Monday, February 6, 2012

Warning: Rant Ahead

About a month ago I found myself in Joann's with Christmas money in my pocket. I finally decided on a large cutting mat that, combined with the current one I have, would cover a good portion of my cutting table and eliminate all the adjusting I have to do when cutting a large piece of fabric.  With many more errands to run, I grabbed a large (36"x 24") Olfa mat and headed for the checkout.

As I was unloading the car, I thought I smelled something strange but didn't pay much attention. As I put the mat on the dining room table, I realized what was smelling: the cutting mat was giving off a strong and unpleasant plastic odor. I tried to ignore it but an hour later I just couldn't stand it. The news on the Internet was not good as I found many people complaining about how the new mats smelled.

I have three other Olfa mats as well as a couple of tiny portable ones and none of them smell.  And, granted my memory is not the most reliable part of my brain, but I do not remember any of them smelling so much that I couldn't be in the same room with them.  Does anyone else remember an older mat smelling?

Another ominous sign: the FAQs section on the Olfa website actually addresses this problem.  There they reassuringly state that if you wash the mat in vinegar and water, the smell will disappear, although you may have to do this more than once. I tried three times and even soaked the mat for a couple of hours in the tub with the vinegar solution.  It still smells.

So I sat on the phone for fifteen minutes waiting for customer service and finally gave up and e-mailed Olfa that they had a very dissatisfied customer. A week and a half later, the day before I was going to make the hour-long trek back up to Joann's, I received a reply, saying that they apologized and, if I would tell them the exact size of the mat, they would replace it. So I sent the size to them, asked what I was to do with the old mat,  and ended my e-mail, saying, "And I assume the new mat will not smell."

Five days later I received yet another reply:

Unfortunately, all of our Olfa rotary mats have a strong plastic smell.

Olfa recommends that you use a mixture of warm water and dishwashing detergent to wash your mat.  Please use a lemon or other citrus based dishwashing detergent as this will nelp neutralize the smell.  You may have to wash the mat several times. 

You can also try laying the mat flat in a tub with a mixture of white vinegar and cool water; more white vinegar than water.  Allow the mat to soak in the mixture for about 30 minutes.  You may need to do this one more time.

Try wiping the mat down with Murphy’s Oil Soap or pine scented Lysol. 

I particularly liked the recommendation to use pine-scented Lysol.  You certainly would not smell plastic after wiping it down with that. I have not tried any more of these. And their other suggestion to just let it air out has not worked since it has been smelling up our basement now for a month. 

I am disappointed that a company that sold what I thought was a reliable, quality product no longer does and angry about the way they have handled this since I am not sure Joann's will take the mat back at this point. My reply to their last e-mail contained this question:  Why, if any of these methods work, don't you use them before you send out the mats to retail stores?

So that's the end of my rant, and, if you made it to the end with me, thanks for the company!


Kathy P said...

You have every right to rant Madalene! I too, had read the reviews on-line, because I was considering buying a new mat with my Christmas money, but opted for re-stocking my yarn stash instead. I guess I'm glad I did! Hope you get it resolved somehow...

Betweens said...

Hi, mat smelled too.. but not of plastic i had bought mine at a quilters place and she had her new mats stored in a shed. They were sprayed by a skunk and we were warned when we bought them. I sprayed Febreeze on the mats and literally the smell had gone. I really sprayed so try that and see if this helps.

Anya said...

Take it back to Joann's anyway, with proof of your correspondence with Olfa.