education should be painful

I wanted to call this – “the 1st time I fucked up” but I can’t actually remember the first time. I have done it so often for so long. I was shipping a package the other day and realized I had short quoted the shipping on an item. Shrugging my shoulders at the $2 loss, I moved on. I will certainly remember not to do THAT again. At this point I am not going to go track down the customer’s email, send them a message that says “oops I miscalculated, I’m gonna sit on your package waiting for your additional $2” – that’s not only unprofessional, it’s stupid and petty. But that kind of shit happens ALL THE TIME on the internet.

I wish I had a nickel for every time a vendor frets over a potentially lost nickel. As a matter of fact, can I HAVE a nickel for each time a vendor has asked out loud “I sold a book for three times what I paid and just found out it is worth a lot more how do I get out of the sale?” You don’t you suck it up – you learned a valuable lesson ‘Do your own GD research’ – don’t you think you should PAY to learn such things? Besides you got your money out of the book, use the money to buy more books and make better decisions.

If you really can’t afford to make your own mistakes, I would advise using a little rule of thumb I learned from the State of Massachusetts, we have a lot of consumer laws here, unlike our neighbor to the north. One of them, I kinda like, is that a store MUST sell the merchandise for the price MARKED ON THE ITEM, unless the price is less than half the actual price. So, if you see 10 on a 100 dollar item, you can very well assume that that is a typo and not an actual sale. But you you can’t play that card more then a couple of times in your professional life – the 1st time you decline a sale and say ‘oops, this book was on hold for someone else’ or ‘i accidentally spilled coffee on it while shipping it’, after that you just suck at your job.

I have short sold books because I mis-priced them, because screwing with the customer is bad business practice. But I’m from the old school where one wanted a customer to come back and buy again, you worked hard to put on a professional face and make their transaction a good experience. The net has altered that, now more than 75% of your customers are likely to be one offs, folks who just came for the book and won’t even remember where they bought it from UNLESS the experience is bad. THAT they remember.

So, where’s the benefit to you to make their transaction perfectly unmemorable? there probably isn’t any. But screwing with people because you can get away with it isn’t a good habit to get into. So if you shorted the shipping or the price, you suck it up and get the book/item in the mail and into their hands. If an item is back ordered and you have to break the shipment in two: YOU eat the 2nd shipping. If it comes back and has to be shipped again, guess what?

Anything that isn’t the buyer’s direct fault, like the wrong address or a bounced check, is YOUR fault. And the USPS shipping problems? the ones that I complain about all the time? Yeah those count. They aren’t the customer’s problem, the customer’s job was only to put the money in your hand after that his part is done. Your part is to put the package in their hands – and everything short of that is YOUR responsibility: your fault. Yeah, you can blame the shipper, but it still comes out of your end. REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU LEARNED ON EBAY – Hell i think i need to do a rant on just that. For further reading I recommend the US Commercial Code which clarifies this: “if you ship it and you don’t cover your own ass and it doesn’t get there – YOU PAY. Period.” “But oh no..but..but..but….” NOT FUCKING BUTS. You can’t wash your hands of the transaction by telling the customer THEY must insure the item. It’s not their job, its YOURS. You want it insured, you do it. Why do you think Paypal and Amazon give them their money back if the transaction goes south and they get rooked? out of the goodness of their pocketbooks? no, because they are LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO. Take the hint. Cover your own ass.

So, after years of losing only 1 package a year, I now track everything at my expense, and I insure boxes over a certain amount. This is MY way of covering my ass, cause I am sick of getting screwed. But I hadn’t actually THOUGHT to do this until I had to replaced 4 packages this summer, two of them over $100 values. I needed to pay for this education, but I learned. No one values anything they get for free, and that includes kittens, advice and knowledge. We only remember what pains us.

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