the picture to the customer cuz they do not see it from this angles you named.

  11. Industry Gal

    January 16, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Dear Africans, You get what you pay for. Simple.

  12. Abominable snow girl

    January 16, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you @Mide.
    To demand quality or great service, you should be adjudged TOP NOTCH at your chosen craft too.
    Dear Writer, kindly re-read your essay?…..
    AGAIN….
    Speaking for Tailors, yes we could be guilty of delays, underhand behaviour and all the other issues you mentioned, but when you think about all the challenges we are up against: NEPA and its incessant outtages, tightfisted customers giving no deposits, reneging on previously agreed fees,being rude and downright obnoxious, changing minds about a design last minuite or expecting haute couture from 1 yard of fabric….. you have to agree with me…. , a PROUD Tailor, customers haven’t exactly been walks in parks themselves.
    Sewing is an art form.
    Look for a tailor passionate and gifted at his / her work. Pay your dues on time and you will have a match made in fashion heaven. Lol.

    1
    • fume

      January 16, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      God bless you for this.. you totally expressed my thoughts.

  13. MadamYe...

    January 16, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Since we are ranting…

    Hear my own oo….

    So a really close family friend of mine was getting married. I paid extortionate for the 2 and a half yards that she had chosen.

    Through recommendation, I went to a tailor who I have used before and impressed me immensely when another tailor that I gave cloth to, ruined my dress and he on the day of my grandmother’s funeral mended it and made me feel a tiny bit better about the daunting day ahead.

    Any hu… Back to the wedding. I gave the guy my cloth oo. I had my plan of what I wanted. Very simple. No stress midi dress. As I was handing over the cloth I remember asking him several times that ‘please sa, are you sure you’ll be able to do this for me on TIME?’. He answered to me that he could do it, that he was more than capable blah blah blah…. Okay!

    Soo 3 days before the wedding, I call the guy. Just to check on the progress and to know when I should cone to collect my dress. No answer. I called him several times leading up to the day of the wedding and left VM’s and text messages. Nothing…Just air!

    So I end up wearing a fuchsia pink dress with the turquoise gele that was part of the original outfit. everyone else was in their turquoise and I kept on having to explain to people who were side eyeing me as if I didn’t want to be part of the bridal party that my tailor did me over. I felt soo bad in front of the bride I couldn’t take a pic with the bridal shower I just felt out of place in my bright pink and their beautiful turquoise.

    Sooo Lo and behold o, whilst I am doing my duty as brides friend picking up the money I see my tailor dressed to the 9’s like a Yoruba Demon!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes. The guy was on the dance floor spraying dollars anyhow! Wawu! See my life. I was fuming. So he was fully aware that the dress was for the wedding and had decided he just won’t bother or common curtsy say he can’t do it.

    I eventually walked up to guy and told him off in front of his friends. I mean..If you can’t do don’t open your mouth to say you can not do.It’s that simple.

    This year of 2017 I have made up my mind no more aso ebi sturves.

    • Mide

      January 16, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      Wowww! I felt that pain….same wedding…! Arrghhh!!! That’s just rude. People don’t understand its better to call/own up to your goof beforehand and take any chance to make amends, than to just switch off phone… when you’re still alive how do you plan on escaping the person’s wrath forever?!…

  14. UNCLE GWE GWE GWE

    January 16, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    You the customers make the work very difficult for US!!!! YES!!! US!!! AM IN THE BUSINESS TOO. you bring clothes and expect it to be ready within a minute. How possible is that?? Their best line is “Am travelling and I need to go with my clothes” and you hurry deliver. And still see them roaming about Abuja, you keep wondering is that my customers spirit or what??? You customers LIE ALOT!!! And to the ones that come with the MOST DIFFICULT STYLE, I say WELDONE!!! there is a reason the design is complicated and belongs to the designer!!! You don’t have to pay peanut and expect to look like TOKE MAKINWA!!! NO NEVER, you can look like Nkiru silvanus. Pay Huge sum and expect excellent work, stress free. AND pay peanut then High BP will be your name.

    • Corolla

      January 16, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      Your argument makes no sense whatsoever. If you can’t sew a style, say so and reject the customer. If you can’t sew within the customer’s time frame, then say so,and do not collect the fabric.

    • Shuuu? ?

      January 16, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      Shuu. Unkul Gwegs?! Upon all this your totori for here na Tailor you be? I bow to you oh. Persin for tink say you be like Oyel worka or Bank Manaja. No sabi say na Obioma levels you take dey yarn opata any how here. I bow to you oh!

    • nonye

      January 17, 2017 at 4:19 am

      Wetin Nkiru do you nah?

  15. Keenah

    January 16, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    I dont know why we tailors keep blaming our customers like they forced us to accept their fabrics. It is simple. If I cannot deliver within the stipulated time, I tell the customer I cannot and I recommend a sister tailor that can do the job. Easy peasy. We need to stop taking more than we can handle. The lady I interned with was the queen on doing things last minutes, and she accepts “express” even when she knows she would have to work overtime and of course she NEVER delivered on time. Nobody would beat you if you politely decline to take up a job.

    • Adunnie

      January 17, 2017 at 12:23 am

      God bless you Keenah for telling it like it is. No customer forces a tailor to collect material. If you can’t sew the style or meet the deadline tell the customer. Its not by force to sew cloth with you

  16. hauwa

    January 16, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Uncle gwe gwe Gwe! You are hilarious! Chai! But it’s true sha! Recently, I took a Katy Anthony style to a “designer”. She charged me a whooping 12k to make that peplum blouse with skirt. I paid up. Stories came about how her tailors travelled or so. No biggie, I wasn’t in a hurry as no be Asoebi. Fast forward to her call that it was ready. I ran there excitedly, only to get a shocker! Style was different! Cheap accessories and lace used! I cldnt sleep that night from over vex. It wld have bn better to add d remaining balance and jejely use the Katy Anthony. Meanwhile, what’s with ur obsession with Toke Makinwa?

  17. nonye

    January 17, 2017 at 4:31 am

    I’m sorry but it’s not necessarily about fees. A tailor abi designer charged me over 150k to sew some basic dresses, no embellishments, just basic simple stuff I could wear to work. I had enough material to sew a dress and at least a skirt for each fabric, so she didn’t have any challenges regarding sufficient fabric.I also warned specifically against tight clothes, After the first fitting, clothes were so tight I couldn’t even perch my butt on th edge of a seat, much less fully sit at a work station. It’s been three months now and I am still waiting for the dresses to come out in wearable form, and it almost feels like it’s an imposition for me to expect to get the alterations to get measurements she took. Oh… by the way, she has been paid in full. Half on the day I dropped the fabric, the other half on the day I went to try them on. Oh well… I don leave am for Papa. We shall overcome.

  18. Rex

    January 17, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Mine is slightly different…. I once met a lady and liked her outfit and she said she made it…so I stared using her service. ) I haven’t lived in lagos too long so I don’t know how to rate her pricing… a dress could start from 15k to maybe 25 with your own fabric depending on how simple or complicated the style… and sometimes 10k for simple stuff like trouser.. I have done one that was even 30k…though it was quite busy. Honestly, I haven’t had real issues with her beyond maybe needing multiple fittings once in a while and 1 broken zip in 2yrs… otherwise she is creative, always on time and sometimes I don’t need fitting sef and twice she has saved me with 24-48hr jobs… is this worth the price tag…just thinking i should compare…

  19. Zeeebby

    January 17, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I gave my mum’s tailor a fabric in 2014 to sew a dress and use the rest to make a top…. I got the dress in good time coz it was for a wedding but the TOP????? As i type in 2017…. I still haven’y gotten it in fact the last time I was there, the fabric had not even been cut!

  20. Ifeoluwa

    January 17, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    All tailors act alike,In 2014 I gave one like that a dress to sew for my prom,till date prom dress I never see,thank God I had another option.I’m going to even learn the skill so I can sew what i like whenever I want to!!!

  21. Eaglebabe

    January 17, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Tailors in Ghana are also like that…fortunately for me, my mom sews so even when she travels, I wait for her to return to sew my stuff for me.

  22. Nayiba

    January 17, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    For a great tailor experience, dress to fit with no complains, timeliness and unbelievable customer service like Vantage clothiers on Facebook and vantageclothiersNG on Instagram.

    We make office shirts and trousers, suits, traditional attires(agbada, kaftan, and Ankara pieces) and also casual wears for both male and female.

  23. nene

    January 17, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    oh my days. i’ve had terrible experiences, that i had to go to fashion school just so i could make my own clothes, that’s how bad. most of them are terrible. it’s either ready-made or i sew for myself.

  24. Rosycuddle

    January 18, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    One job and they can’t do it properly.. Im still trying to get over a very recent one. I can’t start recounting my experiences… All these ‘carpenter tailor’, ‘shoemaker tailor’. I can’t deal!!
    I need to go to a fashion school and learn to sew my thing myself. Mbok

  25. Hertie

    May 10, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I’m from Ghana and it’s frustrating here as well. I’m currently sitting in the seamstress’ shop at 7:15pm, been here for the past 2 hours insisting and waiting for a dress I fully paid for 4 months ago. We had a very serious argument because she used 2 yards instead of three, has sewn a different style all together and is refusing to give me my cut pieces to go and give to another person to sew. See matter! After plenty failed promises I’m so tired! Today na today! I will take this dress even if it takes all night! Incompetent people! I’m sure they teach them LIES along with the sewing. They’re so GREEDY! Don’t take more than you can sew, it’s simple LOGIC! You keep doing this and take offence when we get angry that you don’t deliver on time. Akuabi Fashion in Kumasi in fact I regret bringing my cloths to you. 3y3 as3m oo. Eei Ewurade! Mtcheeew

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