About two years ago I wrote a post about major issues I was having with a supplier. I wish I could tell you a fun happy story about our relationship with the same supplier (who happen to specialize in collegiate scrubs) but two years later we are having almost all of the same issues.
TWO YEARS! that is a long long time.
They have had all kinds of internal inventory, staffing, and basically any other kind of issue you can think of. Or at least those are a lot of the reasons they have provided me for their two year long ineptitude.
I need to be clear hear and say that our current account rep is actually very responsive and I truly think he is doing his best, but he being provided very little reliable information and support. There really isn’t too much he can do. Like me, he is overwhelmed by the issues they are having.
We have literally had orders that until recently have been on back order since December 2010! We still have orders that are on backorder from APRIL! We are doing everything we can to keep these clients informed, have provided them with very very deep discounts on their order and are sending gift cards to all of them to help salvage their relationship with us (after some negotiations these gift cards have been subsidized by our supplier (theoretically). We have also refunded anyone who has asked and sent a gift card to them for future orders.
What makes these delays worse is that on over 15 occasions these clients have been told that their orders are about ready to ship out…..15 times! How are they still waiting? I would have demanded my money back a long time ago!
Some of their issues are so ridiculous that I literally went 3 months trying to pay them for orders they had fulfilled for us and I couldn’t get anyone int he finance area to call me back to take a payment!! It eventually had to fall to our already over-worked account rep to handle.
About 5 months ago I sent the CEO of the company (with whom my relationship got off to a rocky start with when he questioned my ethics in one of my very first interactions with his company….never question our my or our companies ethics!) a very long detailed email that was very cordial in the hopes of opening up a little more communication between our companies in the hopes that we could better serve our mutual end clients. I believe it was a 4 page email with the issues we had have, how I thought we could help them, and a few ideas of ways we could work together to move forward to improve our relationship and the client experience. I put a lot of time into this email with the intent of making us all stronger. I received a two sentence response from him that was very curt. Needless to say none of my ideas were implemented.
Lets fast forward to the current situation. Here are the facts (as far as I know anyway!)
- I am pretty sure we have grown to be the largest web based client they have.
- Sales of their products (collegiate scrubs) represent about 15% of our business.
- There is a substitute for about 10% of that business from another supplier that we already have a relationship with (so if we drop them completely we probably stand to lose about 5% of our business)
- Issues with their products represent 95% of our headaches.
- Our account rep is tired of my emails every day I would be to in his shoes, but I really don’t have any other options other than emailing and calling him).
- There is really no plan in place for these issues to be resolved.
Now I am faced with a choice. Do I drop their products off of our site completely? Do I do a partial drop? We are going to need to do something and I have done my best to manage my relationship with them to proactively improve the situation but this hasn’t seemed to work. Like I said. I wrote a post about the same company and many of the same issues two years ago!
One thing is sure. We will be making changes shortly.