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Thread: Seeking advice... what could we have done differently?

  1. #26
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    I don't know what would have been the best for you to do, but I thank you for posting this here because I am a potential customer of any 'shop' on this board, and live overseas. This has made me more aware of the possible problems and how to avoid them, with the owners help. Thank you again.

  2. #27
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    What a way to learn.

    Now, perhaps you will include a cautionary note on shipping, as to the need to know how to ship if a large amount and to contact customer service.

    I would have done what you did ... but would have included copies of the e-mails sent to the customer.

    ali

  3. #28
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    The thoughts I had while reading your post question. I do not want to read the responses until after I have made mine. In my response please do not think I am being gruff.
    Customs has a dim view of one recipient and/or address receiving multiple shipments from the same sender and/or address shipped on the same date. If you arouse customs suspisions each shipment the sender sends into that country may be held for inspection until the suspisions go away. In the same turn, all shipments for that recipient may be held for inspection until any suspisions go away.
    Some quilters use wholecloth. Seems like cutting the fabric in half could result in a problem in the layout of the quilt.
    If you only ship in flat rate envelopes your shopping cart should note it's limitation of xx weight and/or xx yards.
    If you offer the option of shipping total yardage in a larger box the shopping card should so note with emphasis on the 'additional shipping charges'.

  4. #29
    Super Member SaraSewing's Avatar
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    I think that you were very kind and professional, but I'd have been upset if it were cut without additional yardage in compensation (such as from two different bolts). As long as she paid shipping, I"d have just done it her way, especially since she didn't respond. There are many times I"m away from a computer and want my pkg there when I get home.

  5. #30
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    Is this customer generally "reasonable"?

    If yes, then maybe some kind of gift certificate or "deal" on the next order?

    It probably would not be practical for the customer to return it for a refund.

    If no, then send a letter explaining what you told the QB along with copies of the e-mails that were not responded to.

  6. #31
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    I agree with you. I would not have sent it without their reply to my emails.

  7. #32
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    I hope you don't feel too beat up by all of these posts. I think this is one of those times when waiting for her reply would have been best. Lesson learned.

  8. #33
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    I would have sent the email but given them a deadline after which I would send it in one piece at the higher rate. I figure that once it's cut, the customer can't put it back together. So unless they tell me to cut it to save money, I send it whole and charge them.

    But you were trying to save them $$ and that's pretty nice. Don't beat yourself up over this.

  9. #34
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    This was a lose-lose situation for you. Regardless of your decision, she would not have been happy with it.

    Personally, I would not have not been upset that you had saved me $$$.

    Only suggestion that I can think of is to ask for a phone # in the checkout process. Many places ask for this. If you had had it you could have called. I know that an international call could have been a little expensive, but ultimately you would have had a happy customer and not held the order open for weeks.

  10. #35
    Super Member mamaw's Avatar
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    I would not have cut the fabric, and waited as long as it took for a response from the buyer.
    It was a tough call, and am sorry you had to be put in that position. Gives everyone something to think about when selling. Know that you did what you thought was best at the time.

  11. #36
    Super Member wvdek's Avatar
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    I would have stated in the e-mail we would hold shipment until further notice and not done anything until hearing from the customer. If that means holding the fabric for one week more, then by all means I would have made the exception to the rule.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy
    I would not have shipped until I had confirmation as people can use "didnt receive correspondence" as an excuse to be unhappy.
    I second this.. How do you know that she had computer access to reply/respond to you, she could of even been on holiday..

  13. #38
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    I too would have been upset if I ordered a lot of yardage, and it was cut without my consent. If you cut it at 6 yds each, and what I needed was 7 yds and 5 yds, then one piece would have been unusable.

    I beleive you should make a section on your webpage, that international customers need to read and agree to by check box before they can finish the checkout process, that states, how much you can get in your flat rate envelopes, and if they order more than what fits in there, the shipping will be different than your shopping carts charges, and you won't ship until they have responded to emails about the additional charges for shipping. Once you know how much they are ordering, and how much it would weigh and cost in additional postage, email them, and give them 72 hours to respond. If they don't respond then cancel the order. If this is all spelled out on your webpage, and they have to read and agree before placing the order, then they can't argue with you if the order is cancelled because they didn't respond.

    I agree that things come up and people may not have internet access, but that isn't the businesses fault, it is the customers fault. You can't hold a business responsible for someones internet access. I beleive it would be better to cancel the order, and let the customer know why, and if they really wanted the fabric, they can order it again, knowing that they are going to have to approve additional postage charges before the order will be filled and shipped.

    As long as you state these things on your website for international shipping, then the customer becomes responsible for making sure they reply to any email informing them of additional charges. While this may not help with the customer that this happened to, you can take steps to make sure it won't happen with future customers.

  14. #39
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    We had already held the fabric for ten days before we shipped it. Could we have held it longer? Sure... but... to be practical, a shop really can't hold it indefinitely. I can't imagine that if I ordered merchandise from, say, target.com, that they'd hold it very long if there was a question about the order and I was unreachable to provide an answer.

    When I responded to the customer today, I did let her know the text and dates of the e-mails we sent her. We keep records of all correspondence right in our customers' sales orders, so that no matter which one of us (in the shop) answers a customer's phone call or e-mail, we know any and all information that has flowed back and forth.

    Now I'm wondering if you (the forum readers) think it would have been better had we just canceled the order entirely, having not heard from the customer. (Yes, she could have been ill or on vacation or had a broken computer but ... we're not psychic and just can't know these things.)

    Thoughts?

  15. #40
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    Make it right with her. Offer her a replacement. Offer her a big discount on her next order. Do what it takes. It's easier to please one customer than to have her tell everyone she knows to NOT order from you.

  16. #41
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    Whenever I needed someone to respond promptly to my business emails I would clearly mark them urgent, your attention please, in whopping bold capital letters in the subject line and anywhere else applicable. If I then heard nothing from them, would cancel their order and confirm cancellation with one last email requesting they contact me again should they wish to re-order. Job done, no drama and move on - they really have no cause for complaint as you have been a good communicator, been polite and you have left the door open for further transactions.

    Yes, customers are gold and should be treated with respect, great service and quality products. By the same token you are running a business, you cannot be wasting time/product/resources trying to second guess someone who couldn't be bothered communicating with you. It is not a matter of being hard or unkind you need your business to survive.

  17. #42
    Super Member IrishNY's Avatar
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    It seems that if she ordered 12 yards and gave you a method of payment, I wouldn't expect you to cancel the order. You could fulfill the order as placed. You were just trying to save her a little money but if she didn't bother responding, I would have just sent it in one piece and charged her the higher price. Why should you lose the sale because she didn't reply to your email?

  18. #43
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    After quickly reading all the posts, my conclusion, under these circumstances, was what you just suggested to just have canceled the order. Bottom line you want to please all your customers and they are the ends to your means. On the other hand, you also have to run a profitable business in the most efficient way. At times those two objectives don't like to play nice together.

    After one ignored email I'd be inclined to let them know their order will be canceled due to incomplete shipping instructions. (I wouldn't have cut the fabric before shipping just on account you don't know what she needed it for.)

    Another poster commented something may have happened to the customer preventing them in some way from contacting you. Not be hard hearted but unexpected things come up with all of us but that's our responsibility not for someone we're doing business with to be our psychic babysitter. That would be up to you if they let you know there was some unforseen emergency that came up and got in the way as to what you may or may not do.

    Sorry it became what it did but this helps you should you have to face this again sometime in the future.

  19. #44
    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl
    maybe that second email should have been...we will hold this order until we hear from you due to all of the expenses involved with overseas shipments; maybe that would have attracted her attention enough to respond in the first place. i would not have shipped it without verifying. the extra import charges were probably more than the $16 savings, but she should have responded. you can set up email accounts to see if the recipient actually read the email or not, she could have been out of town or something and never saw them. i would have waited until i heard from her. i have received emails from on-line shops in the past telling me about a shortage or something, and they tell me we will hold your order until we hear from you; your order will be cancelled if no reply within 72 hours. if she had not seen the emails, when her order did not arrive i bet she would have been getting in touch with you. dealing with international shipping is always an 'issue'. between just the cost but then they add customs charges and if you do not put the right (thing) in the customs slip about what it is it can really cost. when i was shipping stuff i always put (gift) on the customs slip...that did not cost people so much when they went to pick up their package. we learned this doing a round robin program.
    anyway. sorry she is mad, lesson learned on all sides. :(
    This sounds like a fair way to do it, except for the gift part on the customs slip. As a goodwill effort, I would email her a discount coupon(10-15%) for a future order with an expiration date. The ball will be in her court, if she wishes to place another order.

  20. #45
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    After reading all this -

    There are a couple of questions I have (maybe answered and I missed it) -

    Had the customer agreed to and paid the original shipping charge for the uncut 12 yards?

    If yes, perhaps she had ignored the e-mails because she thought the answer "was obvious" that she wanted it shipped in one piece because the cost was already paid?

  21. #46
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    don't be too hard on yourself you did your best to contact her, and you did you best to save her money, if she can't reply that is her mistake not yours,
    the only reason I can think of for her not replying is maybe she was on holiday or maybe unable to get her emails,
    but you still did what you thought was best for her.

  22. #47
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    I also think you handled it correctly. I work in a medical office and patients do not return our calls either. Then when they miss something they want to blame it on us. If people would just be responsible things would go so much smoother. But some people just want to blame things on someone else. So I would not worry about it.

  23. #48
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    The first thing I do when I want to order international is check the shipping, why wouldn't she have done that! It states quite plainly on your websight the costs, amount of fabrics per envelope ect!

    You have done the best you could under the circumstances, I wouldn't worry about it at all, she should be more responsible.

  24. #49
    Super Member quiltmaker's Avatar
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    Favorite Fabrics, maybe I too will open myself up for problems with my opinion but this situation is a perfect example for why many businesses "WILL NOT" ship overseas. Regardless for the reason for the buyer not replying to your emails it was her responsibility to answer.

    You did everything within your control to try and help this customer.....they dropped the ball. Custom charges are the norm and while people get upset with them it's the law over there and they have to live with that when they purchase from the US. You have no control over that and should not be expected to cheat and write gift for the customer. That is just plain wrong. Also postage is not cheap sending there either unless it's a military P.O. box. People living overseas know this and outweigh the cost of the fabric or whatever else they may purchase to make the decision to buy or not to buy. It's not any business's fault the cost of items there and when they choose to buy from the US it is their choice and they know the cost of postage and customs for the items. If they don't then they need to be proactive and find out the facts.

    You went way beyond the normal in trying to provide the best service you could for this customer. It is the buyer's responsibility whether it is a US or overseas customer to read the website and make themselves aware of your policies and shipping procedures. After reading many posts of unhappy people regarding their purchases it usually comes down to them not reading and informing themselves of the way the seller does business. That is their fault not yours.

    So in my opinion you did the best you could and I wouldn't worry about their unhappiness as it is their fault not yours. You can't make everyone happy and for me it would not be a loss to lose this customer. You have many happy ones and will gain many more. Again, this is one of the main reasons people in the US will just not do business with overseas customers mainly because there are too many variables (things outside your control) that make things go wrong.

    So please don't worry or think you could have done something better for this person. You did everything you possibly could and still got grief for all your efforts. It just isn't worth it to put yourself through that. People tend to believe it's always the sellers fault when in fact it is their fault for not being responsible purchasers.

  25. #50
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    She should have responded to your email.She had that option ,so you did the correct thing.

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