About a month ago, I ordered 10 Maxell LTO2 tapes for the new datacenter backup system through this one merchant (which I won't publicly name here).
The tapes were apparently backordered, yet they did not inform me timely; I had to call them at least 5 times to check up the order status. For the first 2 or 3 calls, they just said they would “ship it today and email the tracking number” to me, which of course did not happen.
That was when I decided to Google the merchant name up, which then led me to a couple of merchant review sites, almost all of which invariably had the average score of 5 out of 10 or lower. (Mind you, any score below 7 out of 10, or 3.5 out of 5, is a definitive warning sign that spells “Avoid this merchant at all costs!” _-_)
But then, one particularly lengthy rant caught my eyes. Although his bottom line was “DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS COMPANY!!!!”, he also said he have “made numerous purchases from this company over the past year” for his business. Hmm. He has been sticking to this merchant despite all the horrible business experiences he has had, eh? There must have been some merit….
So there were two choices before me: 1) Try to cancel the order and report the incident to the credit card company, or 2) Bug them more and more and see what they have to offer. Now, if this were for serious business (on my side), I probably would have opted for #1. But this was for a pet project, therefore the time issue was not so critical. So I decided for #2.
I called them again, and when they said they would check with the warehouse manager and call me back (which they never do, the reviewers said) I asked how long it would take. About 10 minutes, the phone rep said. So I waited about twice as long, then called them again and just said in a curt tone, that I gave them a call about 20 minutes ago. It was probably then when their front line of defense (i.e. the phone rep) realized I would not easily back down or be bullied; she relayed me to the warehouse manager.
To my surprise, it did not go directly to voicemail. I asked the manager why the order did not ship as promised several times (again, in a curt but polite tone), and he finally admitted that the items were backordered. Okay, good, they are giving in. Then he offered me Fuji tapes instead (which were a bit cheaper and meant more profit margin for them). I insisted on Maxells, and asked for the ETA on them, to which he said “this Friday” (which was the last Friday), and also that the order will definitely ship on Monday.
I said, “Well, I really wish to keep business with your company, but given the circumstances, I am not sure if I could anymore….” (I could say things like this because individual—that is, non-corporate—customers rarely spend more than $300 on a single purchase, just for some tape backup media. XD) Then he also acknowledged that the order has been sitting there for two full weeks (with my card having been charged on the next day of the order, duh), and promised me to credit $40 back to my credit card. ‘Okay, cool, we'll see,’ I said to myself.
That was last week. But guess what, I actually expected the order would not ship last Monday as they promised, and they did not indeed fail my expectation. XD So I called them again today. The phone rep promptly relayed my call to the warehouse manager (yeah, she should; there's nothing she can do now XD), and the manager apologized again and again, that the Maxell tapes did not come in. Then he said he could substitute Fujis instead of Maxells. “Okay, I'll take them instead,” I said in a very grudging tone. Then he also said he would include 2 extra tapes (12 total) to make up for the delay, in addition to the $40 credit.
Hmm. A full dozen Fuji tapes for $270? Not bad, at all, considering how they sell at around $30-50 a pop. XD (And I actually like Fujis as much as Maxells. XD) And they have a way out of this situation too; I'm pretty sure they would ship Fujis overnight, today or tomorrow. XD Yeah, I already knew they were not going to sell Maxells when they offered me Fujis instead during the previous call, so I could have said yes to their offer back then. But I wanted more reason to become “a valuable customer whom they were about to lose.” And that tactic worked. XD
In a nutshell, I win. And what's better, I make them feel like they won too. XD Yes, patience and composure made my day. I probably would've ended up in frustration (not to mention the pile of paperwork to file a fraud claim with all the snobs at Washington Mutual) had I opted for #1 from the get-go.
Oh yeah, am I going to do business with these guys again? Well, it'll depend on what Pricewatch and Froogle have to say then. XD