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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Another year of shows out of the way, and there was plenty of buzz around Toy Fair as most retailers seemed to come out of the year with less stock and buoyed by a good first couple of weeks in January (let?s not mention what?s happened since though).

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