I feel that a business’s reputation should be made not “if” something goes wrong, but what happens when it does. Most orders made through our direct mail order site are processed and shipped quickly. Sometimes, somehow, things go wrong. We’re a micropublisher. I have a full time job and I pay someone per order to pack it up nicely and mail it off in a timely manner. They have another full time job as well as doing their own mail order.
So, when a customer e-mails me to say they haven’t gotten their goods, I am concerned and try to resolve it, and keep in communication with the customer. And that just recently happened:
On Thursday, September 3rd, at 9:30pm I get the following e-mail:
I’m wondering if there’s a tracking number for Order #———. I ordered other CDs from other sites the same day and they all arrived days ago. Hoping to get this one soon.
On Thursday, September 3rd, at 9:42pm I respond:
Thanks for writing! I’ll contact my order fulfillment guy and get back to you ASAP with the answer.
I checked the orders, and yes, onAug 27, at 7:32amshe had placed an order. One week had elapsed. A perfectly reasonable amount of timefor her to e-mail me and ask what was up. I contacted my order fulfillment guy immediately by text and email. We figure out what happened and he would ship first thing in the morning.
On Friday, September 4th, at 7:50am they respond:
Thanks. Last time I ordered from an unfamiliar site, the order didn’t even ship until I contacted them two weeks after I bought it.
On Friday, September 4th, at 8:43am, I responded.
I understand completely. Generally we get orders shipped within a few days, most of the time within 48 hours. Occasionally there will be an order that takes longer, something we try to avoid, obviously.
Because I appreciate you ordering, I wanted to make sure I responded to your inquiries as promptly as I could, so you knew it was being resolved. Will be back in touch as soon as I can with an update.
On Friday, September 4th, at 10:37am, my mail order guy sent the customer the following email:
My apologies for the delay – your CD ships first class today! Your tracking number is -XXXXXXXXXXXXX
On Friday, September 4th, at 12:25pm, after confirming the package had been physically handed over to the post office, I emailed the customer once more:
XXXX, your CD was shipped today. Please excuse the out of ordinary delay in shipping. As I said, we usually get orders shipped in 2-3 days, sometimes quicker, every once in a while longer due to unforeseen circumstances.
Your USPS tracking number is: XXXXXXXXXXXXX
And finally, on Friday, September 4th, at 9:04pm I get the following from the customer:
Honestly, I’m not surprised. I knew it wasn’t going to be sent unless I asked. I can’t find that CD elsewhere, so I had to try.
No offense to you personally. I know that business model well. Thanks for having it sent eventually.
I don’t know how to respond to that last one, and I guess maybe there is none, so I haven’t until posting this. I can’t help but take it a bit personal though, and I suppose that’d be my problem.A customer contacted me about a problem at 9:30 at night and I had it resolved by 10:30 the next morning.I kept in touch with them updating as it went along and at the end of the day they believe I run a shoddy outfit.
So, I make mistakes. It happens. When they do,I try to get right with people, and it doesn’t always work. I am a very small publisher, who runs a very small mail-order company along with doing freelance design and working a full time job. My company is too small to have a single full time employee.
I’ve considered shutting down my direct mail order business. Itwill never be as cheap or fast as Amazon.com, and people are spoiled by it. It sets expectations. I know, I’m a Prime member, and I’m spoiled by it. New book, 17% off cover priceand delivered at no additional cost in 2 days? Yeah, I’ll buy that. Things have changed dramatically from when I would drop cash in an envelope and wait 6-8 weeks for delivery.
For years I haven’t shipped outside the US because of our inflated international shipping costs, and I finally found a company in the UK that I trust to do that right and cheaper than I can. Soon they’ll be carrying the full line of Underworld Amusements titles.
I’ve discussed problems in the past, like typos, and the problems of translation.
I’m not complaining about Amazon, or my customer, nor am I genuflecting or flagellating myself publicly. This exchange happened. It was unusual… outside of the norm. Usually everything goes really well, and people seem pleased with the product and the service. I’m comfortable with how I handled this problem, and I’ve talked with my mail order guy to try to make adjustments to avoid this situation in the future. I’m just being open, and allowing you to judge the type of business I run, and look forward to sending you cool shit you can’t find elsewhere, in exchange for money, so I can make more cool shit.
Kevin I. Slaughter
Owner, Underworld Amusements