My husband recently ordered a birthday gift for me through Amazon.com. It was through a 3rd party seller, so he paid for shipping and the shipping speed wasn’t the 2 day delivery we’ve become accustomed to through Prime. A minor annoyance, but something we were willing to deal with because the price was so good.
5 days after he placed the order, he got notified that the gift had shipped. So far, so good. The delivery estimate was still a pretty big window…10 days after shipping…but again, my birthday wasn’t for a few weeks and we could wait.
And then the outside of the shipping estimate came and went. And no gift.
I sent a message to the seller, asking when we might expect to receive it.
At this point, we were getting a little annoyed. It had been over 2 weeks since we placed the order, and still no item, even though our credit card had been charged.
Now here’s what should have happened. Upon receiving my message, the seller should have responded immediately, telling me why my package had been delayed. (It seems he uses a 3rd party provider for fulfillment which is where the process broke down.) This would have assured me that the seller was on top of it, and I would have been patient for a few more days.
But instead, after 24 hours I reached out to my credit card company and Amazon.com. I was particularly concerned when I saw the seller feedback start piling up that NO ONE had received their order from this seller. When I tried to reach Amazon to get my money back, they told me the seller had 48 hours before I could open my claim. The seller did get back to me eventually, but gave me a shady answer that I didn’t really trust. Especially after I saw that no one else had received their orders either.
My credit card immediately put a stop on the payment, until Amazon.com finally refunds me. And when I pointed out to Amazon that many people had not received their orders from this vendor, suddenly they were immediately able to open a claim, rather than waiting 48 hours.
So where does this leave me? I ordered the same gift from another source. One I trust to get it to me. My opinion of ordering through Amazon’s 3rd party sellers has been a bit tarnished (I will only order for options with Prime from now on.) And that seller has, apparently, been removed from Amazon.
But here’s the thing. If this was really a 3rd party vendor issue, this seller really could have avoided the problem. They could have reached out to all the people who were affected (with email, it’s easy to do) explaining the problem and promising to make it right. Instead, there are a lot of angry people telling people never to buy from him. He’s essentially put himself out of business. Due to lack of communication.
I will get my birthday gift, most likely on time. But not without a lot of hassle.
But the lesson learned here is that things do go wrong sometimes. Especially in the heaviest shipping season of the year. And when they do, the difference between staying in business and not is communication. Put your customer’s concerns at the forefront. Make sure they know what’s going on when things go wrong. Most of the time, they’ll understand. But only if you communicate.
How do you manage customer expectations when things go wrong? Please share in the comments!