Thursday, 27 September 2012

It's called customer service

This is a tale of two fabric suppliers.  Let's start with the Good Supplier.

Hawthorne Threads is a business run by a lovely couple with a young family.  They started with a shop on Etsy and that's where we first met.  Right from the start Lindsay and Charlie offered superb service and before long they took the big step to open their own on-line business.  Charlie devised the web design and it is a joy to navigate.

From the fabric designers screen, it's a simple matter to click on the View Entire Collection button to take a closer look at the different colour palettes available.

For instance, this is a fabric I have used in the past.  Immediately the purchaser can see the price and, more importantly, how much fabric is available.  Some time back I uploaded an image of a dress I made using this fabric and it can be seen second from the right in the next row.

Anyone can click on the link and be immediately taken to my Etsy shop.  Excellent.

It's the personal service which I cherish.  I can put in an order and I immediately receive an email showing the items I have purchased, along with a payment acknowledgement.  Within 24 hours (usually sooner) I receive advice that my order has been mailed.  They make me feel as though I am the only person in the world and they are sitting by their computer just waiting for me to place an order.  So I have to admit when I hear others in my various quilting groups mention Hawthorne Threads in glowing terms, I have a slight pang of jealousy - it's like sibling rivalry.  I am not after all their only child.  But I forgive them, because they deserve all the success that is coming their way. They announced a sale the other day and their web site was so rushed that it collapsed for a few hours. Ah, the trials of running a good business.

Now for the Not So Good supplier, with apologies in advance for the rant.

I will not name this organisation, but it is possibly the best known fabric supplier in America.  I was in need of a particular fabric which was no longer available through Hawthorne Threads.  This other organisation was having a sale.  By a fluke I discovered the fabric I was after listed under a completely different designer and, against my better judgment, I placed an order.  Maybe it's just me, but I really have a storm cloud over my head whenever I have used this supplier in the past.  To fill out the order a little (to justify the cost of the shipment) I also ordered small amounts of three other fabrics.  I should have known better.

After completing my order, I waited in vain for two days for some sort of acknowledgement.  I knew the order had been received because they immediately booked the amount on my bank account.  I logged into my account on their web site to see what was going on.  It showed that one of the extra fabrics I ordered was on back order and my order had not yet been shipped.  It's a bit like Russian Roulette dealing with them, as invariably there are a couple of fabrics which they don't actually have and they are put on back order.  In the meantime, they book the full amount in your bank account, which I find a little shonky.  I sent a friendly email to Customer Service (ha!) requesting that if the back order was the reason for the hold-up, please cancel it so that I could receive the fabric I need urgently.  The response was rapid and rude - no salutation at the beginning and no name at the end.  I have to admit that it got under my nose and I committed the cardinal rule - I answered in haste, something I never do, but I was a tad put out by the response I received.

It took Customer Service Person two days to fire another rude email, telling me in no uncertain terms that they were busy with their sales and that my order would take 3-4 days to process from the time it was received    It is now six days later and the order has still not shipped, although I notice that the order is "in the warehouse", whatever that means.  My heart raced a little this morning when an email arrived from them, but it was to advise that the back ordered fabric was not available and they have cancelled it.  I know from experience that they will now take another bite at my bank account for the adjusted amount, while the original amount is still booked, effectively taking double the amount, albeit temporarily.  I know they will eventually drop the original amount, which ethically should not have been taken in the first place.

I would dearly love to introduce Supplier No 2 to Supplier No 1.

It all comes down to one thing.  It's called customer service.

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