While working in Customer Support for Silhouette, I once spoke to a woman on the phone. She was upset about something and asked, “How would I have known that?” I replied that the information was on our website, to which she then replied, “Well, how was I supposed to know your company had a website?” I thought, “What company these days doesn’t have a website?” (Pretty sure this was an impulse buy and she hadn’t done her homework before purchasing).
Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I receive a small commission. You pay the same price. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials. I will always be honest about my opinion of any product.
The reason I bring this up is because I think there are MANY Silhouette users who aren’t familiar with the Silhouette America website. I want to show you around the site, because there are some very helpful things to be found there. Go on over to the website and follow along with me.
To start with lesson 1 of the Before You Begin Series, go here.
On the Home Page of the website
If there is a current sale, then you’ll see the info in the banner at the very top of the page.
Then there’s an area with a white background with links to products, software and support.
Next, you’ll see scrolling pictures. These change depending on what the company wants to promote. You’ll usually find notices of sales and new products here. For example, the pic just above shows a January sale.
Below the scrolling advertisements are links to Silhouette’s blog, the Silhouette Design Store and Club Silhouette. (We’ll talk about that last one below). And also links to more info on various topics.
Under that is a spot you want to pay special attention to. It’s the place to sign up for the Silhouette America newsletter. You definitely want to do this. This keeps you informed about sales, new products, software updates and more. If you haven’t signed up yet, do it now. Just having an account does not put you on the email list.
Moving around the website
As with pretty much any website, the important basic navigation tools are at the top. These take you to the different areas and will stay visible along the top as long as you are on the site. Click on Silhouette’s logo in the upper left to get back to this front page of the website at any time. Let’s talk about those different areas, starting with the upper left.
This is where you can purchase machines and other physical products – those are pretty self-explanatory. But there are some categories here you might not expect, so we’ll go over those.
Software and Digital
In this section you can purchase software upgrades, download cards, prepaid subscriptions to the Silhouette Design Store, and gift cards. For several of these, you can choose either digital or physical copies. Digital means you just get a code number. You don’t have to pay shipping and you get the code instantly. Physical means you get an actual card, that has to be mailed so adds shipping cost. I always recommend the former.
Let’s talk again about the difference between a download card and a gift card.
A download card can ONLY be used to purchase designs in the Silhouette Design Store. You can NOT use it to purchase physical products, subscriptions or software upgrades.
A gift card can be used to purchase anything on the Silhouette America website– just like a gift card to any store. You can even use it to purchase a download card. So if you’re asking for or looking for gifts, go with this option.
This is a frequent shopper program for purchasing physical products on the website. You could think of it kinda like Amazon Prime. You pay a yearly fee and get—
- Free shipping on orders over $50.
- 10 exclusive, pre-selected designs each month (but they aren’t much to write home about usually). You get an email on the 15th of the month with instructions on how to download them.
- A blade or Mint Stamp kit AND a mat or Mint stamp sheet delivered 3 times during the year – in January, May and October. You can pick the type for each.
- A 10% discount on products purchased on the website, excluding machines, download cards, subscriptions and gift cards.
- The Silhouette Handbook (digital copy).
- 5gb Cloud storage (without aSilhouette Design Store subscription or Club Sil account, you get 1gb).
- Points – 1 point for every $10 you spend. Each point = $1 off a future purchase on the website on anything other than Club Silhouette membership fees. Since the Silhouette Design Store is a separate site, you can’t use Club Sil points there, although you could purchase a download card with them. You can use the points when you choose, but it must be while you have an active Club Silhouette membership.
The fine print
Because Silhouette only ships to the US and Canada, you must have an address in one of these countries.
You can sign up for a free 30-day trial, but you don’t get the blades, mats or handbook during that time. You can take advantage of the free shipping, discounts, etc. Here’s the fine print: IF YOU DON’T CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE 30 DAYS, YOU ARE CHARGED A REGULAR CLUB SILHOUETTE PAYMENT.
As with an SDS subscription, it’s a good idea to wait awhile before signing up for Club Silhouette to see if it’s something you might use. Since the cost is $99 for a year and the value of 3 blades and 3 mats is $84 plus shipping, that gets you pretty close.
Shipping costs alone from the Silhouette America website are pretty high, especially to Canada, so keep that in mind. But there are also plenty of online sellers for Silhouette products. For example, if you are already paying for an Amazon Prime membership, it may be wisest to order that way.
This is an area that’s been expanding quite a good amount lately, as Silhouette America is finally producing comprehensive videos. Some of the sections just take you to very general videos; others are more detailed. Here are 2 sections to pay particular attention to in the Programs area:
If you run a business where you sell your handmade creations, apply for this. It gives you a 20% discount on items you purchase on the website. The discount cannot be combined with any other discount. So if products are already on sale for 20% off you don’t get an additional 20%. If it’s in a special product bundle, it’s already discounted. It excludes the regular things like gift cards and such. It’s only available for businesses in the US and Canada and you must have an online platform for selling.
If you’re a teacher at any level or a licensed non-profit, then you want to get this discount. You’ll need to provide credentials. You also get project, curriculum and classroom design ideas via email. You can’t combine this discount with other sales or discounts, as with Silhouette Handmade.
This has interesting stories about how folks are using Silhouette machines in ways you would probably never imagine.
Now we’ll move to the upper right.
Click this to go to the page to download software updates. I do recommend always keeping your software up to date. For more info on how and why, see this post.
This searches the whole website, including products and support. Usually you’ll want one or the other, so I don’t find this the most useful way to get where you’re going.
Sign in to your account here. Once you are signed in, click on My Account to go to your account page. Remember — your account email and password are the same for the website and the Silhouette Design Store.
Pretty sure this is self-explanatory unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past 25 years.
Nope, I didn’t skip this one. It’s just important enough to have it’s own section. When you click on Support, you’ll get to a page that looks like this:Right in the middle of the page is a search bar. This is the meat of this section. You can search help topics here.
I go to some websites and see that in their Frequently Asked Questions are about 20 topics. The FAQ database on the Silhouette website is HUGE! There is SO much great information there that few people ever access. If you know it’s there and how to use it, you can find the answers to many of your questions very quickly.
You can enter a word in the search bar, or look through the different categories. Your machine not connecting? Search “Could Not Connect.” Questions about a subscription? Click on “Questions and Capabilities,” then “Silhouette Design Store,” then “Silhouette Design Store Subscriptions.” It took me 5 hours a day for 2 weeks to read through all the FAQs when I first started working for Silhouette and it’s grown since then. This is a wonderful resource so I highly advise getting familiar with it. I can’t emphasize this enough!
Now let’s talk about the menu links on the left.
You can email Silhouette or use the Chat feature. The email address is email@example.com. The chat feature should pop up on the lower right side of the screen when you are on the Silhouette America website, or you can click on Chat on the Contact Us page. In the past, you were able to call the support line, but that is currently unavailable. You can periodically check the Contact Us page to see if that changes. but I doubt it will.
Register your machine
If you don’t do this, then you don’t have your warranty. That pretty much says it all.
Frequently asked questions
I’m not sure why they have a separate link for this on the left, because it will just take you back to this main support page.
This is something else you could spend all day looking for without finding what you need. You can find power cords, USB cords and cutting strips here. These parts are not listed in the Shop area. You can also get a cross cutter, but you can actually get better ones elsewhere (office supply stores have similar tools). One thing you won’t find here is a blade lock lever. The new Cameo 3 machines don’t use these, but other machines do. If you lose or break yours, use the contact info above to tell Silhouette you need one. They will charge a small fee to send you a new one.
Software and Hardware
Click here to go to the page to update your software, which is on your computer.
Cameo 2 and 3 and Curio machines use firmware, which is in the machine itself. It’s not the same as software. You want BOTH to be up to date.
Silhouette will often post early versions of software updates before they officially release them. They first test the software themselves – that’s Alpha testing. Then there’s Closed Beta testing – a small group of us do that. After that, the software is put on the website in Open Beta. If you want to get the software early, you can download and play with the Beta version. Just realize it will still have bugs. Then use the form on this page to send feedback to Silhouette so they can make improvements.
Here’s another way to get to your My Account page.
The bottom bar
At the very bottom of the home page are the less important links, but there are still some you want to know because you can’t get to them any other way.
Look here for links to stores that sell Silhouette products, international distributors and press releases. Oddly enough, this is the only place with a link to the Blog.
The Silhouette blog, Silhouette 101, is a great area to explore. You’ll find projects, tutorials, videos and information. The artist team will often come up with ways to use the products that you’ve never thought about. I wouldn’t say each project is something you should make as you first cut, but there’s lots of inspiration here. There’s a spot in the upper right corner to subscribe to the newsletter.
There are important links here for things that aren’t linked in the regular support area.
This is the step-by-step process to go through when you first get a machine, just to make sure you haven’t missed anything. But if you walk through all my Before You Begin series, you’ll hit them all.
Returns and Refunds
You can only return unopened, unused products purchased directly through the Silhouette America website. It must be within 30 days and you must get a return authorization first. That means you can’t buy a machine off the website, try it for a week, decide you don’t like it and ship it back for a refund. That would be both used and without a return authorization. If you purchase your machine instead from an authorized dealer, ask them BEFORE you buy about their return policy.
If your machine or any product is defective right out of the box or package, then that’s a bit different. For something like vinyl or a blade, they will replace or refund it. For a machine, Customer Support will work with you to see if the machine really is defective or not. A large majority of machines people THINK are defective really aren’t – it’s operator error.
What happens if it is?
If they determine the machine really is defective, you still aren’t going to get a refund. Here’s the info you need to know there—
- If you are in the US or Canada, then you contact Silhouette America directly. For other countries, contact the company where you purchased the machine.
- You will get a replacement or a repair.
- You will need to send your machine in. If it’s defective right out of the box, you can ask that you be given credit for the price of shipping the machine. This is usually credit in the Silhouette Design Store, not cash reimbursement or credit for physical products on the website.
- You won’t get a replacement sent out until your machine is received, unless you want to pay the full price of a new machine and then get it refunded when your machine is received at Silhouette.
- Your replacement may be a used machine – one that has been returned and either found not to be defective repaired. When a new machine comes out, the availability of older machines goes WAY down. When you register your machine, you agree to that policy. SO DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Make sure you know how long the warranty will be on a replacement machine. Typically, it is the remainder of the warranty on the original machine. For example, let’s say after using your machine for 4 months you contact Silhouette America regarding an issue. They determine that it’s defective and send you another machine, either new or used. That replacement machine will typically have an 8-month warranty. Just check this to make sure before you send in your machine.
So that’s a good overview of the Silhouette America website. I encourage you to look around it to get familiar with it. I also HIGHLY encourage you to join Silhouette user groups on Facebook. It’s a great way to get inspiration and information. It’s also a great place to ask questions of other users. You don’t always get great answers, but it’s still helpful. And browse other social media for Silhouette projects as well.
In our next lesson, I’ll give you some recommendations on good materials to have on hand for your first cuts.