Customers of Yankee Candle have their hopes snuffed out as shipments might miss Christmas

Yankee Candle says the company is "working to make things right,” blaming the blown deadlines on a higher-than-usual volume of orders.
Yankee Candle, new branch
Launch of Yankee Candle's branch, its first production and distribution facility outside the U.S., at the Joseph strategic industrial zone near Most, Czech Republic, on Dec. 6, 2016.Hajek Ondrej / CTK via AP Images file

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By Gwen Aviles

Hundreds of loyal Yankee Candle customers are hoping their Black Friday orders arrive in time for the holidays, and are demanding an explanation for the delays and the lack of customer service from the iconic candle company.

Cindy Spurgeon, a retired nurse from Missouri, said she's been buying from Yankee Candle for the last 20-25 years and that she placed an order for a batch of candles Dec. 6.

"I've had so many candles delivered throughout the years with no problem," Spurgeon told NBC News. "My kids always joke that there are more Yankee candles than anything else in the house."

But this holiday season, Spurgeon's house might not smell of her favorite Christmas Cookie, Red Apple Wreath, Christmas Eve, and Home for the Holiday candle scents as her order has not yet been delivered. Spurgeon said that despite being left on hold with the company's customer service for more than an hour and emailing the company repeatedly, she has not received an explanation for the delay.

A Yankee Candle spokesperson told NBC News that the company is "working to make things right" with all customers whose orders are delayed, blaming the blown deadlines on a higher-than-usual volume of orders.

Though Spurgeon received a notification Monday that her order has been shipped, she's not confident the candles will arrive in time for Christmas.

"My kids keep reminding me it’s not the end of the world, and I know it’s not. There are so many worse things, like world hunger," Spurgeon said. "But it just seems like a little bit of Christmas will be missing if the candles don’t arrive in time.”

For Spurgeon, who lives about an hour away from St. Louis, Missouri, buying the candles in a store is not a convenient option, which is why she usually buys them online and will likely continue to do so. But for other dedicated Yankee Candle fans, the delays in shipping and lack of response from Yankee Candle's customer service has convinced them to boycott the brand altogether.

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"I will never buy from Yankee Candle again and I've been buying from the company my whole life," Amanda Kim, a real estate agent from Tucson, Arizona, said. "I wanted to give the candles as gifts to friends and family, but now that they won't arrive in time, it's a waste."

Kim said she placed an order for seven candles Dec. 3 as part of the company's Black Friday sale. Upon purchase, she was instructed that the candles would ship in 6-8 days, but when she didn't receive a notification of the shipping, she left messages with customer service but "couldn't get through to anyone."

She said she "finally" received notification that her candles would be there Dec. 22, but even if they do arrive by that date, she said it'll be "too late to ship as presents."

"It shouldn't take 2½ weeks for an order to ship," Kim said. "This was a major lesson for me to avoid Black Friday sales because you can't depend on companies to fulfill their obligation in a timely manner after they receive your credit card information."

Other customers have flooded Yankee Candle's Instagram and Facebook pages with disgruntled comments, questioning why the company appears to have time to advertise its latest holiday sets when it has not responded to questions about past orders.

Sarah Zaniewski, a project manager, said she grew up in Massachusetts next to the Yankee Candle flagship store in South Deerfield and that as a result, the candles were a "big part" of her childhood. Though she moved to the West Coast 18 years ago, she and her family have a tradition of making an annual trip to that flagship store. Yet after this year, Zaniewski plans to abandon that tradition.

"It's a huge slap in the face to not get any response from the company and to get the run-around," Zaniewski said. "Companies need to do better for the people who value their products."

Despite being frustrated, some customers and their family members found humor in the situation.

"My moms has been on the phone for 2+ hours trying to buy CANDLES," one person tweeted. "@TheYankeeCandle can y'all do something pls i want my mom back."

Yankee Candle is assuring customers they're burning the figurative candle at both ends to fix the problem.

"We know how stressful the holidays can be and understand why some customers are frustrated," a spokesperson said. "While we anticipated a spike in demand this holiday season, orders have been (significantly) higher than anticipated, compounded by a systems issue that impacted order processing and confirmations."

According to the spokesperson, that systems issue has recently been rectified and customers who placed orders before 1 p.m. PT on Dec. 14 will receive those orders before Christmas.

The scented candle market has grown exponentially in the last several years, likely in conjunction with the rise of the wellness industry. According to the Business of Fashion, candle sales are growing faster than the rest of the fragrance market, rising by one-third in 2017 and 2018. Candle sales also tend to grow over the holiday season, with the National Candle Association reporting that 35 percent of candle sales occur during this time.

"If they don't arrive before Christmas, we'll just use what we can find locally, but it won't be the same," Spurgeon said.