Tuesday, 13 January 2009

troubles and tribulations

Here is a question for all those sellers and buyers on online venues or e-commerce platforms... what to do when the intermediary, the postal service, fails you?
Until today I had never had a problem with the postal service. I usually do not send packages insured because it implies multiplying the shipping costs almost 5 times. Yeah, that much. Sure, in that way the seller is certain that the buyer got it's purchase, and the buyer can be certain that the seller did indeed send the item by checking it with the tracking number. But with no certification, no signature at arrival, no insurance one is a bit at the mercy of the good will of the other person... and the postal service.

Before Christmas I sold an item and I waited 2 weeks until the bank transfer got in. I know it always takes some time, so I didn't worry. As soon as the money was in, the package was out. Since it was under 2kg, it went uninsured (no signature) and with no track and trace number. Those are the postal service conditions which I wrote in my Terms and conditions in the shop. If you want track and trace then you have to pay the extra it costs.

Now, after a week of being shipped, the buyer hasn't received the package yet. And she is wondering where it is. It's to a neighboring country and it usually doesn't take more than a day or two.
I can see how she might think I scammed her... but on the other hand, how can I know that she did indeed received the package and she is now telling me she didn't?
I tend to think that people are good and won't do these kind of things... so it is hard for me to think that the other one is scamming me.This responsibility as an artist and seller sort of weights on me. I feel bad, I can't take it off my mind. I feel troubled. Sounds silly, but I do.
How do I fix it... should I? The policy in my shop is clear on this... I'm not responsable. Yet I feel I should do something, but I don't want to be taken for a fool either.

On a more practical side, if no package appears (thanks to the postal service) this could mean bad feedback... and we all work so hard for good feedback. Not because of the number itself but because we all know that people don't read the Terms and conditions in a shop before purchasing something... but they do look at your feedback.

I will go down to the post office tomorrow and ask about it. However, with no number, they can't do anything. I will ask nonetheless. Maybe with this very bad weather and frozen roads, everything is delayed.
Otherwise, how does one come to an agreement with -what will be- a very unhappy customer?

Have you been through this? How have you dealt with the situation?
Any feedback, very much apreaciated.


painted fish studio said...

fortunately, i have not had this problem yet, but it is one that i worry about! i don't have clear policies listed in my shop like you do, but i probably should.

what would i do? i would probably ask her to wait one more week, then send her a replacement. it's better than getting bad feedback. and i probably would track the package, even if it costs me a little extra. that way, if she is scamming you, you'll know the second time. but, i am not encouraging you to lose money on this sale! just saying what i'd do.

i hope i never have this problem... good luck!

Anonymous said...

This is the first-ever year-over-year drop in e-commerce spending in US since the e-commerce category was established, the same study reveals. Such a drop is the result of low consumer confidence in online shopping, as well as a "tight disposable income". http://www.infyecommercesolution.com/

Marian said...

I see your point fishy. On one hand I don't want a client to be left with nothing. But on the other side, this was a 40euro item. If I have to make it again and send it for free...even when I actually didnt do anything wrong...then I lose in every way. And pay myself the 15euros for insured shipping? kinda too much. It would also be completely against my own policies...which now Im glad I stated clear even though I never thought I would have to use them. :) I don't know. I was told yesterday that in a case like this, admin can remove your bad feedback. Still, this keeps bothering me. I hope it shows up. Going to the psot office later.

Juliana, Im not sure I get what you are saying...drop because of lack of confidence. Yeah, I could see that. I never had a problem with the e-commerce platforms themselves, or the post office, until today.

Spotted Sparrow said...

I would ask the customer to wait at least 1 more week and tell her that you'll be asking the post office for more info. If the item is not easily replaceable, I would offer the customer a full refund if she hasn't received it by a certain date. You could decide whatever that date should be with the customer.

It's a tough situation. You don't want to alienate the customer, but at the same time, you don't want to lose out on money and product from your business.

Marian said...

That's the thing Julia, I clearly state in my policies that I am not resposable for any loses. if someone wants an insured delivery then they have to mention it and pay the extra costs (which goes up to like 15euros according to TNT post). If I offer a refund without really knowing whether the item arrived or not (because it wasn't insured), I could very well have given an item for free AND paying on top for it. It's 40 euros not 3...
I don't want to alienate the customer but 1- the policies I have to respect otherwise it isn't fair all around for me or other customers 2- I don't want to lose money either.
If I do this with everyone that states hasn't received their package, I'm out of biz tomorrow!

Spotted Sparrow said...

Hmmm, I guess then the only thing to do then is to keep the customer informed of the extra steps you've taken. If the package hasn't arrived in another week or so, maybe you could offer them a coupon or small gift as a nice gesture. That way you don't have to go back on your shop policies, but are still doing something to please the customer.

I hope the package shows up!

ingermaaike said...

I sure hope the package show up, and indeed it is most amazing how people do not read such things as policies. It happened to me once and I was a dud and sent in a replacement. Later it turned out she had forgotten to pick up the package. Luckily it came back to me. From then on I stuck to my guns. People can upgrade if they so wish and otherwise it is their own risk.

painted fish studio said...

you're right, 40euro is a lot to lose. i think your policies should cover you! please let us know what happens...

Lily Pang said...

During Christmas time, I can see it takes much longer to deliver.

I think you should stick to your shipping policy, but try to highlight or make it clear to them so they can choose a safe delivery method with cost.

Getting lost in mail is very rear. Try to convince the buyer to wait for a month to see if it will arrive. Communicate with her and you can sense that it is really get lost. If it is so, you can send another one to her, but she also need to bear at least half of the cost.

Hope it helps!

'fancypicnic' said...

Helloee!! Here again at last!
Hmm. This is a problem, and it weighs heavily on our day, I think. We want to provide good service...several times now I've had non-payers on DaWanda. I've been patient and polite til the end, but still no payment. You're right, the item is then not available for anyone else until admin sort it - which they do, and quickly, but it is SO ANNOYING!!

Only one non-receipt of my product. She waited another few days, still no parcel arrived for her and so we agreed on a replacement. Difficult, but I guess we have to write these off. It happens, but pretty infrequently thank goodness.

Happy belated new year, Flo. Yep, got your flickr tag...hoping for some time today xxx

Rainbow River said...

Oh, it's a pity that you had such a problem! And it's great that the item arrived after all!

I also don't know what to do about it... Shall I always sell registered abroad - and let the clients opt for normal mail service on their own risk? In Germany there is an option for registering the package, which is only 2.05 Euro. It doesn't insure it, but at least provides you with a tracking number. There must be something like that in the Netherlands.

I know how it is... I sent off a small package to the US today (my first client overseas!) and at the end paid the registration myself. I'm actually thinking of changing my shop policies about it...

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