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CNER United States Pony Club Dressage Rally - May 11, 2019

Our very first ever PC rally was this past Saturday at Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, MA. It kind of cracks me up that I joined PC for the express purpose of access to more jumping instruction opportunities, and my first mounted experience is a dressage rally hahaha.  

But honestly, it was so much fun.  Maybe it is because I am so used to showing alone or maybe because I love the show prep and set up just as much (if not more) than the actual riding, but competing in a PC rally is now one of my most favorite experiences.  And I cannot wait to do more!  I think the only thing different for this show was having to label EVERYTHING with my name.  Otherwise, my show prep was just the same as normal.

Sadly, our original team of four riders ended up dwindling to just two, as one young rider ended up sick with a 103 fever and a barn was quarantined because of a horse with EHV-4 so none of the PC members from that large boarding barn could attend. Therefore, my remaining teammate and I were split …

You're killing me, Smartpak! :-(

Oh, Smartpak.  What is happening?  :-(

Let me start by saying I have loved Smartpak forever and have been a loyal customer since they started.  I have bought supplements through Smartpak for over ten years at least.  I know there are varying opinions about Smartpak out there, however I have always had great luck with them and I really have had no complaints until now.  Generally, I check Smartpak first when I am looking for a horse related item, mostly because I get free shipping with the standing supplement order (let's be real, paying for shipping is dumb if you can help it!) and because they ship from MA, I generally get orders within two days.

Well, it seems they have been having issues with their warehouse system for a while now.  I never really noticed the problems on my end, because my Smartpak supplements always arrived faithfully every 28 days and general items I ordered were still showing up within a few days, too.

Then I had the big idea to switch Ellie over to Gro 'N Win ration balancer this fall, since she really doesn't need grain, but I still wanted to be sure she had the right balance of protein, vitamins, and minerals.  Gro 'N Win is not available anywhere in New England, but when I saw Smartpak carried it, I figured heck yeah, might as well add it to my 28 day auto ship supplement order and have my horse's feed also delivered to my house every month.  It seemed like a great idea and would save me time and effort.

The first month I started Gro 'N Win, my supplements arrived in October 29 and the Gro 'N Win came two days later on Halloween.  Ok, not a huge deal.  I didn't think much of it, but it did irk me slightly.  And it was odd because the shipping/tracking info never worked at all for the ration balancer.

However, my second and latest supplement order arrived on November 23, but the Grow 'N Win arrived on December 4.  That is 11 days later if you are keeping track, so not exactly on a 28 day cycle, but more like a 39 day cycle.  And again, the shipping info never showed up at all so I had no idea when it would arrive.  This made me grumpy.  If I choose for something to arrive every 28 days, something important like my horse's feed, especially a feed I cannot get locally at all, eleven days late is unacceptable.  I had ordered enough so I would not run out, but at eleven days behind schedule I was down to just two more feedings left in the bin.  Would Ellie have been fine without her "grain"?  Of course.  But that is not the point.  If I am expecting my feed to arrive every 28 days, it seems as though Smartpak cannot be trusted to do so.  I was not impressed.

I hemmed and hawed about what to do.  Then just the next day, I receive a nice little Christmas gift from Smartpak, thanking me for my years of being a customer and included is a $20 gift card.  I admit, it made me hesitate a bit more on what to do about the Gro 'N Win, because I really do want to see Smartpak succeed and get their shipping issues ironed out.  I didn't want to bail on them, but I wasn't happy with an auto ship order arriving 11 days late.

I am a sucker for kindness and handwritten thank you notes
This past Friday, I vaguely remembered that Chewy also had Gro 'N Win available.  


I go to their site and see that if I sign up for their 28 day auto ship, the Gro 'N Win is only $18.99 a bag, compared to $19.81 a bag at Smartpak.  Yep, it is only 82 cents, but still, it is cheaper!  I realize I can also add in my barn cat's food and save yet another errand in my life.


I ordered it on Friday at 8:45 am and cancelled the Gro 'N Win with Smartpak immediately afterwards.  I wrote a kind but honest reason why I cancelled the feed order.  By 3:30 that afternoon, I had an email from Smartpak.

I hope that this email finds you well! I wanted to reach out to thank you for filling out our cancellation survey. We appreciate it. I completely understand your frustration and disappointment with us, because this isn’t representative of the customer service we pride ourselves on. Please know that we don't consider these delays to be acceptable in any way and we're sorry to have let you down this time. We are confident that these growing pains will be worth it because we assure you this improvement will help serve our customers even better and faster in the future. 

I'm adding a credit into your account for $25. That credit will never expire, and it will automatically apply towards whatever you order with us next! We appreciate your patience and hope you'll give us another chance with your ration balancer in the future.

Oh, Smartpak, you are killing me!  I felt even more terrible that they gave me free spending money; let's face it, the $25 credit was not needed or expected, but I will never say no to free horse money haha.  I responded with a thank you and "you did not have to do that" email.  

Saturday rolls around and look what shows up on a FedEx truck.

Yup, my Gro 'N Win that I ordered from Chewy.  It arrived in just under 29 hours from when I ordered it on Friday, shipping for free all the way from Pennsylvania to Maine.  I just chose their regular shipping option and it said it was estimated to be here by this coming Tuesday.  But it arrived the NEXT DAY.

Sorry, Smartpak, but you just can't compete with that.  You used to be able to, but I understand things change.  If the "free shipping" option is now going to take a week and a half and 28 day auto ship on items other than supplements is not going to actually ship every 28 days, count me out.  I will keep my supplements with Smartpak at this point, but Chewy has my feed order from now on.

The problem is once you start something like super fast and free shipping and I have come to expect that, but then it changes to super slow shipping, it isn't a good thing.  Smartpak can give me free money every week lol, but it is not going to change the fact that Chewy beat them out in this instance.  And now I will be aware that if I need an item in a hurry, I either will have to pay for fast shipping with Smartpak, or I will buy it elsewhere.  

For example, on December 6, I went to use the $20 gift card from the handwritten note for Christmas treats for the horses from Santa and saw that the "free shipping" option said my items would arrive around December 18.  If I actually paid for second day shipping, the items would be here on December 10.  Fair enough. It seems Smartpak is still able to ship almost as fast as they used to if you pay $$$.  

I don't begrudge Smartpak for wanting to "upgrade" their warehouse or even if this is actually a ploy to make money on fast shipping, but it is an example of a business changing something I have come to expect and it is not going to go well for them in the long run.  It is a bummer all around, for sure.


TeresaA said…
It would be frustrating but how awesome that you can order feed and have it delivered! It’s not even a possibility here!
I would definitely still be frustrated if I had not found, that is for sure! I honestly had no idea I could have feed delivered until now. What a time to be alive! I hope Canada gets its act together for you! ;-)
I knew Chewy had horse feed (I scoped out Crypto Aero at one point) but I had no idea how much cheaper that ration balancer was than the one I'm currently feeding 🤔🤔🤔 hmmmmmm.

But yes, smartpak has been a hot mess lately, I won't give them my money anymore.
Ugh. I will never order from Smartpak (or Dover) again after similarly disappointing shipping experiences. Manipulating the customer into paying for shipping i.e. treating reasonable shipping time as a revenue stream doesn't just cut it...
Obviously, I am only three days in to my relationship with Chewy, but I am blown away so far! And I definitely think Gro 'N Win is a good ration balancer, for sure! I am so sad about Smartpak. :-( Deep down as much as I want them to bounce back to how things once were, I don't think that will actually happen.
Exactly. I wish they had just said, hey look, we are now charging for shipping if you want things within a week, so sorry about that. I live NO WHERE near a tack shop, so Smartpak was always my easy go-to if I needed a last minute (well, 2 day wait only haha) supply.
I've never liked SmartPak, but sometimes they have something I need/want that I can't get elsewhere. I ordered something from SmartPak back on Black Friday and still haven't received it. They sent me an email apologizing for the delay, but it's getting ridiculous.
Thankfully I can get Buckeye locally but not at the super convenient feed store. If I'm lazy/desperate, I will order from Chewy. It's a smaller bag, but it'll get to me sooner than the feed store that I can only get to on Saturdays (closed after work and Sundays). Plus free shipping if I add some cat food to my order and I usually always need cat food... I have had some issues with FedEx, but Chewy has made it right every time. FedEx on the other hand...
Genny Macy said…
That shipping delay is obnoxious - but I'm also one who gets "guilty" about cancelling things! I'm so glad that Chewy is working for you, I had no idea they had horse feed. Very cool.
Blah, that is ridiculous. :-(
That is good to know you have had good luck with Chewy. I agree, FedEx can be a pain, but I feel as though they are much better at keeping me informed than UPS ever is. And UPS doesn't always update their system well.
I am super stoked about Chewy and I hope they will work out as well as I hope! Yeah, I got stuck down a COTH rabbit hole last night and it seems this has been going on for at least a year now! I get that when things change, it can get wacky, but this shipping issue doesn't seem as though it may change anytime soon. :-(
Laura said…
I have so many feels about this post, lol. Glad that SmartPak gave you some store credit, but meh, fix your shipping, dudes! Although here in Canada, nothing and I mean nothing ships that fast or free from anywhere. Amazon prime is a joke here too. Also jealous that you can get gro n win shipped - there is one feed store that has it here and I have to call ahead, have them order it, call ahead again because the order got lost, etc. etc. I don't know if Buckeye themselves are part of the problem. Their ration balancers only have a 180 day shelf life, so maybe they get behind on orders or suppliers have old inventory?
Well, it's more our fedex driver vs fedex. They've left my chewy packages in the rain (fine except when I had the buckeye...) without plastic WHILE IT WAS POURING and had been raining for 3 days straight and ruined the bag..twice. Then the driver also crashed into my mailbox and just sort of tried to fix it, made worse, and drove off...
L.Williams said…
Just apply the free money to some everyday supplement expenses lol. But yeah I don't get that I've gotten items NOT shipped together even though I asked for them to be shipped together. Makes me wonder if they got a bit too big for their britches.
Oh my lord! That is not OK! Thankfully our FedEx and UPS are pretty decent and I have told them they can leave any packages (horsey or not - well, not like they really can tell anyway haha) inside the barn doors, so I have been lucky that way if it is rainy. We did have a fill in UPS driver last Christmas who threw a box at the end of our 1000' driveway (thankfully it had buckets and other horse supplies, not my kids' presents since I online shop 95% of the time) and my husband just happened to spot it in the dark instead of plowing it with the new snow fall. Had it gotten plowed into the snow bank, we would not have seen it until months later! I called and complained to UPS (which is something I never do), but the guy was a jerk previously to me as well. I wanted to say, look I can tell you hate your job, but don't take it out on me! LOL! Throwing the box was the last straw and funny enough, I never saw him again after those few weeks haha.
Ahhh, but the free money has the stipulation that it can only be used towards tack and supplies. :-(
I have heard that Canadian post is terrible, so I guess I should not complain too much! Oh, that kind of feed store order situation is just not worth it, I hear you. :-(