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As you all know, I've had issues with Vera forever. I drafted this letter to Viking Corporate and sent it off on Sunday. This is information many of you have asked for and I want to be open with you about my struggles. I will keep you all apprised to what happens from here. Thank you all so much for sticking with me even though I've been inconstant in my makes.
To Whom It May Concern:
I purchased a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 835 in May 2011 from the Viking dealer #2075 inside the Jo-Ann Crafts store in Gilbert, AZ, USA. When I purchased the machine, I was seven months pregnant and still working full-time. I knew I would not be sewing much until after the baby was born, but was up-front with Clarrisa, the manager and person who sold me the machine, that I would be an everyday sewer once the baby arrived. I needed a machine that could handle piecing and quilting and possibly garment sewing on a regular basis. I would not be someone to only take out the machine for the occasional hem or mend. She told me the Sapphire 835 would be my best choice. I tried a few machines out on the sales floor, settling on the Sapphire she recommended, and purchased it that day.
I was working with a local group of quilters here called Comfort Quilters, making quilts for people undergoing treatment for cancer. Our goal is to bring people hope and love with our quilts, and if nothing else, keep them warm as they receive their freezing chemo treatments. As you might imagine, time is of the essence when making for people who are dying, and since my old machine’s foot pedal had broken, I was very excited to get started with my new Sapphire! A few days after my purchase, I pulled it out to work on one of the quilts but I noticed some major tension problems. I remembered Clarrisa telling me there were classes on how to use the machine, so I packed it up, had someone else take my quilts to finish, and signed up for the in-store class. I wanted to learn my machine before I dove in.
A month or so later, I attended the introductory class. I learned quite a lot from that experience and greatly appreciate that Viking offers these classes for sewists! Clarrisa is truly a whiz with these machines!
A couple weeks later, I delivered my first baby. My sewing machine, which up to this point had only been used in the introductory class, remained boxed up until my daughter turned three months old and I found time to sew. In short, for six months, my machine sat all but unused.
The machine worked miserably, having tension problems, forcing me to unpick many-a-seam. Numerous times I drove up to the store to have my machine looked at, every time being told the issue was “Operator Error”. I believed the Viking employees for a while. I would come home in puzzlement, wondering what I could be doing wrong since the employees could never actually tell me what it was this operator was doing to cause all those tension errors. I knew I wasn’t stupid. I am a sewing blogger. I sew constantly, whether for online bees, swaps, series, blog features, or for family and myself. What could I be doing wrong? I also sew with the manual close at hand, something I picked up from my grandmother when she taught me to sew. If ever in doubt, I refer to my manual. But the tension problems persisted leading to many more trips up to the store.
Looking back, I wish I would have documented every time I went to have my machine looked at. In my machine’s first year, I can modestly say I took it to the store a dozen times, not including the numerous phone calls. I was told I needed to buy different thread two separate times, leaving me “unable” to use Coats and Clark or Gutermann. Even Mettler was causing issues. I am currently trying Aurifil, a beautiful thread that should make any machine sing. I was also told I couldn’t buy large spools because my machine clearly couldn’t handle them. I was told I needed to purchase a tabletop thread holder because the thread holder on my machine was too close to the thread intake and THAT was the culprit of all these tension issues. You can imagine my frustration. Why should I need to purchase auxiliary tools so my $1,000 machine can perform the most basic of functions? I purchased the tabletop thread holder. My machine still had tension issues. I was also unable to use the spring action free-motion quilt foot and, as Clarrisa put it, I should just use the “R” foot instead. I purchased the spring action free motion foot separately from my machine specifically so I could free motion quilt. How frustrating that when I WANT to purchase an ancillary, it too will not work with the machine.
I got to the point of being very firm with the employees at this store: I sew every day. I sew long hours. I need a reliable machine and this clearly is not it. I wanted my machine sent out to be serviced while it was still within the first year warranty time frame. Clarrisa assured me that since I have had continued problems with this machine, warranty or not, she would make sure my machine was properly fixed. They finally sent it out, kindly giving me a loaner in the interim, and my machine was returned to me a couple days later. Now, the clunking noise it had been making and the garbled top thread underneath the fabric had been replaced by a high pitched but soft squealing noise toward the top of the machine. I mentioned it to the employee on duty and she told me it was because it had just been serviced and the noise would subside. It didn’t, but the machine seemed to be working, so I took it home. I had project deadlines that I needed to meet.
A couple days into using my newly fixed machine, it began having tension problems again. Frustrated, I called the store to speak with Clarrisa. I left a message for her to return my call and borrowed a friend’s machine to complete my pending projects. I even went so far as to purchase a new foot pedal off Ebay for my old machine so I could use it while my Viking sat on a shelf, waiting to be worked on yet again.
I didn’t hear back from Clarrisa. I don’t know if she never got the message or if she found herself too busy to return my call. I phoned a couple more times, hoping to get my machine into the shop again to be fixed, this time, hopefully, for good. Eventually, I was told I could bring in the Sapphire. I did not recognize the employee but she told me she would have it sent in, gave me a loaner machine, and would let Clarrisa know I was in yet again. About a week later my machine was returned. Another new employee was at the store to give my machine back to me. She told me they fixed my tension issues and that there was a pin found down in the feed dogs. While I do not believe the pin was mine (I am extremely careful about removing pins before they approach the needle) I cannot prove that it wasn’t and will take responsibility for it. I know I was not having any troubles with the feed dogs or bobbin, only the tension, squeal, and loud clunks the machine had made prior to the first time I had it sent out for work. After the employee returned my machine to me, she handed me a bill for the work completed. Apparently I was past my one-year warranty by a couple days, which may not have happened had Clarrisa returned one of my many calls. I did not pay the bill for a couple reasons, the first being that I was not told there would be a charge when I dropped off the machine and second being that Clarrisa had told me they would fix my machine regardless of warranty. I told her if my not paying was an issue for management to have Clarrisa call me and we could discuss, since she was the one who had originally told me not to worry about whether I was within the warranty time frame. I never heard back from her.
Because I am no longer within the one year warranty time frame and any repairs will cost me, I have not taken my machine back in. I have not sewed on it much in the past couple months and it still is making the high-pitched squealing sound.
The issues this machine has presented have caused me to miss deadlines for blog related projects. I have been unable to free-motion quilt and because of the many tension issues, have been forced to send out some of my personal quilts to a long-arm quilter at a high cost to me. My confidence in taking on new projects has been shaken, not my confidence in my skill but my confidence in my machine.
I asked to return the machine after the second or third time I took the Sapphire into the store for repair, but because it had sat for six months while I was pregnant and learning to be a mom, I was past the point for return. I asked to trade in my machine for a new one of the same type since mine was clearly a lemon. I was told no yet again. I asked to upgrade my machine, to use it as a trade-in for the value I paid and I would pay the difference for another machine in the shop. This time I was told I could but they would only give me a miniscule amount for my machine and the cost difference to the next machine up was more than I paid for my machine to begin with.
I get asked on a regular basis which machine I have. Do I like it? Would I recommend it to someone looking for a new machine? Would I do a blog post review of my machine? Would I post about my machine in my “About Me” section on my blog so anyone can easily see about my machine? As I’ve blogged, I have casually mentioned here and there about Vera (the name I have given my machine) and her many issues, but not wanting to have constant negative posts, I have tried to be less forthcoming with my sewing machine problems. I do, however, have a wide following through the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr, to name a few, who know I have had nothing but trouble with my sewing machine. I have a couple blog friends who have this machine, and when I originally was looking for a new machine, I contacted them to tell me about their experience with the Viking Sapphire. One of the three Sapphire owners I contacted told me she had tension issues with her machine but that she sent it in once and the issues were remedied. Mine, however, were not. I cannot in good conscience give a glowing recommendation for this sewing machine.
I am at a loss. I feel I am stuck with a worthless machine, as it can only perform simple tasks (and not even very well) that I could have gotten from a cheap, $100 Brother machine. I feel that I have exhausted the resources and patience of the employees at the Viking store I purchased this machine from and am looking to see if there are any other options for me at a corporate level. In my optimal scenario, I would like to either swap my machine for the same model, either new or used, but one that works, or I would like to be refunded my full payment amount so I can purchase another machine that will suit my needs. I don’t know what you are capable of doing for me, but I appreciate you considering my problems and my requests.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.