They can’t all be great customers…

As a small business owner, you have your days when just wonder why you continue to do it. Others can go out and work their 8 or 9 hours. They come home after their day, and don’t worry about any of the stuff they left behind. (Of course, they may worry about their job.) But as a business owner, I can’t often take time off. And, when I don’t take time off, I have to deal with things like this:

First, I have already talked about my ebay web store. It has been a great adventure for both my sons and I. We cut the order, and have them shipped often within 24 hours. We really try hard to take care of the customers. However, it seems sometimes you do everything right, and it still goes wrong. Recently, this happened when we received a “neutral” feedback on Ebay. And, a neutral feedback is not so bad. EXCEPT, when you are at 100% feedback, you now no longer are 100%. After fuming a bit, I research the person who left this feedback. My feedback was, “Generic filter…low quality…Filters needs to be cut to fit.”. Feedback he left for others was something like, “High Shipping charges – $9 for Priority !?” Well, he had to know the shipping before he purchased. All of this to say, sometime you do everything right, and a customer who is having a BAD day decides not to contact a seller with a very high rating to try and work it out. They decide, “It will be fun to take them off of their pedestal of being 100%. I will give them a rating so they won’t be.” And, that is his option, and I also have options. (Ebay doesn’t let you give negative or neutral feedback anymore.) So, I have blocked this seller so EVEN if he wanted to buy from me again, he can’t.

Second, I had a rather slow day for orders. And, when I received a call from a customer who wanted me to give them a deal, I said, “Sure.” I was not making a huge profit, but I was still making something. I eventually had another couple of orders, and thought, “It was an okay day.” Then, later that evening, the customer calls and says the order must be canceled. He was having financial problems and couldn’t afford it. Obviously, I refunded his money. However, he will NEVER get that deal again.

Third, I had a customer who purchased from me. From the start, I had concerns about what she was trying to do to me. She went to the credit card company for a full refund when I wouldn’t give her a sizeable refund based on dubious evidence. What follows is the memo that was prepared to try and contest her chargeback claim.: (The customer’s name has been changed.)

1. The sign was received by Ms. Smith on 4/14/08. The signed Bill of Lading (see attached Bills of Lading that were faxed) by both the trucking company and the receiving person at Ms. Smith’s company did not indicate that there was any damage to the box or sign. Generally, when an item is damaged upon arrival, the general practice is to reject delivery so the buyer avoids being charged with receipt of goods. Ms. Smith or her representative accepted delivery. There is an unsigned Bill of Lading (see faxed Bills of Lading) that my company, SignsSeen, received from Ms. Smith on 4/28/08 which indicated damage. I contacted the delivery company who indicated the delivery was “clean” and they only consider the signed Bill of Lading as valid for delivery purposes.

2. The merchandise was shipped to a business, not a consumer address. Ms. Smith works at a Drury Inn and, from her e-mails, seemed somewhat knowledgeable about signs. No doubt the Drury Inn has received deliveries in the past and would know the practice is to reject delivery of damaged goods or understands that an unsigned delivery receipt is not valid.

3. In addition, Ms. Smith waited almost 2 weeks before contacting my company the first time to complain of any damage to the sign. The sign was delivered on 4/14/08 and she contacted my company on 4/26/08. The manufacturer requires notice within 24 hours of receipt by the buyer. It is unusual for a customer to wait that long to complain about damaged goods due to shipping and unreasonable for a customer to expect that anything can be done to rectify the situation after that length of time. There is no proof that the damage that Ms. Smith claims to have occurred due to shipping had actually occurred. Ms. Smith’s handling of the merchandise during this time period after delivery and before contacting me on 4/26/08 could have caused the damage to the sign.

4. Ms. Smith took the sign to a local sign store for customization. Ms. Smith’s local sign shop was upset that I had sold the sign less expensively than they would have sold it to her. They called the manufacturer, Wayne Industries, to complain about this. My sales rep at the manufacturer talked to the local sign company who did the custom vinyl work for Ms. Smith’s sign My sales rep informed me that the local sign company never mentioned any damage to him during the phone call.

5. I have attached some additional information that was excluded from the email thread provided when the complaint was filed. In this previously excluded information, I was very willing to work with Ms. Smith. However, throughout our email thread, Ms. Smith very typically received a same day response from me. And, I waited for up to a week or more in some cases for her response.

6. Ms. Smith is still in possession of the sign.

7. I respectfully request that you reverse the chargeback and find in my favor as there is no evidence to support that the merchandise arrived in a damaged state. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

So, I may lose a few hundred dollars if I lose the chargeback claim. Completing this was good, but it is still stressful having your honesty questioned.

BUT, the good thing that happened was I started a new website two weeks ago. AND, I received my first sale already. Not a large sale, but it confirms I am doing something right. And, although financially it doesn’t balance the negatives financially of the first three items listed, having success so quickly on a new venture is a BIG positive.

You can’t tell what type of customer is going to come your way. Most of them are honest and have realistic expectations. And, when they aren’t, you hope they go to your competition. 😉

Any thoughts?

Visit my new site at: www.archer-trading.com

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