16th February 2011, 04:39 PM
Dirty Laundry - When and How to Complain About a Vendor
I have been an active member of all kinds of different forums, from gaming to weightlifting and everything in between. The one thing I have noticed is that some people feel a need to air their dirty laundry to the whole interworld. By laundry I generally mean business transactions of all types and while in rare cases it is a warranted consumer warning, sometimes it's just impatient people who want their items the day before they ordered it. I think it is important for business matters to be kept private between buyer and seller to save the face of both the company and the complainer, I mean consumer. A few cases of this show up every once in a while here, far less than other places, but it still happens where a complaint post gets made for no real reason. There are multiple steps to take prior to telling the world that Company X is ripping you off on a forum, or to keep from being a sucker consumer in the first place if you were wronged.
- Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) before you ever send money to a company. If no BBB data is available, do a quick search on google to find customer ratings and experiences.
- Give the company a chance to fix your problems confidentially before flaming them online, your forum post can and will keep other customers from shopping there. There is a certain amount of buyer responsibility to give them a fair chance to fix things.
- Pay attention to shipping rules. I know from ordering reloading supplies for rifles that anything that combusts takes time to ship; whenever I ordered powder I always expected a 3 week wait and when it got there before that I was pleasantly surprised.
- Understand that in the hobby world a lot of our suppliers are busy and sometimes filling multiple orders with a minimal staff, if any, so mistakes can and will be made. We are all human and I know we have all forgot something at one point in our life.
This is where confidentiality and good communication initiated by the buyer must happen, give the vendor a chance to make it right. Also on this note be honest with your buying. If something extra is sent to you, notify the company and allow them to cover the shipping charges to send it back. You may even get rewarded for honesty by them allowing you to keep the item. Doing the right thing is just right, why should the buyer be held to a different standard than the seller?
- Be quick to give praise where it is due. When a company impresses you let the world know so that others may also have a good experience and help keep the good companies busy.
- Complaints... These are very tough to handle and when reporting a legitimate complaint be sure to include full details and express what went wrong fully, not just "Company X sucks!!". Doing this will keep your image good as well as give good information to other consumers. Remember, public complaints are your last ditch effort after all other channels of help and reconciliation have been exhausted, this process could take a while.
These are just simple guidelines I use to reduce my stress levels and help generate solid relationships with vendors. This hobby has an extremely small community when it comes down to it, and the last thing you want is to be at a launch and see someone you flamed online for no good reason before you gave them a fair shot to fix it. Online shopping is very convenient but shipping is really out of the store's hands, so patience is key to keeping healthy blood pressure. If you are an extreme worrier pay the little bit extra to get a tracking number or express service when it's available. Don't be afraid to call or email the company and ask them for help rather than hop on a forum and ask people who have nothing to do with the vendor.
This site is really very minimal in flaming which is awesome, and pretty rare to have a group of online vendors that really do all seem to do their best by the customers. In closing, my last little hint: sometimes the site with the lowest price is not the best. It seems to me the bigger the site and the more varied their stock, the poorer their customer service and/or knowledge of what they are selling is. Support the guys who know the hobby and give back by showing up at launches as an onsite vendor, or who are constantly in communication with the hobbiest and not just moving bulk product. In the end your buying experience will be much more enjoyable and the few extra bucks will be well spent.
Last edited by WiK; 16th February 2011 at 08:32 PM.