COUNTER INSURGENT: Trading relationships

Isn't it great that in the current climate, some companies seem to think their sole purpose is to raise buyers' blood pressure?
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I recently contacted a company that had a couple of nice lines which I saw at the Spring Fair. I didn’t have an order form, so I called them and asked if they could forward one to me. I asked if they had one in Excel format, only to be told they can’t send it in spreadsheet form as I could change the prices.

What a great way to start a trading relationship - insult your customer by accusing him of dishonesty. I could have told them to lock the cells but I couldn’t be bothered.

They said they could scan a copy and email it. I pointed out that I could enter the very simple order onto the scanned document, but warned the quality might not be readable after two scans.

Couldn’t I just email a letterhead with an order on?
No, it had to be on an order form. I even offered to fax the copy over, but they had no fax. After I sent the order over to them they called and said they couldn’t open the scanned document.

I sent it over again and this time I had a call to let me know I hadn’t signed the order. I jokingly asked if they would be able to accept a scanned signature, at which point there was a lot of whispering in the background and the answer came back, as we were a new account, “no”.

I asked the best way to place the order, and I was given the option of posting the signed copy of the order form, via the agent (who hasn’t stepped a foot over my door in four years) or, if I preferred, they could take the order over the phone. I don’t need to tell you that was the final straw and asked in a manner not short of a full blown rant which, if in public, would get me a wide berth and trained police marksmen called.

If they were being so bloody awkward over a paper copy order, then how the hell could they take it over the phone? Apparently telesales were allowed to and ‘normal’ sales weren’t. Needless to say, I never did get the order and to be honest I can’t be bothered to chase them anymore.

The moral of the story to all suppliers is - and in the interest of my blood pressure as we near the end of the football season - keep it simple, don’t put barriers in the way and remember that sometimes your first impression on a buyer could earn you some nice business.

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