Name of Comissioner/Merchant: Midsummer Knight's Dream/Gryphon Woodbaby Puppets
Item Comissioned: A moving baby owl shoulder puppet styled after Owloysius, from My Little Pony
Picture of Item: http://www.cosplay.com/photo/3361795/
Timeline: Inquiries about if they could do a custom colouring for about a month, placed the full order in December, received it near the middle of March.
Experience: I saw a booth of their fantasy and real animal puppets (they're furry and cute, sit on your shoulder with a magnetic saddle device that hides under your clothes, and they have a sort of hydraulic wire control that allows their head to move) at a ren fest last summer and HAD to get one. I decided, why not one for my Twilight Sparkle cosplay to make it really unique? I emailed the site owner asking if they could do an owl with a colouration like Owloysius, since their order form wasn't quite as detailed as would have allowed that. It took about a month of communication to figure out what kind of owl to get, the price, payment method (their site order form is evidently down, dunno how long it's been that way...) since I was paying with a credit card instead of paypal, addresses, etc. He responded within a couple of days each time, and was friendly and professional and answered all my little questions. I at last placed my order via email, and then came the wait. They said they could make one up in about six to eight weeks, give or take a week or two since I ordered near the Xmas rush. I didn't hear anything back from them at all after placing my order, and once eight weeks had passed and I hadn't heard anything (and my ideal, but not essential, deadline was the end of February, which was coming up), I was getting worried. I held off on emailing them and having not seen my credit card charged, played it patiently. By the time March rolled around, I thought "Well, maybe it got lost/won't happen." I wasn't too broken up about that possibly being the case, as my Visa card hadn't had any money put on it.
Then I surprisingly receive a "We've finished it, we're charging it to your card tomorrow and it will be shipped out via UPS in a couple of days" email. I was surprised to get it, certainly. But it arrived very quickly, packed VERY securely in its box, and almost exactly what I'd been asking for! (The tail was more of an iridescent black-green, instead of brown. The rest was essentially perfect)
Pros: Very friendly service and willing to do custom colour patterns. FAST shipping and shipped very well secured/padded. They don't do custom body shapes, though, at least not for the website listed prices. The puppet also comes with a lifetime warranty against breaking (excepting the obvious like deliberately breaking it, animal attack, etc.).
Cons: Not so good communication in the construction process. I should have taken more initiative myself to see what was up, but nonetheless, not even getting a "We're now working on your order" email isn't that good. Took a bit longer than their website estimated build time. (I assume? Since they didn't say when they were starting work on it...)
Final grade: A-. The minus only due to the shaky communication/delay upon placing my order.