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Monday, September 15, 2008

Dear Saucy.... which band to play with?

I get several emails from masqueraders asking which band to play with (I do not give recommendations) and how to go about choosing a costume. My advice is to go with recommendation from friends or family who have experience with playing with certain bands, so you can gauge if a band is the right fit for you. Take into consideration the demographics of the band as well as what their package includes and of course choose a costume that you really like. Despite all this, however, you may end up choosing the wrong band or even the wrong section in the band (private section that is) and end up with a costume that falls apart or worse yet, never collect a costume at all!

So, what recourse do you have if you are left jumping up in your underwear as the beads on your costume belt disintegrate or, God forbid, you turn up at the mas camp on collection day only to be told they do not have your costume? Well the answer is NONE. Sad to say masqueraders have no recourse in these matters. The Government consumer body, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, does not step in to ensure you get some sort of compensation or refund. Hence choosing a band with good customer service in the event of these situations is also key; most reputable bands will issue a partial or even full refund if you have issues with your costume upon collection. Other bands will only issue you a partial refund, if anything at all, when you open your mouth and let some choice words fly! Worse yet are the bands that not only give you crappy customer service when things go wrong, but they do not give you any type of compensation at all; for Carnival 2008 there were a few bands that fell in the latter category!

Here is the Ministry of Consumer Affairs tips on choosing your costume:

Your Carnival Costume

It's the Carnival season again, and for many of us "playing mas" is an annual activity. Every year we spend thousands of dollars on carnival costumes, but do we really do all that we can to ensure that we get our monies worth. Do we really want to spend our hard-earned savings on a forty-eight hour costume? Consumers it is your responsibility to ask questions and obtain as much information as necessary before making a purchase.

Masqueraders, here are some helpful tips to ensure that this year's Carnival experience is much more enjoyable.

* Choose a Carnival costume within your budget, it is better to save through out the year rather than take a loan to buy costumes.

* Before collecting your costumes make sure that you do a final fitting, and make adjustments if required.

* When collecting your costumes, ensure that you receive all the pieces in the package including: headpieces, ankle bands, hand bands, top and bottom pieces.

* Ensure that your costumes are properly stitched, and examine the fabric for any holes, rips or shearing. Avoid choosing costumes that are made of flimsy materials.

* Enquire from the "mas camp" if they provide emergency repairs on costumes that may become damaged during masquerading.

* It is important to keep all your receipts in the event you have a complaint or plan to seek redress after the Carnival season is over.

Consumers it is your right to be given truthful and honest information on the goods and services you acquire as well as the right to safe goods and services. Remember the power is yours!
I fully agree that at the end of the day, masqueraders,the power is yours. Heed the advice and reviews about bands and their service. Some of you all are willing to give those errant bands a second and third try to "get it right", while your money is jumping up in their pockets, and again THAT power is yours. When you make a decision to play with a band try and have as much information as possible to make an informed decision; I know this might be difficult in choosing a new band when there is no history to go on. However you can take into consideration several factors such as who is involved with the band, the history of those individuals, the standard of customer service you receive from the new band and you can go as far as to judge them by their band launch, their mas camp, website and the quality and construction of their costumes.

To be honest with you the bands that I had misgiving about for 2008 were the very same ones that had issues come Carnival collection; and I based my judgment on one particular band by the mas camp and the service I received there... it was foretelling of the issues that arose for their masqueraders come Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

Of course none of this is foolproof and you may end up choosing a band that is a lemon, despite all your best efforts to choose a "good band" and the best tip I can give to someone in that situation is to take the lemon and make lemonade! Try to enjoy yourself, as best you can (after demanding a refund for your troubles that is) and chalk it up as a lesson learned and an experience you have to share with others; remember the best recourse you have is the power of your voice.

And on that note, feel free to share your stories (leave a comment) of both good and bad customer service, positive and negative on the road issues and overall experiences with ALL Carnival bands; do your part in helping someone else make as informed a choice as they possibly can when choosing a band for Carnival 2009.


Monday Question Time!!!

Once again it is time for questions for our band leader. Please leave a comment to have your questions answered.
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