Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Burning Some Vendor Bridges

This shopping season marks 10 years for me being an internet shopper and that gives me a decade of experience. And when I say an internet shopper, I mean shopping ONLY on the internet. I can honestly say I cannot remember physical shopping anymore...maybe a trip or two to Hobby Lobby or Michael's, or a few Old Navy excursions with Missy. Otherwise, it's just been me, my computer and the UPS guy.

Over the years I've shopped many an online vendor. I could probably write a book about them. I know who has crappy customer service and who will give you the shirt off their back if need be. I know who is fast and who is slow. The vendors who have done right by me have become my staples, my go-to guys. And like an elephant, I never forget.

Because I owned my own home business for 20 years, I have also tried to be understanding about other owners' quirky behaviors. I know that when I was in business, there were things I would and wouldn't do, things that my clients should and should not expect. So perhaps I was unusual by candidly and clearly informing my clients of said quirks, but I firmly believe that all business owners should be forthcoming. Like, this is my biz, this is how I run it, if you like it great, if you don't, you should go elsewhere. In the end, trust me, everyone will be better off with honesty.

So, it is with this mindset that I'm blogging today. There are 2 vendors I've done business with who have embedded themselves like a stinging bee in my bonnet, and it hit me the other day, why should I feel like I have to keep their dirty secrets? Because I value highly my ability to buy whatever I want without leaving my chair, I've always picked my battles in order to keep being able to shop with as many vendors as possible. But it's time to burn a few bridges.

On December 2, after having seen enough Tim Tags to notice, I realized I did not have a punch or diecut of pine needle branches. So, I looked at what was available online and decided on Martha Stewart's pine branch punch:

I googled for a vendor and after trying several who were sold out of the punch, I found this one who had it in stock. I must have been in a trusting mood, because the multiple names of Discount Yarn Sale, Sumptuous Yarn Sale, and Luv To Craft didn't raise an eyebrow. I placed my order the evening of December 2.

The following Monday, I received an automated email from them, the usual yadayada about thanks for ordering and then some unspecific garble about "Ships Within" time frames with a link to it on their website, which I clicked on and tried to read. But it was a list of I guess items or brand names with times it took to ship -- here, I'll paste it here for you to read...and if you can find Martha Stewart, punch, scrapbooking tools, or anything even remotely descriptive on here of the item I purchased, I'll be grateful, because I can't so why did they even send it to me? To annoy me? IT WORKED, because it required me to try to look up the answer to my own question and didn't even do a good job of that.

SHIPS WITHIN TIMEFRAMES
Araucania - Special Order
ArtYarns - 4 - 8 weeks
Bernat - 1 week
Books - 1 week
Caron - 1 week
Clearance Merchandise - 1 week
Craft Lamps - 1 week
Crochet Supplies - 1 week
Debbie Bliss - Special Order
DMC - 1 week
Ella Rae - Special Order
Elsebeth Lavold - Special Order
Euro - Special Order
Hemp For Knitting - 3 - 4 weeks
Jojoland - 2 - 3 weeks
Karabella - 2 - 3 weeks
Katia - Special Order
Kertzer - 4 - 12 weeks
Knit One Crochet Too - 3 - 4 weeks
Knitting Fever - Special Order
Knitting Machines - 1 week
Knitting Supplies - 1 week
Kraemer - 2 - 3 weeks
Laines Du Nord - Special Order
Lion Brand - 1 week
Louet - 3 - 4 weeks
Louisa Harding - Special Order
Malabrigo - 4 - 6 weeks
Moda Dea - 1 week
Mondial - Special Order
Mountain Colors - 4 - 8 weeks
Mystery Bags - 1 week
Noro - Special Order
NY Yarns - 1 week
On Line - Special Order
Patons - 1 week
Plymouth - 2 - 3 weeks
Queensland Collection - Special Order
Red Heart - 1 week
Sirdar - Special Order
Stylecraft - 4 - 12 weeks
Sublime - Special Order
SWTC - 2 - 3 weeks
TLC - 1 week

The only thing closest to my item might be Clearance, and that time frame is 1 week. However, my item didn't say Clearance, it said Sale.

At any rate, fast forward to December 10. I had not received a shipping notice yet, so I was concerned. I emailed them that it had been 9 days so what was the status of my order? A few hours later I get this cryptic email:

Thank you for your inquiry. All shipping times are located on our website. To locate the shipping time for your order, please go to www.SumptuousYarnSale.com and navigate back to the item you ordered -- the estimated "ships within time-frame" is located directly above the item description. Please add an additional 3 - 5 days UPS or USPS shipping time to the "ships within time-frame" to obtain total estimated shipping time. Please be aware that while we strive to ship your order within the "ships within time-frame", all shipping times are estimates. Please allow up to 15 additional shipping days for international orders.

For additional shipping information, please review our policies page. Please do not respond to this automated email. If you have further questions about your order, please contact us at customerservice@discountyarnsale.com.

Thanks,
SumptuousYarnSale.com

Oh wow. That cryptic stupid timeframe list again. That is no answer, unless the question is, how do I anger, annoy, irritate a customer to no end, and make them slowly suspect I am trying to blow them off or avoid them?

I just tried my best to forget about it, as I had more important things to do that evening. Fast forward to today...I finally get what I had been expecting a week ago: a shipping notice, and guess what folks? It's from USPS, whom everyone who does any online shopping at all knows doesn't give out squat in the way of tracking info to the customer. It's only a formality for the vendor in case the package is lost. That is about how useful it is.

So, MAYBE if I'm lucky I'll receive my punch by Friday of this week. But if I don't and it comes next week, that will be THREE WEEKS after I ordered it. And that is disgraceful, BUT would I be mad about it like I am now if this vendor had just told me this after my inquiry email? No, I would not be mad. I would be informed.

What I'm angry about is being treated badly, impersonally, stupidly and evasively. You know, it's not the crime, it's the coverup, right? And this is the lesson that I expect, in 2011, for small-time online vendors to learn or be driven out of business, because the only leg-up they have is great customer service over the bigtime businesses. That's make or break. And if you are giving crappy cs, then I'm calling you out!

So, Luv to Craft / Sumptuous Yarn Sale / Discount Yarn Sale or whatever the hell your name is, you SUCK and I will never, never, never, never, never EVER give you another dollar. And, I will tell everyone I know, and leave the link to this post wherever I can. If you want to learn your lesson, then change your ways. Amazon gives me better customer service than you do, and they are a big giant robot.

Also, after trying to do business for 3-4 years with Third Coast Rubber Stamps, I quit. I have probably ordered 3 times in total, and the biz is only 30 miles away from me, yet all 3 orders took almost 3 weeks to reach me. That is ridiculous, folks. On top of that, they do not even have an online cart. You have to email the order in. My last order, she emailed me back and asked me to interpret my order because it was too hard for her to read! That was the last straw for me. I am really no longer in the market for stamps as I have no more room to store any, but even if I were I will not spend one more penny at this store. That last order, I even emailed her and asked when I'd be getting my stamps. She hemmed and hawed and never gave me an answer. I finally snapped that must have meant, when I damn well get around to filling your order is when you'll get it. Well, okay. Got it. Too bad YOU don't really get it.

And lastly, I do not care WHO these vendors are. They could be the first cousins of the president and it would not matter. Their customer service sucks and that is all there is to it.
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