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Puppet Planet

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Puppetplanet, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Mods, I tried to post where I thought this would fit best. If you feel it belongs in a different area then please feel free to move this thread. Best, -Michele

    Dear puppet planet customers,
    As many of you are aware, I have had several personal challenges over the past couple years that have led to some difficulty in my business transactions. Divorce, Illness, home foreclosure, and moving out of state to name a few. All of which have contributed to a slow progression to financial stability for my family.

    Things have gotten so rough that my daughters and I had to spend a few months recently in a one room homeless shelter. At this time, I have no means of transportation as my vehicle needs the transmission replaced. I no longer own a computer due to being forced to sell most of my valuables and furnishings when transfering my family to the shelter. I have, however, recently been provided a home on a ranch with the opportunity to work off the value of rent and utilities until I find regular employment. I do not have a telephone. I live in a very small rural town where there is no public transportation available. I know very few people here all of which help me with transportation when they can. The nearest library is about 15 miles away, where I am currently using the free computer for communication when I'm able to get here during open hours. I am telling you this to express the difficulty of being able to communicate via email in a reasonable manner. And to let you know of the limits to resources currently available to me at this time.

    I have read some despariging remarks about myself and my business practices. I am very sorry that my personal life has interfered with my ability to run things in a professional manner. I suppose I have to live with those remarks and negative word of mouth about me. However, I have no intentions of changing my business name to hide behind some other persona. I am working to get my family back on stable ground and I will make no pretence of the fact that it will take some time. I will continue to do business under the name Puppet Planet for as long as the desire to build puppets remains within me. I will build my reputation back to respectable status via means of facing the issues at hand and taking responsibility for them. Over time, positive word of mouth will replace the bad things that people have chosen to say and spread about me. I feel that’s the right thing to do rather than filing bankruptsy or other methods that some people choose to "start fresh". I certainly hope that those who took the time to label me as a "fraud", "theif", etc. will also take the time to update the status of their remarks when I have worked to make things right between us.

    In an effort to start with a clean plate and resolve problems, I would like to offer refunds to everyone that currently has open transactions with me. I must admit up front that the refund process will be slow, and done in small partial payments due to my current financial situation. But I intend to make this right and this is probably the best way to proceed. If you have an open transaction with me, please send details in writing with any available copies of payments you have made to the address provided below. In return, I will provide you with a signed letter in writing indicating my agreement that a refund is due and begin to send partial payments.

    A refund probably wont please everyone, but since I currently have very few options available to communicate and very few resources available to complete custom orders…. this is the resolution that I feel would suit everyone involved. I do have some completed puppets/figures belonging to people but with no computer I have not had any means to obtain contact information. The owners may opt to receive the completed items or to receive the refund via payments as described above. I have no intention of forcing someone to choose one option over the other despite any completed orders that I have in my posession.

    Due to my lack of supplies in stock and lack of resources to obtain special supplies, I will not be able to accept custom orders until things have improved financially enough to do so. When I can find a means, I will be attempting to use donated and remaining supplies to build and sell my work online. This will help me obtain funds to start making refund payments to everyone since I currently do not have any other means of income.

    I am asking everyone reading this, and if they desire to help find other customers I may not reach here, to please copy this message in it's entirity and post it where you feel others might be able to find me. The computer use is limited here and I may not get to all of the forums that I would like within the time set for my computer access. I'm hoping to reach puppetsnstuff, worldvents on yahoo, christpups on yahoo, magic forums, and other places where similar people of puppet & vent interest may gather. If you don't see my post there, please feel free to duplicate for those who would benefit.

    Regards,
    Michele Acquin
    Puppet Planet
    PO Box 175
    Creston, NC 28615
  2. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I know many members here wish some sort of accountability had been acknowledged at the time of this trouble before members became frustrated; but it says a lot that you took the time to make this statement well after it could have been forgotten. I wish the best for you and your family in these tough times. :sympathy:

    I dropped out of sight for a time as well. That was some time back and I tied up my business dealings before hand. It was tough. I still don't know how I was able to do it and some of my clients still weren't satisfied at the time, but you do what you can and hope it will be enough. It appears that you are taking a very responsible route now and I applaud that. :cool:

    You certainly aren't taking the easy way out that most people do. I think once you put enough good will out there it will come back to you many times over. I wish you the best! Welcome back. :super:
  3. muppetguy

    muppetguy Member

    Hi Michele. I am happy to hear you are doing better. I'm the opne who ordered the full bodied green monster. I just sent a ltter to you snail mail today with all the info. If he is completed, I would like to have him. Thank you for coming on the board to tell us. My prayers are with you and your family.
  4. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Yes, I do whole heartedly agree. But without going into the painfully long details.... things sort of fell apart quickly. Since I've always been very public about the personal problems I've had due to them affecting my business transactions, most people involved with me in business knew that I was having issues. I believe that's how MuppetGuy found me.

    I was always on the verge of utilities being shut off, rent being late, etc. but I just never expected to find myself in a homeless shelter with my daughters. I just had faith that things would somehow work out... which they have, as I have a place to call my own again, but it's just taken a longer path than I anticipated and I had to hit a pretty dramatic low to get where I am today.


    To address some things said in the other post listed here on MuppetCentral (It's currently closed). I never received any indication of a BBB complaint on behalf of the two members who participated in the complaints of that post. However, I discovered that it's because I completely forgot to update my address after moving from FL to NC back in early 2009. Those are the only two complaints on BBB that are unresolved.... so I'm not sure I understand the misleading comment about there being a bunch.

    I never had an "orange monster" on my catalog/stock puppets page. I also never shipped anything out in July as I was in a homeless shelter at that point and didn't have access to internet, transportation, or easy access to any puppet items to ship anything out. The person is either confused about where they purchased their puppet from, or confused about the time frame and circumstances of acquring the puppet from me... if I'm the one who sold it to them.

    And I never went out to intentionally or "maliciously" deceive or steal from anyone. I hope that my current actions and attempts to correct matters prove that. I understand that the two people involved were angry, and they certainly had a right to be angry.

    I've been very public in the puppet and ventriloquist world for several years (about 10) and someone with intentions to purposely steal would be hiding behind obscure websites and not be affiliated with popular events or participate on forums such as MuppetCentral & Puppetsandstuff in the open manner of which I have always operated. Fact of the matter is, I'm not a thief.

    I'm sorry for the anxiety I've caused to any members here that have had a bad experiece with me. Most importantly, I fully intend to make it right.

    -Michele
  5. Frogpuppeteer

    Frogpuppeteer Well-Known Member

    Michele
    its good to know your well, i hope thing continue to look up for you and start getting better
  6. Puppetainer

    Puppetainer Member

    Hello Michele! I'm so glad to hear that things have improved for you and your family! I had only just discovered your site and work about the time that things turned for the worse for you. I had tried at that time to contact you and just open a discussion with you about trying to run a puppet making business. I have had thoughts of trying to make some sort of a living through making and performing puppets and you clearly have some experience in this area. I tried to contact you and just figured you were too busy to respond or not really interested in striking up the conversation in general.

    It was only in the weeks that followed when I read other people were trying to get a hold of you as well that I realized something else was going on. I had read some of your posts at your site, here and elsewhere and had been concerned for you and your well being. I was concerned that things must have taken a turn for the worse. I've never met you, but from your very open dialogues and your many examples of outstanding puppet artistry I liked the person I could see.

    I know that these are tough times that we're living in. Many of us are skating on that very same edge that nearly swallowed you and it's all too easy for us to take our relative comfort for granted. For so many of us every day is a roll of the dice. One or two bad rolls and we're out of a job and looking for a way to survive. What I think is admirable is that you have managed to keep a positive outlook and continue to offer the best possible customer service despite your many difficulties.

    As I've said, we've never met, but if we did I like to think we would be friends. From what I've seen those call you friend are lucky indeed. Be well Michele and may your road ahead be smooth and safe!
  7. King Rupert

    King Rupert Member

    I just discovered Michele's site very recently. I was blown away by her work, then deeply saddened to hear of her struggles. I did send her an e-mail about purchasing one of her puppets. I haven't heard back... but I would like to help out in anyway I can.
  8. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Hello everyone.

    Thank you for your concern and well wishes. We do finally have a place to call home and an opportunity to work off the cost of rent on the owner's ranch until I can find employment. I'm still working on trying to get up the funds to pay for the transmission repair on my truck, until then I have to rely on rides from other people to get my errands done. This is also the only way that I can communicate online, via the free computer at the library when I can get rides into town about 15 miles away.

    The weather here in the NW NC mountains has been treacherous lately, quite a change from the FL melting heat. :) Fortunately my daughters and I love the snow and changes in seasonal weather. We've been keeping warm and playing lots of card games during their snow days from school.

    I have limited free use of the library computer and so much that I try to get done online during this small window of time. I'm sorry if I'm not able to get to everyone's emails. Things on the business end are at a slow crawl until I can get my finances in order... particualy to afford internet access at home because it would make it much easier to communicate. I get over a hundred emails a day, and several hundred (sometimes over a thousand) waiting for me when I finally get to the library to check them. I scan through them at the moment because a lot of them are requests for custom orders from people who don't know my limited ability to design anything requiring special materials or specific/short deadlines.

    If you are aware of my situation and would like a custom puppet (with at least 6 weeks notice) please send your request in writing to my address (corrected address provided below). I can work on limited orders, and I do have some of my catalog puppets completed in stock (see my website). As for custom orders, I'm very limited in my ability to use antron fleece (muppet fleece), as I have very little available. I'm also limited on my ability to order any special supplies due to lack of funds..... so, custom orders would be difficult at this time. I'm not sure how to work around all of that, which is why I don't think anyone would want to work with me on a custom order at this time. Understandably of course!

    I listed the incorrect PO box number as my address above. I'm so sorry about that, but it's a small town and they have been giving me all of my mail going to that box number. I've received a few letters from some people and packages of donated materials from others. Thank you so much!

    My correct box number is below.

    Michele Acquin
    PO Box 12
    Creston, NC 28615
  9. King Rupert

    King Rupert Member

    An order is coming your way. Keep your chin up!
  10. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Ok, here is the deal. I'm probably asking for it by posting publicly because there is no way to make every single person happy and I'm likely to face some backlash from those who don't agree with my decision. But lets face it, this whole mess has already been made public anyway.

    I was originally going to ask you guys for advice because some of the members here will be affected by my decision, but the choice I made ulitmately makes better sense to me in the long run. Im doing what I think is best, but I do want some input so that I can try to think this through since I still have a couple weeks before I have the ability to take some action. So, tell me what you would do:

    I did my taxes and I've got a little bit of a return coming back (which will take a few weeks since I didn't want to spend the money getting a quick return). Enough to pay the remaining balance on my truck repairs (YAY!) and then I'll have about $300 left to try and make a dent in my business mess. I really only had two options and I choose the second one and it's obvious why.

    Again, I'm not going to make everyone happy here but in the long run I think it will satisfy a lot more people in a shorter amount of time...

    First Option: $300 would be spread out via a few small payments to people that I owe refunds to. It would make a small dent in some of debts I owe and then that would be it for a while until my finances pick up. It's a short term bandaid to getting some people a little bit of money immediately but once the funds run out I'm back in the same limited situation I am in right now.

    Second Option: I owe ebay about $300 in fees ($287 to be exact). If I pay that bill, then I can figure a way to get some puppets and figures I have in stock listed on there again.... which would lead to some regular income... which would lead to MORE people getting refund payments. This is a long term fix, and people would still be getting small payments... but with more frequency than the "money right now" option mentioned above.

    Another reason why I choose the second option above is because I have not been successful with finding regular employement yet. Having my own transportation will help hopefully.... but the unemployment rate here (over 18%) is higher than the national average. Truth be known, I'm willing to work anywhere doing anything (except take my clothes off! :crazy:), seriously... anything legal. I'm willing to work at a McDonalds, Walmart, whatever. I'm not picky about that kind of stuff. But the extra income from selling my work is something that isn't controlled by how many hours a company might put me on the schedule, etc. If I can do both, then I obviously will.... but getting myself up and running on eBay would be a guaranteed job providing I have the materials to make product (and I do have a little).

    So, thats basically it. It doesn't solve my internet access problem just yet, but I think it will get me on my way to getting back on my feet again... and getting people substantial refund payments.
    So let the bashing begin. :eek: No, seriously, share your logical thoughts.
    -Michele
  11. King Rupert

    King Rupert Member

    I'd say pay eBay off. I have been paying special attention to the professional puppets sales on there lately and the market for them seems to be very strong. A used puppet of yours just sold for 140$. Getting eBay back should allow some steady income to your pocket allowing you to pay back the others?

    Good Luck with whatever you decide.
  12. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    I forgot one thing.... eBay sales would lead to Paypal payments. Which is great, except my paypal account is in the negative right now too. It's nothing that 2 or 3 decent sales wouldn't take care of.... but still something I need to remember and mention for those who are waiting on refunds from me. :smirk:
  13. muppetguy

    muppetguy Member

    Hey Michele,

    I haven't heard from you in weeks. I hope everything is ok with you and your family. Hope to hear from you soon.
  14. dkmontgomery

    dkmontgomery Member

    Just wanted to let you know that we are praying for you guys.
  15. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member


    Sorry about that Frank, we spoke a couple weeks ago and I told you I had a ride commited to taking me to the post office that next Monday. I didn't know it at the time, but it turned out to be Presidents Day. The library and the post office were closed. I haven't had a ride anywhere other than Sundays for church & grocery shopping until today.

    Your package was dropped off at the post office this morning and shipped via priority mail so it should arrive very soon.

    I understand you can only make payments on the balance due as we discussed. Please go ahead and send them via paypal using my email address so that I can chip away at the negative balance and start working on building up funds to send refund payments to other clients.

    Thank you for your understanding and patience during your order process. I know it's been a long journey, but it's almost complete now. :crazy:

    Hugs,
    -Michele
  16. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Thank you Dan, I appreciate it. Prayers are getting answered and we are safe & well. The girls are enjoying the snow & days off from school. However, if anyone was praying for snow... you can stop now. ;)
  17. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Fixed car, wheels, a ride of my very own!

    Sort of off topic, but I get emails and questions on how we are doing and I just thought that I would share that I will finally have my car on the road in less than 48 hours. I get to pick it up Monday.

    I am SOOoooo doing the happy dance right now. Ahh, the taste of independence... it is so close. :insatiable:
  18. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    A note about available puppets:

    Thanks to all of the kind people that have sent me supplies, I have the following catalog characters completed and in stock at this time:
    You can see photos on my website as these are catalog characters: http://www.puppet-planet.com/howtobuy01.html


    Aunt Fran (two of them), Paul Biz (miguel wants?), PaPa (two of them), Tweak (three of them), Fidget, Mona (two of them), and Ruby Red Hat Lady

    Some of the shirts may be different than shown in pictures due to what ever may have been available for purchase or donated to make puppets.


    I also have some figures that are not normal stock but I have no means to post photos since I don't have a digital camera or a place that will allow me to upload images. (library doesn't).

    I have 5 characters that I had planned to list on the catalog page for a stock figure character. Made with the same curly furry fleece fabric as the orange monkey on this gallery page (http://www.puppet-planet.com/gallery01.html)They are all the duplicate designs of each other except for some minor details and color. One is moss green, One is purple/blue (perwinkle), and three white. Price is $240 for each figure regardless of color and includes priority shipping anywhere in the USA. These rabbits are the about the same size as the Monster described below.

    I also have a girlie monster figure with pony tails. She is about 90% complete and would take a couple hours to finish her. She is made with two tone long shaggy fur (black and pink) that is treated to look sort of messy like Oscar grouch. She has pink ostrich feather ponytails, dark gray antron fleece face, hands, & feet. Pink antron fleece eye lids & button nose as well as long lashes. Price is $290 including priority shipping anywhere in the USA. Since her face features haven't been completed yet, she could have blinking eye lids, added lips, teeth, etc. for an additional cost if you wish. Similar to the blue monster with yellow pigtails in my gallery here: http://www.puppet-planet.com/gallery01.html Except the entire hands of this character are antron fleece as well as the feet. The size of the monster in the image is also about 36" tall and could wear a size 4T clothing. The size of this pink and black monster that is for sale is a smaller more portable size of about 28" tall and could probably wear a size 2T clothing.

    I don't like shipping or selling puppets without provding an image, but it may still be a little bit before I can find means to get images uploaded to use for selling. I hope the example images I have provided will help with the imagry of the characters in your mind.

    If anyone has an old laptop with wireless ability that they are willing to allow me to make payments on (obviously don't expect you to ship it until it's paid in full), please contact me. I'm not looking for anything fancy, just something cheap in working condition that will get me online. I have found that a neighbor has wireless internet. They are just close enough that I can access if I sit at the picnic table at end of my long driveway. They have agreed to allow me to use their internet connection via wireless means if I had my own laptop.

    Thanks again guys, I'll be online for about another hour if anyone wants to send me a message.
    -Michele
  19. Goochman

    Goochman Member

    Unfortunately I found this thread too late. I placed an order about 2 months ago for some simple stock eyes... she took my paypal payment quick enough, but now still... no eyes, no response to emails or voice messages. Why are you still running a web store when you don't have the means to ship what you're selling? I understand you have had issues but really... is taking an order and my hard earned money when you know you can't ship it the right thing to do?
  20. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    In response to the previously mentioned post that was just brought to my attention:

    I received a paypal notification that a dispute was opened on August 19th, the date of Goochman's post. I did not see the notification until the 25th of August, at which time I immediately sent a FULL REFUND.

    Thank you,
    -Michele


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