Monday, April 22, 2013

The View from this Side of the Fence

Because of what I do for a living, more than half of my close friends are business owners.  Most likely they have no employees and pour their hearts and souls into their businesses.  We call our various businesses our "babies," and are often raising our kids at the same time, again often without help.
So when a friend wrote to me the other day hurt and angry that she was being slandered on a large plant/herb forum by (oddly enough) a brand new woman in business, my heart really went out to her. 
My friend is a wholesale supplier.  She accepts orders and then produces to fill those orders.
When those orders are cancelled, she scrambles to find another way to sell the items.

The complaint was about the cost of shipping.  She doesn't make a cent on it, and every year she agonizes over how to shave some of that cost off for the customer.  I'm not talking about her spending 15 minutes looking at websites.  She researches the various shipping companies, box measurements, the weight of boxes and every other minutiae one could possibly think of - while still ensuring that the product arrives in good shape.  Other than that, shipping is completely out of her control.

I won't name her business (nor that of the newbie complainer - Karma will take care of that), but can tell you that the order was not charged for several months while it was in production.  The shipping charge was clearly stated, yet ignored for all that time.  When the order was cancelled, a small restocking charge was levied (also clearly stated), causing newbie complainer to howl like a banshee. 

So the thing is, in all the years I've been in business (more than 20), there have been very few times when I've noticed people owning businesses who don't make huge sacrifices for their customers - even if the customer doesn't know it.  Occasionally there are greedy business owners, but they go for a lot more than a few dollars in excess shipping. 

Maybe she thought she could get my friend to pay her shipping, thinking she had her over a barrel.  Maybe she ran out of funds, changed her mind, or found a local supplier.  Either way, that wasn't the fault of the business she's complaining about any more than the cost of shipping is. 

Get to know your suppliers. Ask other people for recommendations If you feel like they're taking you for a ride, find someone else.  If you have a complaint, take it to them - not a public forum.   And if it is something that they have no control over, get a grip.
Stepping off soapbox.


Padhopper® said...

Your friend needs to learn this phrase ... what you hear about me, is likely as true as what I hear about you.


Evelyn Vincent said...

I know what you're saying completely. I've been self-employed for 40+ years and some people don't have a clue that not everything is within the business owners control. Interesting how people do not kick and scream when they are paying 30%+ higher for food in the supermarket, or stuff in Walmart, etc. - where the higher costs of getting the goods there is already included in the price.


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