IS the customer always right–or is that different now?

Calling the HiveMind! I have a Situation of Sorts.

On January 21st, I sent a PayPal payment to [Name Withheld] Media for several videotapes of ancient TV shows. (Thirteen tapes, at $10 each!) I was thinking about the way my mother and my aunt get so crazy-bored, and how they LOVE the “I Love Lucy” marathons of re-runs like the one that’s on Hallmark Channel today, and how much they’d like to see the old “Love That Bob/Bob Cummings Show” and “The Life and Loves of Dobie Gillis.” The vendor was having a sale at one tape for $10, so I splurged.

On January 29th, I e-mailed the vendor to see if he’d gotten my money and to see if he had a target date for mailing the tapes out. I assumed that it would take a while to duplicate the tapes, but on the other hand, he has a business going, so it couldn’t take TOO long, could it? I mean, I have dubbed videotapes before, like our wedding video and various family event videos, and all I did was hook our old Magnavox to our newer Panasonic VCR and play while recording. Surely someone with a business doesn’t have to dub in real time, but even so, how long do you suppose it would take per tape? If the tapes are the usual three- to six-hour tapes? (They have two or three thirty/sixty-minute episodes each.) So perhaps I am being unfair. Maybe that wasn’t enough time to get them copied.

He wrote back, crankily, “Yes, I did finally receive the payment. It will take me a couple of weeks to get them all done.” (I missed the first invoice he sent, but paid the second one–I think it was a couple of days there.) He didn’t say that he had lots of other orders and that I was Nth in line, by the way. That may have been the case, but he didn’t SAY so at that point.

Okay. I was getting a bit nervous, but okay.

So today, February 15th, I e-mailed to ask if he had a target date for mailing, as I am getting nervous. I wondered if he had a progress report for me, and said that perhaps if it’s going to be a problem he could just send me the ones that ARE done and refund for the others. I didn’t take a nasty tone with him, but at this point I am definitely wondering if I’ll get anything at all. I mean . . . am I being unfair?

Maybe I am not thinking straight here. It could be par for the course that you wait a long time for things like these.

While I was fretting over having sent that e-mail, Hubby walked into the office and noticed what I was doing. Immediately he got on my PayPal account and looked to see exactly how much I had sent. “$130?” He kind of freaked out, because he’s a cheapskate. (grin) Okay, maybe HE is right, too. He said, “I am going to file a PayPal complaint, because even if they do have thirty days to deliver things to you by mail, I think this has been a long time and I am not happy.” He filed a complaint saying that we hadn’t received the merchandise.

I really wasn’t thrilled that he escalated it, but hey, vendors must experience that a lot, and they should cope with it psychologically, shouldn’t they? The response should be some sort of reassurance, shouldn’t it? That’s what I would do, if I were in sales. It might make me angry, but I would try to reassure the customer that they were indeed dealing with a legit person.

Instead, I got an irate e-mail from the guy.

Since I waited more than a few extra days for your payment; and since you must realize that you are not my only client; and that when I hold sales that at least several others may have ordered from me prior to me receiving your payment; and especially since I have answered all of your e-mails and questions, I have to say that I am really disappointed that you would give me about three minutes to answer your last e-mail before deciding to open a PayPal dispute.

Your tapes will be shipped by the end of this week, or the beginning of the next, as originally scheduled, because you are not my only customer, and because I really react in the totally opposite manner when somebody tries to “crack the whip” on me by filing a complaint.

What might motivate me to move faster and to bump you ahead of others who have been patiently waiting longer than you have is for you to close the complaint.

Should you decide not to close the complaint, that is certainly your choice. However, I will no longer be doing any future business with you if this complaint is not closed today.

I’m sorry, but I am only one guy, working alone, who already works 15-17 hours per day, 6 days per week–even on holidays–and I just don’t have the time to deal with unreasonable people.

*Sigh* Well, I’m sorry he’s upset. But, really, if I were to contact, say, Macy’s or Sears about a shipment, they wouldn’t get all bent out of shape. It’s a business thing.

I wasn’t wanting him to bump me ahead of others, and I wasn’t trying to be unreasonable. Perhaps Hubby was being a little nasty, but he DID have a point about $130 being a lot to just not worry about. These complaint systems are set up for people in just this situation, aren’t they?

The guy’s response, perversely enough, makes me even MORE suspicious that he’s not a legit business. Because the big “threat” here is that I have to close the complaint NOW or he won’t do any more business with me. Laying aside the doubtful premise (that I would want to do this again), I must say that this is disingenuous. If I close the PayPal complaint, then I can’t re-open another PayPal complaint–they will assume that I have received the merchandise. As soon as I get either the merchandise or a refund, then I’ll close the complaint with a “satisfactory.” Is that harridan-like of me? Do I make sense here?

I would recommend that if someone DOES open a complaint, you shouldn’t react in “the opposite manner,” because with people other than me, you could lose more business. I really think the proper response would have been to make some kind of exact plan as to when some or all of the tapes could be shipped, rather than to say this stuff. WhatEVer, but look, how long does it take to copy a tape?

This is a serious question. Really. If it really does take a long time to copy a tape, then I should multiply that by 13 and add the handling time. But if I had such a busy business that “there are a bunch of people in front of you in line,” I think I would get some kind of pro dubbing equipment or make some special plan for turning out the stuff quickly. He was having a sale, yes, but I can’t imagine droves of people turning out for copies of the old Jack Benny TV program or “He and She.” It’s got to be a limited market. And really, I would have told people, “I now have six others in line in front of you–be patient with me,” or something like that. Instead, I’m getting this kind of defensive/aggressive response.

I don’t think I should close the complaint until I get the stuff. It won’t hurt the guy’s business if it’s closed satisfactorily within a week or so, will it? I mean, if he does ship me stuff. *NOW* I feel paranoid and really don’t know what he might do . . . I don’t want to get a bomb in the mail, or have him pee on the stuff, or whatever. Sheesh! I’m supposed to be HAPPY if I’m getting something cool from a store!

Well, anyway. AM I being unreasonable? I can go close the complaint and kiss the money bye-bye, along with any support from PayPal, but I suspect that would feed right into a person who was running any kind of a scam. NOT THAT I THINK for sure THAT THIS IS A SCAM. But I can’t help being a bit wary. Can I??

I haven’t e-mailed him back yet. When I do, I’ll be perfectly nice and tell him I’m sorry he’s upset, but that I do think it’s taking an awfully long time. Unless y’all think I am wrong and that it could take up to a day or two per tape. I mean, I could be wrong!! If I am, I’ll take proper action.

I hate this. This is exactly why Hubby doesn’t buy from online vendors, except WalMart, Sears, Penneys, and (mumble) Amazon. They may have their flaws, but customer service is not really one of them at any of these huge businesses. What I may need to take into account is that this guy is working alone and doesn’t have a million-dollar business, so maybe I should cut him more slack. If so, I can do that. But still, he should take a different attitude, I think.

Have you ever noticed that if someone here on my blog gets cranky and makes an attack comment or a cranky comment, I usually go out of my way to make them feel happy again? At least I try to. I try to be the one who apologizes and explains, even if I don’t feel I’m completely in the wrong. That’s my idea of customer service (in a sense.) Even if the person still goes away mad, at least I tried to make peace.



Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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