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View Full Version : Sometimes I'm too soft


Ree
11-30-2010, 11:33 AM
Didn't know where to put this.

Bit of a back story:

Last summer, we had a customer who placed an order for ten 5 gallon pails of a special granite look finish that our company sells.

The order was over $2,000.
They put a 10% down payment on it.

It has been sitting there ever since.
We have called repeatedly.
Normally, we will only hold customer orders for 2 weeks, but with the down payment, we were kind of stuck.

The manager of the paint department repeatedly called and left messages and asked them to get in touch.

They never did.

This stuff has a shelf life.
It has now been almost 4 months since the stuff came in.
It's not something we carry in that size as a general rule, and is special order only, as it's really not a product that sells every day.

Not only that, but it takes up a lot of room that could be used for something else in our storage area.

I talked to the manager a few weeks ago about it, and asked about sending it back and keeping the deposit for restocking, because we will be charged restocking.

Apparently someone was talking to the guy because he had placed an order for a whole bunch of other stuff and when he came in to pick it up,they asked about this other order.

The story I got is that they were waiting for some money to come in or something, and they might not get their pails of granite until spring.

Fast forward to yesterday, and guess who got stuck calling the customer to tell them to either come in and pay the balance or we would be sending it back and keeping the deposit?

Apparently I "do it so well and can word it just right."

I said I thought the manager should have been the one making the call, but I went ahead and called.

I explained that we had been holding it 4 months, that there was a shelf life, and we wanted them to pay for the whole order, or we would sned it back to our warehouse and keep the deposit.

The woman started to bawl.
Apparently, her mother is dying and they have been very tied up with looking after her and going back and forth to the hospital.

They have run out of the money to finish the renovation and won't have any until spring.

I felt so bad.
She just kept crying and crying as she talked about it.

I know what it's like to struggle with money.
I understand about starting a renovation and ending up almost broke because unexpected things turn up and require money to be thrown at it, all while still trying to keep the basic bills paid and put food on the table.
I also know what it's like to be worrying about a sick or dying loved one.

I also understand that my paycheque depends on my company making money, and we have already had to pay for this merchandise while it's been sitting gathering dust.

She was upset about losing her whole deposit and wanted to make some type of payment arrangements.

I finally just told her to call the manager and speak with him.

I felt like such a shit when I was done.
I could never be in a job involving collections.

iradney
11-30-2010, 12:18 PM
Your manager is a coward. I hope the customer calls him!

Andara Bledin
12-01-2010, 03:00 AM
While I can entirely sympathize with the problem the customer is having with her mother's health and all, but as soon as it became obvious that the renovation would be put on hold, it would have been prudent to make arrangements then, when people were still happy with her as a customer and not pretty much blown you off for four months and then only communicated when cornered.

However, I have to ask this: If they were in such a money crunch, then how were they able to place and pick up another order entirely in the interim?

^-.-^

MaseMan
12-01-2010, 10:13 PM
Yes, it's lousy that this woman's mother was dying. However, I don't have a ton of sympathy for her either. You were just doing your job. Did she just want you to let the paint go bad and then bill her for it or something?

MaseMan
12-02-2010, 02:08 PM
Yeah, unfortunately these days you can't really take people at their word. Everyone has a sob story or problems in their lives. That doesn't mean they get to shirk their financial obligations though.

roothorick
12-02-2010, 05:07 PM
While I can entirely sympathize with the problem the customer is having with her mother's health and all, but as soon as it became obvious that the renovation would be put on hold, it would have been prudent to make arrangements then, when people were still happy with her as a customer and not pretty much blown you off for four months and then only communicated when cornered.

This, combined with the casual comments of "waiting for money to come in", leaves me no doubt that she's lying. I smell a scam.

Mondestrucken
12-02-2010, 05:33 PM
This, combined with the casual comments of "waiting for money to come in", leaves me no doubt that she's lying. I smell a scam.

That was what I felt also. And maybe this time it was legitimate, but I have had too many people spin me a tale of dire emergency and heartrending sorrow. Sorry.

Ree
12-03-2010, 12:19 PM
I think her tears were real. I've been in a situation where I have been asked about my Mom, and the stress and worry has made me just suddenly choke up or break into tears thinking about her. It was the same way with this woman.

What bugs me about the situation is that, if they had just told us when we first started calling, we would have gladly returned their deposit and sent the product back to our warehouse with no problems. Our company has a very lenient policy on that. However, there is a time frame to work in, and after a certain time, we are charged restocking.

To keep ignoring calls solves nothing and only compounds the problem.

bainsidhe
12-03-2010, 04:10 PM
It's not a happy situation for anyone, but I agree with others, they could have called your company once things were put on hold. Sorry you had to make such a difficult call.

As far as the boss forcing you to make the phone call, I don't think that makes him a jerk (unless he is normally a jerk and this is just another jerk action). I work with some pretty great people, including a sales manager I respect a lot. That doesn't mean I agree with everything she decides, including having me be the bearer of bad news and "feeling out" the customer to see how upset they are about something (like a price increase). Because if the customer has a fit, now there's another level they can go to and sales manager can compromise on pricing/expediting/whatever and can essentially save the sale. I get to be the "bad guy". We need to raise prices so we can turn a profit, yet we can't turn a profit if we upset our customers. It's a balancing act, but I still hate breaking bad news. :(

Gamegirl
12-04-2010, 08:50 PM
You're not too soft. You have a heart.

They should have called the company if they knew they were not going to be able to pick up the paint in a timely manner.

Pairou
12-07-2010, 10:53 PM
I might have read it wrong, but didn't they place a different order after that as well? I smell a sob story.

Captain Trips
12-08-2010, 08:29 PM
Especially since they didn't call at the start of the bind.

Like me -- back in late August, we had made plans to redo our bathroom. We had to wait for the unit to be ready. Unfortunately, they called the day after we left for Florida to bury our son. (Longer story there -- avoid 4-Loko!) As soon as we could, we called and explained the situation. Knowing what we were dealing with, they gladly went out of their way to store the materials until we were ready to have the work done.

The difference? We contacted them as soon as we could, even though we had to leave the resolution open. When this customer ignored months of calls, they automatically cut their own throats here. "Sorry about mom, but we "fronted" the cost of the paint. We need that back, or we can no longer do business with you..."

Ree
12-09-2010, 12:26 AM
I might have read it wrong, but didn't they place a different order after that as well? Apparently, they had to prioritize.
The job using the granite finish is not a high priority, as it's only cosmetic.
The other orders they placed were for necessary repairs and renovations as they were structural.